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March 2015 Archives

“Bay Area Workers Ask The Expert – Injured While Doing Community Service”

The Veen Firm proudly partners with the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council to provide legal help for Bay Area workers in the trades.Many complicated legal issues affect workers in our community. The Veen Firm is passionate about providing the education and resources needed to protect Bay Area workers.Real people submit questions, and the attorneys at The Veen Firm respond directly. This month’s expertise is provided by Elinor Leary.

I was injured at a nonprofit community center while doing weekend community service to work off a speeding ticket. I was clearing brush when the machine jammed and seriously injured me. I am now unable to work at my regular job, and I have no income. What can I do?

You may be entitled to receive Worker’s Compensation benefits, even though you were not injured at your regular job. The question comes down to who your “employer” was over the weekend that you were doing community service work. Under the Labor Code, the nonprofit organization is exempt from being considered an employer, so you will not be entitled to collect Worker’s Compensation benefits from them. However, the County where you were going to be sentenced for your speeding ticket would likely be considered your “employer” even though you didn’t sign a contract and were not expecting to be paid a wage for your community service.You may also have a remedy in civil court based on a defective product claim. You should immediately contact an experienced civil litigator who has experience dealing with cases that involve workplace injuries. If you do have a remedy against the manufacturer of the machine that malfunctioned, you will need an attorney who knows how to carefully draft a complaint on your behalf. If the complaint is not carefully drafted, you may receive an unfavorable ruling from the civil court that may prevent you from pursuing your case in civil court. This would limit you to only the benefits you would receive in the Worker’s Compensation system, reducing the compensation you might otherwise be eligible to receive.-Elinor Leary, Attorney; The Veen Firm, PC, San Francisco, CA
(Reposted from the San Francisco Building & Construction Trades Council.)

Bay Area Workers Ask The Expert - March 2015

The Veen Firm proudly partners with the San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council to provide legal help for Bay Area workers in the trades.Many complicated legal issues affect workers in our community. The Veen Firm is passionate about providing the education and resources needed to protect Bay Area workers.Real people submit questions, and the attorneys at The Veen Firm respond directly. This month’s expertise is provided by Steven Kronenberg.

Two weeks ago, I hurt my back on a jobsite in a minor incident involving another company’s employee. I’m working through it, and my job performance hasn’t suffered. My supervisor found out and is now forcing me to take time off. I don’t want to fall behind on the job; can he really do this?

Your excellent question requires more information to answer competently. Sometimes, an employer can require an employee to take a medical exam to confirm he or she is fit for duty before returning to work. Some additional facts to consider are the general type of work, your specific job duties, who determined the injury was “minor,” and how much the other company’s employee might be responsible.Also, even if an unsafe condition only caused a “minor” injury this time, the next person might not be so lucky. Putting your employer on notice of a problem provides an opportunity to correct it.You should report the injury to your employer promptly. If you wait more than 30 days, you could lose your right to workers’ compensation benefits and medical care. What if your injury becomes more serious over time or because your duties changed? Do you want to pay for medical care out-of-pocket? If you later need to take time off for something that started as a “minor” injury, wouldn’t it be better to receive some workers’ compensation benefits? If the other company (a “third party”) is responsible, an incident report should be prepared before memories fade.The time limits are strict for filing a claim, so you should contact an attorney who knows about workers’ compensation and third party actions soon.
Steven Kronenberg, The Veen Firm, PC, San Francisco, CA
(Reposted from the San Francisco Building & Construction Trades Council.)
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