The length of time it takes to investigate a workers’ compensation claim varies depending on the type of injury reported, the circumstances surrounding the accident, witness availability, the extent of the medical conditions, the availability of documentation, and the cooperation and availability of all parties involved.
California bill SB 1127 would reduce the investigation period for claims in which workers have a presumption of compensability to 75 days from the employer notification of the injury. In other claims, the investigation period would remain at 90 days.
Challenges With Workers’ Comp Investigations
The California Workers’ Compensation Institute (CWCI) conducted a study that found potential problems associated with reducing claim investigation time frames; these include:
- Litigated and denied claims require significantly more time to gather reports and documentation from outside sources. Only 49.2% of litigated claims that are eventually denied have a compensability decision at 75 days.
- Employers are currently liable for up to $10,000 of medical treatment for a claimed injury during the investigation period, regardless of the insurance company’s final decision. Reducing the time frame would reduce the amount of time workers whose claims are eventually denied have to receive $10,000 worth of medical care.
How Workers’ Comp Investigations Proceed
A workers’ comp investigation looks at video surveillance, online social media channels, interviews, and medical reports to determine whether the claim should be approved or denied. The insurance company’s claims team is checking to see if the injury is fake or exaggerated if the injury is job-related, and if the employee is still working.
Investigators will watch employees coming and going from home and doctor’s offices. In addition, they will review the injured employee’s online posts, tagged photos, status updates, and other online activities. Investigators will also interview employees over the phone or in person to see if the injury is valid and work-related. Workers’ comp claims teams may also interview the injured employee’s relatives, close friends, coworkers, and neighbors to learn more about the employee and identify potential fraud.
Legitimately injured workers don’t need to worry about the claims investigations process. Hiring an experienced work injury lawyer in Orange County, CA will help ensure they have a solid case and receive the compensation they deserve. Call Thomas F. Martin, PLC today to schedule a consultation.
Competition for customers in the hotel and restaurant industries, particularly as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, is intense, and the pressure on workers to get work done puts workers at great risk for injury and repetitive motion conditions.
Working in a restaurant and/or hotel is incredibly physical. Prolonged weight bearing, pushing and pulling carts, making beds, cleaning rooms and bathrooms, lifting and carrying heavy items, high risk of slip and falls, vacuuming, and burns are unfortunately common activities that can cause injuries. Repetitive motion injuries – also known as cumulative trauma injuries – are also common. Injurious conditions can include:
– Back and neck damage
– Wrist and hand conditions ( such as carpal tunnel syndrome)
– Chemical exposure/lung injury
– Knee injuries
– Shoulder and elbow injuries
Thomas F. Martin, PLC has helped many hospitality workers obtain workers’ compensation benefits for their injuries.
Your free and confidential consultation is available by calling 714-547-5025.
Losing a loved one is difficult for everyone. Especially when it happens suddenly on account of an unforeseen accident, it is more painful to know that the person could have had a great life ahead. Such accidents are avoided by many but sometimes the worst happens. Workers in construction, factories and shop floors are the most vulnerable to such accidents. Whenever a worker dies, it is the duty and moral obligation of the company to provide his or her dependents with workers’ compensation death benefits. Here is some more information on death benefits included in workers’ compensation.
Why does one receive death benefits?
When a person dies at work, ANYONE who was dependent on them for financial support may be entitled to workers’ compensation death benefits.
Who is eligible for the death benefits?
People who were partially or totally dependent on the deceased may be entitled to death benefits. By law, some relatives are automatically considered to be totally dependents and these are:
· A child under the age of 18
· A child of any age who is physically or mentally challenged to be able to work or earn a living
· A spouse who earned less than $30,000 in the 12 months before the deceased’s death.
· Other individuals qualify for being total dependents or partial dependents but in general, they must be a part of the household, a relative by blood, marriage, or adoption. And if a person relied on the worker in full or partial, they become a dependent entitled to benefits.
What amounts are included in death benefits?
· Burial Expenses: The Workers’ compensation insurance company has to provide expenses incurred by the family for the funeral. Burial expenses up to $10,000 is provided as compensation.
