Category Archives: Workers Compensation Attorney Las Vegas

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Exposure to Dangerous Chemicals at Work

Dangerous chemicals are more common than one might expect. Many businesses work with them. From ordinary materials like the cleaning bleach or gasoline, to more exotic industrial chemicals, exposure can cause serious injuries or even diseases like cancer and respiratory failure. Employees who are injured by exposure to chemicals at work should file a workers’ compensation claim.

Workplace safety, chemicals, and liability

Most Nevada employers who handle dangerous materials are subject to a broad range of safety regulations under the Nevada Occupational Health and Safety Act, or OSHA. Nevada’s OSHA law is a variant of the federal OSHA standard, which provides most of the key rules governing workplace safety, including rules covering chemical hazards and toxic substances. OSHA is a regulatory regime that does not provide a private remedy for someone who is injured as a consequence of an employer’s failure to comply with its requirements. Employees who wish to raise concerns with Nevada’s oversight authority are protected by whistleblower laws from retaliation by the employer. Workers’ compensation is the sole remedy available to most people who are injured on the job. The workers’ compensation system strikes a bargain between employers and employees: in exchange for requiring all employers to carry insurance that will provide benefits for their employees who are injured at work, employers are shielded from liability for most types of workplace injuries. Workers’ comp is a no-fault form of insurance, which means that the insurer will not base its coverage decisions on the extent to which the employer or employee was at fault in the accident. This does not mean that fault has no effect on workers’ compensation: if the employer is failing to adhere to safety standards, its premiums will go up or it may lose coverage altogether and be forced to shut down until the problem is corrected. This, together with the employer’s interest in having a safe and healthy workforce, should provide employers with plenty of incentive to meet or exceed OSHA standards.

Considerations for making a workers’ compensation claim

An employee who is exposed to dangerous chemicals at work should report the incident to supervisors in writing. The employee should also keep keep a copy of the report and make notes about what happened, including when and where the accident occurred and the specific chemical that was involved. If the exposure caused an immediate injury that required medical attention, letting the treating physician know that the injury was work-related is an important part of the claims process. Records become crucially important when a chemical exposure leads to long-term illness. Especially if the exposure causes a problem like cancer, the employee may not be fully aware of the disease for a long time after the initial exposure. By making detailed reports and keeping records, the employee can make future claims easier to defend. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in the Las Vegas area in workers’ compensation cases. We can help anyone who has suffered a workplace injury in Nevada pursue the benefits they deserve. For a free attorney consultation, call us at 702-388-4476 or through our contact page.

How Social Media Use Can Endanger a Workers’ Comp Claim

A workers’ compensation claim can begin a complex and lengthy process. Especially when the injury is severe and involves high costs, an insurer’s claims adjusters will constantly search for ways to reduce their employers’ liability. Injured employees’ social media accounts are one way an insurer can investigate the merits of an employee’s claim. It’s important for the injured employee to keep their pending workers’ compensation claim in mind when they post to social media.

Insurers examine the merits of every claim

Bear in mind that an insurance adjuster’s job is to ensure that the insurer only pays for expenses that are rightfully covered under a policy. Adjusters are insurance experts. They know the cracks in a policy that might allow a claim to be partly or entirely denied. Adjusters therefore examine every claim to ensure that they tell an accurate story of the injury, its diagnosis, and how it is likely to be treated. Every insurer is vigilant against potential fraud. An employee who files a fraudulent claim will have the claim denied and may face other significant consequences, like a lost job and even criminal prosecution. Criminal fraud involves an intent to deceive the insurer, which may not be the case in many circumstances where an employee has made honest mistakes. But even an accusation of fraud can leave an injured employee without coverage.

