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San Jose Workers' Compensation Blog

Workers' compensation and independent contractors

California workers who are labeled as independent contractors and suffer a workplace injury accident or an occupational disease might be under the impression that their status prevents them from collecting workers' compensation benefits. They might be independent contractors and the statement on the part of the employer that they cannot get the workers' compensation benefits that are accorded to employees might be accurate. But there is a chance that it is not. Understanding what factors generally constitute being an employee and how that is different from being an independent contractor is imperative when seeking benefits.

In the state, there is no ironclad definition of being an independent contractor. When it is determined whether a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, labor law enforcement agencies and the courts consider numerous issues. An employer might try to label a worker as an independent contractor to keep from having to pay various fees that would accompany having another employee, but that does not mean that the worker is not an employee. To be an independent contractor, the person is generally responsible and has control over his or her own work.

Is your office a minefield of musculoskeletal disorder threats?

Musculoskeletal disorders can occur in any industry. Regardless of whether you are working as a member of an assembly line in a manufacturing plant or capturing data in an office, repetitive motions can cause injuries. However, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health says good ergonomic practices can limit MSDs.

The practice of ergonomics fit the job to the employee by changing the environment to allow that worker to do his or her job without harm to muscles, tendons, nerves, ligaments and blood vessels. Modified workspaces can limit hazardous body movements.

Did that scaffold fall aggravate an old back injury?

If you are a member of the California workforce, you might have some questions about the workers' compensation system of the state. Knowing that you have such insurance coverage may provide peace of mind, but nobody wants to file a benefits claim that the company rejects. Does the program cover all injuries, and what happens when you suffer an accident that aggravates an existing one?

Pre-existing conditions can be a tricky aspect because your employer might attempt to avoid paying for an injury that already existed before you joined his or her company. However, it is not the date of the original injury that matters but the date of the subsequent incident that aggravated the pre-existing condition.

Toll worker dies in fatal work-related accident after truck crash

There are certain jobs in San Jose and throughout California that are inherently dangerous even if they seem mundane and boring. Jobs where workers are stationed in areas where they must endure risk to do the job and they do not regularly consider the possibility of a fatal work-related accident are still dangerous. This reality crops up from time to time as, unfortunately, these accidents do occur. People who have lost a loved one who was working at high-risk occupations must be aware of their right to seek compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit.

A 46-year-old woman working in a toll booth on the Bay Bridge was hit and killed. The accident happened at around 5 a.m. when a box truck hit several other vehicles and hit the toll plaza. According to the investigation, there was a line of vehicles waiting to go through when the crash occurred. The truck collision caused a chain reaction of crashes of these vehicles and then ran into the plaza and destroyed it, killing the attendant.

Workplace accidents reducing in California, but still frequent

It is important to keep track of the statistics of workplace accidents in California. This can be beneficial to determining the cause of accidents, workplace injuries and illnesses and taking steps to prevent them. As technology and oversight improves, so too does safety. This is indicated by the Department of Industrial Relations releasing information showing that the state's number of non-fatal work injuries and illnesses has reduced to 3.7 for every 100 full-time employees in 2016.

The number has been declining incrementally for the past 15 years. In 2013 and 2014, it was 3.8 for every 100 full-time employees. In 2002, the number was six for every 100 full-time workers. According to DIR, the statistics are accrued by injuries and illnesses that employers reported and U.S. Bureau of Division and Labor Statistics' Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses. In the estimates, there were an estimated 466,600 non-fatal injuries and illnesses from the job in 2016. Of those, 78 percent were in the private sector; 22 percent were in the public sector.

Work accident on rail project injures two construction workers

Any type of construction work in California and across the country can be dangerous for the workers. This is true whether it is a project overseen in the private sector or the public sector. A work accident does not discriminate based on who is paying for it and what it is for. Those who are injured in an accident on the job should know that they are entitled to receive workers' compensation, have their medical treatment paid for and get other benefits. If there is a problem with getting these benefits, it is essential to understand the importance of having legal help after workplace injuries.

The California High-Speed Rail that is being constructed halted work after an accident. Steel fell and pinned two workers underneath it. The accident occurred in the early afternoon at around 2:30 p.m. when emergency crews were called. The workers were working near a steel reinforcement beam known as a "rebar" when the rebar collapsed. Numerous emergency crews arrived to help. The men were freed and taken to the hospital for treatment. Their injuries were not considered life-threatening and they were kept at the hospital to make certain they were not seriously hurt. One has a fractured back. Multiple investigations, including by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, will be undertaken.

Workers' compensation and temporary disability's timeframe

California workers who are injured on the job will count on workers' compensation benefits to see them through their recovery. For those whose injuries are not permanent, temporary disability (TD) benefits provide payments for lost wages while the person is recovering. TD benefits under workers' compensation were covered in a previous post. A concern that many people who are getting TD benefits have is when they will begin and end. Many injuries that are incurred due to the work a person does can vary in when they will be sufficiently resolved to get back to work. The timeline of when the benefits begin and end is vital.

The TD payments will start when the medical professional overseeing the case states that the person is not able to do his or her customary work for more than three days or if the person is hospitalized overnight. The payments for TD will be made every two weeks. When the person returns to work, the TD benefits will cease. They will also stop if the doctor releases the person for work or states that the injury has improved to its maximum and will not get any better that it is.

Firefighters' lives typically threatened by much more than flames

Firefighters in California face some of the most hazardous occupational challenges. If this is your line of work, you might be interested in the findings of researchers in a study that was done to determine the impact firefighting has on the heart. The result of the research underscores the fact that while you work to save the lives of others, you may be putting your own life on the line.

The physical exertion and exposure to intense heat make firefighting one of the most stressful and challenging of all occupations. You might not have been aware that, even if you manage to remain safe from injuries, you may face potentially deadly health risks in the long term.

Active systems required to avoid a construction accident

In construction work, workers are frequently required to be stationed at substantial heights to complete projects according to the project's specifications. This can place the worker at risk for a fall which, in turn, can lead to injuries or death. A recent post examined passive systems. This post will focus on common active systems that should be in place for fall protection.

There are certain requirements for an active personal fall protection system. For example, there must be an anchorage point that supports adequate loads. Also, a harness or body belt for fall restraint should be worn by employees in accordance with instructions from its manufacturer. A connector or lanyard, which is essentially a rope, which can be adjusted should also be used so that a worker who falls will not strike the ground. Employers should also ensure that the free fall distance never exceeds six feet. There are three types of personal fall protection systems: a personal fall arrest system, a personal fall restraint system, and positioning devices.

Work-related accident injures police officer on bicycle

Law enforcement officers in San Jose and throughout California are fully aware of the dangers they face when they head out on the job. Because they are easily identifiable and willingly place themselves in harm's way, these brave officers can be injured and even killed as they go about their duties. With this type of job and other high risk occupations, injuries and the loss of a loved one can negatively affect a family in many ways. While workers' compensation will almost assuredly be available in these instances, there could also be the foundation for a lawsuit to recover compensation in other ways. One example of such a case was recently in the news.

There, a police officer was injured when he was hit by an SUV. The officer was on bicycle patrol when the incident occurred. The driver fled the scene, but was later arrested. The officer, 32, was listed in critical condition in the intensive care unit at the hospital. According to the investigation, it is believed that the driver of the SUV intentionally hit the officer. There were other officers on the scene at the time, as they were investigating what was said to be a firearms case. The injured officer is a five-year veteran. He was injured previously and received a Purple Heart from the department.

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