Stockton, California Workers' Compensation Law Blog

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.

How brain injuries happen in the workplace

It doesn't take a severe knock to the head to cause a brain injury. Even mild concussions, especially when repeated over time, can develop into a serious problem.

In recent years, there's been a lot of attention to the effects of brain injuries on boxers and football players -- especially in light of the confirmed cases of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) among athletes who have suffered from early-onset dementia and death. But, boxers and football players aren't the only people at risk of serious brain injuries on the job. Many people in other professions, like construction workers, police officers, firefighters, hospital workers, miners and heavy-equipment drivers also end up suffering significant brain injuries on the job.

An overview of the most dangerous jobs in California

While most jobs carry a small risk of injury, workers in some fields face significantly more danger than others. These types of injuries can vary, ranging from mild bruises or sprains to life-altering wounds.

In California specifically, which professions have the highest injury rates?

Here's why it's smart to hire a workers' compensation attorney

If you were injured on the job, it seems like you should be able to get through the workers' compensation system without having to hire an attorney -- but looks, as you probably know -- can often be deceiving.

It only takes a simple mistake for a claim to be delayed or outright denied -- which can set you on a frustrating path that keeps you from accessing the medical care and supplemental income you both deserve and need.

Temporary employment can be hazardous to your health

This may not surprise anybody who has ever done a stint as a "temp" worker, but temporary work is hazardous.

People doing temp work are usually between jobs or trying to get their foot in the door at a company. They resort to placing themselves with agencies that match them with employers who have immediate openings for low-level workers.

Medical costs for workers' compensation drops in California

Insurance companies who cover workers' compensation medical claims in California have reduced their costs yet again -- but that's not necessarily a good thing for the injured workers the system is supposed to serve.

According to a recent report, the total combined costs for workers' comp insurance companies in 2018 dropped to $14.3 billion. That's down from $16.2 billion in 2017. Costs only equated to 82% of the premiums collected in 2018, which is an improvement over the 92% that was used in 2017. Insurers covered fewer medical costs in all categories of care -- with the sole exception being payments made directly to the injured. Those actually slightly increased from $1.34 billion in 2017 to $1.47 billion the following year.

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