· Death Benefits: Generally (there are exceptions) the benefits are: One total dependent, $250,000; two total dependents, $290,000; for three or more, $320,000 is paid by the insurance company. This amount is released in installments but not less than $224 per week, and under certain circumstances awarded in a lump sum.
· A partial dependent may receive four times the amount they received from the deceased as financial aid.
Thomas F. Martin is an experienced attorney working for workers injured on the job and has worked in the field for over 25 years. If you need any help or information on workers’ compensation, call us for a free case evaluation today.
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.
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.
While the workplace has become safer over the past few decades, and worker injury rates have decreased, obviously injuries still occur on a daily basis.
The workers’ compensation system is complex, and a work injury lawyer in Orange County can be of assistance in navigating the California workers’ compensation system. Almost like your “tour guide” through the system.
Here are some general answers to common questions:
1. What is workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a form of protection for employees that employers must have to pay for workers that are injured on the job. Wage replacement benefits are provided as well as medical treatment at not cost to the injured employee.
2. What should I do if I’m injured at work?
A Worker who gets injured at work or sustains a work-related illness should tell their supervisor as soon as possible and fill out a claim form. Prompt reporting will help the worker gets the medical care and benefits they deserve. The employer should investigate the accident and immediately file your claim with their insurance company. Once the employer receives the completed claim form from the employee, they are required to fill out their portion of the form. Workers who need medical treatment should get it immediately.
3. Do I need to fill out the DWC 1 claim form?
Workers generally must complete the DWC 1 claim form to start the process of obtaining benefits. Otherwise, the employer may later say they didn’t know about the injury or illness you reported.
4. What kinds of benefits am I eligible for?
After reporting a work injury, a worker may be eligible for the following immediate benefits:
· Up to $10,000 in treatment while the claims administrator investigates the claim.
· Wage replacement benefits if a physician determines that injury prevents working, or the employer refuses to honor your work restrictions.
If the claim is accepted, injured workers may qualify for the following benefits:
· Continuing medical treatment
· Temporary disability benefits
· Permanent disability benefits
· Future medical care
· Supplemental job displacement benefits
· Other benefits required by law
5. Do I need a workers’ comp lawyer?
Injured workers should consider obtaining a free consultation with an Orange County workers’ compensation lawyer if:
· The physician assigned to the case is not providing appropriate treatment
· Treatment is being denied by the insurance company
· The employer or insurance carrier denies the accident or injury is work-related
· The employer doesn’t file the necessary paperwork on time
· It appears there will be permanent disability
· The settlement doesn’t cover all lost wages and medical bills
· They have a preexisting condition the insurance company is using as an excuse not to pay benefits
· They plan to file for Social Security disability benefits
· The employer retaliates against the injured worker even though the injury or illness is work-related
· Another person or company may be responsible for the injury
Your rights can be lost if a claim is not pursued promptly. Delays in making a claim may result in the statute of limitations barring the claim forever. Act promptly.
In November of 2021, over 400 sanitation workers employed by Republic Services at facilities in Anaheim and Huntington Beach voted to authorize a strike against the company. The workers’ contract expired in late September and was followed by multiple contract bargaining sessions.
Workers were concerned about excessive working hours and alleged persistent harassment in the workplace. Members of Teamsters Local 396 called attention to the large pay gap between the CEO and the company’s worker. In 2020, the CEO’s total compensation was over $12 million and 154 times the pay of an average worker. That same year, Republic Services grossed over $10 billion with $1.2 billion in net profit. In addition, the company spent more than $736 million buying back its stock.
Republic Services is the second-largest trash collection, disposal, and landfill company in America, with facilities in over 40 states. More than 7,000 Republic workers nationwide are represented by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Ron Herrera, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 396, said, “Teamsters working at Republic Services across Orange County are sending a strong message that they are ready to do whatever it takes to secure a fair contract. Republic Services needs to take negotiations seriously to ensure that these essential heroes who work hard to keep our cities clean and protect our environment get a fair contract.”
The Orange County strike had five members traveling to Republic’s hauling yard in New Orleans and putting up a picket there, while other workers extended the picket line to Republic’s recycling facility in Anaheim.
