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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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