Stockton California Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Determining "disability" in claims for SSDI benefits

Many people in Stockton and elsewhere in the Central Valley are aware of the federal benefit program known as Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, but they are uncertain about how the Social Security Administration determines permanent disability. The definition is not complex, and an understanding of the term may assist people who are uncertain about whether they qualify for benefits.

The first question is whether an applicant is employed. If a person is employed and earning more than $1,220 per month, that person cannot be considered disabled. The next question is how the condition prevents the applicant from performing basic work tasks, such as lifting, standing, walking, sitting and remembering. If the condition is not expected to last for at least 12 months, the application will be rejected.

BNSF worker wins $1.63 million for workplace injuries

Individuals who work in the presence of heavy machinery face an ongoing chance of suffering a serious injury. While employers have instituted numerous safety precautions and required employees to use various safety devices, the devices sometimes fail or are not used at all. A worker for the BNSF Railway Co. recently recovered a $1.63 million verdict from a Bakersfield jury based on the railroad's failure to follow standard workplace safety procedures.

The 45-year-old employee alleged that he was struck by an 83-pound rail rack when it slipped from the deck of a flatbed trailer where he was working. The worker testified that the rack had not been properly secured on the truck's deck by steel safety pins that are used across the industry to hold heavy equipment in place. Moreover, the railroad admitted during the trial that the grapple truck, a piece of equipment used to manipulate heavy loads, had not been properly secured. The railroad argued that the missing pins had nothing to do with the accident.

6 of the most important forklift safety tips

As a forklift operator, there are many safety tips you must follow to prevent an accident and injuries. Just the same, if you work in close proximity to moving forklifts, you should be on your toes at all times.

Here are six of the most important forklift safety tips you can follow:

  • Don't operate a forklift unless you're qualified and licensed: It's easy to believe you know what you're doing, but it only takes one mistake to cause an accident. Only licensed individuals should operate a forklift.
  • Examine the forklift before using it: You may find that the vehicle requires maintenance or some form of repair before you can safely use it. If you identify any issues, such as a missing part or some form of damage, notify your supervisor and avoid using the forklift.
  • Don't leave the keys in an unattended forklift: Not only does this give unqualified individuals access to the vehicle, but there's also a chance it could shift into drive or drop a load.
  • Don't exceed the lifting capacity: Every forklift has a lifting capacity, and you must know what it is before picking up a load.
  • Follow company rules and regulations for operating a forklift: Your company should have rules in place to govern how and when you use a forklift. Don't ignore these rules, as they're in place for a reason. An example of a rule is the steps you should take to alert others that the vehicle is in use.
  • Don't give other people rides: It sounds like fun, but letting someone ride on a forklift is an accident waiting to happen. If someone suggests this, let them know that it's a safety hazard.

Comparing workers compensation and federal disability benefits

Most residents of Stockton understand that they have rights to disability benefits under California's workers compensation program and under the federal Social Security Disability Benefits insurance. However, the differences between the two programs are significant, and understanding these differences can be the key to obtaining the maximum amount of benefits.

Both programs provide monetary benefits for workers who have been disabled by an injury or illness, but the similarity stops there. The workers' compensation program is administered by the California Department of Industrial Relations, while the SSDI program is administered by the federal Social Security Administration. Workers compensation benefits are provided by California employers to workers who suffer a disabling injury on the job.

Follow these safety tips to prevent a scaffolding accident

Working on scaffolding can be safe, but only if you take all the right steps. Even then, there's always the risk of an accident when you're working at height.

It doesn't matter if you use scaffolding often or every now and again, there's never a good time to neglect your safety. It only takes a minor mistake to cause a major accident that results in injury to you and/or others on the job site.

Cannabis maker faces heavy OSHA fines for safety violations

The debate over the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana in California involved many "pro and con" arguments about the effect of legalization on the state's population. One issue that was not debated at length was the hazards involved in making the drug itself.

