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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Most injured workers take the time to carefully research the qualifications of a workers compensation attorney before they hire them. However, things can be hectic after a work injury, and sometimes the Orange County workers compensation lawyer that you hired may not the best fit for you.
Obviously, you don’t know how well the attorney you hired is going to perform until the case progresses. You may then realize that the attorney is not returning calls, not giving you regular status on your case, and does not have an adequate plan for your case.
In other words, injured workers sometimes choose the first workers’ comp lawyer they find through a Google search, and that can turn out to be a disappointment. If an Orange County workers’ compensation lawyer isn’t meeting your expectations, consider the following:
- Before You Hire Another Attorney, Try To Repair The Relationship
If you are calling your attorney and he or she is not returning your calls, that can be frustrating, but not necessarily a reason to fire your lawyer. It may be that the attorney IS working on your case, but not communicating the work is being done. In these situations, you may want to send the lawyer a letter requesting specific information regarding the status of your case.
In the event that the lawyer ignores your letter requesting status, or provides an unsatisfactory answer, then you may want to consider further options, as discussed below.
- Interview other lawyers BEFORE dismissing your current lawyer
While it is your right to represent yourself, the workers’ compensation system is complex, which is why you probably hired a lawyer in the first place. Consider interviewing qualified lawyers BEFORE you decide to dismiss your current attorney. You don’t want to end up navigating legal proceedings on your own while searching for a new lawyer.
- If You Find Another Lawyer To Represent You Let Them Handle The Paperwork
In the event that you find another lawyer to take over your case, they will know what paperwork to file so they can take over your case.
- If Your Decide To Represent Yourself, Consider Having A State Of California Specialist Assist You
The State of California provides free assistance to dismiss your attorney and answer your questions about processing your workers’ compensation claim. You can find help here:
California wildfires are now a yearly event.
Nearly four million people work outdoors in California. Industries like agriculture, construction, landscaping, and utilities rely on employees to work outdoors, even during wildfire season.
Though employers are required to take steps to protect outdoor workers from breathing in harmful levels of smoke, such as providing N95 masks, California’s Division of Occupational Health and Safety (known as Cal/OSHA), cited employers just 11 times between July 2019 and October 5, 2021. Only two agricultural employers were fined by CAL/OSHA for failing to provide enough respirators or effective training to employees exposed to wildfire smoke, according to agency data.
Excessive exposure to wildfire smoke can cause eye and throat irritation, persistent coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing and even certain types of cancers. Exposure to just 2.5 parts per million can even lead to reduced lung function, heart failure, and even early death.
An investigation by The California Newsroom linked the rise of wildfire smoke to sharp increases in hospitalizations for heart and lung conditions in California. The investigation also revealed a dramatic rise in prescriptions for the asthma medication albuterol as the number of “smoke days” increase. There is simply no denying the correlation.
Nayamin Martinez, executive director of the Central California Environmental Justice Network said, “I always find it very ironic when the agencies brag, ‘Oh, we have more stringent rules [than] the entire nation.’ Well, those rules are out there. But if you don’t enforce them, then there’s nothing good out of them.”
A recent survey of more than 300 agricultural workers in the San Joaquin Valley conducted by Central California Environmental Justice Network found that nearly 60% of farmworkers weren’t provided N95 masks nor did they know what “N95s” even were. About 45% said they didn’t know what protections they had from California wildfire smoke.
The fact that so many at-risk workers are not even aware of the type of masks that would provide enhanced protection is proof that employers are not stepping up to their responsibility when it comes to educating and protecting their workers.
CAL/OSHA is taking steps in the right direction. The agency has begun posting videos and other training materials on its website in both Spanish and English with the goal of protecting workers, and providing safety information that employers are not.
When searching for an award-winning Orange County, California Work Comp Lawyer, it’s not always easy to identify the lawyers that have been routinely recognized for their skill and ethics.
How to Find an Award-Winning Orange County California Work Comp Lawyer
If you do a Google search for “award-winning Orange County California Work Comp Lawyer”, you’ll likely see ads for top lawyers in the area. But well-worded ads, flashy commercials, and big promises don’t always mean the attorneys have the experience, depth of knowledge, attention to detail, and ethics you deserve to have.
Look For Awards That Really Matter
There are many awards an attorney can receive, but Martindale-Hubbell has been the premier rating service for attorneys for over a century.
“For more than 130 years, Martindale-Hubbell has been evaluating attorneys for their strong legal ability and high ethical standards through a Peer Review Rating system. Prior to the 1887 edition of Martindale’s American Law Directory, which was the first publication to provide such ratings to attorneys, there was no way of truly knowing if the lawyer you were considering to do business with was trustworthy, ethical, or skilled in the legal field.
Today – Martindale-Hubbell continues to provide verified ratings for attorneys based not only on their legal ability and ethical standards as judged by their peers, but also based on reviews from their clients. While the criteria and format of the Peer Review Rating system have evolved since the 1800’s – the goal of Martindale-Hubbell ratings remains the same: to help keep the public informed when making the decision to do business with an attorney or law firm.”
Martindale Hubbell explains its rating system this way:
“Historically the Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ system utilized an “A – B – C” scale to estimate the legal ability and ethical standards of an attorney. To qualify for an “A” rating an attorney had to be reported as “Very High” in their legal ability and had been practicing for at least 10 years, a “B” rating meant an attorney was rated “High” and had to be practicing for at least 5 years, and a “C” rating meant that the attorney was rated “fair” with no limitations on how long they were practicing. A second rating was also given to go along with the “A – B – C” rating and that was a “V,” meaning that the attorney’s peers stated they had “Very High” ethical standards. Over the years this transitioned to “AV”, “BV”, and “CV” ratings – with an “AV” rating meaning that the attorney had reached the highest of professional excellence and is recognized for the highest levels of skill and integrity.
Today, Martindale-Hubbell conducts a thorough review of attorneys who wish to receive a Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™, through a secure online peer-review survey where a lawyer’s ethical standards and legal ability in a specific area of practice is assessed by their peers. Once the review process is completed an attorney may receive 1 of the following Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™:
AV Preeminent®: The highest peer rating standard. This is given to attorneys who are ranked at the highest level of professional excellence for their legal expertise, communication skills, and ethical standards by their peers.
Distinguished: An excellent rating for an attorney who has some experience and is widely respected by their peers for their professional achievement and ethical standards.
Notable: A rating is given to a lawyer who has been recognized by a large number of their peers for their strong ethical standards”
Of all the awards and recognitions he is privileged to receive, Thomas F Martin is proud to advise he has been once again given the AV Preeminent® rating from Martindale Hubble for 2022.
Thomas F. Martin, PLC has won other industry awards for his contributions to the workers’ comp system, and decades of recognition as a thought leader in the practice of workers compensation law as evidenced by his invitations to lecture to various attorney groups for decades.
Other recognitions include The Orange County Register, The Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Magazine, Orange Coast Magazine, and many other professional organizations. He has been rated a top workers’ comp attorney by “Best Attorneys” and continues to be known for his relentless pursuit of appropriate benefits for the clients he has chosen to represent.
Thomas F. Martin has been a speaker at various industry events, lecturing to thousands of workers’ compensation attorneys and professionals about the latest changes and methods in the workers’ comp legal system.
He has also served as a Judge Pro Tem for the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board.
If you have been seriously injured on the job, Thomas F. Martin is available to personally discuss your potential case.
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.