Articles Posted in Worker’s Compensation

The Florida First District Court of Appeal has overturned an order in a workers’ compensation case, ruling that a worker forfeited his right to benefits for a workplace accident after he offered conflicting details about his medical history and the cause of his injuries.

Cal-Maine Foods had appealed the ruling by the Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC) to reject multiple defenses to compensability of a work accident and related benefits.

The case originated from an accident that occurred on Nov. 2, 2014. A man was working for Cal-Maine Foods when the brakes failed on a front-end loader he was driving. He jumped from the machine and was injured.

There was conflicting testimony as to whether the man reported any injuries to the company at the time of the accident.

Cal-Maine later fired the man for reasons unrelated to the accident.

In August 2015, following the termination, the man filed a petition for benefits, seeking payment of temporary total disability or temporary partial disability benefits and authorization of a neurological/orthopedic physician to evaluate and treat his lower back symptoms.

The man listed the November 2014 accident as the basis for the injuries.

During his first deposition in May 2015, the man testified that the injuries resulting from the work accident included a broken nose, orbital fractures, concussion with brain injury and herniated discs of the neck and lower back. He requested surgery for facial fractures and treatment for his neck and back.

In his testimony, the man said that when he jumped from the machine, he hit his left shoulder on the rear left tire, which spun him around causing him to strike his face on asphalt. He described injuries specifically to the right eye and socket as well as bleeding scrapes over his left eye.

During a second deposition seven months later, the man gave sworn testimony that his injuries from the accident included the eye socket, nose, neck, middle and lower back. However, he advised that as of the second deposition, his nose and eye injuries had healed. He complained of constant neck pain.

The man didn’t seek medical treatment after the accident. He waited until a month after his termination, which occurred two months after the November 2014 accident.

The man received initial medical treatment on Jan. 22, 2015 at Shands Hospital. He claimed to have a head injury and pain that affected his memory and resulted in a headache after he was hit in the head with a baseball bat eight days before coming to the hospital.

During the second deposition when confronted with the hospital records, the man testified that his description of the baseball bat incident was false and contrived. He asserted he later “corrected” this false account and told the hospital staff the injuries actually occurred from an accident at work.

On Feb. 4, 2015, the worker proceeded to the Wesley Chapel Hospital Emergency Room, where he was seen for facial pain, advising medical personnel that he received a facial fracture “one month earlier.”

The man requested pain medications and denied back pain or headaches. He did not report a work accident.

In March 2015, the man was evaluated by a neurologist. He complained of neck, middle and lower back pain and confusion due to the work accident. At that evaluation, he denied any history of neck or back pain or similar injuries before the accident. He didn’t mention the baseball bat incident.

On Nov. 11, 2015, the man got an examination from a neurosurgeon. He complained of pain radiating down his right leg, lower back, cervical spine, shoulder and right facial pain. During this evaluation, he claimed the Nov. 2, 2014 accident was the source of his symptoms.

Although the JCC determined that the man had committed multiple misrepresentations in his testimony, the JCC ultimately declined to terminate his entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits. The appellate court, however, disagreed and reversed its ruling.

Each year, thousands of people are involved in work-related accidents in the workplace. In many cases, these injuries can have serious financial consequences in addition to creating health issues that could keep employees from earning a living and supporting their families for certain periods of time.

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There has been quite the debate over how much a South Carolina stripper should be compensated after being shot while on the job.

Last week the state’s highest court ordered a new hearing in the woman’s case.

The decision comes two years after Supreme Court justices ruled that the woman was an employee of the club, not an independent contractor, a determination that meant she was entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

The woman was working as an exotic dancer at the Boom Boom Room Studio 54 in Columbia in 2008 when a stray bullet struck her in the abdomen during a fight. According to court records, she suffered internal injuries, resulting in the loss of a kidney.

The club had argued that the woman was simply a contractor and wasn’t on its books as an employee. But, the court found in its initial ruling, the club chose the woman’s dance music, required her to perform dances for certain customers, and barred her from leaving work early without risk of a fine.

In that 2015 ruling, the high court left it to the Workers’ Compensation Commission to determine how much of a benefit the woman should receive, an award ultimately set at $75 a week. The panel, according to justices, provided no documentation for how it arrived at that amount.

