You don't mind working hard when it means you can pay for the things you need. Still, you never expect that the job you do so well could somehow injure or disable you. Tragic workplace injuries occur far more often than they should.
Hard workers seek treatment for work-related brain damage, electrocutions, burns, chemical contamination, and other disabling injuries every day.
If you sustained a serious injury on the job, you need a San Jose workers' compensation lawyer working on your behalf. You need Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos.
Why Choose Our Law Firm?
At Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, our attorneys believe that injured workers should receive the compensation benefits they legally deserve. We know our clients work hard to earn that right. When we handle their workers' compensation cases, they inspire us to match their energy and effort. We do what's necessary to recover compensation for our injured clients.
Our Team Investigates Every Case
We learn about a client's workplace accident or event as much as possible. If an employer allows us on the site, we inspect, diagram, and photograph the incident location. We find witnesses, get their statements, and try to find answers to unanswered questions.
We Research Relevant Legal Issues
Injured employees have a right to recover workers' compensation benefits and sometimes have other legal rights. In most cases, worker's compensation insurance meets an employer's duty to pay for an employee's injuries.
If a third party/non-employer causes or contributes to an accident, the injured worker may have a valid liability claim against them. When investigating a claim, we look for third-party involvement and other situations that may allow us to recover non-economic damages.
Evaluate Our Clients' Injuries
We obtain medical bills, hospital records, and physician's reports to review and evaluate a workers' compensation claim. This documentation provides the insight necessary to obtain statutory comp benefits and negotiate potential settlements. If our client has a valid liability claim against a negligent third party, the information helps us during negotiations, mediation, or litigation.
We Work With Injured Clients Throughout the Claim Process
Whether an employer has a workers' Compensation policy or self-insures their comp losses, a claim often becomes a maze of complicated steps. We have worked for our injured clients from the initial stages of their treatment and disability. We have overseen their claim submission processes and dealt directly with insurance adjusters and claim administrators.
We have worked to minimize the risk of potential claim denials. If an administrator or insurer denied our client's claim, we initiated a timely appeal. When our clients qualified for a settlement, we worked to recover the maximum payment possible.
Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, LLP has offices in San Mateo, Hayward, and Santa Barbara. Our attorneys handle serious and catastrophic personal injuries for people involved in workplace incidents and car, motorcycle, pedestrian, bicycle, scooter, and commercial truck accidents. We also handle actions against negligent third parties who contribute to workplace injuries. To schedule a consultation, call us or leave a detailed message on our contact page.
Workers' Compensation Damages
Workers sustain injuries under all kinds of circumstances. The Bureau of Labor Statistics' most recent Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities report documents 2,607,900 workplace injuries nationwide and 5,190 fatalities. As these accidents occur under so many circumstances, injuries and recoverable damages vary widely.
When a worker sustains injuries on the job, the employer must pay their out-of-pocket expenses. To provide these benefits, they usually purchase a workers' compensation policy or apply with a state compensation bureau to self-insure their coverage. When a worker claims workplace injuries, the employer owes the following:
When traveling for treatment, the employer must cover an injured employee's doctor visits, diagnostic tests, medications, equipment, and reasonable transportation costs.
Temporary Disability Benefits
When a workplace injury prevents an employee from doing their job, the employer owes a disability benefit. This varies depending on the worker's job and wages or salary. Disability benefit amounts usually increase periodically based on a payment schedule.
Permanent Disability Benefits
When an injured worker doesn't fully recover, the insurer/self-insured company compensates them for their disability. This applies to permanent conditions involving losses of measurable physical and mental functions. Insurers usually pay based on a payment schedule that lists a specific amount for certain disabilities, such as loss of vision in one eye, amputation of one finger, etc.
Supplemental Job Displacement Benefits
When a worker has a confirmed permanent disability, they may qualify for a retraining allowance or a skill enhancement benefit. These benefits apply if an employer doesn't allow the recovered employee to return.
Death Benefit & Burial Expenses
When a worker sustains fatal injuries on the job, their spouse, children, and dependents receive death and burial benefits.
When a worker's injuries qualify for a settlement, our attorney negotiates the amount and finalizes the payment. When required, we present the settlement for administrative or judicial approval.
A workers' compensation settlement can be a series of weekly payments plus medical bills. It can also be a final lump sum that includes all future medical bills and income losses. Our attorneys negotiate a settlement amount that considers future medical and income losses.
Third-Party Liability Claims
Workers' compensation coverage meets employers' obligation to pay medical bills and wage losses for workplace injuries. In most instances, employees cannot sue their employer for other damages. If a negligent third party causes the injuries, they may owe non-economic damages.
Potentially liable third parties usually include the following:
- A non-employer or non-coworker
- A contractor who isn't a co-employee
- A company that manufactured a defective product but not the employer
- A driver who injured a worker in an accident, but the driver isn't a coworker
- The owner of a property where an injury occurred but not the employer's property
When a non-employer causes an injury while a worker is on the job, our attorneys work to recover their non-economic damages. These may include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, permanent disfigurement, and other damages.
Types of Workplace Injuries
Work-related injuries vary based on the industry or trade.
Despite varying circumstances, accidents cause similar injuries.
- Brain damage: Workers sustain brain damage due to oxygen deprivation and accidental trauma. Anoxic damage occurs when workers lose oxygen during chemical and contaminant exposures, construction trench burials, and other events. Traumatic brain injuries occur during falls, vehicle crashes, and other accidents.