In December of 2021, more than 450 sanitation workers at Republic Services’ waste hauling yards in Anaheim and Huntington Beach ratified new collective bargaining agreements after a seven-day strike protesting the company’s unilateral changes without bargaining and threatening to retaliate against employees participating in union activity.
According to a press release, the new contracts include significant wage increases and other improvements.
Soon after the new contracts were ratified, more than 250 workers at Republic Services in San Diego went on strike demanding a fair contract.
Chuck Stiles, Director of the Teamsters Solid Waste & Recycling Division, said, “The strike in Los Angeles may be over, but Teamster members across America are fed up and will continue to take action until the company stops breaking the law and is willing to bargain fair contracts for these essential workers.”
In these increasingly frequent situations, I am reminded of the Warren Gunnels quote:
“You’re not a failure in life if you work for starvation wages with no benefits. You’re a failure in life if you are a business owner who depends on the exploitation of a poverty-wage workforce, no matter how many yachts and mansions you own. It’s time to redefine success in America”.
If you’ve recently suffered a work injury or condition, finding a work injury attorney in Santa Ana, CA can be challenging. There are hundreds of attorneys claiming they can help you. The bottom line is an experienced attorney can take the burden of navigating the workers’ compensation system and let you focus on getting better.
To be prepared for your meeting with a workers’ comp lawyer, having the information and paperwork gathered in advance of your meeting will make the process smoother for you – and the attorney.
Information to Bring When Meeting a Work Injury Attorney in Santa Ana, CA
During the consultation, the attorney will need answers to questions like:
- Where the injury took place
- What you were doing when the injury occurred
- Witnesses to the injury
- What your injuries are
- A list of doctors you saw and their phone numbers
- Proof of your wages at the time of the injury
A work injury attorney in Santa Ana, CA will also need to know the details about your job history. This information can help determine the amount of benefits you’re eligible to receive.
If there was an accident report written at the time of the accident, bring a copy of it when you attend the appointment with the lawyer.
If you haven’t received a copy of the report, the attorney can issue a subpoena for it.
Bring pay stubs, your employee ID number, hire date, job title, and a list of daily duties to the consultation. Your workers’ compensation benefits are usually based on to how much you were making at the time of the accident. Your work injury attorney in Santa Ana, CA will need detailed employment records to calculate your average earnings and make sure you obtain the compensation that you deserve.
Paperwork And Documents From Your Employer
After making a workers’ compensation claim, you may receive paperwork in the mail from the workers’ compensation administrator, such as letters about the workers’ compensation system, information about physician networks, and documents describing the workers’ compensation process, the benefits available to you, and your legal rights. Make sure you have these letters handy for your meeting with a workers’ compensation attorney.
Initial and Follow Up Medical Treatment Records
Bring records of any medical treatment you received immediately after the accident, in addition to any medical paperwork suggesting a treatment plan and recommendations for follow-up care. This information will help verify the link between the accident and your injuries and establish the extent of your injuries and your inability to work in the aftermath of the accident.
You should also consider bringing information related to any other expenses associated with your injury, such as purchasing equipment related to treatment and traveling to doctor’s offices for medical appointments. Medical bills, whether you’ve paid them or not, are another important part of your case, so be sure to bring any medical bills with you to the consultation.
Other Records to Bring
Also bring photos (and videos, if you have them) of your injuries to show the extent of your injuries. If you have photos of the accident scene, this could be valuable evidence, especially if the insurance company has denied your claim.
Records of phone and email correspondence with your employer and insurance company is also important to document the interactions.
An experienced work injury attorney in Santa Ana, CA will need the information noted above to assist in promptly securing the benefits you make be entitled to.
Billboards, TV and radio commercials, bus benches.
Lawyer ads seem to be everywhere claiming to be the “best” if you get injured. But does a hefty advertising budget mean that a lawyer knows what they are doing in court?
If you are injured on the job beware of lawyers claiming to be the “best in town”. Here are four things worth considering when you are deciding on an Orange County lawyer to represent you for your work injury:
- Look For Actual Experience
It seems obvious, but having a lawyer who discusses your case with you personally, works on your case personally, and makes court appearances on your case personally makes a big difference in the outcome of your workers’ compensation case.
