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  • Accident on the job California

    Hello everyone,

    My husband had an accident on the job, last week - a heavy piece of equipment felt on his arm, while he was working on it. The same day, he reported the accident to his supervisor, but they failed to send him to the doctor. His work responsibilities were not changed. My husband works as a refrigeration technician and his duties imply physical effort most of the time.

    One week later (yesterday) he complained about the persisting pain again, this time to human resources. They sent him immediately to medical evaluation. Turned out that a tendon was affected by that accident, and the doctor gave my husband painkillers, anti-inflammatory and a patch. The doctor also prescribed light duties for one week - no heavy lifting or other sort of straining activity.

    Today, my husband went to work and his first call was to deliver some parts to a location where another employee needed them. The part was a compressor that his colleague carried from my husband's track to the actual site. Still at this location, my husband receives a phone from his supervisor who questioned the time my husband spent at the location and request him to report to the company.

    When my husband arrives to the company, they had a written notice prepared already, stipulating the my husband did not respect the instructions received from the doctor, regarding heavy lifting at job.

    My husband feels this is an unfair warning, more than that - the company tries to get rid of him because they realized they should have sent him to the doctor earlier, and now he represents a liability for the company. Therefore they will eliminate him without any problem, after 7 years of dedicated work.

    I don't know what to do... should we initiate a legal action... should we wait... it will not get better by waiting.

    Any advice is appreciated,
    Thank you.

  • #2
    The same day, he reported the accident to his supervisor, but they failed to send him to the doctor.
    As he was NOT provided a DWC-1, employEE report/claim of injury and WC benefits, and failed to provide medical treatment, he does NOT have to treat with the ER/IC Dr in the MPN/Medical Provider Network. You are in luck on this one, and there is case law to support this.

    When a PTP/Primary Treating Physician issues restrictions to light duty, and the ER provides such, it is not the ER responsibility to monitor the IW. The restrictions are on the IW for every day life activities.
    Apparently your husband has the co-worker to support the fact he didn't actually lift the part at the job site. (the co-worker cannot be harrassed/threatened for cooperating with an IW side of the facts.)
    When my husband arrives to the company, they had a written notice prepared already, stipulating the my husband did not respect the instructions received from the doctor, regarding heavy lifting at job.
    There may be a action under section 132(a) of the labor code here... at the very least this should be included and filed with the claim and Application for Adjudication with the WCAB. See the labor code/132(a) here http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/di...file=110-139.6

    If he is eligibile for FMLA unpaid leave, that should be requested now. FMLA provides up to 12 weeks job/benefits protection. There is no job protection in filing a WC claim.
    ...and now he represents a liability for the company.
    Termination of the IW doens't do any good ...once the claim is filed, the ER is liable for the injury if the claim is accepted. The WC carrier takes over as the "employer" and makes the decisions on benefits due. All subject to disupte and litigation process.

    Other labor code sections are here http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/ca...ebody=&hits=20
    You might pay special attention to the UR/Utilization Review process.

    There are fact sheets for IW/Injured Workers here http://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/iwguides.html, including how to contact an I&A, Information and Assistance officer at the WCAB.

    An attorney would be particularly helpful here...referrals may be provided here www.caaa.org. This is an organization of AA/Applicant Attorneys all over by zip code.
    Talk to more than one...IMO, stay away from those big firms on TV, or billboards. Few IW's have been provided personal attention in their claim handling.

    The specific timefram for signing a retainer/fee agreement with an AA should be explained to you by the AA. There are times where the ER/IC can be liable for your AA fees. That is time and action specific to the claim process.

    Try to spend time reading the info at the links, get familiar with the WC process, what benefits are available, and maybe more important what benefits are not provided.

    Comment


    • #3
      Did he ask to seek treatment on the day of the accident? Not every incident warrants seeking immediate treatment. Was he working full duty for the week between the the incident and when he sought treatment? Did he mention any problems to his coworkers or supervisor?

      When he returned after treatment did he share the restrictions with the employer? Did he actually adhere to those restrictions? It isn't clear from what you shared. If he did not, or he did not share the restrictions, then yes, it is reasonable to warn him. This is far cry from termination and I think you are jumping to conclusions which are wholly unnecessary. This seems to be a relatively minor claim so it is extremely unlikely the employer would be hugely concerned with liability. He had an injury, but kept working for week. When it still bothered him, he was sent for evaluation and given reduced duties for a week. I know when it isn't something you encounter often it can seem frightening but speaking as someone who handles claims daily, I can say this one wouldn't warrant much concern or worry.

      If I found out an employee was disregarding their restrictions, yes, I'd write them up. It is a safety issue as well as a WC one. The employer doesn't want an employee doing more than they should and making the injury worse. It doesn't serve the employee's interests either. If he followed protocol and adhered to the restrictions, he can follow whatever internal procedures are in place for grieving an unfair write up.

      Unless there is a heck of a lot more than you shared, there is no basis for legal action and I truly would not give termination a second thought.
      I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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