While the pandemic has dominated the news this year, the war over workers’ rights to free speech and fair pay and benefits has raged on. Here are a couple of recent wins for us workers:(more…)
In Ferra v. Loews Hollywood Hotel, LLC, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled that employers must pay premium payments to employees for missed meal, rest, and recovery breaks at the employee’s “regular rate of pay” instead of their base hourly rate, as many employers were doing. The regular rate of pay must include all non-discretionary incentive payments, such as bonuses and commissions. As a result of this decision, California employers should expect a wave of class action and Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) claims.
Jessica Ferra was a bartender for Loews and earned an hourly wage, in addition to quarterly non-discretionary payments. The employer-provided employees with payments for meal, rest, and recovery breaks at the base hourly wage. The case was ruled in favor of Loews by the trial court and appellate court but was reversed by the California Supreme Court.
California law requires daily overtime rates to be multiples of employees’ regular rates of pay. According to National Law Review, “The overtime rate for workers who are paid a guaranteed hourly rate and performance-based incentive bonuses or piecework earnings take those incentive payments to be part of their regular rates—making the overtime pay greater than their base hourly rate. An employee is thus entitled to one and one-half times his or her regular rate of pay for time worked in excess of 8 hours in one day and double his or her regular rate of pay for time worked more than 12 hours in one day.”
The reasoning behind the decision took into consideration research that shows long work hours are linked to increased rates of accident and injury. In addition, family life is negatively impacted when one or both parents are away from the home for an extended period of time on a daily basis. The court mentioned that the higher overtime rate will disincentivize employers from requiring overtime.
The decision was applied retroactively, despite the risk of potential lawsuits targeting employers for “millions” in liability. However, Loews did not provide any evidence that the retroactive application will expose employers to “millions” in liability.
In light of this ruling, California employers should update their premium pay systems, provide restitution payments, consider modifying or eliminating compensation programs, adopt waiver programs, and implement an attestation program that allows employees to confirm they received legally compliant opportunities to take meal, rest, and recovery breaks.
Sam Sarkis Solakyan, 40, of Glendale, was convicted by a San Diego federal jury of orchestrating a scheme in which more than $250 million in claims for medical services were fraudulently submitted through the state workers’ compensation system.
According to the US Department of Justice, “Solakyan conspired with Steven Rigler, a Solana Beach-based chiropractor; Fermin Iglesias, the former CEO of MedEx Solutions, a patient-scheduling company; and others to perpetrate a scheme in which physicians were paid bribes and kickbacks in exchange for the referral of workers’ compensation patients.” Also known as a cross-referral scheme, the compensation offered to the corrupt doctors consisted of either cash or referrals of new patients.
The conspirators entered into various sham agreements, such as contracts for “marketing”, “administrative services”, and “scheduling”, to obscure the true nature of their financial relationships. In reality, the money paid by Solakyan amounted to volume-based, per- magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan bribes and kickbacks to induce physicians to refer and continue referring patients to Solakyan’s companies.
Solakyan’s recruiters — Fermin Iglesias and Carlos Arguello — earned more than $8.6 million for obtaining MRI referrals. These payments were concealed from patients and health insurance companies.
According to the US Department of Justice:
- Rigler pleaded guilty in November 2015 to one count of conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud and was sentenced to six months in federal prison.
- Arguello pleaded guilty in August 2016 to conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud and health care fraud and was sentenced in April 2019 to four years in federal prison.
- Iglesias pleaded guilty in December 2016 to conspiracy to commit honest services mail fraud and health care fraud and was sentenced in February 2019 to five years in federal prison.
An October 4 sentence hearing has been scheduled, at which time Solakyan will face a statutory maximum sentence of 240 years in federal prison.
Solakyan was the CEO of several medical-imaging companies, including San Diego MRI Instute and Glendale-based Vital Imaging Inc. He operated diagnostic imaging facilities throughout California, including San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange counties, and the Bay Area.
If you have suffered a work-related injury and are planning to file a claim, it is important to hire an experienced California work injury lawyer to handle your claim. The guidance offered by the lawyer can not only make the claims process less stressful for you, but also help you get the compensation and benefits you are entitled to.
