Workplace accidents are some of the most common causes of injuries across the country. However, compared to other types of personal injuries and accidents, they are very rarely talked about. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, private businesses reported nearly 3 million work-related, non-fatal injuries and illnesses in a recent year.
Every employee has the right to a safe work environment. However, no matter what industry you work in, there is always the possibility of being hurt on the job. Suffering an injury at work can cause major issues like preventing you from going back to work, leaving you with large medical bills, or even causing lasting pain.
If you or a loved one were injured at work, speak with an attorney who can explain your rights under California’s workers’ compensation laws. At Mitchell Law Corporation, we have helped people from San Diego to Riverside recover the benefits they deserve after a workplace injury.
WHAT IS A WORKPLACE ACCIDENT LAWYER?
A workplace accident lawyer is a specialized San Diego personal injury attorney that is experienced in federal workplace safety laws as well as employee rights in the workplace. Each state enforces different regulations regarding workplace safety. However, all states require businesses to secure workers’ compensation insurance, including California.
Your workplace accident lawyer as a deep knowledge of the workers’ compensation system in California and can provide you with the tools you need to file you workers’ compensation claim. A skilled San Diego workplace accident attorney will not only help you understand your rights and the damages you experienced because of your injury, but they will also help you fight to secure the compensation you deserve.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED A WORK-RELATED INJURY?
Workplace accidents can occur in a variety of different settings, so it is important to understand what is considered a work-related accident. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines the work environment as the work establishment as well as other locations that employees must be present within on condition of their employment. This means that a work-related accident could also happen in an employer’s vehicle, exterior jobsites, or anywhere you are conducting the responsibilities of your job.
Therefore, a work-related injury is an injury that occurs when an employee is performing a task on behalf on their employer and is within the work environment. When this situation occurs, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance must cover the employee’s damages.
TYPES OF WORKPLACE ACCIDENTS AND INJURIES
In general, when it comes to workplace accidents, there are three main categories of work-related damages:
- Physical Injuries
Physical injuries are the most experienced damages resulting from work-related incidents and can happen in a variety of ways. Incidents may include general accidents like slipping and falling or incidents that result from personal tasks such as lifting heavy material or falling off a ladder. Unfortunately, some physical injuries result from the actions of others. Examples of common workplace-related physical injuries include:
- Torn or strained muscles
- Back injuries
- Fractured or broken bones
- Machinery related injuries
- Cuts or lacerations
- Exposure to harmful substances
- Injuries sustained from a motor vehicle accident
- Slip and fall injuries
- Occupational Illnesses
An occupational illness is any illness that can be attributed to the conditions of an employee’s workplace environment. Occupational illnesses are also considered workplace injuries and happen much more often than you might think. Examples of common occupational illnesses include:
- Heatstroke or heat exhaustion
- Skin diseases
- Respiratory conditions
- Exposure to radiation or toxic chemicals
- Hearing loss
- Stress-related problems
- Neurological disorders
- Repetitive Motion Injuries
Repetitive motion injuries, also often referred to as repetitive stress injuries, are common injuries sustained by many employees that are tasked with jobs that require the same motion repeatedly. Repetitive motion injuries can affect employees in physically demanding jobs and desk jobs alike. Though they often take time to develop, repetitive stress injuries can cause numbness, pain, lack of control, poor circulation, and more. These are some of the most common repetitive motion injuries:
- Tendinitis—inflamed tendons from excessive use
- Carpal tunnel syndrome—the compression of a nerve that crosses the front of the wrist, causing extreme pain and lack of flexibility
- Degenerative arthritis—the muscle tissue near bones begins to wear down from consistent stress and movement
- Fibromyalgia—widespread muscle pain
- Epicondylitis—often called “tennis elbow” and caused by repetitive wrist and arm movements that cause intense inflammation
- Bursitis—the formation of a fluid-filled sac near inflamed joints like elbows or shoulders and caused by repetitive movement
- Intersection syndrome—the extreme inflammation of muscles in the forearm that are used to flex and extend
- Stenosing tenosynovitis—commonly known as “trigger finger,” the condition stems from consistent, intense gripping
- Thoracic outlet syndrome—caused by the compression of nerves near your chest, neck, and shoulders that causes pain, spasms, and can even lock the neck
- Stress fractures—small cracks in the bone due to overuse or consistent, repetitive stress on the same bones
ELEMENTS OF A WORKERS’ COMPENSATION CLAIM
After reporting your injury to your employer and before moving on to file a claim for workers’ compensation, you must gather critical information. This information will help you and your San Diego personal injury attorney build a compelling case to enable workers’ compensation benefits to recover your damages after injury at work. These aspects of your workplace accident are crucial to your workers’ compensation claim:
- Nature of Injury and Part of Body Affected
The nature of your injury is a crucial part of filing your case, as some injuries may not be covered by workers’ compensation. Your attorney must include the clinical name or the nature of your injury or condition. For example, you must list a condition like carpal tunnel syndrome or “fall resulting in a broken ankle.” You must also specifically identify the part or parts of your body affected by your work-related injury.
- Event or Exposure
The event or exposure in your case is defined by OSHA as the identifiable incident or manner of exposure that resulted in your incident. In short, this is how your accident occurred. For example, if you are filing a workers’ compensation claim for a physical injury, the event may be that you fell off a ladder or experienced a motor vehicle accident. In an occupational illness claim, you must identify the manner of exposure, which may be harmful substances in your work environment that you breathe in every day.