- Fractures: Crush accidents, falls, machinery malfunctions, and other accidents cause workplace fractures.
- Lacerations and cuts: Unguarded saws, punch presses, power cutters, finishers, and other equipment cause serious lacerations and amputations. Powered nail guns sometimes produce deep puncture wounds that can be fatal.
- Burns: Workers sustain burn injuries due to workplace electrocutions, chemical exposures, concrete exposure, welding, fires, and other operations.
- Vehicle accident injuries: Fatalities and serious injuries occur due to vehicle accidents on construction sites, local roads, and highways.
- Internal injuries: Workers sustain organ damage and other internal injuries due to vehicle accidents, machine malfunctions, electrocutions, and other events.
OSHA Violations and Workplace Injuries
With so many contractors, vehicles, heavy equipment, and complex operations coming together, construction and extraction trades are particularly dangerous for workers. The most recent statistics show transportation and material handling jobs produced more injuries than traditional construction site risks. Together the two employment categories accounted for 47.4 percent of all worker fatalities.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's most recent workplace inspections documented these 10 injury-related violations most frequently.
1. Construction: Fall protection: Employers should have provided safety equipment, established safety measures, or trained workers to prevent falls.
2. General industry: Respiratory protection: Employers didn't provide respirators to reduce the risks of environments with insufficient oxygen. Dust, smoke, mists, gasses, sprays, and other contaminants cause cancer, diseases, or fatal injuries without proper protection.
3. Construction: Ladders violations: Unsafe or inappropriate wooden, step, or extension ladders contributed to worker falls and fatalities.
4. General industry: Hazard communication violations: Employers didn't notify workers of existing workplace hazards.
5. Construction: Scaffolding: OSHA documented 52 fatal falls involving scaffolding standards violations.
6. Construction: Fall protection training: Employers didn't always use available training resources to help employees reduce the risk of fall-related injuries and fatalities.
7. General industry: Control of hazardous energy: Employers sometimes implement lockout or tagout features. Workers sustained serious or fatal injuries from electric, pneumatic, chemical, and other forms of energy.
8. Construction: Eye and face protection: Employers don't always provide appropriate safety equipment to prevent employee blindness.
9. General Industry: Powered industrial trucks: Workers didn't have the proper training to operate power trucks safely. Operators should also be aged 18 or older.
10. General industry: Machinery and machine guarding: Employers in agriculture, general industry, maritime, and construction trades don't always provide machine guards to minimize amputation and other serious injury risks.
Dealing With Insurance Companies and Self-Insured Entities
Workers' compensation adjusters and administrators often make the claim process more complicated than it should be. The insurance companies and self-insured entities they represent must comply with state workers' compensation agency guidelines. States set mandatory standards for claim handler professionalism and experience, and they still handle most cases without oversight.
Insurance Companies and Claim Administrators Don't Represent Injured Employees
Insurance claim handlers don't represent injured workers. They represent insurance companies and their insureds.
As with any casualty claim, paid claims affect the insurance company and the businesses they insure.
- Every paid claim reduces insurance company profits.
- Paid claims also increase the insured business's loss ratio, leading to premium increases.
A self-insured employer's claim administrators operate under similar constraints. When they pay a claim, the money comes directly from the self-insured entity's funds. Every claim has the potential to reduce their business assets.
They Have Authority to Deny Claims
Workers' Compensation statutes give insurers, and self-insured companies claim denial authority for various reasons.
- Late or delayed claim filing
- No one witnessed the incident
- An alleged preexisting condition
- Incomplete or inaccurate claim report or documentation
Some injured people don't fight back when a claim handler or administrator denies their claim. It requires time, energy, and compliance with a formal appeal process, so some people just let it go.
Our attorneys understand how the workers' compensation process often becomes complicated and sometimes punitive. We review initial comp claim submissions and manage appeals, settlements, and other issues. We review accident claim details to determine if a client has a valid action against a negligent third party. When appropriate, we notify other parties and take steps to recover non-economic damages for our injured clients.
What to Do After an Accident
You can't always avoid workplace injuries.
You can take steps to minimize potential claim complications.
- Report your workers' compensation claim to your employer as soon as possible.
- Document the names of any fellow employees/witnesses who saw your accident.
- Follow your doctor's order for medication, rehabilitation, and healing.
- Only return to work once your doctor tells you you're physically and emotionally ready.
- Document your injury every day. Your bills and medical reports explain your diagnosis. Only you can explain your pain, suffering, family disruption, and how your injury affected you. Your information helps your attorney evaluate your claim.
- Remember that someone might be watching you. Don't participate in any activities that suggest you might not be hurt.
- Be careful what you post on social media. Investigators monitor most platforms.
- Contact a workers' compensation attorney to discuss your legal options.
Contact a Workers' Compensation Attorney
If a workplace accident causes you serious injuries, you shouldn't try to resolve your claim without legal assistance. When you contact Galine, Frye, Fitting & Frangos, LLP, we manage your claim while you take time off work to heal. We keep you compliant with the claim submission process and file appeals when required. We identify any negligent third parties and take steps to recover your uninsured damages. Reach out to a San Jose personal injury lawyer.
To schedule your free case consultation, call us at (650) 345-8484 or leave a message on our contact page.