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Are Work From Home Injuries Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?

Topics: Covid-19, Workers' Compensation

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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Many people in the workforce are telecommuting for the first time because of the Covid-19 outbreak and physical distancing policies, including California's Safer at Home.  This temporary new normal will mostly affect people whose work duties are considered relatively safe, including computer work and making phone calls.  And yet, it's widely known that most accidents happen at home.  How does this fact apply when working from home?  Are people who are injured while working from home able to file a workers' compensation claim? The answer is yes, in most circumstances.  Workers who are working remotely are typically eligible for workers' compensation benefits, but these claims may face additional scrutiny.  Every workers' compensation claim is unique, so it's impossible to predict whether or not a specific injury will be accepted or denied, but there are certain circumstances that could result in a denied claim. The injury occurred outside of typical work hours If a workplace usually works from 9 to 5, telecommuters are likely working the same hours.  Though a worker may have been sitting at a computer for eight hours, it's not unexpected that the worker may continue to use the computer outside of work hours.  There is a better chance of a workers' compensation claim being accepted if your home office chair collapses during work hours than it would if it collapses outside of work hours.  However, if an employer does not specify when work from home hours are, it's possible that an employee injured working at 5 a.m. would be eligible.  The injured worker, however, may have to prove that he or she was working when the injury happened. The injury occurred outside of a designated working location In addition to setting specific hours for at home workers, employers can also limit physical working locations.  If an injury happens at home that is outside of the scope of a designated work location, the injury may not be eligible for workers' compensation benefits.  The exact circumstances of the injury will play a large part in determining it is eligible. The injury was caused by something not typically associated with work Workers' compensation claims may take into consideration "frolics and detours," the legal terms for deviating from work duties.  Detours are minor deviations from work duty and frolics are major deviations.  When working at home, feeding a pet could be considered a detour but taking the same pet on a walk could be considered a frolic.  If you slip and fall feeding your pet, you may be able to obtain workers' compensation benefits, but if you're walking your pet you likely won't have a chance to receive benefits. Contact a Workers' Compensation Law Firm If you've been injured while working from home, contact an experienced workers' compensation attorney.  The Law Offices of Scott Warmuth provides free consultations to help potential clients determine the best course of action regarding a work injury, even if you were working at home when the injury occurred.  Call us today at 888-517-9888 to speak to a workers' comp expert today![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
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National Insurance Company Denies Disability Benefits, Blames Covid-19

Topics: Covid-19, Workers' Compensation

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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Today, the Law Offices of Scott Warmuth received a notification letter from a large, national insurance company denying our workers' compensation client temporary disability (TD) benefits because of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Our client was on modified work duty while recovering from surgery when the company he worked for closed because of the outbreak.  The insurance company is arguing that our client's modified work duty is no longer valid because the company is not currently in operation and is therefore not eligible for any TD benefits.  This assertion by the insurance company is outrageous. The insurance company in question has no legal basis for refusing disability payments to our client  Using the Covid-19 emergency as an excuse to deny the benefits of an injured worker is unacceptable.  The Law Offices of Scott Warmuth will be taking immediate action to hold the insurance company accountable for this unconscionable decision. It's very possible that other national insurance companies will use this same argument to begin denying workers' compensation benefits to other injured workers across California.  Injured workers without legal representation could face a denial and have no one on their side to advocate for them in their time of need.  If you or someone you know has had workers' compensation benefits denied "due to the coronavirus", contact the Law Offices of Scott Warmuth today at 888-517-9888.  Our workers' compensation attorneys will stand up to the insurance companies and fight to get you the benefits you deserve.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
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Less Freeway Traffic Means Fewer Crashes, but Increased Serious Injury Risk

Topics: Auto Accident, Covid-19

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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]One of the most surreal aspects of the Safer at Home restrictions is the freeway traffic, or lack thereof.  With schools and many non-essential businesses closed and larger corporate businesses encouraging work from home, it hasn't been uncommon to see completely green traffic maps across Southern California, even during typical rush hours.  Because freeway traffic is mostly flowing unimpeded, the average speed of traffic is increased.  If a collision does occur, it will most likely happen at a higher speed, potentially resulting in a more severe crash and higher risk of serious injury. If you are one of the essential workers who still need to commute to and from work, stay extra vigilant on the roads!

