Every month, a reader asks one of our sponsor legal experts about a work-related issue. These building trades law professionals respond in an Organized Labor exclusive. This month’s experts are Anthony L. Label and Kevin Lancaster of The Veen Firm.
I went back to a job site after hours to pick up some tools I forgot. The security guard let me in. While I was getting them, I fell through an unguarded floor penetration and was severely injured. Am I eligible for Workers’ Compensation even though I wasn’t on the clock? What about a civil lawsuit?
This is an interesting question. Normally, WCAB benefits are not paid to a worker when they are not “on the clock.” However, there are many exceptions to this rule. Examples include the “premises line” rule, where you may be in course and scope once you enter the work premises, or the “special errand” doctrine, where you may be in course and scope when performing an errand for your employer even though you are “off the clock.” What makes this a close call is the fact that you are on the jobsite and dealing with your tools – which could make this a compensable injury. You should speak with at qualified WCAB attorney immediately to fully analyze this issue. As for a civil lawsuit, you are generally precluded from suing your employer except in limited circumstances. However, if someone other than your employer was responsible for your injury (what we call a “third party”), you may also have a civil case. There are important differences between a WCAB case and a civil case. Your recovery in WCAB cases is limited, but it is “no-fault.” This means you only need to be hurt while working to recover, regardless of whether anyone negligently caused your injury. In a civil lawsuit, the areas of compensation are much broader and not as limited as in a WCAB case, but recovering those damages usually requires at least negligence. Remember, the time limits to file these actions are strict, you should talk to a WCAB attorney and a civil attorney immediately to have these issues analyzed including the limitations periods.
-Anthony L. Label, Trial Team Leader; The Veen Firm, PC, San Francisco, CA
-Kevin Lancaster, Trial Team Leader; The Veen Firm, PC, San Francisco, CA
“Interaction via “Ask the Expert” does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Any advice given is neither legal advice nor does it serve as a replacement for hiring an attorney. In addition, any case results mentioned or discussed are not guarantees of similar results.”
This Month's Co-expert; Anthony L. Label
Anthony L. Label is a team leader of the Label trial team at the The Veen Firm, PC, in San Francisco, CA. Mr. Label represents people who have suffered severe personal injuries which have a life-changing, career-changing, life-ending, or career-ending impact. He represents plaintiffs in actions arising from construction site accidents, industrial accidents, dangerous premises, auto accidents, wrongful death, governmental or public entity liability, defective products, and others. In 2013, Mr. Label was invited for membership to the National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 Trial Lawyers, and currently holds the record for the largest recovery in the history of the Bar Association of San Francisco’s lawyer referral service program.
This Month's Co-expert; Kevin Lancaster
Mr. Lancaster joined The Veen Firm, PC in 1984 and since has litigated more than 30 product liability cases, including industrial products, tools, and machines. Mr. Lancaster typically represents individuals who have suffered catastrophic injuries, including union, non-union, construction, and agricultural workers. He has served on the OSHA Advisory Committee and has spoken before the CA Senate Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations about issues of concern to injured workers.