Junk Apportionment: Work Itself Can Accelerate Aging
Anti-employee interests are always thinking about ways to “reform” California’s worker’s compensation laws in their favor.
Take, for example, the last few reforms, which assured increased profits for insurance companies and increased benefits for injured employees. Not surprisingly, the employees ended up on the losing side of the so-called “reforms”.
Recent reforms included changes to “apportionment,” which is a fancy word for discount.
When an employee suffers permanent injuries from work activities, like lifting heavy boxes or inhaling dangerous chemicals, the employee is entitled to money to replace the lost ability to work in the future. “Apportionment” simply means a discount on the money the employer owes for the permanent disability. So let’s call it what it is – a discount.
Now, one of the ways the employer tries to get a discount is to blame the injured employee’s age for the disability. If the employer can convince a doctor in the case that “age” is responsible for part of the permanent disability – even if the employee was able to do the work – then the employer gets a discount of by whatever percentage the doctor blames age.
So, for example, if the doctor says 90% of the reason an employee has back problems was due to “age,” then the permanently disabled employee will only get 10% of what they are owed – even if they were doing the job without any problems before the injury.
Where am I going with this? Simple. Science proves that the aging process can be accelerated by the type of work you do.
For example, a new study found an association between the time spent sitting at work and increased disability. The chance of suffering permanent disability increased by 57% for each sedentary hour at work. And, the increased risk isn’t just to your joints – prolonged sitting also increases your risk across the board – arthritis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, lung disease, and risk of stroke. Think about that when you are spending countless hours working from home.
So next time a doctor blames “age” for some (or most) of your permanent disability, force the doctor and employer to justify the “junk apportionment.” Science-based medical studies have plenty to say about work-forced activities accelerating the aging process. Don’t let them get away with an unjustified discount on what you are owed in lost wages.
With more workers’ compensation “reforms” on the horizon, be on the lookout for even more efforts to limit or eliminate employees’ right to be awarded disability money for the cumulative effects of work activities such as sitting for hundreds of hours for work each month.
The “Roe vs. Wade” of California Workers’ Compensation
Regardless of where you stand regarding a woman’s constitutionally protected reproductive rights, no one will seriously doubt that the opponents of Roe vs. Wade have made countless efforts to limit and overturn the 1973 decision of the United States Supreme Court.
For 50 years, the opponents of Roe waged war on the decision – in the courts, the press, in Congress, and in State legislatures. The foes were persistent and patient. The fait accompli (at least for now) was Trump’s appointment of activist Justices to the United States Supreme Court.
This past Friday was a stunning example of what can be taken away in the blink of an eye when citizens assume that a right will always exist because it’s “decades-old”.
So what the hell does this have to do with the California workers’ compensation system? Let me tell you.
For over 100 years, a California employee has had the constitutional right to obtain medical treatment and wage replacement benefits whenever – and however – they were injured at work. Injuries that occur because of the nature of the work – commonly known as cumulative trauma injuries – are also constitutionally protected.
Much like the enemies of Roe vs. Wade, employers and insurance companies have waged a quiet war since at least the 1970s to limit and even eliminate their responsibility for cumulative trauma injuries in the workplace.
Just as in Roe, the foes of an employee’s constitutional right to obtain medical treatment and recover lost wages for cumulative trauma have spent decades laying the groundwork – in the press, in the State Legislature, and with the courts – to take away an employee’s right to recover for a work injury that occurs over time.
The drum beat for “reform” is here again – an army of employer lobbyists are again trying to wipe out your constitutional right to workers’ compensation protections when your job injures you over time.
Let’s stop another “Roe vs. Wade” style takeaway. People are more important than profits.
And people vote to correct a wrong when important rights are taken away from them.
4 Signs It’s Time to Hire an Orange County Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
An injured worker often needs to take time off work to attend doctor’s appointments, obtain treatment, and fully recover. During this time, they deserve medical benefits and wage replacement. But to obtain the compensation they deserve, they must file a claim with their employer’s insurance company. Unfortunately, many insurance companies deny most initial insurance claims, making it difficult for employees to pay medical bills and daily living expenses.
A work injury lawyer in Orange County is qualified to handle the legal aspect of workers’ compensation, as well as helping the worker access the medical services they need to recover. Here are a few signs an injured worker needs to hire an Orange County workers’ compensation lawyer.
1. The injured worker needs surgery.
Most insurance companies have a cap on how much they’re willing to pay for medical expenses. Most of the time, surgery expenses are not covered and a worker’s claim may be denied. In this case, the injured worker will need the help of an experienced workers’ comp attorney to have their claims paid in full.
2. The worker has sustained a permanent injury.
Employees who sustain a permanent injury, such as paralysis, brain trauma, severe burns, amputation, disfigurement, and neck and spine issues are entitled to greater compensation than temporary injuries.
