How to Know If You Have a Workers’ Compensation Case
Earlier this month, 62-year-old Jose Melena was found cooked to death inside a steam oven at the California Bumblebee Tuna factory where he worked. Although the case is currently under investigation, chances are that Melena’s widow will receive workers’ compensation benefits.
An exception may be if Mr. Melena was murdered for personal reasons unconnected with his employment, as in the case of the Montana convenience store clerk who was murdered by her estranged husband —an event that the court concluded had nothing to do with her work.
Very few workplace injuries, are as dramatic and newsworthy. The vast majority of work-related injuries fall into one of the following categories:
- Back injuries, due to heavy lifting, frequent bending or lifting, or even sitting in a chair all day
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, stemming from trauma or injury to the wrist and mechanical problems in the wrist joint, among other things
- Toxic mold, leading to chronic bronchitis, heart problems, cancer, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and bleeding lungs
- Repetitive injuries, to the extremities (e.g., shoulders and knees) such as tendonitis and muscle strains caused by job duties involving constant pushing, pulling or lifting
- Chronic pain
Keep in mind that workers’ compensation benefits are only available to you if you were injured on the job or were doing something that was within the scope of your employment. Exceptions, such as the murder of the Montana store clerk, are rare. In most cases, employers try to deny claims due to a pre-existing condition, or because your injury isn’t serious enough. It is crucial that you seek medical attention for your condition and maintain records of all of your tests and treatments.
If your employer has denied a claim that you feel warrants compensation, don’t let it go. Remember, if workers’ compensation applies, you cannot sue an employer in a separate personal injury lawsuit. Our lawyers can assist you in your fight against your employer’s insurance company, if necessary.