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Articles Posted in Work Injury

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manufacturing-plant-worker-injuriesWhile most workers who are injured at work will be limited to recovering benefits from workers’ compensation, some exceptions to the general rule exist. In Santos v. Crenshaw Manufacturing, Inc., , Cal. Ct. App. Case No. G057371, the appeals court considered whether an exception applied in a lawsuit filed by a worker whose hand was mutilated by a power press without a guard.

Factual and procedural background

In Jan. 2017, Marivel Santos was working at Crenshaw Manufacturing as a machine press operator. During the second week of the month, Santos’s supervisor, Jose Flores, told her to operate a machine using a die without protective guards. Her supervisor told her to operate it from the side with one hand while inserting her other hand inside of the machine to hold the material in place. When she did, her hand was crushed and mutilated by the machine. Santos filed a workers’ compensation claim against the company. She also filed a lawsuit against Crenshaw under the power press exception to the workers’ compensation law for the company’s failure to have guards installed on the machine.

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forklift-accident-injury-attorneys-CaliforniaIn California, people who have been seriously injured by defectively designed products may be entitled to recover damages in a product liability lawsuit. The courts may instruct the jury about the tests that they should apply when evaluating an alleged design defect. However, as Verrazono v. Gehl Co., Cal. Ct. App. Case No. A152318 shows, the court is not always required to provide the instruction proposed by the plaintiff.[1] Some cases involving serious injuries from products will not provide the basis for the recovery of damages. (Note: for a full discussion on workplace injuries and how they can involve various types of claims including work comp, personal injury and product liability, click here).

Factual and procedural background

In 2012, Gary Verrazono was operating a rough terrain forklift at the Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma County. It tipped over, seriously injuring him. He then filed a lawsuit against Gehl Co., the manufacturer of the forklift, alleging that the forklift had a design defect because it lacked a non-removable door and a seatbelt system with more than two points. He also alleged that the forklift should have contained an interlock system that would have prevented its operation without the operator wearing the seatbelt. The case proceeded to trial, and the jury returned a verdict in favor of the defense.

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work-injury-claims-attorney-Los-AngelesPeople who are injured at work because of the negligence of a third party other than their employers may be able to recover workers’ compensation benefits while also filing negligence lawsuits against the third party. However, if the victims are employed by an independent contractor that is hired by the negligent third party, the ability to recover damages through the third-party claim may be limited by the Privette rule unless an exception applies. In Horne v. Ahern Rentals, Inc., Cal. Ct. App. Case No. B299605, the appeals court reviewed a wrongful death claim against the hirer of the independent contractor for which the victim worked.[1]

Factual and procedural background

Ruben Dickerson was employed by 24-Hour Tire Service, a company that had contracted with Ahern Rentals to provide tire repair and tire change services for almost 10 years. Ahern Rentals was a company that rented forklifts and heavy machinery to construction businesses. Dickerson had been employed by 24-Hour Tire service for more than a decade before the date of his accident. He was killed on Nov. 24, 2015, while he was changing the tires on a forklift while on the premises of Ahern Rentals. His surviving family members recovered workers’ compensation benefits from 24-Hour Tire Service’s insurance provider. They subsequently filed a personal injury claim against Ahern Rentals, alleging that the company was negligent in its failure to provide a level surface for the tire replacement work.

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Some Californians work for subcontractors who contract with contractors to perform work at construction sites in the state. When an employee of a subcontractor is injured while working at the construction site, the contractor that contracted with the worker’s employer to perform services will only be liable for the injuries when specific situations apply. The California Court of Appeal considered whether the trial court erred in its jury instructions and a denial of the defendant’s motion for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict in the case of Alaniz v. Sun Pacific Shippers, Cal. Ct. App., Case No. B290013[1].

Case background

Jesus Alaniz was an employee of Navarro Trucking. Navarro Trucking subcontracted with a company named Sun Shippers to transport mandarin oranges from the company’s orchard. Alaniz brought some empty fruit bins to Sun Pacific’s orchard sometime in February 2012. When he arrived, he was told to park at an area where a forklift could unload the bins. Alaniz parked his truck and climbed onto the back of the trailer to move bins so that Roberto Reynosa, an employee who was driving the forklift for a different subcontractor named J. Antonio Rosa Lule, could unload them from the trailer’s north side. Alaniz tried to pull a stack of fruit bins closer for Reynosa to reach and fell off the trailer. When he fell, Reynosa accidentally drove over his leg. Reynosa asked Alaniz if he wanted Reynosa to drive him to the doctor, but Alaniz continued to work instead. He sought medical care four hours after his accident and had to have surgery on his leg and shoulder.

