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San Diego Workers' Compensation Law Blog

Workplace injuries a fact of life for California linemen

Sometimes known as "the forgotten first responders", the individuals who work on power lines can face dangers on the job. Workplace injuries are a reality for this industry, and can come with grave consequences. Recently, one man in California lost his life due to an accident while servicing the power lines in the state. 

Originally hailing from a neighboring state, the man had recently relocated to California to pursue his passion of working on the power lines. In late Jan. 2018, the man was injured on the job while working on the lines. He was immediately taken to the hospital, but sadly, the man died from his injuries. 

Getting back to work after a workplace accident

A workplace accident can change your life in various significant ways, and it can be difficult to imagine how you will ever get back to normal. If you suffered injuries in an accident that took place at work, you may have a rightful claim to workers' compensation benefits. Some of these benefits will include medical care and recovery of a portion of your lost wages.

Another benefit you may access through workers' compensation is rehabilitation benefits. If the nature of your injury leaves you unable to return to your same job or do the same job in the capacity that you did before your accident, there are benefits that can help you find a job or take other measures to get back to work as soon as possible.

California employee rights include paid sick leave

Every person will likely experience a sickness that takes him or her away from work for a time, especially during cold and flu season. For some, time away from work can represent a financial hardship unless they are able to take paid leave. In California, the Healthy Workplace, Healthy Families Act was enacted to offer paid leave to all employees, so employee rights to paid leave are now protected in the state. 

The Act was enacted in 2015 as a means to protect individuals against financial hardship caused by missing work. All workers, even those who work part-time, are eligible for the program. The program offers 24 hours, or three days, of sick leave to employees who require preventive care or diagnosis, care or treatment of an existing health condition, and also for specified purposes related to being a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. The employee may also take leave to support a family member for the stated reasons. 

Disability benefits increased under new California law

The new year brings new laws to the Golden State, and workers have reasons to rejoice. Under a new law that went into effect Jan. 1, family leave and disability benefits payments will increase. California workers in small businesses will also have the opportunity to take unpaid leave from their jobs, whereas before, this option was only available to workers in larger companies. 

Assembly Bill 908, signed into law by the governor last year, increases the payouts by a percentage. Previously, state law paid out for approved family or disability leave at a rate of 55 percent. Now the number will be at 60 or 70 percent, depending on the person's income. The paid leave can be taken when a person misses work due to illness, injury or pregnancy, and also to take care of a sick family member or to welcome a new child into the home. 

Workplace injuries debated for California officer

A woman who has served for the state Highway Patrol left her position after a diagnosis of PTSD. After a few years, she wished to return to work and was cleared by California Public Employees Retirement system to go back to work. The CHP fought the decision and ultimately lost the case for blocking the woman due to work injuries. 

The woman has a long history of employment as a police officer. As she advanced in her career, she was appointed to a major accident team. She began to display symptoms of PTSD due to her role and was granted retirement. After some time off, she relocated and took a less-stressful job in background checks in another state. When she returned to California, she asked to be reinstated to the CHP.

Flames and smoke are not the only dangers fire presents

With all of the wildfires here in California in recent weeks, fire is on the minds of many people here in the state. Even if you were fortunate enough not to be in one of the areas devastated by these fires, you could still find yourself in the position of cleaning up after the flames are put out and the smoke dissipates.

You may think that the danger has passed at this point, but in many cases, the dangers to you have only just begun. The business of cleanup after a fire presents a new host of hazards that could cause a work-related injury. It may help to know what at least some of those hazards are in order to protect yourself if you can.

LA City Council examines trucker's employee rights

Truckers are claiming that employers use independent contractor designation to avoid paying minimum wages and giving sick days. The situation is so bad at California's Los Angeles Port that many truckers have filed over one thousand suits for wage theft and have gone on strike at least four times. The City Council recently decided to support the movement for employee rights and is considering blocking those trucking companies that choose to use contracts instead of hiring their workers. 

Last Tuesday, December 12, the council voted unanimously in support of blocking the companies. The president of the local Teamsters union called the employment practices illegal and said that over 12,000 workers are affected by the policies. Independent contractors are not offered many basic benefits and protections afforded to regular employees. Contractors are also responsible to shoulder the financial cost of maintaining trucks and keeping them up to emissions standards. 

How disability benefits are changing in California

Over the last seven years, services and funding for Social Security Disability Insurance have changed. Wait times are longer, and the number of cases waiting for a hearing by a judge has risen. Many California residents will need to make a claim for these disability benefits during their lifetimes, and a recent news article gives an idea of what these people can expect. 

Approximately 4.4 percent of California's population aged 18-64 either received Social Security Disability Insurance, Social Security Insurance or both. Social Security Disability, also known as SSDI, are benefits available to disabled workers who have accumulated a certain amount of work credits. Social Security Insurance, or SSI, is given to individuals with very low income or assets. 

Possible workplace injuries mean employers must carry insurance

The state has cited an employer of a truck driver who was killed fighting wildfires. The California employer was found not to be carrying required workers' compensation insurance for any of its employees. The man was injured when his truck rolled over and later died of his workplace injuries

Although several people died, the man was the only firefighter to die during the fires in North Bay. State law requires firms that hire contractors that supply heavy equipment to carry workers' comp insurance. The firm that had hired the deceased man was registered as an owner-operator, meaning that every worker has an ownership stake in the business or is a relative. 

Will you recognize a safety hazard when you see one?

Factories are hazardous areas, regardless of the products they make. If you are an employee who earns a living in an industrial setup in California, you have likely experienced near misses on numerous occasions -- or was the last one not a near miss but an actual workplace accident that left you injured and unable to return to work? Employers are responsible for the health and safety of their workers, but many of them prioritize profits, leaving employees to fend for themselves.

Safety advocates say specific hazards are prevalent in almost all industrial facilities, and although there will always be a chance of an industrial accident happening, most incidents are preventable. Authorities further advise that continuously being on the lookout for hazardous situations may prevent the need for disaster planning at a later stage.

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