Lewis, Marenstein,
Wicke, Sherwin & Lee, Llp

Woodland Hills California Legal Blog

What people should know about disability pensions

When you first speak to your California employer about disability pensions, you may have many questions. At Lewis, Marenstein, Wicke, Sherwin and Lee, LLP, we know that disability pensions can sometimes be complex and we want to make sure you have the information you need.

When you first think about disability pensions, you may wonder if you are even eligible. Most of the time, you are eligible for this pension if you incurred an injury while performing a work-related task. Additionally, this wound typically needs to keep you from performing your job. If you cannot work because of your injury, you may simply want to fill out the paperwork to apply for this pension. However, you usually need to see your physician first. Your application generally needs a statement from your doctor explaining that you cannot work in order for your application to be valid.

Know the facts about short term disability

When California workers get hurt on the job, they may be unable to work for a few weeks while they recover. Sometimes people may be able to receive short term disability insurance to help take care of their family while they are out of work.

According to FindLaw, workers can typically receive short term disability if they cannot work for several weeks because of an injury. People usually receive these benefits soon after they sustain their injury. Most workers collect short term disability payments for a few months until they are fully recovered; however, some people may be eligible to have this insurance for two years.

How are disability benefits different from workers' compensation?

Disability benefits in California are similar to workers' compensation in that each makes up for lost income in the event that you suffer an injury that renders you unable to work. According to FindLaw, the main differences between the two are who purchases the policy and the circumstances under which the law requires payment. Essentially, disability benefits apply to injuries that you sustain outside of work but are severe enough to prevent you from performing your job. Workers' compensation, on the other hand, is for injuries directly related to your employment.

If you become injured outside of work and meet the qualifications, you may apply to receive federal assistance from Social Security Disability Insurance, which receives funding from payroll taxes. You may also purchase disability insurance privately, or your employer may offer it as a job perk. As an employee, you do not purchase workers' compensation coverage directly, however. Rather, your employer purchases a workers' compensation policy to cover all employees in the event of on-the-job injury. 

California jury rules in energy drink company's favor

Some people may think of caffeine as a "harmless" drug, but the perception is dubious at best. Though unusual, it is entirely possible to overdose on caffeine, and the number of emergency room visit precipitated by consumption of energy drinks more than doubled between 2007 and 2011, from 10,068 to 20,783. Nevertheless, a jury in California decided in favor of an energy drink manufacturer in a product liability suit alleging that consumption of caffeinated energy drinks caused a heart attack in a teenager that led to debilitating brain damage.

The plaintiff suffered a heart attack in 2013 when he was 18 years old. He filed a lawsuit the following year alleging that the caffeine in the energy drinks he consumed caused the heart attack that led to high medical bills as well as limiting his ability to work due to brain damage. His attorney claims that the judge in the case excluded several scientific studies suggesting that energy drinks can cause irregular heart rhythms and stated that he and his client plan to appeal the decision. 

Why should police officers worry about traumatic brain injuries?

Police officers have a hazardous job and therefore should be aware of the variety of injuries they could experience. One of the most serious and at times hardest to detect is a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

A TBI is caused by a blow or jolt to the head or body, regardless of whether or not an object penetrates the skill. A mild TBI could cause temporary problems while a more serious TBI could have serious long-term effects or even cause death.

Do firefighters have a lifting problem?

Given the popular image of firefighters storming toward burning buildings with a fire hose in hand, naturally many people expect firefighters to be in peak physical shape. However, the truth is that California firefighters are not always in top physical condition. In fact, many firefighters are at risk of suffering a back injury even while not in the midst of handling a dangerous fire.

As FireRescue1 points out, firefighters actually lead sedentary lifestyles. Firefighters are not always combating dangerous blazes and although there are many tasks firefighters perform, like many people in present day society, firefighters tend to sit a lot. This can be a big problem when it comes time to lift heavy equipment. A firefighter can sustain a serious back injury just by trying to pick up something in the fire station.

How can you prove an emotional distress claim?

Not all injuries leave marks on the body. You may experience a personal injury in California which affects not your body but your mind, and the damage it causes may be at least as great as that caused by a physical injury. Nevertheless, it can be difficult to prove an emotional distress injury in court due to the lack of objective evidence such as medical imaging or bodily scarring. 

However, the difficulty of proving a claim of emotional distress should not dissuade you from pursuing the case. If you have sustained an injury, you have the right to seek compensation regardless of whether or not the injury is physical or psychological in nature. According to FindLaw, there are five methods you can use to prove your emotional distress claim. Due to the complexity of emotional distress cases, you will often need to incorporate more than one of these methods.

California issues air quality warnings

Earlier in August, a NASA satellite captured images of smoke hovering over central California. Air quality districts are warning people to stay inside. Sports, summer camps and other outdoor activities are canceled until further notice. Toxic smoke continues to cause major problems in communities.

And fire season is not letting up this year. Tinder dry conditions and strong winds have contributed to the most deadly fires in state history.

Firefighters and chemical exposure risks

Firefighters can face many risks. This includes risks of exposure to toxic chemicals. Today’s firefighters can encounter a wide range of toxic fumes on the job. One thing contributing to this is that today’s furniture contains all kinds of materials, finishes, glues and resins that can generate such fumes when burned.

Toxic fumes can not only be present when a fire is raging, but also after it has been put out. So, it can be important for fire departments to have appropriate safety policies for chemical exposure prevention both during and after fires.

4 Mistakes that can ruin a workers' compensation claim

Day in, day out, the public safety members of our community dedicate their talent, time and skills. If you work at a police or fire department, you know that the chance of an accident is higher than normal.

Your job can be dangerous, whether you are directing traffic on a busy intersection, fighting an apartment fire or responding to another emergency. Injuries happen, and the affects can be long-lasting.

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Lewis, Marenstein,
Wicke, Sherwin & Lee, Llp

20750 Ventura Boulevard
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Woodland Hills, CA 91364

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