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Stanislaus County Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Claiming emotional distress after a workplace injury

When a person suffers an injury in the workplace, or anywhere else for that matter, there is a significant chance that he or she may suffer some form of emotional distress as a result. Unfortunately, emotional distress often gets lumped in with frivolous claims, and may not seem like a "real" claim to the party responsible for damages, such as an employer's insurer. While it is possible to receive fair compensation for emotional distress after workplace injury, the victim of the injury must make a convincing case based on a number of possible factors.

If you believe that your workplace injury resulted in emotional distress, it is wise to consider the physical effects of this distress, as this will be the easiest way to demonstrate its severity. You may point to ongoing pain from an injury, or to headaches and ulcers that may derive from the distress.

New law increases workplace safety protections

With the new year comes a number of new laws taking effect across California, affecting many different areas of civil and criminal law. Among the new laws effective in 2018 are measures aimed at increasing protections for workers in several industries and occupations, including those who work closely with a number of cleaning products used heavily in janitorial positions and cleaning processes at both the industrial and domestic levels.

Senate Bill 258 increases workplace safety protections for workers who regularly interact with a number of cleaning products with various applications. These include polishing, automotive cleaning, floor maintenance and cleaning, air-care and general cleaning products.

An employer's responsibilities after a workplace injury

When an employee suffers an injury in the line of his or her work, that person's employer bears a number of responsibilities to ensure the injury receives proper treatment and that the employee can reasonably recover from the injury and possibly return to work. From the position of the employee, it is not always easy to know exactly what to expect from an employer, especially in circumstances where an employee may not trust an employer to uphold his or her end of the arrangement.

An employer's responsibilities to his or her employees do not arise spontaneously when an injury occurs. Rather, the employer carries an ongoing responsibility to provide employees with a reasonably safe workplace and to immediately address any worksite hazards that may cause injuries. If employers do not properly maintain a safe work environment or address a hazard once it is brought to their attention, they have already failed their duties to their employees.

Workers' compensation benefits and social security taxation

In general, when an employee receives workers' compensation benefits, those benefits are not taxable at either the state or federal level. However, many workers do not realize that there are some specific exceptions to this practice that can cause serious problems if an employee does not realize the way that these benefits may impact other areas of one's financial life and tax burden.

For employees who already receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), some workers' compensation benefits may be subject to taxation indirectly. In some cases, individuals receiving SSDI or SSI benefits as well as workers' compensation benefits may not realize that the workers' compensation benefits may actually reduce the SSDI or SSI benefits.

Do you qualify for workers’ compensation coverage?

Workers' compensation claims are an important part of ensuring that workplace injury does not adversely affect either an employee or an employer. Unfortunately, not all individuals who work for someone else are actually covered by workers' compensation.

If you recently experienced a workplace accident, you need to seek out medical attention as soon as possible, no matter who is liable for the accident. In some instances, it takes time to determine your eligibility for a claim, but if you wait to seek treatment the insurer may reject your claim whether you're eligible or not. Failing to seek proper treatment in a timely manner often invalidates legitimate claims for may workers.

What if my employer disputes my injury claim?

Sometimes, after you suffer an injury, you may have difficulty determining if it is actually work-related. You may find that your employer objects to an injury claim even if you believe that the injury actually qualifies for coverage under workers' compensation. You may gain more in-depth understanding of your injury and the circumstances surrounding it by consulting with an experienced attorney who can help you fairly assess your injury through the eyes of the law.

In general, if an injury occurs while you are at work, performing work related duties or participating in a work-related activity when the injury occurs, it is work related. Your employer may argue that you are not "at work" if the injury happens during your commute, for instance, which a court may uphold. However, if you are driving a company car when the injury occurs, then the injury likely counts as work-related.

You may have grounds to directly sue an employer who harms you

When you receive an injury at work, you should usually obtain medical care as soon as possible and then file a workers' compensation claim with your employer. Workers' compensation claims can provide excellent coverage, and, with some special attention, may even produce a fair settlement offer for your injury. However, not all workplace injuries necessarily lead to a workers' compensation claim.

If you suffer an injury at work because your employer intentionally harms you, then you may have grounds to sue the employer directly. While most intentional workplace injuries involve violence or physical force of some kind, not all intentional torts are specifically physical. Employees may sue an employer who violates their rights, including instances of fraud, defamation or invasion of privacy, and more.

What is the 'going and coming' rule?

Most of us understand that we may file a workers' compensation claim if we suffer an injury at work, but when exactly "work" begins is not always as clear. In general, the law does not include an employee's commute as part of one's work, so it is unlikely that you may file a workers' compensation claim if you suffer an injury during your daily commute. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule, known as the "coming and going" rule.

Many types of travel may qualify as work-related. If, for instance, your boss gives you some petty cash and asks you to stop and get donuts for the team in the morning, and you experience a car accident while getting the donuts on the way into work, then this may count as work-related.

Does your workplace contain toxic materials?

When most people think about workplace injuries, they may imagine some large industrial machine malfunctioning, causing catastrophic injuries to several workers. However, one of the most commonly overlooked types of workplace injuries is toxic exposure. Depending on the nature of a worker's job and the duties he or she performs on a regular basis, the work environment itself may pose significant long-term risks.

Toxic exposure can arise over time from the presence of toxic materials in the workplace, or may occur in a single incident. In general, any workplace that contains toxic materials is required by law to post information sheets known as "Material Safety Data Sheets" (MSDS). If you are unclear about the presence of toxic materials in your workplace, ask to review any of your employer's MSDS's.

Common causes of injury among hospital workers

As a hospital worker, such as a nurse, you know that there is very rarely a dull moment. The more time you spend on the job the more things you see.

Unfortunately, there are times when hospital workers suffer a serious on-the-job injury that keeps them away from their employment for an extended period of time.

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Making a false or fraudulent workers’ compensation claim is a felony subject to 5 years in prison or up to $50,000 or double the value of the fraud, whichever is greater, or by both imprisonment and fine.

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