Worker's Comp Claims Can Hang On A Word


Just how sensitive are workers' compensation claims once contested by a claimant or employer? As Business Insurance reports, a number of major California workers' comp cases this year came down to the interpretation of a single word or phrase.

Take the case of Travelers Casualty & Surety Co. et al. v. Workers' Compensation Appeals Board and Mark Dreher. The claimant was a maintenance man slipped and fell in the rain, fracturing his hip and requiring several surgeries. Ultimately, the courts sided with the employer and ruled that the workers' medical treatment should not be treated as a work-related injury. Why? Because the fall was not "not a sudden and extraordinary event."

Larsen v. Securitas Security Services also hung on particular verbiage in workers' comp law. In this case, a security guard sustained a head injury when a car she was walking by suddenly pulled out, knocking her to the pavement. The claimant characterized the event as "violent" in her appeal for increased workers' comp benefits, but her employer disagreed. Fortunately, the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) sided with the claimant in this case.

"A Word, A Phrase Or A Nuance"

According to those in the industry, this exacting examination of phrasing is a result of the overwhelming volume of cases that are brought to appeal. For the WCAB, examining the black and white text is the easiest and swiftest way to cut through the uncertainties of a case and arrive at a decision.

"Commissioners are inundated with work, so there are many times that cases will turn on a word, a phrase or a nuance," said Attorney Jeffrey E. D'Andre, based in Oakland. Sometimes this is in the favor of the employer, other times it is favor of the worker, but regardless, one thing is clear: incisive, vigilant counsel is needed to successfully assert the viability of a claim.

If you have been injured on the job, you may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. At the Law Offices of Wax & Wax, our experienced and award-winning Glendale workers' compensation attorneys are well-aware of the challenges workers' face when pursuing these benefits and what it takes to secure results.

Whether you are filing your claim or need to appeal a decision, our team is ready to hear from you. Call our offices today.

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