The court pointed out it wasn’t saying the amount had been too low or too high but rather that the commission’s order “was devoid of any specific and detailed findings of fact to substantiate the award.”

If you have been injured on the job in Florida, you are entitled to workers compensation benefits. Workers compensation claims cover all types of injuries, including:

  • Broken bones
  • Back injuries
  • Knee problems
  • Wrist injuries including carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Heart attacks
  • Burns
  • Shoulder pain
  • Neck pain
  • Shootings
  • Work-related death

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A Philadelphia man is suing his former employer, Hampton Inn – Pine Grove, alleging discrimination, retaliation, unpaid wages, violation of Workers’ Compensation acts and wrongful termination.

The man filed a complaint on Jan. 30 alleging that the employer discharged him from employment for raising a concern about a company policy.

According to the complaint, the man suffered damages from being required to report to work earlier than his scheduled shift without being paid for those hours. He holds his former employer responsible because they retaliated against him by terminating his employment.

Florida is an at-will employment state, which means employers can fire workers for any reason except those that are based on discrimination or in violation of an employment contract. Just because Florida is an at-will employment state does not mean workers do not have rights. In fact, if you were fired for unlawful or illegal reasons, you may be able to take action against your employer.

Our Florida Wrongful Termination Lawyers at Whittel & Melton can start helping you right away. We can review your claim and determine if your employer violated your rights in any way. If you were wrongfully terminated, we will make it our mission to hold your employer accountable.

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Former Fox News Channel anchor Gretchen Carlson sued network chief executive Roger Ailes on Wednesday, claiming she was fired after she refused his sexual advances.

Gretchen Carlson has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit in New Jersey’s Bergen County.

Carlson, the former host of a daytime show at Fox, alleges that Ailes retaliated against her because of complaints she had made about discrimination and harassment. The 11-year Fox employee was anchoring a 2 p.m. show when she said she was fired on June 23 at the end of her contract.

She said her firing came nine months after Ailes told her during a meeting that “you and I should have had a sexual relationship a long time ago.”

50-year-old Carlson was Miss America in 1989.

She alleges in the lawsuit that Ailes, who is 76, ogled her, repeatedly commented about her legs, urged her to wear clothes that enhanced her figure and told her she was sexy but “too much hard work.”

Carlson said she was fired as a host of the morning show “Fox & Friends” in 2013, and her pay reduced with the transfer to a daytime slot, because she had complained about sexual harassment.

She said that one of her “Fox & Friends” co-hosts, Steve Doocy, “had created a hostile work environment by regularly treating her in a sexist and condescending way.” She said that when Ailes heard of her complaints, he called her a “man hater” who needed to learn to “get along with the boys.”

Carlson said that Ailes punished her by cutting back on political interviews that she conducted and ending a regular appearance she made on Bill O’Reilly’s prime-time program, generally Fox’s highest-rated show.

“I have strived to empower women and girls throughout my entire career,” Carlson said in a statement. “Although this was a difficult step to take, I had to stand up for myself and speak out for all women and the next generation of women in the workplace.”

The lawsuit asks for an unspecified amount of payment for damages.

Every person has the right to a workplace that is free of sexual harassment and discrimination. Even though there are laws in place that protect American workers from such behavior, legal cases involving sexual harassment are too common. Our Florida Workplace Discrimination Lawyers at Whittel & Melton are committed to achieving justice for employees who have suffered harassment or discrimination at their job.

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A Tavares man was killed after being crushed by pallets of dirt and mushrooms at a Zellwood processing plant.

The 45-year-old man was moving pallets with a forklift late Monday night — some weighing between 800 to 1,000 pounds — at Monterey Mushrooms on Sadler Road when the stack of trays started shaking, according to an Orange County Sheriff’s Office report.

The man jumped off the forklift and tried to run, but the pallets fell on him, according to a witness.

He was taken to Florida Hospital Apopka, where he was pronounced dead.

Deputies and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration are investigating.

Monterey Mushrooms has not released a statement.

