The Workers Compensation Attorney Group is a highly rated and reliable law firm serving the people of Orange County, CA. Our attorneys understand the California labor code 3700 and are familiar with every line of work that is likely to expose employees to the risk of injury. If you are suffering from a work-related elbow an d shoulder injury, you should contact us as we are dedicated to ensuring you receive your workers’ compensation benefits and medical care.

What are the Basics of Workers’ Compensation?

During recuperation, injured employees are required to get medical and lost wages replacement or indemnity. However, before receiving the benefits, the claim administrator must follow the guidelines provided to determine if the injuries are compensable or not. In Orange County, CA, every employer is expected by law to have workers’ compensation insurance. Labor Code Section 3200 - 6002 provides information about the injuries covered by the California workers’ compensation, the procedure for filing a claim, and all changes in the statutes.

What Causes Elbow and Shoulder Injuries?

Shoulder and elbow injuries are prevalent among workers in all types of industries. They might occur due to sudden accidents, or due to a repetitive movement which is long term. Some of the activities that cause musculoskeletal disorders include lifting, pushing, reaching, carrying, and pulling. Injuries caused by long term effects take a long time to heal and at times might require surgery.

Retail workers, cashiers, grocery store clerks, and many others are at the risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders because of the repetitive movements they make throughout the day. Some of the disorders include muscle strain, tendinitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, shoulder issues, and elbow inflammation. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 33% of work-induced injuries are caused by musculoskeletal disorders. If an employee has epicondylitis or rotator cuff injuries or complaints, they should seek treatment fast.

Some employers whose job duties increase the risk of employees developing epicondylitis put measures in place to reduce the development of these injuries. Epicondylitis is considered acute if the symptoms have been experienced for one (1) month. If the symptoms have lasted for a period of one (1) to three (3) months, the condition is sub-acute. The condition will be chronic if the employee has experienced the symptoms for three (3) or more months. The initial assessment for this condition should be conducted within the first month.

What Methods are Used for Initial Evaluation?

The physician or doctor doing the assessment is required to establish a diagnosis that is work induced. If the problem is caused by activities that are not work-related, then the injury will be ruled out as compensable. Specific methods should be applied in the initial assessment.

  1. History and physical evaluation

If you go to see your doctor or one that is picked by your claim administrator, you should be prepared to talk about your medical history relating to the injury. You will be expected to share the attributes or characteristics of the pain you are experiencing, the part or location that is experiencing the pain, what provokes the pain and things that relieve you the pain. Make it known to the doctor if you had a fall or experienced epicondylitis symptoms due to recent activity.

Some of the symptoms of epicondylitis include:

  • Loss of grip strength,
  • Pain in the lateral aspect of the elbow,
  • Pain radiating to the forearm or,
  • History of similar symptoms in the past, diagnosis, and treatment.

The doctor is required to note down these symptoms and document the job title and tasks that are provoking these symptoms. The expert should also document factors in the workplace that are causing these symptoms. Some of the risk aspects that cause musculoskeletal disorders include power grip, a repeated extension of the elbow trying to reach something by force and supination of the forearm. Other elements that should be documented include a change in work duties and working overtime. When documenting, there is a need to record the connection between the symptoms and specific equipment or tasks while at work or when doing something for the interest of the employer.

Don’t forget to list down the effects of your elbow injury on your work performance and the days that you have missed work due to the damage. You should also expect questions regarding your shoulder injury, and in case you have experienced it in the past, your previous and current condition should be documented.

  1. Physical evaluation

The doctor should conduct a physical inspection on you.  If swelling or deformity is observed during the inspection, it should be reported. A muscle strength test should also be undertaken. It includes a routine examination of the shoulder.

What Treatment Should I Receive for Elbow and Shoulder Injuries?

If you suffer any of these conditions, you will need initial treatment to reduce the pain or other symptoms you are experiencing. Therapy can also be aimed at modifying your work to minimize the risk aspects that led to the injury. As part of the treatment, injured employees should receive education on the scope of their damage, its cause, precautionary measures, and the importance of appropriate treatment. A physician can provide all these instructions.

Certain modifications or restrictions can also be part of the treatment. Your employer must be involved when it comes to working restrictions. The physician or the therapist involved in treatment should explain to your employer your condition. That way, there can be certain work restrictions like preclusion from work that involves repetitive movement. When the employer is aware of your situation, they can assign you light duties that do not include strenuous or repetitive elbow motion until you recover or when returning to work after the injury.

What Risk Management Protocols Must be in Place to Minimize Elbow and Shoulder Injuries?

