California Insurance Commissioner: ‘All Workers Affected by COVID-19 Eligible for Workers’ Compensation Benefits, Regardless of Immigration Status’

California Insurance Commissioner: 'All workers affected by COVID-19 eligible for workers' compensation benefits, regardless of immigration status'

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, California Insurance Commissioner, Ricardo Lara, issued an alert to insurance companies earlier this month confirming that all workers affected by COVID-19 are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, regardless of their immigration status. All workers impacted by coronavirus on the job, including undocumented immigrants, are now eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, and can file a claim immediately. This eligibility/coverage extends to essential front-line workers in fields such as health care, emergency services, food production, sales, and delivery, among others.

The notice from the Insurance Commission states that, “Workers’ compensation injuries caused by COVID-19 that arise out of and occur in the course of employment are compensable to the same extent as any other compensable injury or disease. This Notice is a reminder that such claims may not be denied on the basis of the injured worker’s immigration status.”

“This unprecedented pandemic has sparked questions and concerns among essential workers in the immigrant community who are showing up for work every day, bringing us vital goods and services,” Commissioner Lara said via public statement. “Hard-working Californians who are exposed to COVID-19 are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if they fall ill, regardless of their immigration status.”

Moreover, California Labor Federation Executive Secretary/Treasurer, Art Pulaski, issued a statement in support of Lara. “During this pandemic, essential workers face great risk to their health every time they clock in,” he said. “If they are injured or get sick at work, they should know they can rely on workers’ compensation to provide the health care and benefits they need, regardless of immigration status. We commend Commissioner Lara for standing up for the workers who are among the most vulnerable in this time of crisis.”

Lara’s action further clarifies Governor Gavin Newsom’s March 12 executive order, which declared that workers may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if they were exposed to or contracted COVID-19 on the job.

Additionally, earlier this week one of California’s largest workers’ compensation insurance companies, the State Compensation Insurance Fund, announced that it will pay COVID-19 medical costs and income losses for employees at essential businesses that it covers, regardless of whether workers contracted the illness at work or not. This move on the part of the State Compensation Insurance Fund could signal an impending trend in the workers’ compensation insurance industry.

Dordulian Law Group has specialized in workers’ compensation law for over 20 years, and we have recovered over $50 million for our clients. Our trial success rate is over 90%, and we have experience trying hundreds of cases resulting from all types of claims — whatever your workplace injury or illness entails, we’ve successfully represented clients just like you. Our workers’ compensation division is headed by high-profile attorney Charles Rondeau, a certified workers’ comp specialist with over 25 years of experience fighting for injured workers. 

If you have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic please contact us today for a free consultation. We will fight to secure the greatest financial award for your workers’ compensation claim. 

What is the Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations in California?

Wrongful death statute of limitation California

If you’ve found yourself looking into information around wrongful death lawsuits, chances are you’ve suffered a painful tragedy and are looking for answers. In times like these, hopefully the following straightforward information and actionable items will illuminate the way forward as you enter the next chapter.

Timeline for Wrongful Death Civil Suits in California

Wrongful death claims arise when something truly tragic has occurred. Simply put, California law recognizes wrongful death as being when a person dies due to the negligence or willful and wrongful act of another entity or individual. Although accidents are a part of life, sometimes loss of life would have been preventable with reasonable precautions or a dash of common sense foresight. And simply put, we have an obligation to one another in society to make sure that our fellow citizens don’t pay the ultimate price for someone else’s negligent, bad actions.

California law allows the surviving family or appointed representative(s) of the deceased to file a wrongful death claim, which is a civil suit where the consequences will potentially result in a financial settlement or judgement. Note that this is different from any criminal proceedings, although there is nothing to prevent both a criminal and civil case from occurring simultaneously in the same wrongful death situation.

The final piece of the puzzle revolves around the statute of limitations for wrongful death suits in California. While the law provides robust opportunity for victims’ families to seek justice for a wrongful death, the law also uses statute of limitations safeguards to avoid opportunistic and/or questionable legal action long after the death has occurred. 

In California, you have exactly two years from the date of the death in question to file a wrongful death claim before the statute of limitations closes the door on the possibility of legal action.

Who Can Sue For Wrongful Death in California?

Understandably, the law limits who is able to collect monetary damages as a result of someone’s wrongful death. These suits are usually brought by the decedent’s spouse/domestic partner, but can also be filed by their children or parents.

If there are no eligible next of kin to bring the legal action on the deceased’s behalf, then usually a lawsuit can be filed by a family member that would otherwise be entitled to receive assets from the deceased’s estate on their behalf. This might include siblings or more distant relatives. Consulting with a wrongful death attorney in California can give you better visibility into the legitimacy of your potential claim.

Experienced Wrongful Death Attorneys in Glendale, CA

Given the short statute of limitations for wrongful death in California, as well as the seriousness of the matter in terms of both the emotional and financial stakes, the attorney you choose to represent you is critical. The quality of your legal representation may mean the difference between a financial windfall that brings some measure of comfort to a grieving family, or a missed opportunity. At Dordulian Law Group, we’ve been litigating wrongful death cases for our clients successfully for years. We understand exactly how to strike the perfect balance of compassion and discretion with our clients while fiercely advocating for them and their case.

If you have a question about the viability of a potential wrongful death claim, or simply want a low-pressure, discreet legal consultation, contact Dordulian Law Group today to discuss your rights and options.