What can an experienced work injury lawyer provide for you to help you get the compensation you deserve? Let us take a look.
Legal Advice And Guidance
If you have never filed a work injury claim before, you might be wondering whether you are eligible to file one, how the claims process works, and what kind of benefits you are entitled to receive.
An experienced lawyer can answer all your questions, explain your rights as a worker, and tell you how much you can expect to receive in compensation. They will also tell you how the claims process works, how long it usually takes to settle a claim, and whether your case is likely to go to trial.
Handling The Paperwork
One of the biggest advantages of hiring an experienced California work injury lawyer is that they can take care of all the paperwork related to your claim. From gathering the required medical records to taking depositions of medical experts, the lawyer will take care of everything and allow you to focus on your recovery.
Dealing With The Insurance Company
The last thing you want to do when you are recovering from an injury or illness is to deal with a belligerent insurance adjuster who might try to delay or deny your claim for the flimsiest of reasons. With an experienced work injury lawyer by your side, you do not have to worry about handling the insurance adjuster, as the lawyer will do it on your behalf.
Moreover, insurance companies tend to be aggressive while dealing with injured workers who do not have proper legal representation, as they know that the claim can be easily settled for a fraction of what it is actually worth.
On the other hand, when you are represented by an experienced work injury attorney, the insurance company is likely to be reasonable in their approach, as they know that your attorney will not hesitate to let the case go to trial if needed. This is why injured workers who are represented by qualified attorneys tend to get more compensation and receive more benefits compared to those who represent themselves.
Looking For The Right Work Injury Attorney to Handle Your Claim? Look No Further!
Attorney Thomas F. Martin has been handling work injury claims for over 25 years and has a track record that few other attorneys can boast of. Having handled thousands of claims over the years, Mr. Martin knows how to deal with insurance companies and get the settlement you deserve.
No matter how complicated or contentious your work injury claim is, attorney Thomas F. Martin can handle it and fight aggressively to get the compensation and benefits you are entitled to.To obtain the best legal advice about your workers’ comp claim, you should speak to dedicated California work injury attorney Thomas F. Martin as soon as possible. Call us at 714-547-5025 or send us a message online to set up a free case evaluation.
Losing a family member due to a work-related injury or illness can be devastating. Especially, if you were financially dependent on the deceased person, you might be worried about your financial security and wellbeing.
Under California law, dependents of a worker who die as a result of a work-related injury or illness are entitled to receive workers’ compensation death benefits, which are meant to cover the loss of financial support caused by the worker’s death.
Who is Eligible to Receive Death Benefits in California?
Under California law, family members and relatives – who were partially or totally dependent on the deceased worker – are eligible to receive workers’ compensation death benefits. These include:
- Children (biological as well as adopted)
- Uncles and aunts
- Nephews and nieces
The following people are considered total dependents under the law and are not required to show any proof of their dependency on the deceased worker.
- The deceased worker’s spouse (if they made $30,000 or less in the year prior to the worker’s death)
- Children under the age of 18
- Children over the age of 18, but are incapable of earning a living due to a physical or mental disability
If the spouse earned more than $30,000 in the year prior to the worker’s death, they have to prove that they were totally or partially dependent on the worker in order to be able to file a California workers’ compensation death benefit claim.
Similarly, other family members and relatives (apart from the ones listed above) are required to prove dependency in order to be able to file a claim and receive compensation.
How Much Can Dependents Receive by Filing a Workers’ Compensation Death Benefit Claim?
The amount of compensation paid in these claims usually depends on the number of dependents and whether they were partially or totally dependent on the deceased worker.
As of today, the compensation offered for dependents of deceased workers includes:
- $10,000 for burial expenses
- $250,000 (if there is only one total dependent)
- $290,000 (if there are two total dependents)
- $320,000 (if there are three or more total dependents)
If there is only one total dependent and one or more partial dependents, the workers’ compensation death benefit is paid in the following manner:
- $250,000 for the total dependent
- Four times the annual earnings of the worker (as long as the amount does not exceed $290,000) for the partial dependents
If there are no total dependents and one or more partial dependents, a sum of money equivalent to eight times the annual earnings of the deceased worker (as long as it does not exceed $250,000) will be paid as compensation.