Verify Your Insurance Coverage

If you get into a serious car crash without the appropriate insurance coverage, you could be on the hook for medical bills, vehicle repairs, and more.  In addition to standard liability coverage, the Law Offices of Scott Warmuth strongly recommends uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to protect your financial well-being.  Driving without insurance is against the law and removes the right to claim damages for pain and suffering if you are not at fault for the crash.

Keep Your Vehicle Maintained

Vehicles that have not been kept maintained are more likely to be involved in a car crash.  Improper tire maintenance can lead to blowouts and poor control in wet weather.  Worn brakes can make it more difficult to avoid a collision.  Foggy headlights can make it difficult to see at night.  You get the idea.  Keep your vehicle in tip top shape to avoid some preventable crashes.

Practice defensive driving

Defensive driving techniques help keep you aware and prepared for the unexpected.  Some basic defensive driving tips include:
  • Planning ahead - Be prepared for adverse weather, construction, or any thing else that could have an impact on your drive.
  • Be aware of your surroundings - Pay attention to other vehicles on the road, especially if one of them is acting erratically.
  • Leave some space - Following another vehicle too closely is a is a good way to cause a rear end collision should the other vehicle need to make an emergency stop.
  • Slow down sooner - Braking early, especially in adverse weather, can help prevent you from causing a rear end accident and help prevent others from rear ending you.
  • Tone down aggression - That other driver may be a jerk, but escalating the situation is a recipe for disaster.

Avoid distracted driving

Distracted driving can cause momentary losses of focus, and it only takes one missed moment to cause a collision.  No texting while driving!  Taking your eyes off the road, even if there are not many vehicles out there, can still lead to a wreck.

If you are involved in an accident, contact an experienced attorney

The Law Offices of Scott Warmuth remains operational during the Safer at Home protective order.  We are committed to our clients' and potential clients' health and well-being - we offer free consultations over the phone and can tell you if you have a strong legal case, all without you leaving the safety of your home.  All paperwork can be completed and signed remotely.  We will do everything in our power to ensure that you receive the best possible legal help during these trying times. Call us today at 888-517-9888 for your free consultation.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
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How “Safer at Home” Orders Will Affect the Law Offices of Scott Warmuth

Topics: Covid-19, From Our Office

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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Yesterday evening, the mayors of Los Angeles, Pasadena, and Long Beach, quickly followed by California governor Gavin Newsom, issued "Safer at Home" orders for first Los Angeles County and then the entire state of California.  Executive Order N-33-20 directs all non-essential businesses to close.  The Law Offices of Scott Warmuth does provide essential services to our clients and we are fully committed to help all existing and new clients during this difficult time.  We are open for business, but we have made some temporary changes.

Our law firm remains operational!

  • Our dedicated legal experts are continuing to work on our clients' cases
  • Our case file managers are still available to answer our clients' questions by phone and email
  • Our free consultation service is still available
  • Necessary appointments with our professional staff are still available
However, existing clients and new clients alike should be aware of how Safer at Home could affect your case!

Personal Injury

  • Treatment for your injuries may be paused temporarily because doctors' offices are not accepting appointments
  • Retrieving police reports and medical records may take more time
  • Settlement negotiations with the insurance companies will continue unaffected
  • Litigation may be delayed due to court closures

Workers' Compensation

  • Treatment for your injuries may be paused temporarily because doctors' offices are not accepting appointments
  • Retrieving medical records may take more time
  • Depositions may be postponed
  • Upcoming hearings with the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) will be postponed
  • No new hearings with WCAB will be scheduled

Immigration

  • Progress on completing your paperwork will continue
  • Paperwork continues to be processed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • All in-person services provided by USCIS are suspended temporarily, except for emergency services for limited situations
  • In-person interviews with USCIS will be postponed
  • No new in person interviews with USCIS will be scheduled at this time
  • Biometrics appointments have been suspended temporarily
  • Naturalization oath ceremonies have been suspended temporarily
  • Asylum interviews have been suspended temporarily