Cashiers and butchers are exposed to many risk factors that result in musculoskeletal disorders. Some of the risk factors include:

  • This is the amount of effort required to control work equipment and perform other work duties like lifting, pushing, and pulling.
  • This is performing cumulative motions repeatedly for an extended period like a month or year.
  • Assuming positions that put a strain on your body like reaching above shoulder height. This risk factor affects employees in retail stores when they are trying to reach items placed on high shelves.
  • Contact press. It involves pressing your body part like elbow against a hard or sharp surface like when one slips or falls.

Reducing these risk factors is the best way to safeguard employees. Most of the employees in Orange County, CA, suffer shoulder and elbow injuries because of these risk factors combined with other issues at work. For example, cashiers working in retail stores use scanners that involve much repetitive motion. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, cashiers using scanners flick their wrists back and forth for a maximum of six hundred (600) times per hour. With that kind of repetitive motion, a cashier’s nerves can be damaged, and it could also lead to carpal tunnel syndrome. The scanner makes work more manageable, but this kind of repetitive motion, especially when the scanner doesn't read the bar code at first can cause much stress.

Arranging things like groceries and other products on the shelves involve repetitive motions too. Remember, most of the lifting is done manually. The effort put in lifting, manually pulling or pushing these products can cause shoulder injuries, especially when an employee is on a long shift. The use of equipment to make work easier helps in these situations. However, when the equipment is not used the right way, it can cause injuries. Some of the equipment that increases the risk of injury includes grinders, saws, and meat cutters.

Other Causes of Workplace Injuries

Shift work. Working in shifts helps employees stay productive but health-wise, it can cause havoc to the employee. When an employee has different working hours, it can interfere with the inner alarm clock of the body. This leads to what is called Shift Work Disorder. It is common in most workplaces that operate on shifts. Shift Work Disorder leads to problems like obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. These problems do not occur immediately but rather cumulatively.

Overview of Workers’ Compensation 

Many employees work very hard but end up frustrated when they get injured. If you are experiencing any musculoskeletal disorder, having dedicated yourself to work, you will need medical attention. Additionally, you might not be able to go to work. However, if your employer has your back by having workers’ compensation insurance, you will be protected. According to the California workers’ compensation Act, every employer should have workers’ compensation to protect employees after being injured.

Not everyone is covered under workers’ compensation. For you to receive compensation benefits, you must be an employee of the business and the injury sustained must have stemmed from your employment. Despite these, there is no guarantee of compensation.

What Are My Rights and Responsibilities as An Injured Employee?

Every workplace has rules and regulations that ensure order and safety. It is the responsibility of employees to observe these rules. In the event of an injury, the employee is required to report or notify the employer immediately. Workers have the right to recover lost wages and get medical care indemnity in the event of an injury that keeps them away from work. These rights could, however, be reduced if the employee fails to comply with the rules of the rehabilitation program or service provider.

What are the Responsibilities of Employers?

Employers have the statutory responsibility of providing employees with workers’ compensation insurance. When an employee gets injured or suffers a fatality, the employer should provide medical care benefits, death benefits, retraining benefits, lost wages, rehabilitation care, and permanent disability benefits.

What Happens to Employees Who Receive Workers’ Compensation but Still Go Back to Work?

When an employee gets a temporary injury, they start receiving lost wages benefits. In case they resume or begin in a new job and make a wage similar or more than what they were previously earning, the lost wage replacement is stopped. However, if the amount of salary received does not amount to what the worker was previously earning, then the lost wage benefits will continue to be paid. However, the amount will be less than what they could be receiving when they are away from work.

What are the Exemptions of Compensable Injuries?

Some employees think that as long as the injury they suffer is compensable, they will get the workers’ compensation benefits no matter the cause of the injury. This is not true. If you go to work drunk or intoxicated and suffer a slip and fall injury, it will not be paid for by workers’ compensation. If an illegal substance can be connected to the injury, it will not be compensable.

Do I Qualify for Workers’ Compensation Benefits If I Was Injured Away from Work?

In Orange County, CA, when a worker is injured away from the workplace while doing something on behalf of the employer or for the benefit of the company, the injury is compensable. For instance, if you work as a salesperson and it happens that you were meeting with a client for lunch at a hotel and you are injured during the course of the meeting, your workers’ compensation claim will be accepted.

However, if you were going to meet a client and after the meeting, you decide to do something for your gain while going back to your workplace, your claim might be denied. Injuries sustained in social events organized by the employer will qualify for the workers’ compensation benefits.

What are the Roles and Effects of Workers’ Compensation Laws?

The workers’ comp laws are for shielding or protecting employees and employers. When an employee sustains an injury, they can file a lawsuit against the employer. However, this happens if the employer has no workers’ compensation insurance. With every employer required by law to carry workers’ compensation, the law offers protection. On the other hand, injured employees receive monetary benefits when injured as a result of the work environment. You don’t need to sue your employer for their negligence when they have workers’ comp insurance.

