If you’ve been injured on the job, taking the right steps is key to building a successful workers’ compensation case. An experienced workers comp attorney will guide you through the process and ensure you receive the benefits you deserve.
- Understand the basics of workers’ compensation.
In California, a workers’ compensation case primarily addresses physical injuries. Workers may receive benefits for mental and emotional injuries, but these cases (referred to as stress claims) are more difficult to prove and must meet stringent requirements. To receive benefits for a psychiatric injury, workers must:
- Have a mental disorder that has been diagnosed under acceptable procedures
- Have required medical treatment or experienced disability
- Have worked for the employer for at least six months
- Prove that actual events of employment were the predominant cause of psychiatric injury
- Obtain prompt medical treatment.
Workers with physical injuries must seek medical care right away. Neglecting early treatment may give insurance companies a reason to deny or fight a claim. Once workers have reported the injury to their employer, they may receive $10,000 worth of medical care regardless of whether their claim is approved or denied.
- Don’t skip medical appointments.
Claimants must show their commitment to receiving medical treatment and attend every medical appointment. Gaps in treatment will give the insurance company a reason to doubt the validity of your claim and the extent of your injuries. A consistent record of medical appointments will help build a solid workers’ compensation case.
- Set realistic expectations for case value.
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney will determine the value of your case and help you set realistic expectations. It’s important to understand that the California Workers’ Compensation system doesn’t give workers the full range of benefits available in the civil court system. Injured workers won’t receive compensation for pain and suffering or compensation for punitive damages.
- Choose the right attorney.
An attorney specializing in workers’ compensation will know the ins and outs of the legal system and help you secure the compensation you deserve. Before hiring an attorney, read customer reviews, schedule a consultation, and find out who will be handling your case. If you have any questions about your workers’ comp case, don’t hesitate to reach out to Thomas F. Martin, PLC.
An experienced work injury attorney has worked on many cases involving falls. Though there are numerous causes of workplace falls, the injuries workers sustain from a fall inevitably require medical attention and time off from work.
Recognizing the risk factors for falls in the workplace can help prevent these accidents and keep workers safe. Here are the top seven causes of falls in the workplace.
- Uneven floors
Uneven floors may be slightly angled, without any warning signs posted. In other cases, the sidewalk outside of a building may have sunk into the ground or risen up, creating cracks that could lead to an accident. Cracked tile floors with missing pieces could also lead to a fall.
- Loose cords
Loose cords from equipment and machinery pose a trip hazard that could lead to serious injuries affecting the back, hip, pelvis, spinal cord, and bones. Workers may suffer concussions, fractures, and even brain damage from just a few loose cords.
- Wet floors
Floors that were recently cleaned should have a caution sign posted, warning workers to watch their step. On the other hand, oil or other liquid spilled onto the floor should be cleaned as soon as possible to prevent falls.
- Insufficient lighting
Poor lighting makes it difficult to see steps, uneven flooring, and obstacles on the floor, increasing the risk of a fall. Employers need to make sure lighting is working properly in all work areas and install additional lighting where necessary.
One common cause of falls is obstruction. Work injury attorneys often handle cases in which workers tripped over boxes, tools, and various containers.
Old, small rugs aren’t very sturdy and likely to become bunched up and create a tripping hazard. Workers can fall in bathrooms, storage closets, and hallways, and sustain injuries that require medical treatment.
- Improper footwear
Restaurants, stores, and manufacturing buildings are likely to have wet floors that increase the risk of a fall. Employers should ensure every worker is wearing slip-resistant footwear in these environments.
Choosing a Work Injury Attorney
Not every fall is preventable and in some cases workers can sustain serious injuries. Hiring the right work injury attorney is key to receiving the necessary benefits and compensation. Call Thomas F. Martin today for a legal 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.
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!
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.
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:
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.
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.