The aftermath of a crush injury can be devastating. Sadly, crushing accidents are one of the top killers when it comes to workplace accidents. Because of the serious nature of these injuries, employers have an obligation to make sure that their workers are protected from crush injuries at all times.

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Crews responded to a construction accident at a parking garage on the Miami Dade College Campus Friday.

The accident happened around 2:30 p.m. at the West Campus at 3800 Northwest 115th Avenue in Doral.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said two injured construction workers were being treated on the third floor for their injuries. According to reports, they had to hoist them down to the ground before transporting them to the hospital. One is believed to have suffered a leg injury.

The accident is currently under investigation with MDFR.

Reports indicate that one of the concrete plates that interconnect to make up the structure, came crashing down on the third floor. Crews are not calling the accident a collapse at this time.

MDC released the following statement after the accident: “There was a construction incident at MDC’s West Campus garage that is currently under construction. There are some minor injuries reported. Because it is Friday, there are not many classes taking place or many people around. Classes and operations have not been impacted. The Campus is open.”

Crews began construction on the $22.5 million, five-story garage to accommodate the increasing number of students at the campus in January 2012. That October, part of the nearly completed garage collapsed, killing four workers.

Miami Dade College reached a $33.5 million settlement with the contractor and subcontractors hired to build the garage after the collapse occurred.

Working on a construction site is one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. As this case shows, construction accidents injure or kill thousands of workers each year. Construction accidents account for one in five workplace fatalities in America. Accidents like these happen when safety engineers are negligent or when safety programs are absent. Regardless of what type of injury was suffered, the injured worker is entitled to some kind of compensation. A Florida Worker’s Compensation Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can help injured workers and families pursue personal injury or wrongful death claims to make sure injured workers are fully compensated for any damages suffered.

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A 29-year-old construction worker was killed Wednesday after a piece of heavy machinery being hoisted by a crane fell and hit him as he stood on the 37th floor of an Edgewater condo building.

According to reports, the man was working on Biscayne Beach Condos, located at 711 NE 29th St., when a piece of equipment weighing more than 2,000 pounds fell at about 4 p.m.

When rescue workers arrived, the man was dead already dead.

Miami police are investigating the accident.

Construction work is a very dangerous industry. Workers are expected to perform difficult physical labor, sometimes at great heights, and usually with heavy machinery. Any number of accidents can occur on a daily basis on construction sites. In 2012, 183,000 construction workers were injured in job-related accidents in the United States. Another 775 were killed. In fact, each and every year there are more work-related injuries in construction than in most other industries.

OSHA has four categories of construction worker injuries labeled as “the fatal four” due to the fact that they account for nearly 60 percent of construction worker deaths. These four injuries are falls, electrocutions, “struck by object,” and “caught in-between.”

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A federal judge gave the green light Tuesday for California Uber drivers to proceed with  their class action lawsuit suing the company for employee benefits. District Court Judge Edward Chen certified a class of plaintiffs that includes “all UberBlack, UberX, and UberSUV drivers who have driven for Uber in the state of California at any time since August 16, 2009”—as many as 160,000 people.

Uber had originally argued that the class action shouldn’t be allowed to proceed because there’s no “typical” Uber driver. The company said that some drivers were trained in person, while others just watched videos.

The judge disagreed. He rejected the argument because none of the differences Uber pointed to were legally relevant—the claims the plaintiffs are making (primarily that Uber misclassified them as contractors instead of employees) are pertinent to every member of the class.

This judge wrote the following in his ruling: “[T]he named Plaintiffs may all be left-handed and drive Hondas, while numerous class members are right-handed and drive Toyotas. But these differences do not demonstrate that the named Plaintiffs are not typical class representatives.”

The drivers are suing for reimbursement of vehicle maintenance, social security tax, and other benefits they would have received if Uber had treated them as employees rather than mere users of an app.

A jury trial will take place sometime in 2016, according to reports.

As this case demonstrates, whether a worker is an “employee” or an “independent contractor” is crucial when it comes to pertinent issues such as pension eligibility, workers’ compensation coverage, wage and hour law, and many other matters. In certain situations, federal law will govern, but the answer to this question is most frequently resolved by looking to state law, especially in areas like unemployment tax liability, workers’ compensation, and state wage and hour requirements.