Understanding Workers’ Compensation Claim vs. Civil Lawsuits

Before the introduction of the workers’ compensation laws, employees used to sue their colleagues or employers. Winning the case was not easy because one had to show that the injury was due to the negligence of the employer. The challenge for employees who file a civil lawsuit is proving all the elements of negligence using evidence. The factors include duty, breach of duty, damages, and causation. Without proof of the elements, the injured employee cannot be compensated. However, if there is enough evidence, the employee gets cash benefits plus the replacement of medical expenses and lost wages. You will also get paid for the pain and suffering endured during the time of injury and recovery.

The problem with civil lawsuits is that they might take years in court. Hiring a lawyer even makes the process more expensive. If the case goes for a trail, it might go for years without a ruling. If the defendant appeals the case, it will take more time before a verdict. After the decision, you might fail to get as much money as you hoped for if the defendant proves that there was negligence on your side.

On the other hand, in workers’ compensation, as long as the injury is work induced, you are entitled to monetary benefits regardless of whose negligence caused the damage. The process is streamlined. Although at times, there can develop a few complications when the claim is denied or when trying to prove permanent disability. At that point, you might need counsel, and an attorney from The Workers Compensation Attorney Group can help you. Remember, even with the workers’ compensation; it is possible to file a lawsuit if a third party caused the injury.

What Happens If I Am injured in a Construction Project?

Employees working on a construction site operate in a dangerous work environment every day. A lot is done to ensure safety in construction sites, including regular inspections and work safety programs. Despite many measures to prevent accidents, they still occur. Most accident injuries are caused by falling from scaffolds, exposure to chemicals, and being hit by moving machinery.

If you or a friend is injured in a construction site, you will need a construction attorney. This is different from workers’ compensation because you must be compliant with site safety standards to win a construction injury claim. California has adopted the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to protect employees who are injured at a construction site. The owner of the property, general contractor, or the sub-contractor can be held liable for violating OSHA regulations when an employee is injured. If you can show that OSHA regulations were violated during a claim, you qualify for compensation.

How Can I get Help with a Construction Accident Injury?

When you are injured in a construction site, first get immediate medical attention. After that, inform the person in charge of the site and record their name and position. If there was anybody around during the time of the accident, note down their names and contact information. You can also collect evidence by taking photos of the area where you were injured and the equipment that caused the injury. You can contact an attorney to evaluate your claim and explain the next steps.

How do I ensure My Workplace is Safe?

Every worker working in construction has a right to work in a safe environment. If you notice that OSHA regulations or the safety regulations of the general contractor are being violated, inform the person in charge of the construction site. If no action is taken, you can visit the nearest OSHA office.

Who is Liable when a Passerby is injured by Debris from a Construction Site?

It is the responsibility of the construction company at the site to ensure that they clean up after themselves to ensure debris is not left in public sidewalks. Apart from cleaning, they should put up signs along the street informing those passing by not to stray from the path or use barriers. Otherwise, the company will be liable for the accidents.

If you are an employee of a company that has workers’ compensation, do not file a lawsuit after an injury. This will disqualify you for workers’ compensation benefits. Instead, try filing a workers’ compensation claim first and then you can file a lawsuit later on.

What types of Employees are covered by Workers’ Comp Insurance?

Independent contractors, owners of businesses, volunteers, farmers, casual workers, and employees of private homes are excluded from workers’ compensation insurance. If you have employees fewer than three (3) to five (5), you are also excluded from the insurance policy. If you do not fall under this category and you are not a federal employee, then you are under workers’ compensation insurance, and you can file a claim when injured. If you don't know the procedure of filing a claim, contact a workers’ compensation attorney.

If you have suffered an elbow or shoulder injury, there is much pain involved. Treatment can take a very long period, and it involves many expenses in surgery and rehabilitation. Many work days are also missed due to these injuries. Because of the pain and suffering involved, you need financial benefits and medical care indemnification, according to the California workers’ compensation laws. You will need an aggressive and dedicated workers’ compensation attorney to ensure they are not disqualified for workers’ compensation benefits. An attorney from The Workers Compensation Attorney Group in Orange County, CA, is the expert you need by your side.

Contact a Orange County Workers Compensation Attorney Near Me

If you are not sure about various issues on workers’ compensation, you can contact us today at 562-485-9694. Our experienced attorneys in Orange County, CA, will be available to help you with whatever challenges you are facing with your claim. We provide a free initial consultation, and we will help you get your rightfully deserved monetary and healthcare benefits.