An experienced work injury lawyer in Orange County will file the necessary paperwork and gather the evidence necessary to ensure the worker receives long-term benefits.
3. The worker has received incorrect benefits.
It’s possible that an insurance company will provide the worker with some benefits, but not the right compensation. In these cases, the injured worker needs the help of a work injury lawyer to determine what kind of compensation they deserve and negotiate with the insurance company.
4. The worker has a pre-existing disability or condition.
Workers with a pre-existing disability or condition will need to prove the accident wasn’t caused by their disability. A work injury lawyer will help the worker build a strong case and gather the evidence necessary to back up their claim and receive the compensation they deserve.
Thomas F. Martin, PLC is an experienced work injury lawyer in Orange County, helping workers obtain the benefits they deserve. Give him a call today to discuss your case!
What To Do And What Not Do After Being Injured On The Job
Your on-the-job training should cover some safety precautions about how to avoid workplace accidents and injuries. But, if your workplace is like many others, it will only brush upon what to do after an on-the-job injury and your rights as an injured employee – if at all. We have compiled a helpful and easy-to-follow list of steps that should be taken after an accident or injury that occurs either in your workplace or while you are performing work-related duties.
Hurt in a workplace accident? Consider these general steps:
- Get help: If your injury is severe enough to require immediate medical attention, get it as soon as possible. Some people hesitate to call 911 or be taken to a doctor because they do not know if the medical treatments needed will be covered under workers’ compensation law or insurance benefits. Please do not jeopardize your own health. Always call for help when you need it, no matter the circumstances.
- Tell your supervisor: Every state has its own guidelines as to how long you can wait before telling your boss, supervisor, manager, or superior about a workplace accident as soon as possible. Generally, the longer you wait to report the injury, the more challenges to the claim can arise. If you do not have a chance to immediately tell your supervisor, then you should tell a trusted person to do it for you, and follow up when you can.
- Double-check with your employer: Even though you are the one who was injured and who filled out an injury report for your company, your employer should report it to its workers’ compensation administrator. You should be given paperwork that confirms that the injury was reported.
- Follow-up appointments: Comply with your doctor’s orders while recovering from your injuries. If you have questions, ask the doctor.
- If you are being ignored, get help.
Thomas F. Martin, PLC – an Orange County workers’ compensation firm – has been fighting for the rights of injured employees for more than 25 years. Call 714.547.5025 to schedule a free consultation today.
Smart Workplace Safety Tips To Help Prevent Common Accidents On The Job
At Thomas F. Martin, PLC, Orange County Workers’ Compensation Attorney Thomas Martin has helped many injured workers seek fair workers’ compensation benefits after being in a workplace accident. But no matter how much we enjoy our job and serving injured workers, it would be better if there were no on-the-job accidents in the first place. After all, workplace safety is ultimately the responsibility of employers, supervisors, regulators, and parent companies.
Keep these general tips to avoid common workplace accidents in mind whenever on-the-job:
· Slip and trip accident prevention: From retail stores to office locations, slip hazards are a real problem for employees that can result in serious injuries. All walkways should be well-lit, clear of clutter and cables, and dry. If there is a slip hazard, safety cones should be placed around it to prevent people from walking there until the issue is fixed.
· Ergonomic equipment: Repetitive stress injuries (also known as cumulative trauma) have proven to be a health hazard for office workers, especially carpal tunnel and similar wrist and hand conditions that come after long hours spent at a computer. Ask your supervisor for ergonomic equipment that is designed to prevent repetitive stress injuries in particular.
· Full shutdown: Whenever someone services, empties or cleans a piece of heavy machinery, or any equipment with sharp parts, it should be completely shut off, unplugged, and locked out, when possible. Only the person actually servicing the equipment should carry the key to the lockout system, ensuring no one else could possibly turn the machinery back on.
· Stay together: If your job requires you to scale heights, cross precarious planks, or enter any otherwise dangerous area – all hazards common to construction and industrial jobs – you should stay close to a coworker as much as possible. In case there is an accident, someone will be there to call for help immediately.
· Medical kits: There should be ample medical supplies at every workplace for first-aid care and intervention. The larger the worksite, the more first-aid kits there should be. Ideally, it should not take more than one minute for an able-bodied person to reach medical supplies and bring it back to the accident site.
Even with all the best preventative measures in place, you may still get hurt in a workplace accident. The injury can also arise from someone else’s negligence. If you need professional assistance in a workers’ comp claim, appealing one that was denied, or fighting for compensation in the courtroom, know that Thomas F Martin PLC – Orange County workers’ compensation attorney – can help. Learn more about your rights and options today during a free case evaluation – just call 714.547.5025 to begin.