Social media posts are a form of evidence

People who routinely use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter can easily forget that their posts can reach a wide audience. Even if a user studiously controls their privacy choices, for example by not allowing “public” access, social media posts can become the focus of legal disputes, including administrative conflicts over denied workers’ compensation claims. What once was “private” may lose its privacy protection as a consequence of obligations in discovery or a subpoena. Social media posts can also reach coworkers and managers. Do not discount the possibility that a manager could alert an HR department about a social media post that they believe raises concerns. Cases of true fraud—where an employee is caught posting pictures of herself running a marathon two days after claiming to have a broken leg—are more common than one might expect. But social media can create hazards for injured employees in more subtle ways. Anything that contradicts the facts included in claim documents could create doubts in the mind of an insurance adjuster. In the social media world, which places a certain premium on keeping up appearances, a photograph or casual comment could cast doubt on the severity of an employee’s injury.

Call the GGRM Law Firm for help with your workers' comp claim

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area pursue workers’ compensation claims. We offer free attorney consultations to new clients. To schedule an appointment call us today at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Severe Allergic Reactions to Employer-Provided Meals

Although free food is a nice benefit for employees, providing food invites the relatively rare but potentially significant risk that an employee could suffer an allergic reaction. This is especially so if the allergen is not disclosed on the food’s packaging. Food provided in the workplace raises potential challenges for the employee who is injured and requires medical care. There are several dimensions that must be taken into account, such as whether the food was provided during working hours or was given to the employee to eat on personal time. These questions are important because they can determine if the employee’s illness or injury is covered by workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation law requires employers to insure their employees against injuries or illnesses that arise out of or in the course of employment. If food is provided to an employee during working hours or in connection with a work-related event, such as a meeting, the question of the injury’s work-relatedness likely will be answered in favor of coverage by workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation coverage has good and bad elements for an employee. On the one hand, it is a form of no-fault insurance that will cover medical costs, replace wages, and provide other benefits that vary according to the nature of the employee’s illness and other factors. On the other hand, an employee is barred from filing a personal injury lawsuit against an employer for most injuries that are covered by workers’ compensation. This is true even if the employer was negligent—for example, if another employee switched the warning labels on food so the injured employee did not know about the presence of an allergen. Workers’ compensation law may not restrict an employee’s ability to sue the service or restaurant that provided the food. If in the above example the negligent act that led to a mislabeling of food was committed by the outside service, the employee may have a good case that they have failed to take reasonable precautions to notify customers about the presence of potential allergens in their food. Restaurants take pains to track common allergens, like nuts, so when they fail to do so it is often a sign of negligence and actionable by someone who gets injured as a consequence. Cases involving businesses and employment are always more complicated than they might seem. Someone who is faced with complications from an allergic reaction to workplace food should consult with an attorney to better understand how the law can help them. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in the Las Vegas area in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases. For a free attorney consultation about your case, contact us at 702-388-4476 or through our contact page.

Nevada Supreme Court Awards Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits to Widow of Former Reno Police Officer

If an employee dies as a result of a work-related injury or illness, the employee’s surviving family members are entitled to workers’ compensation death benefits. But it’s not always easy for family members to obtain the benefits they deserve—especially if there are disputes over liability or the value of the claim. In fact, one case involving workers’ compensation death benefits for a widow of a former police officer recently made its way to the Nevada Supreme Court. Here’s what you should know about this important case: An Overview of Laura DeMaranville vs. Employers Insurance Company of Nevada and City of Reno

Daniel DeMaranville served as a police officer for 21 years before retiring from the force in 1990 and becoming a security officer for a private company. In 2012, Daniel died from cardiac arrest shortly after undergoing gallbladder removal surgery.

After his death, Daniel’s wife, Laura DeMaranville, filed a claim for workers’ compensation death benefits. The claim was denied by both the City of Reno and Employers Insurance Company of Nevada (EICON), the company that provided workers’ compensation coverage to the city at the time Daniel was employed. Both parties argued that there was no evidence that Daniel’s death was caused by heart disease.