Florida courts have used a 10-factor test to determine whether an employee is covered by workers’ compensation or is an independent contractor who is not covered. These 10 factors include:

  1. The extent of control which, by the agreement, the business may exercise over the details of the work.
  2. Whether the one employed is engaged in a distinct occupation or business.
  3. Whether the work done in a certain locality is usually done under the direction of the employer or by a specialist without supervision.
  4. The skill required in the particular occupation.
  5. Whether the employer or the worker supplies the instrumentalities (for example: equipment, vehicle, materials), tools, and the place of work for the person doing the work.
  6. The length of time the person is employed.
  7. The method of payment, whether by the time or by the job.
  8. Whether the work is a part of the regular business of the employer.
  9. Whether the parties believe they are creating the relationship of employer and employee.
  10. Whether the hiring party is or is not in business.

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A St. Petersburg Fire Rescue crew saved a man after he fell into a deep hole at a construction site Wednesday morning.

The 57-year-old man was working with a construction crew on top of a concrete lift station at 92nd Avenue N and 3rd Street. Authorities believe he may have backed into the 2-foot-by-2-foot opening before falling some 25 feet.

The accident occurred around 9:40 a.m. The man was trapped for around an hour.

8530434571_8eebb37dd3_mRescue officials used heavy equipment and a basket to retrieve the man. He suffered fractures to his arms and legs and was taken to Bayfront Health St. Petersburg.

Officials were very concerned about the possibility of rain since there was already sewer water in the hole, but fortunately that was not an issue.

Construction work is considered to be one of the most dangerous professions in the United States. Construction sites contain many hazards such as heavy machinery, demolition, elevated heights, crowded work sites and other dangers that can leave a worker or passerby seriously injured. Construction accidents almost always result in injuries, and even when all safety guidelines and precautions are followed accidents can occur from poor planning, improper training, lack of communication and even failure to warn employees of pending dangers on site during a project. Slip, trip and fall accidents are quite common because of uneven ground, holes and other various trip hazards. Unfortunately, hard hats do little to protect workers from suffering a head, brain or spinal cord injury. If you have been injured while working on a construction project in Florida, a Florida Injury Attorney at Whittel & Melton can help.

Construction work is not only demanding, but it is very dangerous. Any type of construction accident has the ability to result in catastrophic personal injuries and even death. After suffering an injury, your medical bills can continue to pile up, and your inability to work can place a severe financial strain on your and your family. A Florida Injury Lawyer at Whittel & Melton can help hold construction companies responsible for their negligence. We will work tirelessly to make sure that you get the justice you deserve and that your family has everything they need so that you can focus on your health and recovering.

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As National Safety month continues throughout the month of June, week 3 focuses on being aware of your surroundings.

According to the National Safety Council’s “Injury Facts” for 2014, contact with objects and equipment was responsible for 15.1 percent of workplace deaths in 2011. This was also the second leading cause of missed days from work in that same year. These injuries can happen due to falling objects or mistakably being hit by a moving vehicle, like a forklift or car.

To help avoid injuries from contact with objects or equipment, the Florida Personal Injury Lawyers at Whittel & Melton recommend the following for situational attentiveness and workplace safety:

  • Neatly store any and all materials.
  • Store all items at heights that are secure.
  • Heavy objects should be stored close to the floor.
  • To prevent a tip over, only open one filing cabinet drawer at a time.
  • Wear proper attire for your workplace setting, such as steel-toed footwear.
  • Do not overload moving equipment.
  • Do not operate any machinery or equipment that you are not trained to use.
  • Always exercise added caution when coming around corners or when you are near doorways.
  • Make sure all safety devices on equipment are in good working order before using them.
  • Exercise added caution when walking around corners and near doorways.

workplaceThe NSC’s mission during the month of June is to prevent unintentional injury and death by drawing attention to safe practices. As part of this effort, our personal injury attorneys in Florida urge everyone to be attentive and conscious of their surroundings.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or death due to another person’s carelessness or negligence, contact a Florida Personal Injury Attorney at Whittel & Melton for help. Our personal injury law office handles all types of accident, injury and wrongful death cases.

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