Lewis, Marenstein,
Wicke, Sherwin & Lee, Llp

Woodland Hills California Legal Blog

Suing an employer for intentional harm

In California, insured workers will usually be compensated for any damages they receive on the job through workers' compensation. However, there are some situations in which it a worker has the option of suing either a third party or even their own employer as well.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines workers' compensation as an insurance system that allows an injured worker to be reimbursed for their injury. The amount can vary, and sometimes an injured worker may feel as though the amount they have received is not equivalent to the damage that has been done.

Most common injuries faced by firefighters

Firefighters face a variety of risks in a demanding job which can force them into complex and dangerous situations, exposing them to injury or even death. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported 60 on-duty firefighters died in 2017, and 58,835 were injured while on the job.

Firefighters in California and elsewhere are also exposed to hazardous chemicals and infectious diseases, which are better cataloged than in the past.

The hidden risks associated with dog bites

In California, there are laws in place that make it so an owner is held responsible for their pet if said pet happens to bite someone. This can come in handy, because an animal bite attack may actually leave an individual with more expenses than they initially assumed.

Dog bite injuries in particular can cause massive amounts of physical trauma. Because of the design of a dog's teeth and jaw, they can tear large chunks of flesh, break bones, and potentially disfigure a victim in mere seconds. This may result in the victim requiring reconstructive surgery and spending a long time in the hospital recovering. Potentially deadly wounds to the face and neck also require emergency treatment in many cases. This means they will face additional expenses for the emergency room, surgery, and the ambulance ride.

Balancing trucker fatigue and public safety

Most California residents are quite used to seeing semi-trucks and other large commercial vehicles gracing their area roads and highways. Whether a truck is delivering goods to a local grocery store, transporting oil or something else, the importance of commercial trucking in the United States cannot be underestimated. However, the importance of keeping people safe should be even more important.

It is safety that led the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to enact its Hours of Service rule six years ago. This rule caps the number of hours a trucker can drive in a single day or week. Before this rule went into effect, a trucker could work 82 hours per week. Now, that limit is 70 hours over an eight-day work week or 60 hours over a seven-day work week. There are also specific guidelines that dictate when a driver must take a break and how long that break must last.

Bill seeks federal heat laws for workers

Many people who live and work in California find their job requires them to be outside for extended periods of time. Especially during the summer months, this can exposure them to high temperatures and harsh ultraviolet rays for extended periods of time. While the Occupational Health and Safety Administration has multiple laws in place that provide guidance to and requirements for employers to keep workers safe, none exist related to heat or sun exposure.

As explained by USA Today, California developed its own law addressing this issue 14 years ago yet it took some time before that law was properly adhered to or monitored. Now, two Congressional Representatives have introduced a bill at the federal level to require OSHA to develop nationwide standards and rules on the matter. One of the representatives is from California. The other is from neighboring Arizona.

Can a blow to the head cause paralysis?

Paralysis is the inability to move one or more parts of your body. It has may be temporary or permanent, but if it occurs due to an injury that you sustained as part of your work as a public safety member, you should be able to recover compensation on account of it. 

Paralysis can take many forms, each of which has several different causes. However, according to the Cleveland Clinic, paralysis occurs broadly because of damage to some part of the nervous system, whether that be the peripheral nerves, the spinal cord or the brain itself. Therefore, it is entirely possible that a blow to the head could cause brain damage severe enough to result in paralysis. 

PTSD: When and how to get help for first responders

Post traumatic stress disorder is nothing new, but it's only recently become better understood. Those who are first responders are often diagnosed with PTSD at some point in their lifetime, and now, people are advocating for workers' compensation coverage for police officers, firefighters and paramedics to treat PTSD.

After dealing with a record-setting wildfire season and responding to several mass shootings in the state, first responders in California are both mentally and physically exhausted. According to an article in the Sacramento Bee, there is significant backing for legislation that would allow them to file a workers' compensation claim while they take time off from their job to treat PTSD.

What types of benefits are offered via workers' compensation?

If you are like most people in California, you are aware that there may be financial assistance available to you if you are hurt at work. This is through a program called workers' compensation. However, you may not have a clear understanding of what types of benefits are available as part of this program. The State of California Department of Industrial Relations manages this program and explains the different types of benefits that comprise it.

One benefit important to most people is payment for medical expenses related to the injury or illness. This may include office visits, hospitalizations, therapy and more. If your injury or illness keeps you away from your job, you might be able to receive temporary disability benefits until you can return to work. These benefits will pay a portion of your normal earnings. If your injury or illness results in a permanent mental or physical disability, you may qualify for permanent disability benefits.

Can you suffer electric shock at the workplace?

Californian workers like you often spend time around appliances, machinery, or other sources of electricity. Even if your precise job doesn't involve dangerous voltage levels, that doesn't mean that you will never face the possibility of an electric shock.

FindLaw points out that electrocution is actually one of the most common types of workplace injury, with up to 9 percent of all fatal workplace injuries involving some form of electrocution. Meanwhile, consumers suffer up to 70 fatalities a year due to faulty electrical products.

What should I know about appealing a disability denial?

If you recently became disabled and you are unable to work, you may have filed a claim for Social Security disability. Like many others who file claims, you may have been denied. This is not uncommon for California residents. However, a denied claim can be discouraging. Many people in this situation may feel like giving up, but you should understand that you can appeal a denied claim.

How do I appeal a denial, and what are the steps involved, you may wonder? The Social Security Administration has outlined the process on its website. Typically, people have 60 days to appeal a denial. The appeals process involves four levels, which include the following:

  • Reconsideration – your claim reviewed by a different person than the original one who reviewed your claim, and may include new evidence to support your need for disability payments
  • A hearing by an administrative law judge
  • A review by the Appeals Council
  • A review by the federal court – the final level of the Social Security disability appeals process, allowing you to file a civil suit in the federal district court
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Lewis, Marenstein,
Wicke, Sherwin & Lee, Llp

20750 Ventura Boulevard
Suite 400
Woodland Hills, CA 91364

Phone: 818-835-4332
Fax: 818-703-0200
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