Worker`s Compensation/Compressed Disk on Cervical Cord
I recently started a new job, after being there about 3 days I was moved to a harder job, boxing, sealing and lifting boxes, around 170 boxes per day (Weighing 5 to 70 lbs.)and placing them on carts. This immediately made my back start hurting, and I reported this to the Lineman, who is over the Dept. I was working for, he told me if I couldn't do the job then he didn't need me because I needed to be able to do all the job positions. After doing this job for about 6 days I started having numbness in my neck, shoulder, arm and hand on my left side, I thought it was caused from not being familiar with the job. Around 4 weeks into the job I woke up at AM with radiating pain in my left arm and severe numbness. I had to call in sick for the next 2 days and went to the doctor, she sent me for an MRI the next day, I called my employer to let them know I wouldn't be there because I had to go for an MRI and I felt like it was job related. They called me back in about 30 minutes and terminated my contract with them, so now I'm injured and have no job and physically unable work. The MRI revealed a compressed disk on my cervical cord. I contacted a local Workers comp Attorney and he told me he didn't think he could do anything with my case since there were no wittiness's to the injury and it was my word against theirs. I have never had this problem before and if I did have an injured disk, it did not present itself until I started lifting all those heavy boxes. Any info you can give would be greatly appreciated!
IN CALIFORNIA, a claim written up AFTER you leave the job (yup, even when terminated) is presumed 'non compensable'.
Post-separation claims are presumed to be the worker just getting even with the boss.
So: would you be able to PROVE -- NOT just state, but really prove -- you reported the pain to the supervisor prior to termination?
Telling the Line 'my back hurts' is likely not sufficient... it would have to be "I hurt my back lifting these boxes, please send me to the company doctor, this is making me unable to perform my work"... there would have to be reliable eye-witnesses to this conversation, or it would be in writing with proof of delivery, or a videotape of such a conversation.
Did you WRITE in the Patient History at your doctor's office == PRIOR TO the termination == HURT AT WORK, or JOB INJURY? Did the private physician write this is a work injury or industrial injury??
When a physician KNOWS she's treating an on-the-job injury in California, they can't bill private insurance, as private insurance specifically excludes work injuries...so it's extremely unlikely the doctor wrote any words about any work-caused injury.
You could go to trial and try to convince a judge that you did report the injury as work-related, but it you have ANYTHING in your past indicating you should not be believed, and the judge feels the witnesses from the company are more reliable, you get nothing.
It takes 100s of hours to answer all your questions and get all of your records and go to trial; attorneys have trouble risk all of that for a zero.
You'll need to have a very reasonable, convincing explanation for having a numb arm and not reducing the claim to writing. The judge will think, "if my arm and shoulder were numb, my claim would be in writing that day."
I WOULD REPRESENT MYSELF in this; use the Information & assistance officer at your local WCAB office and ask about getting proof and getting to trial. If you present as being totally trustworthy and believable with zero history of fibbing to authorities, the judge could believe you and award you treatment.