San Francisco, CA, February 26, 2019 --(PR.com
)-- It’s an unfortunate fact of life that sometimes workers are injured on the job. Fortunately, there are laws in place to protect the rights of injured workers. However, the protections have changed and some workers’ rights have become more restricted in recent years.
According to Ed Bridges, a workers’ compensation attorney in San Francisco, today, limits have been put on what evidence plaintiffs can get from experts that they are permanently precluded from returning to the labor market.
“In the past, under California law vocational experts could be called to testify on behalf of an injured worker. These experts could attest in a court of law what a worker could and couldn’t do in the labor market based on their skills, experience, capabilities, etc. That’s changed. Now, only medical evidence provided by the primary treating physician can be presented. In the medical report, the physician is obligated to explain what kind of work you can and can’t do while recovering, and what changes are needed in your work schedule or assignments. That medical-evidence-only limitation can make it tougher to prove a workers’ compensation claim.
“Workers should also know it’s illegal for your employer to penalize or fire you for having a job injury, or for filing a workers’ compensation claim when you believe your injury was caused by your job. It’s also illegal for your employer to punish or fire co-workers who testify in your case. The California Labor Code (section 132a) prohibits this kind of discrimination.”
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) states an employer with 50 or more employees usually must let workers take unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks, without losing their job, if they need time off for a serious medical condition. If they do not fully recover from your injury, the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) make it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees because of a serious disability.
“When it comes to medical treatment, it’s important workers get the right kind of treatment for the right injury,” Bridges notes. “For example, sometimes someone with a diagnosed thoracic spine injury is really suffering from a neck injury.
“And workers don’t need a specific injury that occurred at a specific time to file a claim.
"Heavy labor performed over years can result in repetitive trauma. This is known as cumulative claims. Or a driver who gets injured in a car accident while doing a task for their employer can file a claim too."
The injured worker has responsibilities too to support their claim. First, keep good records.
“Keep copies of everything, even envelopes showing postmarks,” Bridges advises. “Second, learn more about workers’ compensation. There are many resources available: your employer, the claims administrator, the State Division of Workers’ Compensation, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, attorneys, the primary treating physician, labor unions, occupational health clinics, and many others.”
When injuries occur, both employers and employees are accountable.
“Don’t be afraid to ask questions,” Bridges says. “Learn what your rights are responsibilities are. That way, if you’re injured on the job, you’ll be prepared. It’s your health and your livelihood.”