Stockton, California Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Know when to hire a workers' compensation attorney

When you've been injured at work, you naturally want to get the financial benefits you need to stay afloat and the medical benefits you need to recover.

Your employer and the insurance company, on the other hand, want something very different -- something that's directly at odds with your goals. Your employer and the insurance company simply want to cut their losses.

The role of fatigue in the workplace

What role does fatigue play in workplace accidents? Probably more of one than you'd expect.

In general, America is a nation of sleep-deprived people. Shift work, poor sleep schedules, over-caffeinated diets, busy social lives, second jobs and family obligations often leave people sacrificing the one thing they think that they can: their sleep.

Study examines workers' compensation approval rates in California

According to the California Workers' Compensation Institute's newest study, 94.1% of medical services requested or performed on behalf of injured workers have been approved since the 2018 changes to the system. The majority, 92.5%, were approved without modifications.

The changes to the Utilization Review (UR) process and the Independent Medical Review (IMR) system were the focus of those changes. Based on specific guidelines and a prescription drug formulary, certain drugs and treatments were exempt from URs in an effort to streamline the workers' comp process in general. The exemptions allow a time-saving workaround when requests for treatment can be approved without moving to a UR.

The difference between temporary and permanent disability

Getting hurt on the job can mean that you need to take time off to heal. Some injuries will eventually get better provided that the people suffering from them receive adequate care and follow medical advice. There are other people who may do everything their doctor orders who do not get better over time.

You can get hurt at just about any job, and the severity of your injuries and how they impact your life will vary depending on your age, health and many other factors. What could be a permanently disabling injury for some people may only cause temporary disability in others, which is one reason that workers' compensation offers more than one kind of disability benefit.

Are you at risk for an on-the-job assault?

Workplace assaults are far more common than many people probably believe. People sometimes react to their frustrations or disappointments by lashing out in anger at the closest person available.

How likely is that to be you? Your odds of being injured by a customer or co-worker may be directly tied to the type of work that you do. Data from the United States Department of Labor indicates that the following factors increase your chances of suffering violence at work:

  • You handle a great deal of money or cash exchanges with the public, which may leave you vulnerable to robbery.
  • Your work requires you to interact with highly unstable people (such as drug addicts or alcoholics).
  • You work alone or in an isolated area where someone may be less inhibited about attacking you.
  • You provide personal services or care for others, which means that you may be working with people who are hurt, upset or confused.
  • You work where alcohol is served.
  • You work in a location that is dangerous or work late at night.
  • You're a delivery driver or you drive passengers for a living.
  • You guard valuable property.

California eases workers' compensation rules on PTSD

First responders who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental disorders have been given new rights regarding workers' compensation benefits in California. Governor Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 542, which creates a rebuttable presumption that a first responder's PTSD or similar mental health disorder is job-related.

This is a significant change in the way that job-connected mental health issues have been regarded in the past. Previously, first responders had to prove that their mental illness was at least 50% job-related. This now flips the script, making it presumptive that a condition like PTSD, for a first responder, is essentially a recognized job hazard. In order to deny the claim for workers' compensation benefits, the insurer would have to prove that the worker's condition was unrelated to their job.

California moves to protect gig workers, Uber and Lyft resist

The state of California wants to change the way "gig" workers are regarded. Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed a law that could require many companies to classify more workers as employees instead of independent contractors. However, the law is largely designed to affect companies like Lyft and Uber.

The only problem is that Lyft and Uber say that the new law doesn't apply to them. At the very least, they don't intend to comply.

The majority of workplace fatalities can be prevented

Some occupations are, naturally, more hazardous to your health than others. You wouldn't expect a secretary in an office to have the same risks as a construction worker or firefighter, for example.

However, the National Safety Council's figures on workplace fatalities from 2017 (the last year that's available) paint a distressing picture of worker safety. Approximately 14 people a day died in 2017 due to on-the-job injuries, and most of those deaths were entirely preventable with the proper safety measures.

Pushing for the treatment you need in your workers' comp. case

Suffering a serious injury at work can cause all kinds of complications. For example, you may have to miss many weeks or months of work while you recover from your injuries. It may only be possible to return to your job after substantial treatment and therapy. For some people, it may never be possible to return to the same role they once filled within the company, meaning that they will always make less money.

The benefits available through California's workers' compensation insurance program can help workers obtain the care they need and offset the loss of income they experience. Partnering with an attorney who has experience navigating this complex system can make it easier to connect with benefits initially and then advocate for yourself moving forward.

Could a 'blind zone' put you at risk on a roadside work site?

Working construction is dangerous -- but working roadside construction can seem doubly so. Not only do you have to worry about the ordinary hazards of a construction job -- like cave-ins and falling equipment -- but you have to worry about all the passing motorists moving around the site.

On top of it all, the construction site probably shifts a bit almost daily, which means that commuters are never quite sure what to expect. They're on edge. You're on edge. Accidents are bound to happen.

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