Criminal Defense

  • Many courtrooms have been closed, which could delay criminal trials
  • Time-sensitive proceedings are being prioritized

All Practice Areas

  • Only extremely necessary in-person appointments will be scheduled
  • All necessary paperwork will be mailed to you or emailed to you to be signed digitally
  • All settlement checks will be mailed

Please contact our law firm at 888-517-9888 if you have any questions about how Safer at Home will affect your case!  You can also call us at any time to schedule a free case consultation!

Stay safe, stay healthy, and practice social distancing!  For more information on preventing the spread of Covid-19, visit the California Covid-19 Response website.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
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Reminder: Employers Cannot Force Unpaid Overtime

Topics: Covid-19, Employment Law

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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]With the Covid-19 social distancing restrictions being put in to place, many grocery stores, wholesalers, pharmacies, and retail outlets have seen an uptick in product demand.  That's probably the nicest way of stating that there are a ton of people panic buying seemingly random things.  The extra crush of customers, combined with potential worker illness, could lead to some unplanned staffing shortages and extended hours.  And then there are the healthcare workers on the front lines of the battle against the disease working extended shifts to help those affected by the outbreak. The Law Offices of Scott Warmuth wants to remind workers that it is against the law to force employees to work unpaid overtime.  Nonexempt employees are guaranteed overtime pay under certain circumstances.
  • They work in excess of eight hours in one workday
  • They work in excess of 40 hours in one workweek
  • They work seven days in one workweek
Under California law, any work performed under overtime rules must be paid at time and a half, or 150 percent of normal wages.  Certain work qualifies for double time, or 200 percent of normal wages, specifically:
  • Any hours worked in excess of 12 hours in one workday
  • Any hours worked in excess of eight hours on the seventh consecutive workday
For example, if a worker is on the job for 14 hours in one day, he or she is entitled to eight hours of regular pay, four hours of time and a half pay, and two hours of double time pay.  Any employer that does not provide this level of compensation for overtime work is violating the law. Some unscrupulous employers may try to avoid paying overtime by telling workers to clock out after working eight hours, but to continue working despite being off the clock.  They may also claim, after requiring you to work overtime, that the overtime was unauthorized and therefore doesn't have to be paid.  Taking either of these actions as a business is illegal, and California law requires paying overtime, regardless of authorization.  Employers are legally allowed to require overtime but are not allowed to take any action to avoid paying you for your work. It must be noted that some healthcare workers in California will have slightly different rules regarding overtime, though it's still illegal for any employer to require working unpaid overtime.  Many healthcare workers do not earn overtime after eight hours of work in a single day, however the double time after 12 hours of work and time and a half after 40 hours in a workweek rules still apply. To see other frequently asked questions about overtime law, visit California's Department of Industrial Relations department website here. If you or your coworkers have been forced to work unpaid overtime, the Law Offices of Scott Warmuth can help you seek the wages rightfully owed to you.  Call us today at 888-517-9888 to receive a free consultation.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
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How the COVID-19 Outbreak Could Affect Your Legal Case

Topics: Covid-19, From Our Office

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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]

The fallout from the COVID-19 global pandemic is beginning to affect every day American and Californian life.  The suspension or delay of several professional sport seasons, potential bans on large gatherings of 250 people, cancellation of March Madness, the postponement of the Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals, major conventions being cancelled, delayed movie releases, Disneyland closing...and this was all announced within the past few days!  It's hard to say what other restrictions could occur as a result of the outbreak.