Looking to File a Workers’ Compensation Death Benefit Claim? We Can Help You!
Attorney Thomas F. Martin has over 25 years of experience in handling work injury and death benefit claims. If you have lost a loved one due to a work-related illness or injury, attorney Thomas F. Martin can help you file a death benefit claim and make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.
To explore your best legal options, you should consult with dedicated California workers’ compensation death benefit claim attorney Thomas F. Martin. Speak to us at 714-547-5025 or simply reach us online to request a free case review.
The term ‘work injury’ is generally associated with physical injuries sustained by workers on the job. However, California is one of the few states that have adopted a much broader definition of the term – which includes psychological disabilities as well.
What is a Psychological Disability?
A psychological disability – also referred to as a psychiatric injury – is a mental disorder which is caused as a result of working conditions and requires medical treatment. Psychological disabilities can be caused by a number of factors including:
- Excessive workload, unreasonably short deadlines, and next-to-impossible targets
- Harassment and abuse in the workplace
- Witnessing or being exposed to a violent act in the workplace
How Psychological Disabilities Can Affect Workers
Research shows that mental health problems can take a toll on a worker’s performance, productivity, and their overall health and wellbeing. If not treated in a timely manner, mental disorders can reduce a worker’s cognitive performance by as much as 35%.
The drastic drop in productivity and performance can make it harder for the worker to compete with their coworkers and stay on top of the tasks assigned to them.
What Are The Criteria to be Met For a Psychiatric Injury Claim?
- You must have been employed at your current workplace for a period of at least six months. It does not necessarily have to be six months of continuous employment. Even short stints of employment over a period of time are applicable – as long as they add up to six months and under the same employer.
- The event of employment or adverse working condition in question must have been the predominant cause (at least 51%) of your mental health problem.
- The condition you are suffering from must be listed in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM – IV).
It should be noted that the predominant cause provision (51% rule) listed above does not apply to psychological disabilities caused as a result of a violent event or act at the workplace. In such cases, the worker only needs to prove that the violent act or event in question was one of the contributing factors (35% to 40%) to their mental health problem.
Importance of Choosing The Right Attorney to Handle Psychological Disability Claims
The eligibility criteria for a psychiatric injury claim are much stricter compared to that of a physical injury claim. Your employer will argue that the actions that caused your psychiatric injury were in fact good faith personnel actions and were not abusive or discriminatory in nature.
The insurance company, on the other hand, will dig into your personal life and try to find any information that can be used to counter or disprove your psychological disabilities claim. A skilled and experienced California workers’ compensation attorney can take on the insurance company’s legal team, prove that your psychiatric injury was caused as a result of adverse working conditions, and make sure your claim meets all the aforementioned criteria.
Looking to File a Claim for Psychological Disabilities? We Can Help You!
With his unmatched legal knowledge, experience, and resources, attorney Thomas F. Martin can provide you with high-quality, passionate legal representation and fight hard to recover the compensation you deserve. To explore your legal options, call us today at 714-547-5025 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
Handling your own workers’ compensation claim can be a daunting task – to put it mildly. The insurance company – and even your employer in many cases – might try to impede the claims process or deny your claim altogether – based on the flimsiest of reasons. This is why it is important for you to be represented and guided by a skilled California workers’ compensation lawyer.
In this article, we take a look at three things an experienced work injury lawyer should be able to offer you.
1. Personalized Legal Advice
It goes without saying that not every workers’ compensation claim is the same. Two workers who have suffered the exact same injury could be treated differently by their employer and the insurance company – depending on the circumstances under which the accident happened and various other factors.
So, the California workers’ compensation lawyer who represents you should be able to take your unique circumstances into account and offer you personalized legal advice at every step of the claims process.
2. Aggressive Representation at The Negotiation Table
Ask anyone who has ever filed a workers’ comp claim and they will tell you that insurance adjusters are among the shrewdest, most aggressive people you will ever meet. This is because the adjuster represents the insurance company and is paid to do whatever they can to reduce the value of your claim – or deny it outright in some cases – to the highest extent possible. The less they pay you, the more money the insurance company can save.