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California employers are liable for their employees’ negligent actions while they are operating in the scope and course of their jobs and injure or kill others. However, employers are not liable for the negligence of their employees when the workers are commuting to or from their jobs with limited exceptions. In Bingener v. City of Los Angeles, Cal. Ct. App. Case No. B291112, the court looked at the exceptions to the coming and going rule to determine whether the employer of a negligent worker who struck a pedestrian while commuting to work fell under an exception to the coming and going rule or whether the rule applied, absolving the employer of liability.[1]

Factual and procedural background

Kim Rushton was a 68-year-old man who worked as a chemist in a water lab for the City of Los Angeles to test water samples for organic molecules. Rushton had been employed in his job for more than 20 years. He received medical treatment for several medical conditions, including occasional seizures, neuropathy in his feet, and tremors that were controlled with medications. In Dec. 2014, Rushton fell at his job and remained off from work until Feb. 2015 because of his fall-related injuries. He was allowed to return to work on Feb. 2, 2015, with restrictions on kneeling, squatting, and bending. He was also restricted from sitting or standing for longer than four hours. The doctor did not place any restrictions on his ability to drive, however. On Feb. 20, 2015, Rushton was given an injection of steroids to ease his back pain.

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work-injury-claims-attorney-Los-AngelesPeople who are injured while they are working are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits through their employers’ insurance carriers. Doctors are able to request specific medical services for injured workers. When employers either change the requests or deny them, the modifications or denials undergo a utilization review by medical experts. In Allied Signal Aerospace vs. Workers Compensation Appeals Board, Cal.Ct. App. Case No. B293080, the California Court of Appeal considered an employer’s petition for review of a decision that was made by the appeals board concerning a utilization review for a woman whose doctor had requested heavy housecleaning assistance.

Factual and procedural background

Maxine Wiggs was an employee of Allied Signal Aerospace who suffered an industrial injury that was cumulative in nature from May 3, 1997, to May 30, 1998. The injury required her to undergo six surgeries between 1998 and 2012. By 2012, Wiggs had to take multiple narcotic and opioid medications to manage her pain. She had three more surgeries from 2014 to 2017. Wiggs requested home health care services. On Oct. 22, 2012, the parties agreed that a registered nurse named Irene Mefford would conduct an in-home assessment of the need for housekeeping services and would write a report and submit it to Wiggs’s doctor for his review.

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construction-site-accident-attorneysIn California, people who are injured while they are working may recover workers’ compensation benefits through their employers’ insurance carriers. In addition to workers’ compensation benefits, workers who are injured at work may be able to recover damages from third parties that were negligent and contributed to their accidents’ causes. In Anaya v. General Equipment & Supplies. Inc, et al., Los Angeles County Case No. BC594187, the family of a worker who was killed at work sued a third-party manufacturer of the equipment with which he was working.

Factual background of the case

A 34-year-old maintenance worker was working at RJ Noble on Oct. 7, 2013. The man was pulled into a rock-crushing machine that was being operated without its guards. The machine was manufactured by General Equipment & Supplies. Inc. A lawsuit on behalf of the man’s three minor children was filed against General Equipment & Supplies and Fab Tec, the company that manufactured the safety guards. Fab Tec settled the claim against it prior to trial for $750,000. The claim against General Equipment & Supplies proceeded to a jury trial.

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work-accident-fatality-lawyer-CaliforniaWorkplace deaths from industrial accidents is on the Rise in the U.S. according to recent studies.  Most Californians do not go to their jobs with the idea that they could be injured or killed at their workplaces. Unfortunately, many people suffer serious injuries or fatalities while they are working on the job each year. Recent data shows that the number of workplace fatalities across industry sectors sharply increased from 2015 to 2016. If you have lost your loved one in a workplace accident, it is important that you speak to an experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney for help.

Workplace fatality statistics

According to the Census of 2016 Fatal Occupational Injuries Report that was released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5,190 people were killed while they were working on the job during the year. The number of fatalities increased by 7 percent over the number of workers who were killed in 2015. The fatality rate increased from 3.4 deaths per 100,000 workers to 3.6 deaths per 100,000 workers.

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