- Sources of the Accident
Another important aspect of your report involves identifying the sources that caused your injury or illness. Sources can be anything from equipment to harmful substances or even the employer’s own products. In most cases, there is a single, primary source that is responsible for the incident in question. However, many workers’ compensation claims include secondary sources as well.
- Days Away from Work
The final aspect of your injury that you must track when filing a workers’ compensation claim is the number of days you spent away from work. In some cases, a regulated amount of time off work is required by your employer or physician. However, continue to track your days away from work so your attorney can calculate an adequate compensation request.
WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS WHEN HURT ON THE JOB?
When an accident takes place at your place of employment, it is important to realize you have rights. You will also benefit from exploring the legal proceedings that may follow. Though every state differs slightly regarding employee compensation after a workplace accident, in the state of California, any employee that is injured in their work environment has the right to file a workers’ compensation claim.
You have the following rights when hurt on the job:
- If you experience a work-related injury in the state of California that does not occur while breaking the law, on purpose, or due to gross negligence, you have the right to compensation.
- You have the right to file a claim for your injury or illness in court.
- You have the right to visit a doctor and find your own medical treatment.
- You have the right to secure a lawyer and pursue your claim via legal proceedings.
- You have the right to appeal decisions made by your employer or the workers’ compensation court.
- If you are unable to go back to work due to your injury or illness, you have the right to file a disability claim.
- Once a physician clears you, you have the right to return to work.
HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO FILE A CLAIM FOR COMPENSATION IN CALIFORNIA?
In California, the statute of limitations for filing a claim for workers’ compensation is one year. This means that, unless you or your attorney can demonstrate a reasonable cause for delay to the court, you have one year from the day you were injured to file a claim. If you miss the statute of limitation deadline, you may lose your rights to compensation altogether. While waiting to file can potentially help you and your attorney better assess your injuries from the incident and gather evidence to pursue your case, it is recommended to file your claim as soon as possible.
WHAT IS IT LIKE WORKING WITH A WORKPLACE ACCIDENT ATTORNEY?
Your San Diego workplace accident attorney will assist you with developing multiple aspects of your worker's compensation claim. Meanwhile, the attorney should ensure you understand the legal proceedings that occur after the claims process begins. Once your claim begins, your attorney will help you pursue the compensation you are entitled to.
Representation from a workplace accident attorney typically occurs in three distinct steps:
- Initial consultation. At your initial consultation with your workplace accident attorney, they will ask you questions regarding the nature of your accident and the other critical elements of your case mentioned above. The attorney will record as much information surrounding the case as possible, including the events that occurred the day of the injury as well as information about your healing process.
- Filing a claim. Once your attorney agrees to take on your case, they will help you gather all the information needed to file a worker’s compensation claim on your behalf. The attorney will ensure you complete all necessary documents in full and submit them to the correct entities before the statute of limitations expires.
- Waiting for the insurer. After filing your claim, you and your attorney will wait until your employer’s insurance accepts or denies your claim. If the insurance company denies the claim, you have the right to appeal. Fortunately, a workers’ compensation attorney is well-versed in the tactics insurance companies use to avoid paying damages on a claim and can help you navigate the appeals process successfully.
WHEN SHOULD I GET A WORKPLACE ACCIDENT LAWYER?
Many people that experience injuries in their place of work have no idea where to start when it comes to filing a workers’ compensation claim, or whether they even qualify for compensation in the first place. As a result, too many employees simply avoid navigating the associated legal proceedings or may not apply for benefits before the statute of limitations expires.
Again, if you receive injuries in your work environment while performing job-related tasks, you are entitled to compensation. After reporting the accident to your employer, it is in your best interest to schedule a consultation with a workplace accident attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can help you gather the necessary evidence and documentation and file your claim for workers’ compensation. In particular, if you require extended time off work, extensive medical treatment, or have severe injuries that may preclude you from returning to work at all, securing counsel from a San Diego personal injury attorney will help you pursue the compensation that you deserve.
PROVIDING SKILLED REPRESENTATION FOR MINOR AND CATASTROPHIC WORK-RELATED ACCIDENTS
No matter how minor you think your injury is, you may still qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. For over 20 years, our experienced team has helped people recover compensation and move forward from a broad range of workplace accidents, including:
- Crashes and collisions with heavy objects and machinery
- Cuts and lacerations
- Electrical shocks
- Exposure to toxic materials and loud noises
- Machinery malfunctions and entanglement
- Slips, trips, and falls
An Experienced Team Advocating For Injured Industrial And Construction Workers
Those who have industrial or construction occupations are more likely to experience serious accident at work. Accidents involving construction and industrial workers can have catastrophic consequences, often leading to severe back pain, traumatic brain injuries, severed limbs and death in the most tragic accidents.
Our team takes an aggressive approach when working to secure fair compensation for industrial and construction workers who experienced a work-related injury. We will guide you through the legal process and will work tirelessly to maximize the amount of benefits we can recover for you and your family. In addition to industrial and construction workers, we have also assisted nurses and truck drivers with recovering workers’ compensation benefits.
A Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist Is Prepared To Stand By Your Side
Insurance companies will often work to limit the amount of benefits they pay to injured workers. You deserve to work with a law firm that is committed to defending your best interests. Contact our dedicated team to discuss your case with a skilled lawyer.
You will not pay unless we recover benefits. Call us toll free at 866-479-2922. You may also complete our online contact form to schedule your free consultation.