The Reasons You Should Contact An Attorney If You’ve Been Injured On The Job

June 23, 2021 | 6:00 am


You get hurt on the job: What should you do, and when should you contact an attorney?

Chain | Cohn | Stiles work injury attorney Jim Yoro explains in a new video (below) four reasons when it’s important to contact a lawyer after you’ve been injured at work. We also share some bonus reasons you may want to contact a workers’ compensation attorney after being injured on the job.

=====

Hiring an attorney to handle your work injury claim costs nothing up front, and it gives you the best chance to receive a fair settlement or award for your injuries. But how do you know you actually need an attorney? Here are four reasons when it’s important to contact a lawyer after you’ve been injured at work:

1) If you think your employer has not filed a claim with their insurance company, you should contact a work injury lawyer. The worker’s compensation system in California has specific requirements that California employers and insurance companies must comply with when providing benefits to injured workers, and your employer is required to report your injury to its workers’ compensation insurance company. The employer must also give the injured employee a Workers’ Compensation Claim Form (DWC-1) to complete. If your employer refuses to report an injury, that is a red flag. They may be worried about safety violations, not having the right insurance, or a other potential issues.

2) If you expect to be out of work due to your injury, you should contact a work injury attorney. If you suffer permanent disability, either partial or total, that will prevent you from ever fully returning to work, insurance companies are more likely to contest such claims because they are the most expensive. Furthermore, if you have been released to work, but you can only do modified or alternative work, and your employer does not provide you a position that meets your restrictions, you may be entitled to additional benefits to help you get back to work. These benefits are called “supplemental job displacement benefits.” They are designed to help you get some training so you can go into a different line of work. If your employer cannot permanently accommodate your new restrictions, then you may be entitled to receive a retraining voucher. If your employers insurance company is refusing to provide you this voucher or has provided work that does not meet your restrictions or seems unreasonable, it is time to call in a workers’ compensation lawyer.

3) If you’re going to need medical treatment, you should contact an attorney. Your medical issues can prevent you from returning to your job, limit what you can do at work, or keep you from performing any work at all. If you’ve suffered permanent disability — whether partial or total — you may be entitled to payments to make up for your lost wages. These cases can be very expensive for insurance companies, and they’ll often stop at nothing to avoid paying you what you deserve. A knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney is essential in cases involving permanent injuries or illness.

4) If your employer or their insurance company seems unwilling to help you after an accident or injury at work, you should contact a work accident lawyer. You are entitled to medical care, lost wages, job training, and other benefits under California law if you are hurt on the job. It is supposed to be that straightforward. The most common reason employers deny a claim for benefits is because they do not think an employee was actually hurt at work or that an injury was not caused by something work-related. Employers and workers’ comp insurers also routinely reject legit claims, confident that many workers will fail to appeal.

 

On the other end, you may NOT need to contact a work injury lawyer if your employer and their insurance company if after you report your injury, the insurance company promptly contact you and starts providing you with benefits you’re entitled to receive under California law.

“If at any point, things start looking different, such as the insurance company is not paying you on time, you’re not getting the medical treatment requested, or there is a problem with getting a release to go back to work, that’s when would be a good idea to contact a lawyer,” says Yoro.

=====

Besides the above, here are a few other reasons you may want to contact an attorney after being injured on the job:

  • You were injured because of a third party‘s actions or your employer’s serious negligence. The workers’ comp system was designed to prevent civil lawsuits for work-related injuries. However, you are permitted to sue outside workers’ comp in certain situations, including when someone other than your employer contributed to your injury (such as a negligent driver who hit you while you were driving for work), your employer doesn’t have workers’ comp insurance, or your employer intentionally caused your injury. An experienced lawyer will be able to explain how the law applies to your situation.
  • If you plan to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, and if your settlement isn’t structured properly, your workers’ comp benefits could significantly lower Social Security disability payments. An experienced attorney will understand how to draft your settlement agreement to minimize or eliminate this offset.
  • If you are injured at work or while doing any activity that benefits your employer, and you are considered an employee under California law, then you should be getting workers’ compensation benefits.
  • If your boss retaliates against you for filing a workers’ comp claim, including firing you, demoting you, cutting your hours, reducing your pay, or discriminating, contact an attorney immediately to protect your legal rights. You should never be terminated by your employer just because you were injured on the job or because you have requested workers’ compensation benefits.
  • If you are having trouble communicating with the employer’s doctor, or the doctor does not seem to care about your well-being as much as your family physician might. If you want to make a change in your medical care, a workers’ compensation lawyer can be a great asset. He or she can provide helpful information about who would be the best person to use for your unique health situation and type of injury.
  • If you have permanent disability because of your work injury, your employer or their insurance company may offer to settle your claim. However, this settlement may not account for the full value of your disability. An attorney will be able to tell you about what the average workers’ compensation settlement might be for a case like yours.
  • Your employer’s settlement offer doesn’t cover all your lost wages or medical bills. If you’re not sure a settlement offer is good enough, don’t rely on the workers’ compensation judge to make sure that you’re getting a fair deal. Although workers’ comp settlements must have judicial approval, judges will usually sign off on any agreement as long as it’s not grossly unfair. If you really want someone to get you the best settlement possible, call an attorney.

In all, the average injured worker does not understand the workers’ compensation system. That means that you might not know how much money you are supposed to get after a work injury. Some people may not realize that they are supposed to get benefits at all. Many workers put a lot of trust in their employer or its insurance company and count on them to tell the worker what they should and should not do and how much money they should get. This trust is often misplaced, however.

The accident, injury and workers’ compensation law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles is home to two lawyers who are state certified as specialists in workers’ compensation law, awarded to legal professionals who have gone beyond the standard licensing requirements. In fact, Chain | Cohn | Stiles is the only plaintiff’s law firm in Kern County that has two attorneys who are state certified as specialists in workers’ compensation. Learn more about Jim Yoro and Beatriz Trejo at chainlaw.com.

———

If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.

Law firm files wrongful death claim in fourth deputy-involved fatal crash in four years

August 18, 2015 | 10:05 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles recently filed a wrongful death claim against the County of Kern related to a Kern County’s Sheriff deputy involved crash with a motorcyclist. Local media covered a press conference hosted by Matthew C. Clark and Neil Gehlawat from the personal injury and workers’ compensation* law firm, which included the release of surveillance video of the crash.

Read below and click the links to see full coverage of the press conference and media mentions.

———

(Bakersfield, Calif. – Aug. 12, 2015) For more than 20 years, Larry Eugene Maharrey, 59, worked for Golden State Drilling as a diesel mechanic to provide for his family. At his vigil, friends and family described him as “a good man” who would do anything for anyone in need. He especially enjoyed fishing and riding his motorcycle.

On July 14, Larry Maharrey was driving his motorcycle eastbound on Norris Road, when Kern County Sheriff’s Deputy Marvin Gomez abruptly made a left turn against a red light onto Airport Drive directly into Maharrey’s path. Maharrey was unable to avoid the collision with Deputy Gomez’s patrol vehicle, and died as a result of the crash.

Deputy Gomez violated KCSO policies and procedures by failing to pre-clear the intersection before turning left against a red light. In what has become a tragic and unfortunate trend, Maharrey’s death comes at the heels of another wrongful death lawsuit filed by Chain | Cohn | Stiles on behalf of the family of Nancy Garrett, who was struck and killed by KCSO deputy Nicholas Clerico.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles has filed a wrongful death claim against the County of Kern on behalf of Maharrey’s wife, Paula, and other family members. Attorneys Matthew Clark and Neil Gehlawat – joined by Maharrey’s widow – will host a press conference to discuss the filing of the claim. A copy of the claim will be provided to media, as well as surveillance video of the crash.

———

During the press conference, Paula Maharrey, Larry’s wife of 14 years, described him as a “crack-up,” a family man who would give his shirt off of his back to a stranger, and an all-around “good man.”

“I miss him every day,” Paula Maharrey said during the press conference. “I just want the Kern County Sheriff’s Office to take responsibility for their actions, follow their own set rules, and train their staff better.”

This wrongful death claim against the County of Kern follows another wrongful death lawsuit filed by Chain | Cohn | Stiles on behalf of Nancy Joyce Garrett’s family. Nancy Garrett was driving home from a Dodgers game when she was struck and killed by Deputy Nicholas Clerico’s Kern County Sheriff’s Office patrol car. Chain | Cohn | Stiles also represented the family of Daniel Hiler, who was struck and killed by Sheriff’s deputy John Swearengin as he crossed the street.