What To Do If Your Employer Forces You To Work Despite The COVID-19 Stay-at-Home Order

COVID-19 stay at home order

Last week Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti, announced the city’s “business ambassadors program,” an initiative meant to force nonessential businesses to close in light of the coronavirus pandemic. The initiative is a response to the daily reports received by the mayor’s office of nonessential businesses continuing to operate despite the statewide stay-at-home order. Mayor Garcetti called such behavior on the part of Los Angeles businesses “irresponsible and selfish.”

Garcetti also announced that businesses choosing to defy the stay-at-home orders should expect to receive a warning call from prosecutors, and that any businesses which continue to operate as usual will face more aggressive action including shutting off their water and power. 

Though the exact number of nonessential businesses continuing to operate is unclear, the very fact that the mayor had to take the step to create a business ambassadors program is evidence that said number is indeed significant. And as businesses continue to defy the stay-at-home order, workers are undoubtedly finding themselves in the precarious position of either risking their health for a paycheck or facing the possibility of termination. If businesses refuse to comply with statewide orders meant to reduce the spread of COVID-19, it seems unlikely that they are complying with California’s labor laws as well. 

So, what should you do if your employer essentially proposes an ultimatum of either showing up for work in defiance of the stay-at-home order or losing your job? Let’s take a look at three common scenarios that are likely impacting many California workers at this time.

1. Coronavirus contracted on the job resulting in extended health effects or even death:

Presently, California has not implemented workers’ compensation coverage for all employees who contract coronavirus on the job while working at businesses that are deemed essential. However, working at a nonessential business that is willfully defying the statewide stay-at-home order and contracting coronavirus in the process constitutes a unique case, and you may have options for a civil lawsuit. In this specific scenario it is prudent that you contact a workers’ compensation lawyer immediately.  

Additionally, workers at both essential and nonessential businesses who contract coronavirus and experience severe medical complications that could affect their quality of life going forward (e.g. severe and lifelong lung damage) should also contact a workers’ compensation lawyer to discuss their situation and determine whether or not they may have cause for filing a lawsuit for damages related to the injury. 

In the tragic instance of a coronavirus diagnosis leading to death, there may be cause for the decedent’s next of kin to file a wrongful death lawsuit, particularly if the virus was likely contracted while working at either an essential or nonessential business. 

2. Nonessential businesses requiring their employees to continue working:

If you are employed at a nonessential business and your employer mandates that you come to work in spite of the stay-at-home order, that business is in effect breaking the law (not to mention putting the health and safety of many Californians at risk).

If you refuse to come to work and are then fired as a result of your decision, that constitutes wrongful termination, and you have the right to file a civil suit under California law. Additionally, forcing an employee to continue working at a nonessential business constitutes two labor law violations: 

  1. The business is operating in defiance of the statewide order
  2. The business is placing employees at risk for potentially contracting coronavirus on the job

3. An employee is unable to come to work while under quarantine:

Sadly, many workers are unaware of their rights according to California labor laws, and may be under the misunderstanding that their only option is to continue showing up for work, even if their employer is deemed a nonessential business. That is simply false, and if your employer is operating unlawfully you should contact an experienced employment lawyer immediately. 

The third common scenario that is likely impacting many California workers relates to limitations for working while under quarantine orders. If you were potentially exposed to coronavirus (someone you know and have recently interacted with has tested positive, or perhaps your roommate of co-worker has tested positive) you should self-quarantine for a minimum of 14 days according to state and federal guidelines. 

However, if your employer refuses to allow you to work from home during the quarantine period, or proceeds to terminate you, that is another example of wrongful termination and your rights under the law allow you to file a lawsuit accordingly. 

Moreover, if you have tested positive for coronavirus — regardless of where or how you contracted the illness — your employer can’t legally require you to come to work. Whether you are experiencing mild symptoms and self-quarantining at home, or experiencing severe symptoms and hospitalized under medical supervision, you still have rights under California’s labor laws. If you find yourself terminated after testing positive for coronavirus, you should contact an employment lawyer immediately. 

Furthermore, if you were forced to continue working at a nonessential business in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and believe you contracted the illness while at work, you may also have cause for filing a civil lawsuit. 

In many ways, this is uncharted territory within the employment and workers’ compensation law arenas, but it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced attorney to immediately discuss your specific situation and possible options going forward. 

Due to the coronavirus situation and likelihood that a surge of clients will come forward with related claims, Dordulian Law Group has hired attorney Charles Rondeau, a certified workers’ compensation specialist with over 25 years of experience litigating cases on behalf of workers and defending their rights against nefarious employers who fail to comply with labor laws. 

Mr. Rondeau, along with the entire Dordulian Law Group team, is here to answer any questions you may have regarding your specific employment situation. We offer free consultations 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

The current situation with coronavirus is causing many workers to choose whether to go to work and risk their health (and potentially their life), or face the potential of being terminated and left without any form of income. That is a decision that you shouldn’t have to make given the current climate throughout California, and we at Dordulian Law Group are here to help defend your rights and ensure that employers do not take advantage of you, put you at risk, or cause you unnecessary stress and anxiety with regards to your job.

If you are facing any of the scenarios listed above, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at your very first convenience. We are available online or by phone at 800-880-7777. 

Governor Newsom Should Enact Emergency COVID-19 Protections for California’s Essential Workers

COVID-19 work comp claims

On March 19, the California Labor Federation issued a letter to California Governor, Gavin Newsom, expressing concerns over worker safety in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. The letter included a call for a workers’ compensation presumption that a COVID-19 exposure or positive test is employment-related for essential workers (in other words, the letter requested protections for essential workers who are infected with coronavirus). 

