Workers' compensation: Serious injuries go unreported

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health says Sunset Center failed to file a report within the required time after a worker suffered a serious injury. By law, workplace injuries that lead to death or serious injuries must be reported within eight hours, but this nonprofit apparently waited four days. Nevertheless, the injured employee will still be entitled to claim workers' compensation benefits.

Reportedly, the worker climbed the ladder of a scissor lift to cover the machine with a tarp on a misty day in February. His foot slipped, and he fell off the ladder onto an unprotected air conditioning unit. The worker suffered severe lacerations to his left knee. Although he was hospitalized for four days, his employer did not report the injury to Cal/OSHA. When the worker returned to work after his discharge from the hospital, he took it upon himself to file a report.

According to the employee, he was reprimanded for filing the report. Cal/OSHA proposed stiff penalties for the delay in reporting the injury, and also for failing to establish a mandatory Injury and Illness Prevention Plan. The employee further alleges that the fact that he reported the injury to Cal/OSHA and asked for improvements in the company's safety protocols led to his dismissal in July.

This worker's eligibility for workers' compensation benefits is not affected by his dismissal. He is likely entitled to receive compensation to cover his doctors' and hospital bills. Benefits to cover lost wages will depend on the period of temporary disability. His chances of receiving maximum compensation under applicable laws will significantly increase if he retains the services of an experienced California workers' compensation attorney, who might also assess whether grounds exist for a separate wrongful termination claim in civil court.

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