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Contra Costa County and Tri-Valley Workers' Compensation Blog

Workers' compensation: Clean-up after wildfires will be hazardous

Workers who are involved in cleanup procedures after wildfires in California may not be aware of the risks they are facing. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health says many dangers exist even after fires are under control. Fire, gases, electricity and unstable structures are only some of the hazards to which workers are exposed. With so many potential causes of injury or illness, many workers will likely rely on the California workers' compensation insurance program to help them cope with doctors' bills in the aftermath of the cleanup process.

Re-energized power lines after outages and water near circuits can be deadly, as can carbon monoxide fumes emitting from generators, pumps and other diesel or gasoline powered equipment. Damaged pipes and tanks can leak flammable gases, and hazardous chemicals can leak from dislodged or damaged containers. Furthermore, inhalation of dust, soot and ash can damage the lungs of workers.

Precautions can limit workers' compensation claims

California workers who earn their incomes on industrial plants will likely know that they will always be exposed to multiple safety hazards. Employees who suffer on-the-job injuries may claim workers' compensation benefits, but there are ways to reduce incidents that could cause workplace accidents. Although it is the responsibility of employers to protect the health and safety of employees, workers who look out for themselves are more likely to escape injuries.

Any worker can do a risk assessment of the area in which he or she works. This process involves exploring that space to identify potential hazards and risks. Any dangerous situations must be reported to a supervisor, and if nothing is done about it, the worker could report it to the owner of the company. However, being aware of a potential hazard may enable the employee to take precautions and stay safe.

Personal injury, wrongful death claims may follow four-car crash

According to a report by the California Highway Patrol, a multi-vehicle crash on Highway 17 in Los Gatos led to road closures that lasted for more than five hours on a recent Monday evening. While some victims suffered personal injury, one driver died at the crash scene. Authorities say 938 collisions happened on this highway in 2016, the highest in 13 years.

Reportedly, the accident occurred shortly after 6 p.m. in the northbound lanes when the 44-year-old driver of a pickup truck moved from the right to the left lane. For unknown reasons, he struck the center dividing wall and lost control of the vehicle. He apparently overcorrected, veering right and left again at which time his truck went through a gap in the wall, putting him in the southbound traffic lanes. The first collision occurred when his vehicle sideswiped another pickup truck.

One of America's most dangerous professions might surprise you

Not only is nursing a thankless job, but a dangerous one. Nursing is one of the most hazardous professions in America. Nurses are often hit, scratched and kicked at by the people they are attempting to treat.

An article by The Washington Post shows a number of stories depicting nurses badly injured at work in acts of violence. In one example, a patient in a Massachusetts emergency room was unhappy with his medical treatment. He stabbed an ER nurse repeatedly. These incidents are far from isolated. Workplace violence in the healthcare and social assistance industry are five to 12 times greater than for the average worker.

Workers' compensation: Fall from elevated pallet can be deadly

Employees in warehouses and distribution centers in California typically face hazards related to forklifts and other materials handling equipment. One of the most prevalent causes cited for injuries on workers' compensation benefits claims involves employers allowing employees who are not qualified to operate these dangerous vehicles. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has strict safety regulations in place to prevent forklift accidents, and it is the responsibility of business owners to enforce compliance.

To demonstrate the dangers of allowing workers to stand on pallets that are raised by forklifts, OSHA used the tragic case of a victim who was elevated to a height of seven feet while he was standing on a pallet resting on the fork of a hoist. He was part of a crew moving inventory on a steel storage rack, but using an unsafe method to do so. The worker slipped and fell to the ground, suffering injuries to which he succumbed after being rushed to the hospital.

Personal injury: Crash kills driver, critically injures passenger

The California Highway Patrol closed off most of the westbound lanes of Highway 4 in eastern Contra Costa County for approximately three hours on a recent Wednesday morning. This was done after a multi-vehicle crash that occurred shortly after 8 a.m. It followed an earlier collision between a motorcycle and a car in which no one suffered personal injury. However, this caused backups on the already congested highway.

According to the CHP, a 46-year-old female driver and a male passenger noticed the congestion and she slowed down before bringing the car to a halt. An SUV driver that was following her allegedly failed to reduce speed and rear-ended the woman's car. The impact of the collision killed her and caused critical injuries to her passenger. The SUV continued ahead and struck a pickup truck before colliding with a sedan and flipping over. This caused it to slide into two more vehicles before finally coming to rest against another car -- bringing the total number of vehicles impacted to seven.

With tenacity and legal guidance, SSDI claims can be successful

The financial threats that sudden disability can bring could be devastating, but that is only one part of the struggle. Knowing that a significant percentage of applications for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits in California are rejected could be discouraging. However, SSDI rejection often results from simple errors made by the applicants, such as providing inaccurate or insufficient information or explanations. An applicant can improve his or her chances of receiving benefits by gaining knowledge of the claims process.

Although SSDI typically comes into play when a person becomes disabled, he or she will only be eligible for benefits if the disabling condition is expected to continue beyond one year. Also, the applicant must not only be unable to return to a previous occupation but must also be unable to do any other type of work. If a person can earn an income in a different line of work, he or she will not qualify for disability benefits.

SSDI: Backlog causes hardship for applicants waiting for approval

A news report recently drew attention to the number of people nationwide, including in California, who are waiting for the Social Security Administration to process applications for assistance. Reportedly, about 1 million people are waiting to find out whether they qualify for SSDI, and many have died while waiting for a response. A former truck driver explained the effect this situation has on those who have to go on living while waiting for approval by the association.

The man said years of trucking harmed his body, and he decided to pursue a new career. He trained as a locksmith, and although he loved the job, frequent lifting and moving of heavy safes caused more damage to his back. He was later diagnosed with degenerating discs, sciatica and neuropathy in both legs. He continued working at reduced hours for about two more years, but his boss had to let him go in Aug. 2015. Although he applied for SSDI after his diagnosis, he was still gainfully employed -- even though his hours were drastically reduced -- and his application was rejected.

Workers' compensation claim may follow death in construction zone

Road construction workers nationwide, including in California, frequently put their lives on the line. Not only are they exposed to the negligence of distracted drivers who travel through construction zones, but also the heavy equipment that is used on site. It is not uncommon for these workers to fall victims to either the one hazard or the other, typically resulting in workers' compensation claims.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health reported an investigation that was launched after a fatal workplace accident at a road construction site in San Bernardino County. A report by authorities in Fontana indicates that a 51-year-old worker was killed in an on-the-job accident. It happened at approximately 2 p.m. on a Wednesday earlier this month.

Claiming SSDI for rare diseases can be challenging

Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance is a complicated process to navigate. If the claim is based upon contracting a rare disease, it could be even more challenging. There are thousands of rare diseases, and disability benefits may be a great help for individuals with rare disorders. SSDI is a program offered by the federal government, providing financial assistance for families or individuals in need.

Any California resident who is diagnosed with a rare disease that is debilitating, preventing him or her from working may be entitled to apply for SSDI benefits. To qualify, the applicant must be totally disabled, and the condition must be permanent. For each rare disorder, the Social Security Administration has different requirements. These are divided into categories by location in the victim's body along with the severity of the disease.

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