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Contra Costa County and Tri-Valley Workers' Compensation Blog

Did faulty equipment cause personal injury at work?

Although the workers' compensation insurance program typically covers California workers who suffer on-the-job injuries, the benefits usually include medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. Sometimes the losses are more significant, and if a faulty piece of equipment played a role, there might be grounds for filing a personal injury claim in a civil court. Similar circumstances led to a lawsuit that was recently filed by an injured worker in another state.

A kitchen worker filed the lawsuit against his employer and two companies belonging to the employer. The plaintiff alleges he suffered serious burn injuries due to a malfunctioning stove. Court documents indicate that the plaintiff had to cope with a furnace that had been in disrepair for some time. He claims it required him to use a hand-held lighter to ignite the gas every time he had to use the stove.

Housekeepers may have fewer workers' compensation claims soon

A particular section of the workforce in California will soon benefit from a unanimous decision by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health. Authorities have taken note of the lobbying by the workers union for hospitality workers for improved and stricter safety standards. Once new regulations are in effect, there might be fewer workers' compensation claims for injuries suffered by employees in this industry.

Housekeepers in hotels are now recognized as the behind-the-scenes backbone of the industry. However, while those who stay in hotels expect everything to be spotless and in place, few realize the harm suffered by workers who overexert themselves every day. Housekeepers have to lift heavy mattresses that could weigh up to 100 pounds, push heavy cleaning carts, and vacuum miles of passages, reception areas and rooms without breaks.

Personal injury: 1 dead, 1 injured in single-vehicle crash

Experience and maturity play a significant role in the prevention of car crashes that could lead to serious injuries, or worse. The number of single-vehicle accidents that occur in California in which young adults were drivers underscores the dangers posed by inexperience. Lives can be turned upside down in an instant -- with innocent passengers suffering personal injury and sometimes losing their lives.

The cause of a recent accident on Highway 121 in Napa County is still under investigation. According to the California Highway Patrol, a 23-year-old driver and a 25-year-old passenger were both students at the Davis campus of the University of California. Officer say they were southbound on the highway early on a recent Wednesday morning. Apparently, the driver lost control of the vehicle as he tried to navigate a set of sharp curves on the road.

Increased risk of cancer: Hidden danger lurking for firefighters

American people count on firefighters to combat fires of all sorts. From wildfires that plague California to house fires, there is no shortage of work for these brave men and women. There is a danger lurking due to the working conditions for the people who choose to help others in this manner.

Firefighters have an increased risk of cancer that can range from highly treatable non-melanoma skin cancer to highly aggressive cancers like those of the urinary tract and respiratory system. This risk comes from several factors, so firefighters must be very careful as they battle blazes because they could soon be battling to live.

SSDI: Will disability insurance be available if one cannot work?

Workers in California might find comfort in the knowledge that they are covered by the workers' compensation insurance program which will provide financial assistance in the event of workplace injuries. However, what will happen if they become disabled and are not able to return to work to earn a living? Will they have access to Social Security Disability Insurance? Employers can provide SSDI, which is a federal program, but employees could be covered by the California State disability program or a private insurance provider.

The level of coverage provided will be determined by the type of insurance coverage the worker has. When an employee becomes disabled as the result of an injury or illness, disability insurance can pay full or partial salary benefits. Workers may want to explore the level of coverage they have and secure additional private insurance if their existing benefits are limited.

The complexity of workers' compensation benefits can be confusing

Employees of California companies may be unsure of their eligibility for insurance benefits if they should suffer on-the-job injuries. Legally employed individuals -- excluding contractors -- who suffer medically verified injuries while on duty are typically entitled to claim workers' compensation benefits. However, the injuries must be severe enough to interfere with the victim's ability to work, and injuries suffered under certain circumstances are not covered.

Workers who intentionally inflicted their injuries, or who were hurt while intoxicated may be excluded. If an employee starts an altercation or fight that leaves him or her with injuries, or if the injury happens during criminal activities, benefits will likely be denied. Trauma or injuries suffered during voluntary acts or off-duty hours could also be excluded -- even if they occurred at the workplace.

Personal injury: Alleged DUI accident on I-15 kills 2, injures 2

A 37-year-old California man was arrested after he allegedly caused a drunk driving accident on Interstate 15 on a recent Tuesday evening. The fiery accident occurred shortly before midnight, and the road remained closed for more than nine hours. That man is now facing multiple charges that might include vehicular manslaughter or murder along with driving while under the influence, and he may also have to face claims of personal injury and wrongful death.

Reportedly, a witness said the suspected drunk driver was speeding while weaving across northbound traffic lanes on Interstate 15 just before striking the rear of another car. According to the California Highway Patrol, the impact caused the rear-ended car to spin before slamming into the median and landing in the fast lane. It came to a halt directly in the path of a member of the San Diego Police who was heading home. His SUV crashed into the car, causing it to burst into flames, while his vehicle rolled over.

Who will be liable for personal injury in driverless car crashes?

Much has been said, and will probably be said in the future, about driverless cars and the rules regulating them. After several previous adjustments, California's latest proposed regulations for these vehicles met the approval of safety advocates. However, these advocates were not happy with changes that the California Department of Motor Vehicles made to proposed regulations about liability for personal injury and other damage caused by a driverless car accident.

The organization, Consumer Watchdog, is concerned about changes that might protect the automaker rather than the driver in crashes that follow defective software. Concerning the on-board computer that will be considered the driver of such a vehicle, the slightest malfunction of software or a defect in one of the system's parts could lead to a crash. The organization is concerned about the language of the regulations that might make the driver liable if there was even the slightest deviation from the instruction manual.

Personal injury and death follow suspected DUI crash

Drunk driving in the time leading up to the holidays is nothing unusual, and many lives are endangered by a few drivers who show little concern for the safety of other road users. Personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits fill the California civil courts in the new year, and many of the cases result from accidents caused by drunk drivers. A 30-year-old Santa Maria man was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving recently after a fatal crash on Highway 154.

California Highway Patrol reports indicate that the accident occurred at approximately 2 a.m. on a Sunday last month. The suspected drunk driver allegedly crossed into the lanes of oncoming traffic, where he collided with a westbound vehicle that was occupied by a 35-year-old driver and two adult passengers. The force of the crash caused this car to flip over before another westbound vehicle smashed into it from behind. That was a minivan driven by a 43-year-old driver who was accompanied by a 50-year-old passenger.

Teachers and daycare workers face many hazards

People who work with children, including daycare workers and teachers, provide a valuable service. These individuals shape the children and provide them with tools they need to thrive as they grow up. This is a rewarding career path that many adults love.

Unfortunately, people who work with children face specific workplace hazards that come with the territory. Understanding these hazards can help professionals and their employers to find ways to minimize the risks.

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