One specific unknown is how COVID-19 will affect your legal case.  The Law Offices of Scott Warmuth strives to provide exceptional and responsive client service.  However, it is very possible that a slowdown to legal cases outside of our control could occur.  For personal injury cases, staffing interruptions at insurance companies could cause claim delays and the potential for disruptions to courts could cause litigation to stall.  For immigration cases, there is the possibility of delays in processing and postponed court dates.  Workers' compensation claims could also be slowed, with slower claim processing, difficulty scheduling medical treatment, or postponed depositions.  Just speaking as a matter of fact: we do not know what the fallout of the coronavirus outbreak will be and how it will affect our clients. What we are sure about is that our attorneys and staff will continue to be available to answer any questions you may have about your existing legal case and that we will continue to protect your rights.  We will also continue to offer 100 percent free legal consultations and case evaluations.  Our mission remains the same: provide high-quality, affordable legal services to as many Californian communities as possible.  And as always, we're on your side, all the way. Do not hesitate to contact us at 888-517-9888 if you need an update on your case! Please be sure to follow all coronavirus guidelines.  Stay safe and healthy![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
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Proper Tire Maintenance Can Prevent Car Crashes

Topics: Auto Accident

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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]The maintenance of your vehicle's tires can play a surprisingly large role in keeping you and your family safe.  Worn tires can dramatically increase the risk of a collision or rollover accident.  Vehicles out of alignment can create unexpected bald spots on tires, which can lead to a sudden blowout.  Improperly inflated tires can do the same.  Keeping an eye on the tread level and tire pressure of your vehicle's tires is one important way of staying as safe as possible on the roads.  Poorly maintained tires can do the opposite, putting you and your passengers at risk of a car crash. Tire blowouts are the most dangerous of mechanical failures associated with worn tires.  A tire blowout is when a tire bursts while in use, leading to a rapid depressurization. It's very apparent when it happens: it sounds like an explosion followed by what seems like a fight between your vehicle and your steering wheel.  Tire blowouts can happen suddenly, without warning, and when they do, drivers have very little time to react.  Taking the wrong course of action can lead to loss of vehicle control, a collision, or even a rollover accident.  Tire blowouts are one of the leading causes of single-vehicle crashes, but knowing how to react after a blowout occurs can reduce the risk of an accident.
  1. Recognize the situation and remain calm - Overreacting to a tire blowout can lead to loss of control over your vehicle, so stay calm and collected throughout the ordeal.
  2. Try to drive straight - Your car will fight you on this and will likely jerk towards one side.  Grip the steering wheel firmly and attempt to stay in your lane.
  3. Do not brake immediately! - This may seem counter-intuitive, but hitting the brakes in order to slow down can cause a loss of vehicle control.  It's actually safer to accelerate slightly to regain control of the vehicle before coasting to a slower speed.
  4. After decelerating to a safe speed, pull over - The scariest part is over.  Once you're under about 20 mph, turn on your hazard lights and slowly navigate your vehicle to safety on the shoulder or side of the road and call for help.
The faster a vehicle is traveling on bald tires, the more likely a tire blowout can occur and the more dangerous the blowout will be.  In addition to blowouts, worn tires see an increased risk of hydroplaning in wet weather, reduced handling capabilities in cold-weather, and can cause tires to lose air pressure more quickly, which is in itself a risk factor for tire blowouts. It's pretty easy to tell how worn your tires are.  If your tire surface is smooth, your tires are bald and should be replaced immediately.  If your tread is less than 2/32 of an inch, you should take steps to get new tires very soon.  A simple way to measure whether or not your tires meet this 2/32 inch threshold is the penny test.  Place an upside-down penny in your tire treads.  If you can see all of Abraham Lincoln, it's time to replace your tires.  You should also replace your tires if you can see any indicator bars on your tires or if you see cracks developing in the sidewall.  If your tire treads are wearing down unevenly, be sure to check your vehicle's alignment and rotate your tires every 7,500 miles. Find a tire maintenance guide from Goodyear here. Your tires' well-being affects more than just you and your passengers.  It can affect other drivers on the road, just as their tires can affect you.  Experiencing a blowout on a traffic-filled freeway can cause catastrophic collisions, and if tire maintenance is a cause in the crash, the driver of the poorly-maintained vehicle can be found at fault.  If you or a loved one has been injured in a collision stemming from a tire blowout, or any other car accident at which you're not at fault, our law firm can help you seek medical treatment, car repairs, lost wages and more.  Call us today at 888-517-9888 for a free case evaluation.  We provide no-risk legal representation to the victims of car accidents.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
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Appeals Court Blocks Remain in Mexico Policy