———

UPDATE, MAY 2018: Chain | Cohn | Stiles reached a settlement with the County of Kern on behalf of the family of Larry Maharrey. The parties agreed to a $3.8 million settlement in the wrongful death lawsuit.

———

MEDIA COVERAGE

Claim filed against county in connection with fatal crash involving deputy (The Bakersfield Californian)

Family of man who died when his motorcycle hit a deputy patrol car has filed a wrongful death claim (KGET 17, NBC)

Kern County faces wrongful death claim in deputy crash (KBAK-KBFX 29-58, CBS-FOX)

Attorneys release video of fatal crash between KCSO deputy and motorcyclist (KERO 23, ABC)

Oildale man’s death comes as sheriff’s office tries to crack down on speed (The Bakersfield Californian – July 15, 2015)

Chain | Cohn | Stiles files lawsuit for family of woman killed in crash with Sheriff’s deputy

July 15, 2015 | 11:13 am


Chain | Cohn | Stiles has filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the family of 72-year-old Nancy Joyce Garrett, who was killed when a Kern County Sheriff’s Office patrol car operated by Deputy Nicholas Clerico struck and killed her.

The filing of the lawsuit is on the heels of the release of the California Highway Patrol’s Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team (MAIT) report regarding the crash that occurred on Sept. 28, 2014, at the intersection of North Chester Avenue and China Grade Loop in Oildale. The report finds Deputy Clerico at fault in the crash, and the CHP report recommended that a vehicular manslaughter charge be filed against the deputy.

Nancy was a friendly neighbor, a caregiver for our community, an active blogger, and the pillar of her family. She was a drug and alcohol counselor for the Kern County Mental Health Department, and also volunteered her time as a substance abuse counselor for STEPS, a local nonprofit that provides DUI awareness services. At the time of the crash, she was returning home from a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball game she attended with her family and friends.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles attorney Matt Clark was joined by Garrett’s grown children, Mark McGowan and Deborah Blanco, for press conference on July 9 to discuss the case, the 230-page MAIT report, and the lawsuit.

To view media coverage of the crash involving Garrett and Clerico and Chain | Cohn | Stiles representation of Garrett’s family, click here. To see media coverage following the press conference and filing of the lawsuit, view them below.

The unveiling of the MAIT report, the filing of the lawsuit by Chain | Cohn | Stiles and subsequent media coverage of the wrongful death case also comes in the midst of yet another tragic crash involving a Kern Count Sheriff’s deputy.

A 59-year-old motorcyclist Bakersfield man riding a motorcycle died Tuesday evening in Oildale when his motorcycle struck a patrol car driven by a deputy responding to an emergency call, according to local media reports. The crash is under investigation.

The crashes and lawsuits also come just a few years following another high-profile case represented by Chain | Cohn | Stiles involving a fatal crash with a Kern County Sheriff’s deputy.

On Dec. 16, 2011, Kern County sheriff’s deputy John Swearengin struck and killed Daniel Hiler, 24, and Chrystal Jolley, 30, as they pushed a motorcycle across Norris Road. Swearengin was traveling at more than 80 mph in a 45-mph zone, without activating his emergency lights or siren. Chain | Cohn | Stiles sued the County of Kern on behalf of the families, and settled last year for $8.8 million.

In the lawsuit related to Nancy Garrett, her family and attorneys are asking for changes within the sheriff’s department in how deputies are trained properly throughout Bakersfield and other communities across Kern County.

UPDATE – FEBRUARY 2020: The case has been delayed due, in part, to the Central Valley’s federal district court instituting a “judicial emergency” order due to a shortage of judges. Federal Judge Dale A. Drozd of the U.S. Eastern District Court of California, the federal judicial district that includes Bakersfield and the southern Central Valley area, stated that the judicial emergency order “will seriously hinder the administration of justice” in the district.

UPDATE – JUNE 2020: The case has been resolved through a settlement.

 

———

PRESS CONFERENCE MEDIA COVERAGE

LAWSUIT MEDIA COVERAGE

SETTLEMENT COVERAGE