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 expert is Elinor Leary of The Veen Firm.
Cal-OSHA just issued its report of my at-work injury. The inspector found a couple of violations but did not cite my company for giving us unsafe equipment. I think the machine that injured me is really dangerous, and I don’t want anyone else to be injured the way I was. But, after seeing that Cal-OSHA report, I’m not so sure it’s even worth the trouble. What should I do?
I am sorry to hear about your injury. It sounds quite serious. I hope your recovery is going well.
There is a lot that goes into the decision to bring or not bring a lawsuit, and it’s great that you’re asking questions. In general, the Cal-OSHA report can be a good starting place for an attorney to gather information and start to formulate an understanding of who might be responsible for your injury. But there are limits on how that information can be used. In California, the choice of the Cal-OSHA inspector to issue a citation (or not) is not admissible in a civil lawsuit, except as between an employee and his or her own employer. (Labor Code section 6304.5) This means that if you bring a civil lawsuit against an equipment or machine manufacturer, you will not have to worry about anyone raising that issue to try to dispute a claim that their product was defective or dangerous.
You’ll probably have more questions as you start to think about the process. I recommend you work with an attorney who has extensive experience with workplace injuries like yours, and can advise you on issues involving Cal-OSHA, workers’ compensation, and civil lawsuits.
-Elinor Leary, Attorney; The Veen Firm, PC“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 Expert: Elinor Leary
Elinor Leary is the team leader of the Leary Trial Team at The Veen Firm. Her cases include worksite and workplace injuries, defective products, dangerous property conditions, negligent security, and vehicle collisions. Elinor has tried cases to verdict and has reached settlements listed among The Recorder’s “Top Settlements.” She is active in numerous organizations that champion consumer rights and that work to protect the Constitutional right to trial by jury.