Topics: Immigration

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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]A ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday will suspend the Remain in Mexico policy beginning March 12 in California and Arizona.  The appeals court agreed with a lower court ruling that the policy may violate the law by causing irreversible harm to asylum seekers.  Because of the intense media focus and controversy over the Migrant Protection Protocols program that implemented Remain in Mexico, the court limited its injunction to the 9th Circuit, which includes the affected states.  The Trump administration filed an emergency petition today asking the United States Supreme Court to overrule the injunction or limit is application to plaintiffs in the case while the case is being appealed. The policy directs non-Mexican migrants who have applied for asylum in the United States to wait in Mexico for the results of their cases.  Over 60,000 migrants have been affected, and of those affected who have had their asylum cases heard, fewer than 1 percent of migrants were granted protections.  Immigration attorneys and immigrant rights groups argue that asylum seekers impacted by the program have faced squalid and dangerous conditions while waiting in Mexico for their cases to be heard. We will update this story when the Supreme Court addresses the ruling and appeal.

** UPDATE March 11, 2020**

The US Supreme Court has ruled that the Trump administration can continue to sent asylum seekers to Mexico while the legal case works its way through the courts.  See the full news story about the Supreme Court decision here.

See the full news article here. The Law Offices of Scott Warmuth as been helping immigrants live and work legally in the United States for more than 35 years.  Our dedicated immigration lawyers can help you determine the best steps to take to enter the US, whether it's asylum, temporary visa, or a green card.  For a free legal consultation, call us today at 888-517-9888.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
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What is a Statute of Limitations?

Topics: Personal Injury, Workers' Compensation

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[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]One topic many clients have questions about is something called the 'statute of limitations'.  The phrase is most widely known in relation to criminal offenses.  TV shows such as Law and Order or Cold Case may discuss statutes of limitations regarding whether or not an old crime is possible to prosecute.  The phrase has also been in the news recently regarding the prosecution of film mogul Harvey Weinstein and pursing abuse claims against the Catholic church.  Statutes of limitations, however, apply to more than just criminal cases. Statutes also apply to personal injury and workers' compensation cases.  Briefly explained, a statute of limitations is the time frame in which you must begin the legal process after any specific incident, such as a car accident.  Most car accidents in California have a statute of limitations of two years, so if your car is rear-ended by another car today, March 3rd, 2020, the last day you can file a lawsuit pursuing damages for your injuries is March 3rd, 2022.  However, if your car was struck by a police car or any other government-owned vehicle, you'd only have six months, pushing that deadline up to September 3rd, 2020.  Missing a statute deadline means you can no longer pursue damages related to the 2020 car accident and you would be responsible for any medical bills or vehicle repairs incurred after the crash. The idea behind a statute of limitations for a workers' compensation claim is slightly different, as no litigation is undertaken in work injuries.  Instead, injured workers have up to one year to file a workers' compensation claim with their employer.  Failing to report your injury and file a claim can result in losing any right to receive workers' compensation benefits. In both personal injury and workers' compensation claims, waiting until the last minute to pursue litigation is extremely ill-advised.  In both types of cases, it's important to contact an experienced injury law firm as soon as possible to ensure your rights are protected.  Insurance companies have been known to deny claims just before the statute of limitations expires, leaving injury victims unable to collect any damages or benefits and with little recourse to do so.  When an attorney is involved, insurance companies are much more inclined to pursue a reasonable settlement offer rather than face potentially costly litigation.  Your attorney will be aware of any statute of limitations and will ensure that all legal actions necessary will be handled in a timely manner, but car accident lawyers will typically reach settlements with insurance companies well before the statute of limitations. If you've been injured in a car accident or have experienced an injury on the job, the Law Offices of Scott Warmuth can ensure that your rights under the law are protected.  We offer free consultations and offer a risk-free service: if we don't win your injury case you will owe us nothing.  Call us today at 888-517-9888 and speak with an injury expert![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]