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Contra Costa County and Tri-Valley Workers' Compensation Blog

Workers' compensation will assist family of deceased electrician

Electricity poses deadly hazards to workers across California, and the flowers and candles that were placed in Modesto recently are grim reminders of just how dangerous it is. The surviving family members of the worker who recently lost his life while working on a street light are likely eligible to seek financial assistance through the state-regulated workers' compensation system. In the meantime, the circumstances that led to this tragedy will be investigated by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

Reportedly the man had been working for the city for six years. He was an electrician assistant who was installing a street light on a recent Monday. Very few details were made public, and it is not clear whether he was alone or in the company of a qualified electrician when he received the electric shock that caused his death.

Personal injury: Premises liability suit follows death of golfer

Who would ever expect to suffer life-threatening injuries on a golf course? A recent premises liability lawsuit that was filed in California shows that it can happen. In fact, in this case, a golfer apparently died just more than a week after he suffered a personal injury on the defendant's golf course. The deceased golfer's surviving family members filed this suit against the golf course owner after they lost their loved one in March last year.

Court documents indicate that the 71-year-old man sat in his golf cart when a nearby tree fell over and struck him. He was hospitalized and required surgery, but he succumbed to his injuries, which reportedly included a severe dislocation and fractured cervical spine. The death certificate showed his death was the consequence of blunt force trauma to his neck.

Personal injury: How safe are residents of gated communities?

Last November, a resident in a luxury, high-end apartment complex was found murdered outside his California residence. Although the identity of the killer remains a mystery, questions are being asked about the responsibility of the landlord toward tenants when it comes to security and their safety. Can he or she be held responsible for personal injury or wrongful death of a tenant?

Although the facility is advertised online as a gated community with 24/7 patrol, this security measure apparently did not serve its purpose on that day. The next question is about the presence of security cameras. This is also a tough question, because of the high expectancy of privacy. Restrictions exist for the areas at which surveillance cameras can be aimed.

Workers' compensation is not always the only remedy

Losing loved ones in workplace accidents can devastate any family. Although surviving family members in California can pursue financial relief through the workers' compensation insurance system, the full economic impact of such a loss is never entirely addressed by the death benefits the program offers. If a third party was involved in the death of a worker, the family might have grounds to file a civil lawsuit.

A jury recently awarded $30 million to the three children of a deceased worker who died in Oct. 2013 at the age of 34. He was caught in the conveyor belt's tail pulley at a recycling plant where he was cleaning loose rock and debris from the conveyor. Reportedly, there was no safeguard below the conveyor belt to prevent contact with the moving parts of the machine.

Beware of an aching back while you are working

Many adults think that an achy back is normal. This isn't the case. Pain in your back at work can be a signal that something is amiss. Unfortunately, some people don't realize that there is a problem until it is so far advanced that it takes considerable medical care to correct the situation. Sometimes, the problem can't be corrected.

For workers who suffer from lower back pain, there may be need to file for workers' compensation benefits. This is the case if the pain is from a work-related condition. Workers' compensation can help if you need medical care, but also if you must miss work and need partial wage replacement benefits.

Differences between SSDI, workers' comp and state disability

Most California employees are likely aware of their rights to claim workers' compensation benefits if they suffer injuries that prevent them from returning to work. However, they might have questions about disability benefits. There are two types of disability programs -- state disability benefits and federal benefits known as Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI.

The state disability program typically provides benefits for individuals whose disabilities were typically caused by accidents not related to employment. California workers may be awarded state disability benefits if their employers dispute or deny workers' compensation benefits. However, if such a dispute is resolved and workers' compensation benefits are subsequently paid, the worker may have to refund the benefits that were paid by the state.

Workers' compensation: Dropped rebar may leave worker paralyzed

A construction site of California High Speed Rail was recently the site of yet another workplace accident. This time, the victim might have to rely on the state's workers' compensation insurance system to provide disability benefits for long-term financial support. This project saw another HSR construction accident in the same area last November.

Reportedly, the hoisting equipment from which a piece of rebar was suspended malfunctioned. The rebar fell on the worker, fracturing multiple bones and causing spinal column damage. The injured worker was rushed to a hospital where, according to a family member, he is kept flat on his back and wearing a neck brace. At the time of the report, the feeling had not returned to his body below chest level, and doctors feared paralysis.

Safety precautions can lessen workers' compensation claims

Workers in all industries in California and elsewhere are at risk of suffering occupational injuries -- some of which can be fatal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 5,000 people lost their lives due to on-the-job injuries or work-related illnesses in 2016, and many more suffered nonfatal injuries. Safety authorities say the picture could look entirely different -- and the number of workers' compensation claims can be lessened -- if employers and employees carefully follow existing safety precautions.

Slips and trips can cause falls that can cause muscle injuries, bone fractures, open wounds and even brain injuries. Wet areas from spills or traffic carrying snow or ice from outside pose slip-and-fall hazards. Debris, randomly placed objects or cords snaking across the floor are trip threats. Uneven surfaces and damaged walkways can also cause trip-and-fall accidents.

SSDI claims process can be challenging

Any person in California who is debilitated after an accident or a severe health problem may rely entirely on Social Security Disability Insurance. However, many people are disillusioned when their SSDI applications are rejected. One of the reasons for denial is incomplete paperwork. If any of the required or vital information is not provided, benefits might be denied.

Failure to file a claim within the allowed time frame may also result in a denial. Furthermore, lying about the disability on the application can lead to criminal charges rather than Social Security benefits. Compliance with the physical therapy prescribed by a physician is essential, as any indication that treatment programs are not followed can jeopardize chances of successful claims.

Teachers: Hurt at work? You're covered

You've been a teacher for many years, but every year seems to have its own issues. This year, you have a few students prone to violence. As you pulled one student off another while he was attacking, you ended up with a black eye. Still seeing stars, you marched the child down to the principal's office, but now you have to go to the doctor.

The good news is that teachers are often covered by workers' compensation. You shouldn't have to pay for the exam for your eye or any treatment you need to heal. Additionally, if you need some time off work for tests or surgeries, those are likely to be covered as well.

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