The letter asserted that, “Workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic put their lives at risk just doing their jobs. If they are infected with COVID-19, they should be covered by workers’ compensation.” 

As we are all aware, workers in businesses that are deemed essential under the coronavirus shelter-in-place order throughout California are in effect putting themselves at risk to maintain a semblance of normalcy in everyday life, and ensure everyone has access to critical supplies such as food and medicine. A workers’ compensation ‘presumption’ in light of the coronavirus circumstances would mean that workers who contract COVID-19 and are forced into quarantine (and therefore unable to work while potentially facing considerable medical bills) would be able to file for workers’ compensation benefits with the presumption that they became infected with the virus while working at an essential business. The same holds true for wrongful death claims if, in a hypothetical worst-case scenario, a worker at a hospital, supermarket, pharmacy, or other essential business becomes infected with COVID-19, and eventually dies from complications related to the virus. 

Whether or not workers’ compensation claims related to COVID-19 will be deemed legitimate and ultimately paid is a question that will likely be answered on a case-by-case basis and will vary from state-to-state depending on if and when emergency legislation is passed to protect these workers.

Under most current laws and regulations, if a worker becomes ill or dies from coronavirus exposure, the burden of proof falls almost entirely on that individual’s legal representative to somehow prove that the infection did indeed occur at the individual’s place of work, and they are therefore entitled to workers’ compensation benefits or a wrongful death suit. That can be extremely difficult to prove, and defense lawyers representing the workplace entity will certainly make the argument that the infection could have come from anywhere given the shortage of available tests, how asymptomatic individuals are believed to be a main source of the spread of infection, and how little we know about transmission rates in specific areas of the state. This is why it is so imperative that a workers’ compensation presumption is enacted to cover workers’ compensation claims. 

Some states, such as Washington, have taken steps to provide workers’ compensation protections for health care workers and first responders. In Washington, the new policy “may provide benefits” to such workers during the time they’re quarantined after being exposed to coronavirus on the job, but it’s important to note that under the policy each claim will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. That’s a good start, and health care workers and first responders should absolutely be covered if exposed to coronavirus, but it simply does not go far enough to protect workers. 

For starters, the policy is vaguely written and only applies under “certain circumstances.” Additionally, even if those circumstances are met and approved by those reviewing the claims, the fact that the policy explicitly states that claims from health care workers and first responders “may be allowed” is woefully inadequate, and leaves many workers vulnerable to subjective determinations by state bureaucrats.

California is the nation’s most populous state, and current estimates demonstrate how severely we have been impacted by coronavirus, with the third highest number of confirmed infections being reported. Therefore, blanket legislation that covers all essential workers in all industries is absolutely necessary during this critical time. 

Governor Newsom should issue an executive order mandating that all essential workers affected by coronavirus are covered by workers’ compensation benefits. Many concerned labor groups, including the United Food and Commercial Workers, are actively entreating the Governor for the passage of such legislation. 

We at Dordulian Law Group fully agree with the letter issued by the California Labor Federation, as well as the additional requests on behalf of multiple labor groups. We adamantly believe blanket legislation via executive order that covers all essential workers currently on the front lines in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic is critical. It is a necessary step to providing the very workers who are seemingly putting their lives and health at risk for all Californians with the coverage they deserve. 

Current measures on behalf of Governor Newsom and the California legislature to assist workers rendered unemployed due to the economic impact of coronavirus are important and should be recognized as such. Those measures, announced on March 12, include:

  • If you’re unable to work because you are caring for an ill or quarantined family member with COVID-19 you may qualify for Paid Family Leave (PFL).
  • If you’re unable to work due to medical quarantine or illness, you may qualify for Disability Insurance. Those who have lost a job or have had their hours reduced for reasons related to COVID-19 may be able to partially recover their wages by filing an unemployment insurance claim.
  • If a worker or a family member is sick or for preventative care when civil authorities recommend quarantine, workers may use accrued paid sick leave in accordance with the law.
  • If workers are unable to do their usual job because they were exposed to and contracted COVID-19 during the regular course of their work, they may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. 

However, as with the example of the state of Washington, these measures are a good start but simply do not go far enough to protect workers on the front lines at essential businesses. Stipulating that workers exposed to COVID-19 “may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits” is simply unacceptable.

The fact is, if these workers stopped showing up for work due to fears of being neglected if they contract coronavirus, our economy and way of life would be dramatically altered for the worse. We need to give workers the assurances they require and demonstrate how they are appreciated and, most importantly, protected by the state of California.

Anything less than that is simply unacceptable. 

Many are currently hoping that Governor Newsom will announce something in the vein of an executive order or sweeping emergency legislation that addresses this dire situation impacting thousands of workers. But acting swiftly is so vital, and every day without such protections leaves workers vulnerable, which could lead to dire consequences.

Governor Newsom must enact a conclusive presumption that cuts through all the litigation and proverbial red tape that takes into consideration each and every one of the workers that continue to risk their health and go to work each day during this crisis. Undoubtedly, the likelihood that they are exposed to COVID-19 on a daily basis is profound. Consequently, swift action is needed (and keep in mind that these protections for workers don’t simply affect them, they affect all of us, as we need access to groceries, pharmacies, hospitals, etc., and without workers there to staff such businesses, we could all be facing bleak times ahead). 

