American Canyon, CA asked in Workers' Compensation for California

Q: 911 dispatcher 99-2015. Recently diagnosed w/advanced carpal tunnel. Can I still file under previous employer?

I parted ways with my department after almost 18 years and now work as a civilian. Recently saw my primary care for severe hand/arm pain/loss of feeling. He is familiar with what I used to do and I've not had to type at length for some time. New job is typing 95% of the time, so assuming this is flaring up an pre existing issue. Looking for guidance or suggestions....if this is even a possibility to file given the time since I've worked there. Thanks for any feedback.

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2 Lawyer Answers

Nancy J. Wallace

Answered
  • Workers' Compensation Lawyer
  • Grand Terrace, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Nope, unless you gave written notice to the employer BEFORE YOU LEFT that you had an injury to both wrists from repetitive overuse. The Statute of Limitations requires you provide notice to the employer of an industrial injury within ONE YEAR of the exposure/insult/injury. You indicated this ended in 2015, so you had until the date prior to the exit anniversary to file in 2016. It's 2019. Missed it by 3 years.

I had a client, non-English speaking, tore up his ankle tendons, asked his boss to send him to the doctor because the pallet injured his leg. They wrote a report, he signed it, he got a copy. HE DID NOTHING for more than 2 years, but he had that signed 'injury report' form. When he was terminated nearly 3 years later, he had an accepted industrial injury claim and received treatment and temporary disability payments.

SO IF you have a writing that you can prove got into the hands of the employer demonstrating that you were reporting a repetitive overuse injuryin 2015 before you left, YOU MIGHT be able to develop that.

Timur Akpinar agrees with this answer

Ronald Mahurin

Answered
  • Workers' Compensation Lawyer
  • Point Arena, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: I disagree with the other other attorney on a few issues. In other words, you are in a bad place. If you file a claim there is no chance that your current employer will not be a part of the litigation. Even if the new job is not the predominant cause of your injury, you will need to address apportionment and the symptoms appeared with the new job so any competent defense attorney for the old employer is going to push everything onto the new employer.

Labor Code Section 5412 provides that the date of injury is when you knew, or should have known, that your injury was caused by work. If you had no symptoms, or relatively minor infrequent symptoms while working for previous employer, then Labor Code Section 5412 allows you to file a claim. The one year statute does not apply. That is how athletes were able to file claims years after there last day of employment. They claimed, and rightly so, they did not know repeated head trauma was causing injury.

The statements about notices are correct. If you gave your previous employer notice of an injury and you were not given a DWC-1 claim form, the statute of limitations is tolled, or if your employer had notice of an injury from any source and did not provide the form, the statute is tolled.

I hope this helps.

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