This is why the workers’ compensation lawyer who represents you should be equally aggressive and should be willing to stand up to the insurance company. They should not be afraid to call the insurance adjuster’s bluff if the compensation offered is too low and should not shy away from taking your case to trial – if that is what it takes to get you the compensation you are entitled to.
3. Passionate Representation in Court
While a vast majority of workers’ comp claims are settled out of court, some claims do make it to an administrative hearing or trial. If and when it happens, the California workers’ compensation lawyer who represents you should be able to fight it out in court and recover the compensation you are entitled to under the law.
A highly experienced attorney should be able to prepare the documentary evidence to support your claim, take depositions of witnesses, file pre-trial motions and petitions as and when needed, and make compelling arguments at the trial to get the compensation you deserve.
Call Thomas F. Martin, California’s Premier Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Attorney Thomas F. Martin has been fighting for the rights and interests of injured workers in California for more than 25 years. Rated as one of the best work injury lawyers in California by his peers as well as his clients, Mr. Martin has a track record that few other attorneys can boast of.
Attorney Thomas F. Martin only handles workers’ comp claims and takes a personal interest in each and every claim he handles. As a result, he is able to get results that most other work injury attorneys might not be able to.
Talk to us today at 714-547-5025 or reach us online to request a free and confidential consultation.
California is consistently ranked as one of the most labor-friendly states in the country. Yet its workers’ compensation system remains so complicated that many workers find it difficult to get the benefits they need in a timely manner. What makes it so difficult to get workers’ compensation in California? Let us take a look.
Slow to Respond, Slow to Compensate
One of the biggest problems with California’s workers’ compensation system is that it is too slow to respond to the needs of injured workers. Injured workers are often made to wait for months – even years in some cases – before they can get the treatment and compensation they need.
The primary reason for the delay in getting workers’ compensation in California – according to the findings of a recently-conducted state audit – is the lack of qualified physicians within the system. Data shows that California has not increased the pay for qualified medical evaluators – who play a vital role in the workers’ compensation system – for more than 13 years.
The audit shows that between 2017 and 2018, California’s workers’ compensation program had a total of 2,800 medical evaluators. The total number of medical evaluation requests from injured workers during the same period of time, on the other hand, was over 100,000.
Hard to Navigate
Yet another reason why it is difficult to get workers’ compensation in California in a timely manner is that the system is hard to navigate for the average worker. The reason – according to experts – is that the people running the system are more concerned about procedural requirements and less concerned with the outcome. They have almost forgotten that their primary duty is to help the injured worker get better – not to delay the process for the flimsiest of reasons.
The Unintended Consequences of Delayed Care And Compensation
One of the most serious consequences of delayed care and compensation is that it increases the risk of permanent disabilities in injured workers. Especially, workers who suffer brain or spinal cord injuries cannot afford to wait for long, as the risk of permanent disability is extremely high in such cases.
How an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Help You
One of the best ways to expedite your claims process is to hire an experienced California workers’ compensation attorney who can guide you through the process and help you get the medical care and compensation you need.
An experienced attorney can easily spot the pitfalls and obstacles that can delay your claims process and take steps to expedite it to the highest extent possible. They can also make sure that you are not unfairly denied any of the rights and benefits you are entitled to under the law.
Looking to File for Workers’ Compensation in California? We Can Help You!
For over 25 years, attorney Thomas F. Martin has been providing high-quality, passionate legal representation for injured workers in California. Recognized as one of the best workers’ compensation attorneys in California, Mr. Martin has represented thousands of injured workers over the years and helped them get the compensation they deserve.
If you have suffered an injury on the job and are in need of a lawyer whom you can trust and rely on, attorney Thomas F. Martin is the right choice for you. To know how we can help maximize your workers’ compensation in California, call us at 714-547-5025 or contact us online for a free case evaluation.
When employers cheat the workers’ compensation system, injured workers suffer.
While employer fraudsters are routinely being caught, some are cheating the system more than others. (more…)
While insurance company lobbyists and think tanks spend their days getting laws changed in Sacramento so they can extract more profit from the workers’ compensation system, workers are falling into poverty after a work injury. (more…)