Repetitive Stress Injuries And The Workers That Can Get Them
Repetitive stress (or strain) injuries, or RSIs, are the most common occupational health problem in the United States; they cost more than $20 billion a year in workers’ compensation claims. And while outdoor workers typically have a higher risk of accidental injury (logging is one of the most dangerous jobs in the country), many white-collar occupations expose people to traumatic repetitive movements that could lead to nerve or musculoskeletal damage. Here are a few RSIs and the jobs that might increase your risk of experiencing them.
RSI’s are also known as cumulative trauma claims.
CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME
There are around 850,000 new cases of carpal tunnel syndrome every year. The carpal tunnel is where nerves and tendons pass from the arm to the hand. One of the nerves, the median nerve, carries “signals” from the brain to the fingers and hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve is pinched by swollen tendons in the wrist and other complications. Repetitive movements that create stress for the tendons can cause this problem. Occupations that experience this type of injury include:
· Factory workers
· Assembly-line workers
· Administrative support workers
· Dental hygienists
· Warehouse workers
· Construction workers
Assembly workers can develop the syndrome since they may use vibrating hand tools, which may increase chances of tendon irritation. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include tingling, pain, numbness, or weakness in fingers, wrists, or arms. Early treatment can help, but severe cases could require surgery.
Tennis elbow, or epicondylitis, is a condition causing pain on the outside of the arm, where the forearm meets the elbow. Tiny tears in the tendons that connect muscle to bone cause inflammation and can cause pain in your arm. Epicondylitis may make it painful to lift and grip objects and could become chronic and extremely painful. Some employees susceptible to the development of “tennis elbow” are:
· Musicians (such as fiddlers, violinists, and pianists)
· This condition may be treated with exercise, physical therapy, or anti-inflammatory medication, but severe cases might need Botox injections, ultrasonic treatment, or even surgery.
While “tennis elbow” is a type of tendonitis, you can develop this condition in any tendon in your body. Most often, tendonitis can occur in the shoulder, elbow, knee, wrist, and heel, or other parts of the body that are constantly used on a day-to-day basis. Repetitive movements that irritate the tendons can cause tears, and continuous repetition of the same motion can make those tears wider or prevent them from healing at all. Rotator cuff tendonitis is a common condition and will feel like shoulder pain. Jobs that most often lead to rotator cuff tendonitis are:
· Athletes (such as swimmers, tennis players, and baseball players)
Symptoms of tendonitis include pain, weak joints, and swollen, warmth around the area. Tendonitis can heal after a few days of rest, application of ice packs, and anti-inflammatory drugs. More severe cases may need a brace, sling, or splint to keep the affected area from moving. Surgery may be needed in serious cases.
Back pain is a common symptom for many workers. Some workers who might be more prone to developing back injury are:
· Construction workers
· Nursing home caretakers
· Warehouse workers
· Bus drivers
Because the spine is the “column of strength” we depend on for movement and rotating, workers often lift with using leg strength, rather than with the back. Back pain can also be one of the most difficult RSIs to deal with, as we use our spine to stand and sit.
If you’re experiencing pain on the job, don’t wait until your injury becomes debilitating. Consider filing a workers’ compensation claim so you can get the medical attention you deserve.
What Are The Cost Of MRI and CT Scans?
Doctors and physicians often rely on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans to identify the true source of a patient’s illness or injury and decide what to do next. The technology is fast and effective, and it has been heralded as one of the leading causes of increased average lifespans, decreased need for exploratory surgery, and an overall reduction of lengthy hospital stays.
So why do workers’ compensation insurance companies resist authorizing them? Because some ration care at the expense of an injured worker’s health.
Back in 2000, Medicare clearly recognized the legitimate uses of MRI, CT, and other similar advanced scanning technologies. From that year to 2006, it’s spending on such treatments more than doubled, from $3.6 billion a year to $7.6 billion. But the more they were using advanced scanning, the more they were costing themselves. So in response to the raised costs, they began to reimburse less and less for each incident of treatment, putting more of the cost onto individuals. They also created intense review processes that required patients to be examined thoroughly before permitting an MRI or CT scan, hoping to only use it when it was medically necessary. Of course, the risk was a condition that could remain undiagnosed for longer and potentially cause delay in the healing process.
Simply put, workers’ compensation administrators followed Medicare’s lead.
If the insurance adjuster is denying a request for an MRI or CT scan, consider calling us for a free consultation. We have been assisting people injured on the job for over 25 years.
The consultation is always free. 714-547-5025.
What Should You Do If Your Workers’ Compensation Claim Has Been Denied?
After a workplace injury, workers’ compensation benefits may be the only medical treatment and wage replacement resource available to you. If your claim is denied by the insurance company, you will not receive these benefits until the claim is resolved by a Workers’ Compensation Judge.