The workers’ compensation presumption must cover employees deemed essential by Governor Newsom’s March 19 executive order to shelter-in-place, as well as any employees deemed essential thereafter, and any disaster service workers. 

Full hospital, surgical, medical treatment, disability, and death benefits need to be covered under an executive order from the Governor. It is the least that can be done in the event that a worker contracts COVID-19 while on the job. 

If you have been infected with coronavirus (COVID-19) and it has either impacted your ability to work via mandatory quarantine, has left you ill and facing mounting medical bills, or has resulted in the death of someone you know, please contact Dordulian Law Group today for a free consultation. 

We are monitoring the daily developments as they pertain to workers’ compensation benefits available to those affected by coronavirus, and will be ready to fight for you and defend your rights once the new legislation is in place. 

Could Coronavirus Help Inform Workers of Their Rights and Impact the Number of Work Comp Claims?

Coronavirus impact on worker's comp claims

The coronavirus pandemic is a historic moment in the nation’s history that many experts fear will likely lead to significant economic recession (with some going as far as to predict an oncoming depression). As the number of unemployment claims rises, it may seem logical to assume that the number of workers’ compensation claims would therefore fall accordingly (ostensibly, if people are unable to work, they’re therefore unable to file workers’ compensation claims). However, it’s entirely possible that we will actually see workers’ comp claims increase given two unique factors currently impacting the country:

1. General underreporting: As we will examine, the statistics behind underreporting workers’ compensation claims for injuries and/or workplace harassment are nothing short of staggering. In short, underreporting has been widespread over the past decade on both the part of employees and employers. 

2. Coronavirus unemployment: With coronavirus suddenly leaving thousands out of work, one of the most common reasons for underreporting work comp claims — a fear of retaliation by the employer and the potential to lose one’s job — is removed. With mass unemployment impacting hundreds-of-thousands (and potentially millions) of workers almost overnight, the ramifications for outstanding claims could be noteworthy. 

Could those two factors combine simultaneously to create a perfect storm of sorts within workers’ compensation law that might dramatically increase the number of work comp claims for injury or harassment? To answer such a question, it’s necessary to examine each factor individually in greater detail.

Statistics on Significant Underreporting of Work Comp Claims:

How prevalent is underreporting of workplace injuries in the U.S.? Let’s take a look at some of the statistics over the past decade. 

In November 2009, the New York Times published an article detailing how both workers and employers significantly underreport work-related injuries and illnesses. The article cited a recent report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which called into question the accuracy of data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). 

According to the Times, “the GAO report cited several academic studies that found that OSHA data failed to include up to two-thirds of all workplace injuries and illnesses.”

Those “two-thirds” of unreported claims, the report found, were likely due to two factors:

1. Many employers not reporting workplace injuries and illnesses for fear of increasing their workers’ compensation costs or hurting their chances of winning contracts.

2. Many workers not reporting job-related injuries because they feared being fired or disciplined.

In other words, employers underreport claims because of increased costs, and workers underreport claims due to fear of retaliation and losing their jobs. 

The findings of the GAO report shouldn’t have been too surprising at the time, given that just a year-and-a-half earlier the U.S. House of Representatives issued a report with similar findings entitled: ‘Hidden Tragedy: Underreporting of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses.’ 

In 2013, a study by the National Institute of Health looked at reasons behind a high level of underreporting among workers in construction and other industries. The study found that 27% percent of construction workers had failed to report a work-related injury, and that the most frequent reasons given were related to perceptions of injuries as “small” and “part of the job,” as well as “fear of negative consequences” that could follow after reporting the injury. 

Moreover, in December 2019 a report from Bloomberg examined UPS and what it referred to as a “culture of fear” within the company related to potential retaliation for filing workers’ comp claims. The article cited an OSHA report which detailed a specific accident from 2018 where a worker:

“Fell from a loading dock and broke his hip, pelvis, wrist, and elbow” and “[subsequently] company managers placed the injured employee on a package cart and rolled him to the parking lot where he was then taken to a hospital.” 

OSHA’s review of the accident concluded:

“UPS failed to maintain a safe workplace,” and criticized the company in a narrative of the accident for “failing to call emergency services.” The report went on to state that moving the worker, who had “visibly broken bones,” endangered his life.

Sadly, these are just a handful of examples of how widespread underreporting of workplace injuries has been over the past decade, and remains today, even at some of the nation’s largest and most well-known companies. 

What’s even more unfortunate, however, is the fact that many workers are unaware that if they ever had a work injury in the past but never filed a workers’ compensation claim, they may still be eligible to receive benefits. This is true even if a worker was recently terminated as a result of the economic impact of coronavirus. Such a fact is conceivably underreported almost as frequently as the injury itself, as many workers are unaware of their rights regarding an unreported injury following termination.

Statistics on Significant Underreporting of Sexual Harassment Claims:

How prevalent is underreporting of workplace sexual harassment claims in the U.S.? As it turns out, perhaps even more underreported than workplace injuries. 

In February 2016, NPR (National Public Radio) published an article entitled: ‘Underreporting Makes Sexual Violence at Work Difficult to Address.’ In that article, which was written less than two years before the MeToo Movement would become a part of everyday culture, NPR declared there were “no recent, reliable statistics about sexual violence at work.” At the time, the most recent data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated there were more than 43,000 workplace rapes and sexual assaults annually. However, as NPR noted, “anti-rape advocates say that vastly underreports the crimes, because many victims are afraid to or discouraged from coming forward.”

