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.
The simple truth is that in California, undocumented workers qualify for workers’ compensation benefits because all workers are considered employees under California law regardless of immigration status or whether or not the employer is uninsured. However, certain job retraining benefits may be unavailable.
If an employer is unable to offer modified or permanent work based on an injured worker’s medical status, the worker may receive benefits. But if the employer is unable to offer work due to the employee’s immigration status, then the benefits may be unavailable.
This typically occurs after an injured worker is found to be undocumented. Under federal law, businesses are prohibited from hiring individuals who don’t have a legal right to work in the United States.
Once a business owner finds out that a worker is undocumented, they will no doubt take the position that they are required to terminate the employee. Under federal law, violation of laws governing work eligibility can be punishable by fines and criminal prosecution. The use of false employment documents by workers may also lead to fines and criminal prosecution for the worker.
However, California workers’ compensation laws are not in conflict with federal immigration laws because these laws don’t address workers’ comp benefits. Thus, an undocumented worker may be eligible for:
– Temporary disability
– Medical treatment
– Permanent disability
– Future medical treatment
– Other workers’ compensation benefits
California is a “no-fault” state. This means that as long as the injury or condition happened while working, that injured worker is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Immigration status is irrelevant.
In some cases, an employer or insurer may (falsely) claim that immigration status is an “excuse” not to provide workers’ compensation benefits. An experienced work injury lawyer in Orange County can help undocumented workers injured on the job navigate the complex workers’ comp system and obtain the benefits they deserve. Don’t let them get away it.
Call Thomas F. Martin, PLC at 714-547-5025 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your rights.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When it comes to work injury claims, challenges are to be expected. Insurance companies don’t want to pay benefits and use many techniques to avoid paying them. Fortunately, experienced lawyers like Thomas F. Martin know how to navigate through those challenges and reach a positive outcome for their clients.
If you have a work injury, here are a few potential challenges a work injury lawyer in Orange County might help you with:
- Benefit delays
Disability benefits are often delayed at the beginning of a case. However, n injured workers’ bills don’t stop just because a worker is injured on the job. If you are taken off of word due to an injury, and the insurance company is not paying you temporary disability benefits, you may need to consult with a lawyer to find out your options. Sometimes a hearing before a workers’ compensation Judge is necessary. Penalties may be owed to you as well. An Orange County workers’ compensation attorney can assist you in resolving benefit payment delays.
- Difficulty obtaining medical treatment
Insurance companies usually insist on you treating with the doctor they assigned to you. Often, these doctors will be told by the insurance company that they can only treat you for the injuries that the insurance company “admits” were injured, and the rest of the injuries are ignored. For example, if you are seriously injured in a fall, and as a consequence of the extreme pain and sleeplessness you lose control of your diabetes, the insurance company is responsible for not only treating your work injuries but also getting your diabetes back under control. But often, the insurance company adjuster will refuse to pay for the treatment for diabetes because it was “pre-existing”. That’s the type of situation you may want to consult with an Orange County worker’s compensation attorney about to determine your rights and options.
- Employer retaliation after filing a claim
After a worker reports a work injury, employers may come up with all kinds of excuses to criticize a worker for “performance issues” like “working too slow”, or “not following the rules”. If it is determined that the employer is discriminating against the injured worker because of the report of a work injury, the employer may be violating the law, and additional benefits may be owed. An Orange County workers’ compensation attorney will know what kind of evidence is necessary to prove retaliation and obtain the benefits you may be owed.
- Disputes over preexisting injuries or conditions
One of the most common methods insurance companies use to reduce or deny workers’ compensation benefits is to blame a PAST condition or injury for the CURRENT disability the injured worker is experiencing. Even if the workers’ PAST injury or condition has fully recovered a long time ago, the insurance company will argue that the PAST injury is the reason for the current health challenges of the worker. If you are facing this type of challenge to your claim, an attorney can assist you in pushing back on this insurance company tactic.
- Disputing that you are an employee
Some employers, even rideshare and food delivery companies, create the impression that their employees are “independent contractors” so they can avoid paying for worker’s compensation benefits. However, the law in California requires that companies follow certain guidelines before a worker can be considered an “independent contractor”. If you have suffered an injury while you were working, and the company or its insurance company is denying you workers’ compensation benefits, you should consider consulting with an Orange County workers’ compensation lawyer to determine whether you were an independent contractor or employee.