Legal Question in Workers Comp in California

Hello. I'm wondering if I might qualify for ca workers comp.

A few years ago I began getting sick from all of the stress at work from my schedule being switched repeatedly and being stuck on the graveyard shift for a few years. Then last year I got a bad flu that was being passed around at work, causing me to be hospitalized with pnuemonia and lead to several other health issues, of which I'm still being treated for. They think lupus, sjogrens syndrome, and cataracts, yet no solid diagnoses. Possibily even oral cancer, but that's separate.

Now I'm getting sick again and missing work for surgery and from stress, which started this whole mess. My hearing and sight are being affected and my job requires both extensively. Ifi end up getting diag. With autoimmune diseises that were exaccerbated by work stress do I have a claim? Also, if so, can I go back to the beginning of last year. And if I was on state disability, would that aso dissqualify me?

I returned to work. Its been 9 months. When I do have to miss work, I usually have drs notes. I do not talk about my medical issues except to a few friends because its personal, I don't want the gossip, and I'm still being treated. There have also been a couple of incidents where I was screamed at by someone of a higher rank in front of other employees because I didn't hear him ask and respond to questions. I did not report these because I don't want to cause conflict. There were witnesses tho

Asked on 4/25/12, 9:00 pm

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1 Answer from Attorneys

Nancy Wallace Nancy Wallace
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A WORK STRESS CLAIM is generally a bad idea.

EVERY job has stress (or no one would pay you do to it).

So you have to PROVE 'Undue' stress. You have a very heavy burden of proving what you experienced emotional upheaval at work no worker could every reasonably be expected to endure.

Bosses yell at workers, always have always will. I might scream too if I asked questions and I believed the worker refused to listen to me or the worker was so deaf he couldn't hear me.

Keep in mind at a Work Comp Trial, the boss would bring lots of witnesses to say he didn't 'scream' just raised his voice because you weren't hearing/listening. THE JUDGE WON'T KNOW WHO TO BELIEVE.

The employer's actions must be proven to be extreme. The test case is Albertson's where the worker was fired before others with less seniority 2 times and Albertson's admitted in writing the worker was laid off in error both times.

Are YOU going to have outrageous behavior by the Employer documented IN WRITING two times? That's what it will take to win.

The 'Accepted' psychiatric stress claims I've had include the salesman pistol-whipped in a robberty, and the Costco employee jumped and pummeled by a customer. Unless you were physically assaulted by a customer or had a robber put a gun in your mouth, anticipate the Insurer will deny the claim.

Then you have to prove 51% of your emotional upheaval is from 'outrageous' behavior by the employer... IF YOU ARE FACING CANCER AND CHRONIC ILLNESS, it will be nearly impossible for a psychiatrist to write 51% of your emotional upheaval is from work.

You would have to PROVE -- not just assert but get a physician to use research to write -- that the 'flu' that from which all the other employees recovered resulted in chronic lung disorders...and then you need to 'prove' you got the flu bug at work, and you can't prove where you got that flu virus.

If there were oSHA citations about mold or chemicals in the air -- like the client inhaling nickle in plating processes -- you'd have proof the lung disorders are work-related. But claiming a flu virus lead to 'health issues' would be virtually impossible.

you "might qualify" for workers comp, but if the insurer denies all liability, you'll get nothing and have all your medical records subpenaed (and possibly passed around human resources).

when you request comp benefits, the insurer has the right to view every medical record. Do you want to risk the employer's representatives looking at all your medical history?

If the 'stress' claim is denied, you have to prove injury at trial. You get one day of trial every 6 weeks, so a trial can stretch over 8-9 months.

would you want a public record of permanent psychiatric disability (discoverable by all future employers doing a pre-employment screening)?

A Psych Claim is not for the feint of heart.

Read more
4/26/12, 8:45 am

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