Fast forward to October 2017, just after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke, when Vox examined underreporting of workplace harassment and cited statistics available from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a government agency responsible for processing the sexual harassment complaints that do get reported. The EEOC’s latest reports found the following alarming statistics:

  • Nearly one-third of the 90,000 complaints received in 2015 included a harassment allegation (but the agency considers that number far too low to reflect reality). 
  • 75 percent of all workplace harassment incidents go unreported altogether.
  • Anywhere from 25% to 85% of women report having experienced sexual harassment in the workplace (statistically predicting a minimum of 1 in 4 people are affected by workplace sexual harassment).

While those statistics may seem like a travesty, keep in mind that they only include harassment of a sexual nature, leaving additional types of workplace harassment unaccounted for. Not all workplace harassment is sexual in nature, and as Forbes noted in examples from an October 2018 article, it can include disturbing stories revealing “a gang mentality, with groups (including HR) conspiring together to alienate others.” Additionally, the Forbes article highlighted the fact that many instances of harassment are not a matter of gender. Forbes provided an anecdote where, “One woman revealed her harassment was rooted in a cruel abuse of power: ‘A lady put duct tape over my mouth. I am visually impaired and didn’t see her coming, so I couldn’t block her.'” 

As demonstrated by the above statistics, workplace injury and harassment claims are significantly underreported. So, what does it mean to have so many unreported claims, and what is the likelihood that a greater percentage of recent incidents will ultimately be reported? One particular event will likely have the greatest effect on how those questions are answered.

The Impact of Coronavirus:

Even in its early stages, coronavirus has already altered the labor force in ways that were unthinkable just weeks ago. With coronavirus sidelining indefinitely or outright removing workers from the labor force, many people are theoretically sitting at home right now with outstanding claims that could be filed. The main question is whether or not recently unemployed workers are aware of their rights under the law. 

Moreover, with the first Harvey Weinstein verdict coming only weeks ago, many pundits expressed the opinion that we’re on the cusp of a movement among women who are more likely to come forward and report instances of sexual abuse and harassment at work. That shift in societal norms and expectations, with many individuals feeling more comfortable coming forward to tell their stories, combined with a wave of unemployment due to coronavirus could mean the new normal is a sudden deluge of claims that eventually eclipse our history of extreme underreporting. 

What Are My Rights If I Recently Lost My Job Because of Coronavirus?

To reiterate, if you recently lost your job as a result of the economic impact of coronavirus and experienced a work-related injury or harassment that was never reported, you may still be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits and financial compensation. 

As we have seen from the above statistics, one of main reasons that people suffer from work comp injuries and workplace sexual assault is the fear of losing one’s job due to retaliation. Nevertheless, when people lose the very same job in which they experienced an injury or harassment, their first instinct is often to believe that they have no recourse because they never filed a claim. The first step in this process is to understand that you do have recourse, and you do have rights under the law. 

As an example, you may have something known as a continuous trauma claim for an injury that happened over time (such as back pain without a specific accident date). All workers — documented and undocumented — have the right to file a claim after termination for all continuous trauma claims.  

Additionally, newly terminated workers have the right to file a claim for all specific injuries where there is proof of notice (such as medical records documenting the injury before termination). For example, if you experienced back pain because of a specific injury and visited a doctor for your ailment but never filed a claim, you are still eligible to file for workers’ compensation because you have proof of notice via medical documentation.

The same is true for workplace harassment. For example, if you experienced workplace harassment (whether or not it was of a sexual nature) and visited a mental health professional due to the psychological impact, that is also considered proof of notice, and you are still eligible to file a claim (even if you were recently terminated and never reported the harassment previously to your employer). 

Continuous trauma and proof of notice are two examples of how you may still be eligible to file a workers’ comp claim if recently terminated, but there are additional unique circumstances that may also apply and impact eligibility. Given the complicated nature of the law, workers are recommended to consult with an attorney as soon as possible. 

The next step is to contact a qualified and experienced workers’ compensation and personal injury lawyer to evaluate your case and determine what, specifically, you may be entitled to in the form of work comp benefits. Workers’ compensation laws provide protections for all individuals — even undocumented workers — though most are unaware and never take advantage of their rights under the law. 

For a free consultation to discuss your unique employment situation, please contact Dordulian Law Group today. 

6 Important Resources for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

6 resources for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

April is the official 19th anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). According to the National Sexual Violence Resources Center, SAAM is about both awareness and prevention of sexual assault, harassment, and abuse. We at DLG believe that education is one of the best ways to achieve awareness and prevention of sexual assault. As a law firm with over 20 years of experience fighting for clients who are survivors of all forms of abuse, Dordulian Law Group understands how important resources like the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline can be for abuse victims. 

However, many survivors report being unaware of the existence of such options. 

One of the questions we make sure to ask every survivor who comes to us seeking to file a civil lawsuit against their perpetrator is — what have you done for support? Unfortunately, many survivors, despite finding the courage to come forward and tell their stories, have not sought support in any way and are unfamiliar with the resources that are available. 

Accordingly, we’ve put together a list of six important resources we feel anyone impacted by sexual assault should know about, understand, and utilize whenever necessary. 

Six Important Resources for Sexual Assault Awareness Month:

1. RAINN 

RAINN (an acronym for the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization. RAINN provides excellent information on prevention and safety, and the organization’s website offers specific warning signs for young children. 