The denial was appealed, and an appeals officer reversed this decision. The appeals officer found:

  • There was evidence that occupational heart disease was the cause of death.
  • The City of Reno was liable since they were self-insured at the time of Daniel’s death. EICON was not liable since they no longer insured the city at the time of Daniel’s death.
  • Benefits should be calculated using the income Daniel earned as a security officer at the time of his death.
This decision was appealed to the district court, who agreed with the appeals officer’s first two conclusions, but disagreed with the method used to calculate benefits. The district court ruled that benefits should be calculated using the income Daniel earned from the City of Reno at the time of his death. Since he was not employed with the city at this time, he was not earning an income, which means benefits would equal $0. At this point, Laura appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court’s Decision

The Supreme Court’s ruling addressed three questions: • Did a compensable injury cause Daniel’s death? • Who is responsible for compensating Daniel’s family? • How should the death benefits be calculated?

Did a compensable injury cause Daniel’s death?

Both Daniel’s surgeon and a cardiologist specialist agreed that heart disease caused Daniel’s death. Based on this evidence, the Supreme Court ruled that it was clear that heart disease was the cause of Daniel’s death.

By law, heart disease is considered an occupational disease if it is diagnosed in a police officer who has served for more than five years. This is true even if the heart disease is not diagnosed until after the police officer has retired. Therefore, the Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiff was entitled to benefits since Daniel’s occupational heart disease was covered by the workers’ compensation system.

Who is responsible for compensating Daniel’s family?

The Supreme Court ruled that the lower courts were wrong to conclude that the City of Reno was liable for the workers’ compensation claim. Daniel’s heart disease was related to his work as a police officer. EICON was the city’s insurer the last time that Daniel was employed as a police officer. It doesn’t matter that EICON no longer insured the city at the time of Daniel’s death—the company did provide coverage when Daniel was employed and exposed to the risk of heart disease. Therefore, the court found that under the “last injurious exposure rule,” EICON was liable for compensating Daniel’s family.

How should the death benefits be calculated?

The Supreme Court also disagreed with the method used by the lower court to calculate the workers’ compensation death benefits. The law states that a spouse can recover two-thirds of the victim’s average monthly wage for the rest of their life. The law also states that the average monthly wage should be calculated by looking at the victim’s income during the 12-week period ending on the date which the injury occurred. In this case, the court found that the date which the injury occurred was the last day that Daniel was exposed to the risk of occupational heart disease, which was his last day as a police officer. Therefore, the court ruled that the benefits should be calculated using the income Daniel earned as a police officer.

Final Thoughts

This is a complex case, but it answers a lot of questions regarding occupational disease benefits, death benefits, and liability for fatal work-related illnesses. If your loved one has suffered a fatal work-related injury or illness, it’s important to seek legal representation as soon as possible.

The GGRM Law Firm Represents Victims Suffering From Occupational Diseases

The workers’ compensation attorneys at Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez have decades of experience representing clients who have been diagnosed with occupational diseases in the Las Vegas area. Our attorneys have the legal expertise and resources that you need to win the benefits you deserve. Schedule a free consultation about your case by calling 702-388-4476 or filling out the form on this contact page.

 

What Obligations Does an Employer Have to Help an Injured Employee?