After a worker at a company located in Santa Cruz was badly burned during the marijuana extraction process, the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened an investigation into the accident. The investigators found that a worker was using propane gas to extract oil from cannabis leaves inside a portable storage container. Propane is highly flammable when it is mixed with the right amount of oxygen. According to the agents from Cal/OSHA, a spark generated by the equipment being used by the lab tech ignited the propane, causing a fire and an explosion. The worker was badly burned and spent several days in the hospital.

Cal/OSHA fines contractor $141,075 for safety violations

The failure of California construction firms to adhere to the state's safety regulations leads to numerous deaths and injuries among the state's workers. Cal/OSHA recently fined Bay Construction Co., located in Oakland, $141,075 for safety violations following a fatal accident in April of this year.

According to Cal/OSHA, the company was installing underground pumping equipment at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Regional Shoreline. The work required excavation of a trench in sandy, unstable soil. The company installed a trench box to protect workers while they were working in the trench. A trench box is a steel box that is large enough to support both sides of a trench to prevent their collapse. When the company decided to remove the box, it attached hooks to the linear rails on which the box rested. The hooks were intended to help lift the box from the trench. Unfortunately, the company failed to check for workers in the trench, and it also used improper hooks to lift the rails. One of the hooks failed, and the trench box, which weighed more than two tons, fell on a worker who was still in the trench, killing him instantly.

Obtaining SSDI benefits for back pain

Many people in Stockton and the surrounding area suffer from chronic back pain. Such pain has differing levels of severity. Some back pain can easily be ignored, while some is so severe that a person cannot even walk or work. Many people who suffer from back pain ask if they can receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits for such pain. The answer is a qualified "yes," if certain conditions can be satisfied.

First, the condition must be totally disabling. The Social Security Administration defines total disability as the inability to earn more than $1,180 per month. An applicant must submit income records and other evidence from past employment to document the existence of the disability. Medical evidence attesting to the extent and permanence of the disability is also required. A total disability is defined as a medical condition that is expected either to exist for 12 months or to result in the death of the claimant.

Court affirms Cal/OSHA order assessing $25,560 in workplace fines

When a California worker is injured on the job, the employer's first concern is usually the amount of workers' compensation benefits that it may be required to pay. Because workers in California cannot sue their employers for on-the-job accidents, employers often overlook the actual cause of the accident. An agency in the California Department of Industrial Relations was created to ensure that employers were held accountable for their failure to remedy unsafe working conditions. The agency's formal name is the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, but it is better known as Cal/OSHA. Cal/OSHA frequently investigates the cause of industrial accidents, and it has the power to issue fines for safety regulation violations.

Cal/OSHA recently fined Pinnacle Telecommunications for safety violations that caused severe head injuries to a worker in 2014. The worker was installing switch gears at a substation in Albany. He was required to stand seven feet above the floor on a metal structure less than 20 inches wide. Cal/OSHA found that the employer failed to train workers on fall protection and when to use fall protection equipment. The fines totaled $25,560.

Cal/OSHA begins investigation of fatal construction site accident

The California Department of Industrial Relations includes an important agency that is responsible for ensuring workplace safety. The formal name of agency is the Division of Occupational Safety and Health, but it is informally known as "Cal/OSHA" in a nod to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Cal/OSHA is responsible for many tasks, but none is more important than the investigation of workplace accidents and the enforcement of the state's workplace safety laws.

A recent accident in Kelseyville demonstrates how the agency works. On Tuesday, October 23, an apprentice carpenter working on a shop building at the Kelseyville High School was severely injured when he fell from a scissors lift. The man was flown to a nearby hospital, but he died from his injuries the next day. Personnel of the Kelseyville Fire Department responded to the emergency call from the site, but no further details of the accident have been released.


Law Office of Ronald M. Stein, Attorney at Law
3461 Brookside Road
Suite C
Stockton, CA 95219

Phone: 209-751-4370
Fax: 209-957-3005
Map & Directions

Review Us