WHY WAS YOUR CLAIM DENIED?
Some reasons why a workers’ compensation claim is denied:
· Late or incomplete paperwork: Even when an injured worker completed the required paperwork, sometimes the employer does not. Following up on the claim status is usually a good idea.
· The severity of injury: Even if the injured worker reports an injury, the employer may not consider it “important” enough to tell their insurance carrier. Again, follow up!
· The “employer level investigation”: If you have received a letter from the insurance company that says “based on an employer level investigation” the claim is denied ( or some other excuse) even though you know it happened, it’s time to consider getting help.
If you have questions about your denied workers’ compensation claim, give us a call at 714-547-5025 for a free consultation.
How To Know If Your Case Is Workers’ Comp Or Personal Injury
In California, individuals who sustain injuries in a home, public place, or workplace may have the right to pursue legal action. How the injury occurred and the location of the accident will determine the type of claim: personal injury or workers’ compensation.
Personal injury cases are classified as either strict liability or intentional wrong.
- Strict Liability
Strict liability pertains to the consequences of the actions of a certain individual or party. For example, a car accident, faulty product, or an action that didn’t intend any harm or criminal intent could be categorized as strict liability.
Other types of strict liability include:
- Harm caused by owned animals
- Accidents due to negligence or carelessness
- Selling alcohol to minors
- Intentional Wrongs
Intentional wrongs can include obvious altercations between two parties; for example, a physical fight where the other party was liable. In such cases, it’s important to prove that one party intended to cause harm to the other.
Other types of intentional wrong include:
- Defamation or slander
- Assault and battery
- False imprisonment
Workers’ compensation claims refer to injuries or illnesses that are job-related. If an employee is unable to work as a result of a workplace injury, they can file a claim. Injured employees may be eligible for assistance with medical bills, lost wages, and psychological counseling.
An experienced work injury lawyer in Orange County could help injured workers determine the type(s) of compensation they are entitled to.
- Physical Injury Claims
Repetitive injuries, for example, are caused by doing repetitive activities such as bending or lifting, or as a result of improper workplace training. Common injuries caused by repetitive activities include carpal tunnel syndrome, neck and back strain, bulging discs, amputation, and nervous system damage.
- Mental Injury Claims
The workplace could also cause mental injuries such as anxiety, stress, and depression. These injuries may occur if the workplace is plagued by bullying, employee isolation, and threats of contract termination.
Injured workers should call the best Orange County workers’ compensation lawyer Thomas F. Martin, PLC to schedule a consultation and begin their journey to obtaining compensation.
Occupational Disease and Workers’ Compensation in California
Workers in a wide range of industries are at risk of sustaining specific injuries that could require extensive medical treatment.
Workers can also sustain injuries described as “wear and tear” or “cumulative trauma” injuries over time.
A specific injury occurs on a particular date and time, like falling off a ladder or lifting something that hurts your back.
“Wear and Tear” or Cumulative Trauma injuries / Occupational Disease
Physical injuries – Workers in occupations involving repetitive motions, like lifting, bending, or typing, may be at risk of developing “wear and tear” or cumulative trauma injuries. The symptoms can take weeks, months, or even years to develop. A physician should provide an opinion that supports a relationship between work duties and the condition.
Internal injuries – Other injuries and diseases can occur due to various exposures at the workplace. Exposure to periods of prolonged stress can contribute to high blood pressure, heart problems, or even aggravate diabetes, for example. Exposure to dust, chemicals, dust, or fumes at work can cause damage to the lungs. Unfortunately, workplace exposure can even contribute to certain cancers.
Hearing loss – A common injury for workers who work around loud noise, like airport workers, heavy equipment operators, farmers, ambulance drivers, manufacturers, and factory workers are all at risk. An explosion at work would be work-related as well.
Skin conditions – Rashes and thermal burns can be caused by exposure to harmful chemicals and lead to pain and scarring. Occupations at risk for these skin injuries include:
- Lab workers.
- Farmers who use pesticides.
- Working around radiation.
Brain injuries – Exposure to dangerous chemicals and even infections like West Nile Virus and viruses like Covid -19 can cause severe and lasting damage to the brain.
The above are only examples. If you suspect you have been exposed to harmful circumstances at the workplace, consider consulting with a work injury lawyer in Orange County to gather the evidence necessary to present to a workers’ compensation Judge.
How To File A Claim For Occupational Illness
Unfortunately, the California workers’ compensation system is complex, particularly when gathering evidence of serious injuries. To document a specific, cumulative trauma injury, or occupational illness, consider a free consultation with our Award-winning Orange County workers’ compensation lawyer, Thomas F. Martin, PLC.
For over 30 years, Tom has assisted injured workers to secure the financial and medical benefits they deserve.