Employers in Nevada have a number of obligations related to injured employees. One way to break down the obligations is to look at each of them according to when they arise. Some obligations arise as soon as the employee starts work. Others arise in the immediate response to an injury. And still others apply in the aftermath of the injury, when the employer’s assistance with the employee’s workers’ compensation claim can be the difference between an accepted or denied claim.
  1. Pre-injury obligations.
Most Nevada employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance that protects their employees in the event they are injured on the job. Not carrying insurance is a significant violation of law, subjecting the company to potential criminal prosecution, regulatory actions, and fines. Few employers want to risk losing their business over a failure to obtain workers’ compensation insurance. But from time to time an employer operates without it in hopes of saving some money, putting employees at risk. Under state and federal workplace safety laws (commonly known as OSHA) employers over a certain size have a general duty to provide a safe working environment for their employees, as well as specific obligations relating to particular hazards such as electrical or chemical work. Although OSHA rules do not provide for a private cause of action, they do provide an important baseline of safety that protects employees from working in substandard conditions.
  1. Obligations in the immediate aftermath of an injury.
When an employee suffers an injury in Nevada the employer has an obligation to assist the injured employee with obtaining emergency medical treatment. That might include calling 911, and might also include administering emergency care such as CPR, performing triage on a wound, and so forth. Many employers are taking steps to train their staff in emergency first aid, in part because such programs can help them lower workers’ compensation costs.
  1. Obligations as the employee recovers.
The recovery phase of a serious injury is where things can get quite complex. There are a range of obligations that employers have with respect to employees who have been injured on the job:
  • They may not take adverse employment actions against them based solely on their having suffered or reported an injury.
  • They must keep good records of the incident and report it to the state.
  • They are required to cooperate with any investigation that arises due to the employee’s workers’ compensation claim, such as if the insurance adjuster has questions about whether the injury was work-related.
  • They must comply with laws governing an injured employee’s options for returning to work, including offering light duty where appropriate.
  • They must make reasonable accommodations for an employee who has suffered a disability.
As one might expect, the above list only glosses over the surface of what might be involved in a given case. Quite often the injured employee can benefit from the assistance of an attorney with experience handling workers’ compensation cases. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped clients in the Las Vegas area pursue workers’ compensation claims. If you have been injured at work and you have questions about how to get the coverage you deserve, call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Four Reasons Why a Workers’ Comp Claim Might be Denied

Having a workers’ compensation claim denied can be a shocking and frustrating experience. For many working people, workers’ comp is the best or only available resource for getting care for an injury or illness that happened on the job. When someone can’t keep working or needs long-term care, denied coverage can have profound personal consequences. Here are some of the common reasons why an insurer will deny a claim.
  • The injury or illness is not eligible for benefits.
To be eligible for workers’ compensation coverage, an individual must have been injured or contracted a disease in the course and scope of employment. Workers’ comp is a no-fault form of insurance, which means that an insurer cannot base decisions about whether to approve a claim on the degree to which the employee or someone else is responsible for the injury or disease. But insurers do look closely at the circumstances of the claim to verify that the individual who makes it was in fact working at the time of the injury. Cases involving denied claims have included employees who are injured while commuting, on a lunch break, or between shifts. But the dividing line between work and not-work is not always clear, and sometimes a dispute can arise when, for example, an employee is injured on the way to an employer-provided break room.
  • Missed deadlines and incomplete paperwork.
The insurance adjusters who evaluate the merits of claims are paid to review every detail for breaches of legal requirements. When claim paperwork is submitted late, or required pieces are missing, an insurer may have an excuse for denying an otherwise valid claim. For example, an accident at work needs to be reported to the employer within seven days.
  • Suspicious discrepancies.
Insurers are passionate about guarding against fraud. If they think that a claim is based on misinformation, they will be quick to deny it. Workers can find themselves facing a denied claim if information they provide in their paperwork doesn’t match third-party records, such as those provided by the employer or the physician who conducts the initial evaluation. Injured workers are also getting into trouble by posting contradictory information to social media accounts.
  • Evidence of drugs or alcohol use.
A workers’ compensation insurer can deny an employee’s claims if it finds evidence that the employee was drunk or under the influence of a controlled substance at the time of the workplace injury. This includes recreational marijuana use. An employee can only overcome the denial of a claim on the basis of drugs or alcohol use by showing through clear and convincing evidence that the substance was not a factor in the employee’s injury. Although the facts of an injury may support the employee’s argument, the process will be significantly more complicated as a consequence of drug or alcohol use at work. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in workers’ compensation claims disputes. We can help you resolve your questions about workers’ compensation coverage and fight back against an insurer that refuses to give you the coverage you deserve. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

