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Calif. WC / Laid off -- California

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  • Calif. WC / Laid off -- California

    New here and have what is the beginning (I am sure) of a talk with a lawyer.

    Injured while driving to a conference my company is was paying for. Other party in accident at fault.

    I retained a lawyer quickly, based on the complexity of the case. My employer/manager was informed that day of the incident, as was his next up the line VP/manager. This occurred about 6 months ago. Neither of them (managers) mentioned or brought up WC, even though they were well aware of the events and that I was driving to a company paid event, and was to bill mileage for the trip.

    So 3 months later I get the "your getting laid off soon" notice, and as part of the process I am getting a few months of severance. But I have to sign papers to get it. Thats where it gets scary. I read other threads alluding to the fact I may/will be giving up some future claims by signing for the severance.

    They have now initiated a WC claim, and sent me the required paperwork (since I asked HR about disability insurance since I will be having at least 1 shoulder surgery). The surgery will take place 1 week after I am laid off. Hows that for timing?

    I have contacted and filled in my attorney, and they are researching the possibilities. But they are a PI firm, not WC.

    Any ideas on the signing away my life for the severance? Threads I can read or....?

    I have spent part of the last 2 days reading a lot of information, and the more I read, the more this seems like a major headache in the works.

    As for more background, the right shoulder has a completely detached/ripped out tendon. That limits my RoM severely. The left is still pending the MRI. A lot of other issues, as this was a double impact/rollover @ freeway speeds. Again, while driving to/for a company function.

    Thank you for taking the time to read the rather long winded question,


  • #2
    I'm sorry but what is your question? I get that you were injured in a car accident on the way to a work related conference and now are beign laid off and offered severance. But what is the question?
    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.


    • #3
      Sorry, I am a classic of giving to much information.

      In short, can they use the release they want me to sign to receive my severance to deny benefits/claims?

      I know that I can't "sign away" my rights to workmans comp, but there is some question as to the timing and validity of my layoff, as well as the fact that management failed to report the accident to HR. My manager and his were informed the same day or next that the accident occurred, but didn't report it to HR. They knew of and authorized the trip. I was driving to a company funded and authorized training/conference, and therefore was "at work" when the accident occurred.

      And can they withhold my severance if I don't sign it (I assume they can and will).

      I hope this helps, and thank you for taking the time to look,



      • #4
        Whether WC covers this or not is a grey area. It may but it is far from a forgone conclusion. I wouldn't make too much of your manager not reporting it as such. For one, it is your responsibility to report the claim, not theirs.

        Since this was 6 months ago at least, I dont see what it has to do with your lay off now. No, you can not sign your right to file a claim away.

        If you don't sign the release, why on earth would they pay you the severance anyway? It is standard to require a release in order to receive severance. There is no point in paying severance otherwise.
        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.


        • #5
          Thank you.

          As far as covering it, from the decisions I read it isn't a grey area. They have to cover it. According to everything I read it is without question covered, and HR directly stated this.

          I'll let the lawyer handle this portion as well.

          But thank you for the opinion, and have a good evening,

          Last edited by AutoAccidentCa; 01-27-2008, 09:12 PM. Reason: Clarification


          • #6
            It might be covered under the circumstances of your case, but there is a grey area anytime an employee is travelling when travelling is not part of their usual job duties (as in delivery driver or similar).
            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.


            • #7
              Due to the overall complexity of the case, I am just going to get, or have my lawyer retain a WC lawyer to handle it. To many potential mistakes that can be costly. Worth the 9%-15% fee for them to deal with it.

              Thank you again,



              • #8
                Yes, you have a complicated case. Only someone who is intimately involved with the facts will be able to give you specific information. It sounds like it may be compensable but the 'coming and going' rule depends on certain facts and we don't have all of them. Just because your employer pays you mileage doesn't mean that the claim will be admitted. ElleMD is right when she says this is a gray area. Don't take offense, we just don't know all the details.

                As far as your manager not filing a claim, I would chalk that up to inexperience rather than malice. I could be wrong but I would rather go through life assigning the most generous position to others and their actions, rather than assuming the worst. We have company cars and it took several conversations with the Operations manager to make sure I am informed EVERY time their is an accident regardless of the damage. I think workers comp, they don't. It wasn't deliberate on their parts, they just weren't aware of the risk transfer involved.

                You are right, you cannot sign your rights away to comp under any severance agreement. What you are signing is a general liability release to claims for discimination, wrongful termination, etc..And yes, they probably will hold the severance pay until signed.

                While I agree that you should have someone to discuss your claim with, I would hold off signing with an attorney until you speak with an Information and Assistance officer at any of the local workers' compensation boards. They work for the state, are usually skewed to the employee, and the consultation is FREE, no matter how many times you need to meet with them. Unfortunately, many of the applicants' attorneys suffer from too many cases and not enough time. It is not uncommon to see the attorney's applicant at the board calling out their client's names because they do not recognize them. Sad but true. If you are savvy at research (and you appear to be) you may be able to handle your case with the I&A officer.

                Finally, I predict that you will have some difficulty with your claim. You have a lot of issues here such as late reporting, (maybe not your fault but it is a factor), a 'coming and going' claim, a PI attorney, and probable subrogation. With your objective findings and pending surgery, I would presume that this will not resolve for at least a year. Be prepared to be patient.


                • #9
                  Thank you both.

                  I was not aware of the I&A option. I will try to meet with them ASAP.

                  The headache really is the release. Thats the potential sticking point. I have requested a copy and will review it before the end date. If I sign it, even if there is provable misconduct, thats it and any other claims are toast. At least that is my assumption. I need to read it and perhaps have it reviewed.

                  I try to find the positive, but in the end, I am loosing my job after hundreds of hours of uncompensated OT and poor treatment.

                  Again, thank you both, and have a great afternoon,



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