Additionally, RAINN addresses and highlights the troubling statistics related to sexual assault such as:

  • Every 73 seconds, An American is sexually assaulted
  • Every nine minutes, the victim happens to be a child
  • Only five our of every 1,000 sexual assault perpetrators will ever end up in prison

2. The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline

The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline is a critical resource that everyone should know and recognize. Operated by RAINN, the free hotline, 800-656-HOPE (4673), provides the option of immediately speaking with someone — regardless of the circumstances — about sexual assault 24/7 and confidentially. Calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline (or accessing the online chat option) gives you access to a range of free services including:

  • Confidential support from a trained staff member
  • Support finding a local health facility that is trained to care for survivors of sexual assault and offers services like sexual assault forensic exams
  • Someone to help you talk through what happened
  • Local resources that can assist with your next steps towards healing and recovery
  • Referrals for long term support in your area
  • Information about the laws in your community
  • Basic information about medical concerns

3. NSVRC (National Sexual Violence Resource Center)

The NSVRC is a national information center that collects and disseminates a wide range of resources on sexual violence including statistics, research, position statements, statutes, training curricula, prevention initiatives, and program information.

Through the NSVRC’s website, you can search and find a directory of organizations and locations near where you live that offer various resources and support for sexual assault survivors.

4. 1in6.org

At least 1 in 6 men have been sexually abused or assaulted, according to the 1in6 organization, which cites multiple research studies in determining that specific statistic. Whatever the exact figure is, the issue of male sexual assault is not one that receives regular attention, which is why we’re highlighting it now (it’s also why the organization was initially created).

1in6 was founded in 2007 as a response to a “lack of resources [at the time] addressing the impact of negative childhood sexual experiences on the lives of adult men, one of many under-recognized aspects of childhood sexual abuse.” In 2016, the organization expanded their mission to include men who experienced sexual assault as adults.

1in6.org’s website offers a 24/7 online helpline and free & confidential weekly online support groups for men who have experienced sexual abuse or assault.

5. A Consent Guide 

The NSVRC has issued a sexual consent guide that essentially establishes basic rules for what proper consent between two adults should always include. Furthermore, they’ve issued a helpful prevention guide for national sexual assault awareness month. Both guides, along with a number of additional worthwhile and informative items, can be found via their resources page.

6. End Violence Against Women International

EVAWI is a nonprofit organization that hosts the annual International Conference on Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, and Gender Bias. The conference is one of the most widely attended sexual assault awareness month events in the nation. Additionally, the group provides training in sexual assault response and investigation for law enforcement officials on a national level.

Helping Survivors Come Forward To Tell Their Stories & Obtain Justice

With the passage of California’s AB218 law, we’re seeing more and more survivors come forward to tell their stories and file civil lawsuits. 

For those who aren’t aware, AB218 is a recently passed law that allows virtually any survivor of childhood sexual abuse the opportunity to file a civil lawsuit and secure justice in the form of a financial award/settlement, even if the crime occurred decades ago. The window for survivors to come forward is limited, however, and only lasts three years. Therefore, we encourage survivors to come forward immediately for a free consultation. For a better understanding regarding all of the specifics pertaining to AB218, please see our blog post.

Although AB218 is helping to encourage many survivors to come forward, when you stop to consider that only 0.005% of sexual assault perpetrators ever end up in prison, it’s easy to recognize how important it is that all survivors come forward someday to ensure that justice is truly served. For that to occur, however, survivors need to be supported, which is one of the reasons why we’ve compiled the above list of resources for consideration.

The Dordulian Law Group Advantage

The Dordulian Law Group team has over 20 years of experience representing a disparate mix of sexual abuse survivors, both adults and children. If you or someone you know would like file a civil lawsuit for a sexual assault or abuse claim, please do not hesitate to contact DLG for a free consultation.

We are experts at navigating the law for the benefit of our clients and are keenly aware of how new legislation will impact you and influence the legal strategy we present in court on your behalf. For additional information regarding our experience and success in representing sexual abuse survivors, please visit our contact us page or call us at (855) 804-9636. We are here for you as a legal representative, an advocate, and a resource for support.

Dordulian Law Group is a firm founded by former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County and sex crimes prosecutor, Sam Dordulian, with over 20 years of experience serving as an advocate for survivors and obtaining justice on their behalf. 

Do You Have To Pay Car Accident Attorney Fees?

Do you have to pay for car accident attorney fees?

Imagine how sad it would be if only the most financially well-off people among us had access to justice and social equity through the legal system. And yet, that’s the exact misconception that so many people have when it comes to achieving financial compensation after a bad accident. No matter what your financial situation is, Dordulian Law Group is committed to fighting for you if you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident.

The Aftermath of A Car Accident

There are few scenarios that ordinary, everyday people regularly encounter quite as scary as a car accident. Ask a room full of random people how many of them have been in an auto accident in their lives, and you might be shocked at how many raise their hand with a knowing look on their face. From annoying day-ruining experiences like fender-benders, all the way to life altering wrecks that can leave unspeakable tragedy in their wake, car accidents are an unfortunate common reality of life in California.

Of course, most people don’t leave their homes thinking “let me go out and cause a violent car crash right now” — that’s why it’s called an accident, after all. However, carelessness, negligence; and yes, sometimes mal intent can lead to a devastating accident and change the course of lives forever. We all have a certain responsibility to one another when we’re out on the roads, and to break that social contract through recklessness, intoxication, or road rage is absolutely inexcusable… and the law is here to protect you from individuals who cross the line and cause wrecks for these reasons.