With over 30 years of experience handling workers’ compensation cases in Orange County and decades of awards and recognition by his fellow lawyers as a highly-skilled and ethical lawyer, Tom Martin doesn’t rely on nicknames, songs, or billboards everywhere you look. Instead, he limits his practice to only representing injured workers and getting the results each of his clients deserves and lets his work speak for itself – the vast majority of his clients come from “word of mouth”, the best advertising a lawyer can have.
- Do Past “Wins” Matter?
Yes. Like other lawyers, Mr. Martin has recovered tens of millions of dollars for his clients over the years, and that speaks to his skill going against the biggest employers and insurance companies in California.
But does his past successes on behalf of his clients mean that’s the only reason to retain him? No.
What really matters is what his strategy is to recover what you deserve in your case – because every case is different, and you and your injuries are unlike any other case.
Visit www.ThomasFMartin.com to see why Tom Martin’s personal attention to your case matters.
- Fees Based On Performance
Many lawyers charge by the hour no matter what the outcome of the case is. That’s not how Tom Martin gets paid for his work on your case.
His fee is 15% of the amount of the recovery for his client. This fee structure protects the injured worker because if there is no recovery there is no fee. With this fee structure, Mr. Martin is in the “same boat” as you – the goal is to secure the Award you are entitled to – no less.
- Do you get to talk with a lawyer, or just a ‘legal assistant”?
Mr. Martin personally appears in court for his clients every week. He’s busy representing his clients, securing the financial benefits and the medical treatment they are entitled to. The best work injury lawyers in Orange County aren’t shooting TV and radio ads, or coming up with catchy songs and nicknames – they are in the courtroom fighting for their clients.
Many workers’ compensation attorneys use paralegals to process cases, and non-lawyers to appear in court. Before you retain an attorney, find out who is actually going to work on your case. It matters. After all, if you’re going to hire a law firm, you deserve to have the lawyer handling your case!
Regarded by his peers as one of the best workers ’comp attorneys in Orange County, consider calling Thomas F. Martin, PLC at 714-547-5025.
Types Of Workers Compensation Settlements Negotiated By An Orange County Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
As a top Orange County workers’ compensation lawyer, Thomas F. Martin, PLC explains the main types of settlement formats options in workers’ comp law:
- Stipulated Findings and Award
This type of settlement is an option when an injured worker and the employer (or its insurance company) agree on the permanent disability rating and need for future medical treatment. The stipulation is the parties’ agreement about the findings of the case. These findings include the disability rating percentage, the fact that a work injury caused the disability, and the need for future medical care.
When the settlement paperwork is presented to a workers’ compensation judge, the agreement will have the same force and effect as if the Judge made the findings after a trial. In most cases, after obtaining the medical reporting and other evidence, the parties are often able to agree on what the Award should be.
A Stipulated Findings and Award settlement will require the insurance company to make a payment to the injured worker every two weeks for a specified period of time depending on the percentage of permanent disability. Sometimes, if the insurance company has not paid the permanent disability owed, a lump sum payment be paid to the injured worker to catch up on the payments owed according to the agreement.
This settlement is common in cases when an injured worker continues to work for the same employer.
- Compromise and Release
An Orange County workers’ compensation lawyer may negotiate a Compromise and Release if the injured worker wants to close out all rights in the case, including the right to request future medical treatment. In these cases, the injured worker accepts a lump sum of money to settle the worker’s compensation claim and close the case forever.
The workers’ compensation judge must still review approve the Compromise and Release to ensure it’s fair. Most Compromise and Release settlement agreements are approved if the worker has an experienced Orange County workers’ compensation lawyer representing them.
One advantage of this type of settlement is the immediacy of payment. Workers don’t need to wait for installments payments but receive the full payment. In many cases, clients receive a more favorable financial payment since insurance companies prefer not to be under any future obligation.
- Hybrid settlement
An experienced Orange County workers’ compensation lawyer may be able to negotiate a Compromise and Release ( closing out all rights for a lump sum) AND have future medical care left open in certain cases.