Seeking Workers’ Compensation Coverage for Depression

Work-related depression is a problem that is hiding in plain sight. Whether resulting from the stress of the job, loneliness, or alienation, depression is an authentic and serious problem for working people. Evidence that employers are aware of this problem can be seen in the rise of employer-provided “help lines” that provide employees with no-cost, anonymous counseling services to address depression and other issues. When an employee suffers from depression that is linked to work, the employer’s workers’ compensation program may offer a source of financial assistance for treatment and recovery. Despite the well-understood link between the stresses of work and clinical depression, the employee who makes a workers’ compensation claim likely will need help making an effective case for coverage. Workers’ compensation programs often are designed to address relatively easily understood workplace injuries, like broken bones and strained ligaments. Mental health issues pose special challenges for insurers, who will look for ways to avoid financial responsibility for an employee’s treatment. The most likely argument that an insurer will make to deny coverage is that the illness was not work related. To be covered by workers’ compensation a disease must have arisen out of or in the course of employment. If the disease can be traced to a cause that is not work-related, coverage will not apply. A conventional injury, like carpal tunnel from a non-ergonomic desk layout, tends to have a clear causal link to the employee’s job. The claimant must be ready to show that depression was caused by the job. Proving the link between depression and work can involve several sources of evidence. An important one will be the employee’s mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or counselor. An expert’s evaluation of the underlying sources of depression can be vitally important in cases where causes beyond work can have played a secondary role. Other sources of evidence might include other employees as well as confirmation from family and friends who have observed the ways that the employee’s work have affected his or her mood. Depression can result from ongoing stresses, but it can also be the consequence of a specific event. Here the case for workers’ compensation can be clearer. A worker who has seen a number of long-time colleagues laid off may experience specific emotional responses to those events. A worker who has suffered a physical injury at work may experience depression caused by medication or simply by a loss of mobility or career prospects. A workers’ compensation attorney works with clients to improve claims outcomes. For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has helped injured workers get the coverage they need to get back to full health after suffering an injury on the job. For a free attorney consultation, contact us at 702-388-4476 or through our contact page.

Pregnancy and Workers’ Compensation Claims

Pregnant women have unique concerns when they are injured. Protecting the health of a developing fetus can limit treatment options, like antibiotics, that might otherwise be available. And some injuries can pose serious risks to the fetus itself. For a pregnant woman who is injured at work and is receiving benefits under a workers’ compensation program, such challenges can raise questions about coverage and employment rights.

Nevada law protects pregnant women in the workplace

The Nevada Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act (NPWFA), NRS 613.335, limits the ways that employers can restrict a pregnant employee’s job responsibilities. Among other things, the law requires covered Nevada employers to provide pregnant employees with reasonable accommodations to allow them to continue to work during pregnancy and after childbirth. For employees who do manual work, the employer may lawfully offer light duty or a less risky role to protect the health of the employee and her fetus, and to manage the employer’s risk with respect to potential workplace injuries. Although the NPWFA isn’t expressly a workers’ compensation law, it provides an important context for women who are injured at work while they are pregnant. A pregnant woman does not need to accept an employer’s unreasonable job restrictions that are only intended to limit the employer’s potential liability and create an unnecessary burden upon the employee.

Workers’ comp applies to all job-related injuries

Nevada’s workers’ compensation law requires all employers to insure their employees against all injuries and illnesses that arise out of or in the course of employment. The fact that an employee was pregnant at the time of an injury has no bearing on coverage. So long as the injury happened during working hours, or while the employee was performing work-related duties, coverage will apply. This is true regardless of the specific cause of the injury. A pregnant employee whose injuries also cause pregnancy-related complications should expect those complications to be included as a component of coverage. It’s important to bear in mind that coverage may not be approved for conditions that cannot be traced to the job-related injury. Records of the employee’s obstetric treatment will be important to show that a condition did not exist prior to the work injury.

GGRM represents clients in complex workers’ compensation cases

For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in workers’ compensation claims disputes. We are happy to help women who are facing challenges involving pregnancy and workers’ comp claims to seek better outcomes for themselves and their children. For a free attorney consultation call us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.

An Employer’s Liability for Allowing Dogs at Work

As employers have moved toward a more casual work environment, some have begun to allow employees to bring their dogs to work. When such a policy works, everyone in the office enjoys having a dog or two around, the dogs are friendly and unobtrusive, and the dog owners get to avoid paying for dog care or worrying about a dog left at home all day. But if a dog causes significant injuries to an employee, whether from biting or knocking the employee down, what options does the injured employee have to recover compensation? There are two potential avenues to consider: workers’ compensation and personal injury litigation.

