Practically no one expects to get hurt at work; the perception is that is what happens to other people. But, you may find someday that it happens to you. If you are injured at work there are some things you need to understand. First, work place injuries can happen in two ways under California law. First, an injury can be termed "specific" in nature; for example, when a person is injured falling off of a ladder that is a specific injury. Alternatively, an injury may develop over time; such an injury is referred to as a cumulative trauma injury. For example, a beverage delivery truck driver who moves heavy kegs over and over for a long period of time might develop cumulative trauma to his/her low back or some other body part from the repeated heavy lifting. Often, such claims reveal themselves through chronic pain which does not stem from a particular injury event.
Workers' compensation carriers continue to disrupt an injured workers access to necessary and appropriate medical treatment. These efforts affect the system in many ways, including, but not limited to: (1) keeping workers on disability longer than necessary, (2) adding litigation costs to the system, (3) increasing permanent disability awards for injured workers due to lack of treatment, and (4) unnecessarily taking up the time of the workers' compensation judges on such matters.
My office represents plaintiffs in personal injury cases and Applicants in workers' compensation cases. In the personal injury setting, defendants often hire a company called Exponent, Inc. to assist in the defense of such claims. Exponent describes itself as "a multi-disciplinary engineering and scientific consulting firm that brings together more than 90 different disciplines to solve important engineering, science, regulatory, and business issues." However, what is meant by "solving issues;" in my few encounters with the company, I have yet to have a case where Exponent validated the claims that my client was making. Is that a reflection of the validity of those cases or something else? Today, Fair Warning reports on Exponent's close connection with industry and calls into question the objectivity of Exponent's work. (Fair Warning is a nonprofit investigative news organization that focuses on public health, safety and environmental issues and related topics of government and business accountability.) Essentially, the article asserts that Exponent's cozy connection with industry leads to result oriented studies and opinions in litigation matters. Check out the article and let us know what you think: http://www.fairwarning.org/2016/12/exponent/.
Employers attempt to hide injuries from the system so that their workers' compensation rates are not affected. Will the employer be prosecuted for this fraud? Sadly, no. Enforcement of fraud laws against employers is the only way to curb this type of conduct. Such action by a district attorney would be surprising. As a result, this type of conduct repeats itself as I have, unfortunately, seen too many times to recount.
We have previously reported on the myriad ways in which workers' compensation carriers' procedures add costs to the system and thereby drive up insurance rates. Here is yet another example.
According to Work Comp Central, in recent meetings, the Teamsters Union is demanding that Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners "ban companies who are breaking the law and have been found guilty by the state of California of classifying drivers as contractors when they are in fact employees." The Teamsters believe these companies are making blatant violations of labor laws operating out of the port.
A trench collapsed last week while workers were installing a sewage line at a Portland, Oregon home, burying a 27-year-old man, Portland firefighters said. The man died as a result of the collapse, according to OR-OSHA. The man had been working at the bottom of a trench that was 11 feet deep, 3 feet wide and 70 feet long. The worker had been outside the protection of the shoring system when the trench caved in. (Oregonian and Cal-OSHA Newsdesk.)
News sources report that a federal contractor responsible for overseeing nuclear facilities is under investigation following several serious accidents. One incident involved the fatality of construction worker who died after a 1,200-foot pylon fell on him. An investigation into the incident revealed that the company violated safety training regulations and procedures for pile driving operations, and as such was received 2 citations for "serious" violations.
The Sacramento Bee reports that a Southern California Edison contractor has died in a construction accident. According to reports, the man was working at a construction site in West Hollywood when he was crushed between a construction crane and a trailer. He had been employed by Edison to perform electrical work in connection with the building of a large hotel and residential complex on the Sunset Strip. California OSHA is conducting an investigation of the accident.
This is the second fatal construction accident in Los Angeles in less than a week. Just a few days earlier, a construction worker died on his second day on the job after falling from the 53rd floor of the Wilshire Grand Center tower.
Incidents such as these - falls from building and "being caught in-between" represent a large percentage of worker injuries and deaths. Other often cited causes of serious personal injuries and deaths at construction sites include workers being struck by objects and electrocutions.
Perhaps not surprisingly, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) the top three federal safety violations at construction sites include failing to adequately protect workers from falls, poor communication with workers about hazards, and safety lapses on scaffolding.
Where a general contractor/owner of a site creates an unreasonably hazardous condition at a work site, and a worker is injured, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced California construction accident attorney who can advise you concerning your rights. While in most situations, it may be possible to obtain California workers compensation benefits, you may also be able to bring a lawsuit for civil damages. By filing a civil lawsuit, you may be able to recover greater compensation than is provided for by workers compensation laws. Important deadlines must be complied with or compensation may be denied. A skilled personal injury lawyer can explore your options and help you determine the best options for recovery in your circumstance.
For more information, please contact the dedicated Oakland construction accident lawyers at Butler Viadro, LLP for an immediate consultation.