One bad decision, one selfish moment, can alter an innocent person’s way of life permanently. Chronic pain, PTSD, traumatic injury, and even death can obviously occur from a car crash. It can take weeks, months, or years for a person to recover from the physical and mental trauma that follows a loved one or themselves having their reality upended by a major car accident.

Financial Compensation After Your Car Accident

The severity and seriousness of what a bad car accident can inflict on a person’s life is acknowledged by California law, which allows for victims to seek financial restitution from those who caused the accident that harmed them. That said, immediately after your accident, receiving a cash settlement might seem like a pie-in-the-sky dream. Many people journey through a variety of emotions and conflicting feelings after their accident, including a misplaced sense of guilt or shame for needing help. For many, the thought of suing to receive a cash settlement might not even be an option that they’re aware exists.

Yet, that option is alive and well, and it’s a robust option that the state of California wants to make available to victims deserving of a helping hand to restore their pre-accident lifestyle as much as realistically possible. Of course, it must be said that there is no dollar amount, and no price that can be put on a human life or which can erase a person’s lived suffering. However, when it comes to important factors like lost wages, medical bills, or new accessibility concerns, money can play an important part in making the transition into a new reality just that much easier.

Even for people who are aware that this legal option exists, one major question looms large and prevents them from picking up the phone or submitting that online form which could change their life for the better. They’re afraid that they can’t afford a car accident attorney, and they simply assume that legal representation for car accident injuries is something that only “other people” can afford. In fact, for some folks, it’s not even a matter of perception about money — they never saw themselves as someone to “make waves” or “cause a bunch of trouble” by asserting themselves and demanding financial consideration for what they’ve been through, even if it’s obvious to anyone that they’re deserving of it.

It can be quite a shock when the curtain of those two misconceptions are finally lifted. Many of the best car accident attorneys in California will work on what’s known as a contingency basis, meaning they only get paid if they are successfully able to win a financial settlement on your behalf. That’s right — contingency car accident attorneys in California don’t get paid a dime unless you also get paid. They simply take a reasonable percentage of the settlement amount once you’ve already won. This means there is absolutely no downside to making that phone call, sending that email, or stopping by Dordulian Law Group’s Glendale offices for a totally private and no-obligation consultation.

Dordulian Law Group Fights For Car Accident Settlements in California

When you’re ready to seek justice and argue that you deserve compensation for your suffering, the people you choose to represent you can make all the difference. You only get one real shot to make your case and successfully negotiate a lump sum settlement that can make a massive difference in your quality of life for years or decades to come.

As you make that decision, we respectfully and humbly hope that Dordulian Law Group is your trusted choice. Our dozens of client testimonials are living, breathing proof that we are capable of delivering multi-million dollar settlements to our clients, who we come to see as family. This business is personal to us. When you entrust us with the sacred job of achieving justice for you and your family, after what you’ve been through and suffered, we’ll fight to our last breath to make sure you receive the settlement you deserve — period.

The time following a serious car accident is a difficult one. With everything going on, it can be hard to take that first step and pick up the phone to give yourself a chance at justice. Yet, if you can take the heroic step of making that first connection, we’ll carry you the rest of the way and make sure that we do everything in our power to relieve your financial worries permanently. Your cause is our cause. Your victory is our victory. All it takes is one phone call, and you’ll be on your way to a much brighter tomorrow.

Former LAPD Detective Moses Castillo Joins Dordulian Law Group

Former LAPD detective Moses Castillo

We at Dordulian Law Group are proud to introduce you to an integral member of our team, Detective Moses Castillo, a decorated veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department’s elite Sex Crimes Division. Following his recent retirement from the LAPD, Mr. Castillo if officially joining DLG as our new Chief Investigator. As chief investigator, Castillo will play a pivotal role in the process of securing justice for our clients, applying his decades of law enforcement experience and unique investigative expertise to some of our most important cases. 

For nearly 30 years, Detective Castillo has been a fixture in the Los Angeles community, serving as a respected law enforcement official and helping to close cases and obtain justice for hundreds of victims. During the early years of his esteemed tenure with the LAPD, Detective Castillo served among the specialized team of detectives at Robbery-Homicide Division (RHD). RHD is responsible for handling the city’s most complex and high-profile sexual assault investigations, as well as robberies, and murders.

In 1999, he was promoted to the rank of detective at the Newton Sex Crimes Division. Since that time, Castillo has devoted his life to helping survivors of sexual abuse — particularly children — obtain justice against their attackers. 

Detective Castillo spent nearly 15 years in the Juvenile Division for Abused Children. In that difficult (and often harrowing) position, Detective Castillo closed cases on criminals guilty of committing reprehensible acts against children such as physical and sexual abuse, internet crimes, child trafficking, and murder. He was a highly regarded member of the LAPD’s Sexually Exploited Child Unit, and noted for his excellent closure rate for sexual abuse cases, some of which — such as The Stuart House — received national attention.

In addition to his contributions to helping close cases and secure justice for hundreds of sexual abuse survivors in Los Angeles, Detective Castillo has demonstrated a dedication to helping others outside of the community over the years. One such example took place shortly after September 11th, 2001

Detective Castillo led a team of LAPD personnel to New York for one week after 9/11 to help first responders search for survivors amid the rubble of the twin towers. Castillo and his team spent 12-hour shifts working with New York’s Finest & Bravest (NYPD & NYFD) in the search effort. In the process, Castillo and his team not only demonstrated camaraderie with the city of New York and its first responders, they provided much needed emotional support during such an unthinkable ordeal. 