Dogs and workers’ compensation

With respect to an employer’s liability, workers’ compensation rules apply to most injuries that arise out of or in the course of employment. Workers’ compensation is an exclusive remedy, which means that if an injury falls within the scope of workers’ compensation, the injured employee usually can’t sue the employer for personal injury. Instead, the employee files a workers’ comp claim to cover the costs associated with the injury. Because workers’ compensation is also a form of no-fault insurance, the insurer will not investigate whether the employee’s own negligence contributed to the injury. A workers’ compensation claim typically will cover medical bills, lost wages for someone who must take time off work, and potentially the cost of healing scars and other issues. An employer that allows dogs at work should have incorporated the presence of dogs into its workers’ compensation policy. If the employer did not, and the insurer refuses to cover the employee’s injuries, the employee will need to consult with an attorney to determine the best next steps with respect to the employer’s liability.

What about the dog’s owner?

The workers’ comp exclusive remedy rule only protects the employer. It does not apply to the coworker who owns the dog. Whether a lawsuit against the dog’s owner is appropriate depends on a number of factors, including: Is workers’ compensation insufficient to cover the expenses related to the injury? Did the dog’s owner behave in an especially negligent or intentional manner to cause or contribute to the injury? Did the owner knowingly bring a dangerous dog to work? In some cases, the answer to the question of whether to pursue workers’ compensation or a lawsuit may be “both.” Someone who receives workers’ comp benefits cannot pursue the same types of compensation from a defendant but may be able to pursue other forms of compensation. Workers’ comp doesn’t provide compensation for cases of gross negligence, or for pain, suffering, or other forms of noneconomic damages.

GGRM handles dog bite litigation in Las Vegas

For more than 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented clients in personal injury and workers’ compensation cases. We can help you sort through your legal options if you have been injured by a dog at work. Reach out to us today for a free attorney consultation. Call us at 702-388-4476, or ask us to call you through our contact page.

Injuries Caused by Broken Equipment at Work

Workplace equipment can endure a lot of heavy abuse, especially in industries like construction or transportation. That equipment can break down and become a danger to employees is one reason that responsible employers incorporate routine maintenance checks into their risk management programs. But broken or badly maintained equipment can still end up in use, and workers can be injured as a consequence.

Equipment maintenance and the law

Nevada employers have an affirmative duty to maintain their work environments in a condition that is safe for employees. Under the standards set by Nevada’s Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), NRS 618 et seq., and its related regulations, employers with at least eleven employees are required to adopt formal safety programs, which among other things should address potential hazards like wear and tear on dangerous equipment. OSHA is a regulatory program enforced by the Nevada Division of Industrial Relations (DIR). Although employees can make complaints to the DIR about safety problems at work, they are not able to take direct legal action themselves against their employers for safety violations. The DIR may respond to complaints by pursuing investigations into safety violations, which may result in fines and, in extreme cases, litigation.

Bad equipment and workers’ compensation

Workers who are injured by inadequately maintained equipment can be surprised to learn that their only recourse for recovery may be workers’ compensation. Nevada’s workers’ compensation system has several features that come into play. First, it is an exclusive remedy, which bars most personal injury lawsuits against employers who comply with their workers’ comp obligations. Second, it is no-fault insurance, which means that an injured employee will be covered for any injury arising in the course of employment, regardless of who is to blame. An exception to the exclusive remedy exists for an employer’s intentional acts that are intended to cause harm to an employee. If, for example, an agent of the employer (a manager, for example) deliberately sabotages a piece of equipment knowing that it creates a hazard for employees, an injured employee can pursue direct litigation against the employer and the employee who caused the injury. Note that even if an employer has behaved irresponsibly, for example by requiring workers to use equipment that hasn’t been properly maintained, the most likely recourse remains workers’ compensation. For over 45 years the law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez has represented Las Vegas clients in workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. If you have been injured on the job, please reach out to us today for a free attorney consultation about your situation. Call us at 702-388-4476 or send us a request through our site.