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Los Angeles Legal Blog

Will "sanctuary cities" lose federal funding over immigration?

In recent weeks, the battle over immigration enforcement in so-called "sanctuary cities" has been escalating.

In fact, according to a recent report by the New York Post, Jeff Sessions, the U.S. Attorney General, recently warned that the current administration will take steps to withhold federal law enforcement grants from cities that do not cooperate with immigration authorities. This threatened move could potentially impact roughly 300 jurisdictions nationwide, including the California cities of Los Angeles and San Diego, among others.

Hurt at work? Denied the care you need? You are not alone.

work injury claim2.jpgIt's a scenario that all workers dread: suffering a serious on-the-job injury and being denied the care they need. While workers' comp is supposed to help these injured workers, the truth is that many are having their surgeries and other necessary procedures denied, despite their doctors' recommendations.

According to a recent KCRW investigative story, many of these denied workers are simply victims of legal "reforms" made to the California workers' compensation system in 2012 -- reforms that were supposed to weed out fraud, but now may be having unintended consequences on legitimately injured workers.

Is Aliso Canyon leak still causing medical issues in Porter Ranch?

breathing problem2.jpgA little over a year ago, the largest methane leak in U.S. history, which took place at the Aliso Canyon storage facility, was finally capped - marking the end of a four-month struggle in which Porter Ranch residents had to endure displacement and a wide range of medical issues.

Sadly, even though the leak was taken care of last February, many residents are still experiencing serious health problems today. In fact, according to a report by CBS Los Angeles, dozens of Porter Ranch residents recently outlined many of the symptoms and ailments they are currently suffering from at a neighborhood council meeting.

CDC Report: Deaths linked to mesothelioma are actually rising

asbestos2.jpgAccording to a report recently issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of deaths associated with malignant mesothelioma increased nearly 5 percent from 1999 to 2015, jumping from 2,479 to 2,597. In total, there were 45,221 death certificates issued during this 16-year period in which malignant mesothelioma was listed as either the underlying cause or the contributing cause of death.

What is particularly troubling about these cases of mesothelioma - a form of cancer typically caused by exposure to asbestos - is that they are increasing despite the fact that asbestos use has declined sharply over the last several decades.

Why was your workers' comp claim denied?

work injury denied2.jpg

While some employers go to great lengths to make sure their employees are taken care of following workplace injuries, many other employers sadly don't seem to care at all.

In fact, some businesses are simply more concerned with their bottom line than the well-being of their workers - meaning they may not be very helpful if you are injured on-the-job and subsequently seek workers' compensation benefits. In some instances, they may even attempt to throw various obstacles in your path and make accusations detrimental to your claim, including:

Injured in a car accident during the heavy rains?

rainyroad-T.JPG

The recent wave of rainstorms has made a dent in California's 6-year drought. It has also made dents in people's cars and to the people inside the cars.

Police departments across Southern California report that thousands of vehicles have run into problems caused by the torrents of rain and snow in the region. Cars have collided head-on, been run off the road, and crashed into railings, signs, trees, and parked vehicles.

Some of these accidents involve multiple cars. Some are single-vehicle accidents. All place a special burden on the injured party - proving that negligence, and not just raindrops, led to the accident and injury.

Establishing negligence in an accident in which bad weather was a factor can be a challenge. It is easy for insurance companies to dismiss your injuries as an "act of God" - insurance language for "Tough luck, fella."

CRUSHED: Determining the value of catastrophic compression injuries

crushed-T.JPGCompression injuries are a broad set of life-changing blunt force traumas in which body parts or the entire body are compressed - smashed.

Compression injuries can include:

  • Bone fractures
  • Damaged organs, including the brain
  • Damaged blood vessels
  • Compressed body parts, such as hands and feet
  • Disfigurement
  • Severe bruising
  • Lacerations
  • Damaged nerves

The transfer of energy from machine to human being

Think of a compression injury as an energy transfer: the energy of a speeding car, for instance, is transferred into living tissue. The tissue is stretched beyond its natural tolerances.

The body is not designed to sustain this level of energy flow. It will not heal without advanced and costly medical intervention.

Causes of compression injuries

In our practice, we work with numerous clients who experience serious compression injuries. The injured party falls from a rooftop. People are caught between heavy objects, such as parked cars. They are in a motor vehicle crash. Debris falls on them in an earthquake or building collapse. A heavy object falls from a height, as at a construction site. Elevators fall. Construction and digging sites cave in.

Are employers responsible for asbestos fibers that follow workers home?

laundry3.JPGAsbestos disease doesn't just happen at the worksite. If asbestos fibers follow the worker home - on clothing, tool belt or carseat - the worker's family members can get sick.

This is important, because there have been reported cases of spouses and children of asbestos workers developing mesothelioma or other asbestos-caused disease. Imagine the exposure of a spouse who launders the worker's work clothes. If that individual gets sick, does the family have any legal recourse?

The court said Yes

The California Supreme Court has ruled (in Haver v. BNSF Railway, Cal., S219919) that employers may be liable for asbestos injuries that are sustained far from the factory floor or industrial site. The case involved a former railroad worker's wife, who allegedly died because of asbestos fibers carried home by her husband.

Don't undermine your Workers' Comp case via Facebook

We keep seeing examples of injured workers harming their workers' compensation claims by saying or posting the wrong things on social media --on Facebook, Flickr, Google+, Instagram, Twitter and other sites.fsh2.JPG

These are not always cases of fraud. The people in question are often genuinely injured and entitled to the coverage they seek. But by posting publicly they are making it easy for insurance companies to question the seriousness of their injuries.

This is what's happening. Workers' comp insurance fraud investigators have easy access to these social media sites. For insurance companies it is much cheaper to scour your online postings than it is to park a detective in a car outside where you live, to monitor your actions.

What's wrong with this picture?

These are the kinds of anomalies they look for:

  • A Ventura lumberyard worker hurts his back. But then he posts an Instagram picture of himself on vacation holding a 10-pound walleye pike.
  • A Reseda dance instructor who also hurt her back is unable to work for four months - but within that period posts a Facebook video showing her standing upright at a charity benefit.
  • A van detailer in Encino files for a claim for repetitive stress, which is challenged because he has mounted images of acrylic paintings on his website.

How are cumulative injuries compensated?

carpal4.JPGCalifornia Workers' Compensation law recognizes that not all injuries occur in a single moment, that some develop over time. These two kinds of injury are labeled specific (those that occur in a single action) and cumulative (those that build up over a continuous period).

Specific Injury Examples

  • Broken vertebra from a forklift backing up
  • Fractured skull from a fall in a retail store
  • Hearing loss caused by a sudden explosion
  • Herniated disk caused by unloading a truck
  • Electrical burn
  • Falls and falling objects
  • A hand injury at a job site
  • A nail gun puncture

Cumulative Injury Examples

  • Asbestos-related disease
  • Chemical exposures
  • Hearing loss caused by noisy equipment
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome in a cashier
  • Backache in a nursery worker
  • COPD caused by bad office air
  • Patellar tendonitis in a carpenter
  • Work-caused psychological problems, such as PTSD

The problem with these two categories is that one is very easy to identify and diagnose, and therefore simple to compensate for; and the other is by its nature more complex, and resistant to simple compensation.

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