“We really wanted to reach out and make a difference,” said Detective Castillo. “I would go again in a heartbeat,” he added.

That’s the kind of person and professional Moses Castillo is, and it’s why we’re so proud and excited to have him on the DLG team. And we’re not the only ones who have a profound respect and admiration for Detective Castillo. 

What the Los Angeles Legal Community Says About Detective Castillo:

  • Jackie Lacey, the current District Attorney of Los Angeles County, wrote a letter to Detective Castillo commending a formal training presentation — “Investigating and Prosecuting Sex Crimes” — he gave to Los Angeles community leaders, which she attended. Lacey described Detective Castillo and the presentation as “compelling…a very fascinating and informative lecture.” Additionally, Lacey expressed her appreciation for Castillo’s “willingness to share [his] expertise and to provide an outstanding learning opportunity for professionals who work in this difficult field [sex crimes].”
  • Judge Lynne M. Hobbs, former Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney and current Los Angeles County Superior Court judge, described Castillo as, “An exemplary officer,” adding, “I have seen him teach the subordinate officers and have seen how these officers listen to his direction and advice.” When recommending Detective Castillo for promotion, Hobbs said he “commands the respect and trust of all those who meet him.” 
  • Alison A.W. Meyers, another Deputy District Attorney of Los Angeles County, described Castillo as “one of the most dedicated and capable investigators I have had the pleasure of working with,” adding that she was “amazed at Detective Castillo’s tenacity and commitment to justice.”
  • Finally, Deputy District Attorney of Los Angeles County, Stacie Gravely, described Castillo as “respected, as a person and professional, by colleagues, defense attorneys, and judges.” She also expressed her admiration for his dedication, saying he “makes himself available to provide whatever support and investigation is necessary until the case is resolved.”

We at DLG couldn’t agree more, which is why we’re thrilled to have him on our team.

Detective Castillo in the News: 

Detective Castillo has been featured in numerous media outlets including: The Los Angeles Times, Telemundo 52, The Inquisitr, CBS Los Angeles, KCAL Los Angeles, ABC7 Los Angeles, NBC Los Angeles, FOX10 PhoenixFOX40 Sacramento, US News, FOX LA, FOX2 Detroit, FOX29 Philadelphia, FOX News, The Daily Mail, Yahoo! News, and more. 

Guide To Premises Liability Law In California

Guide to premise liability law in California

If you or someone you know has sustained an injury on someone else’s property, it’s important to guard yourself with some knowledge as to what is and what isn’t considered a premises liability case. We’ve put together some information on the matter and hope you find the following guide helpful. 

Premises liability cases fall under the larger umbrella of personal injury law. In California premises liability is based on the general principles of negligence, as controlled by statute and case law. This means the owner of a property—be it a management company, corporation, or individual owner—must make reasonable efforts to ensure that a given space is safe for you to be in. If they haven’t, you’re likely entitled to compensation.

Types of Premises Liability Claims

Incidents which may fall under premises liability include: slip and fall accidents, swimming pool accidents, and dog attacks. Of these, “slip and falls” are the most common. Causes include wet floors, unmarked obstacles, faulty stairs, and other such dangers. A premises liability lawsuit can also result from injuries caused by open swimming pools, broken elevators, or violent customers or guests. 

With over 20 years experience in the advocacy of our clients, we’re uniquely qualified to handle premises liability claims. To date, our firm has recovered over $20 million in claims as a result from slip & fall injuries alone. Whatever the cause, this kind of injury can pose a significant burden to anyone who experiences them, resulting in loss of income, psychological trauma, and the inconvenience of having to reorder your life around recovery. No on expects to have their life interrupted by such an event, and securing a solid ally is something you deserve.

The work of a premises liability attorney begins with listening to your story. We want to know, first, how you experienced the situation, and what led to your injury. We then establish the the existence of a duty on the part of the defendant to use due care, if there has been a breach of this legal duty, and that the breach is the proximate or legal cause of the resulting injury. 

Grocery Store Example

In order to cut through the jargon, let’s take the example of a grocery store. By nature, you’re invited to inspect, remove, and replace goods on the shelves. This presents the possibility of, say, the customer prior to you disarranging the merchandise in a way that creates an unsafe environment. Under premises liability law, the owner’s responsibility here is not limited to simply ensuring that you can safely walk through the store without slipping, but extends to ensuring that those items are then rearranged in a way that maintains the safety of the environment. Whatever that course of action may be, like performing more frequent inspections, it’s the property owner’s responsibility, not yours. 

Manufacturing Defect Example

Another example that we have particular experience in comes in the form of manufacturer defect. One of our clients was visiting a trampoline park in Orange County with his family on a rainy Sunday afternoon. While they played a game of trampoline dodgeball, the young man’s leg slipped under the padding of the court and his knee was impaled by an exposed bolt. The impact fractured his patella. The company would not agree to settle, and so the case moved into litigation, where the victim was offered only $5,000 in compensation for his injury. We were able to show that both the manufacturer and the park itself were responsible, convincing the court to also dismiss the waiver he’d signed, and obtained a favorable verdict against both parties for $1.1 million

Another relevant duty of an owner has to do with surveying the actions of anybody else coming onto the property. It’s their responsibility to ensure that these third parties are acting in a way that does not endanger you or anybody else in the environment. That means they need to take affirmative action to do so. This takes attention, and constant vigilance from an owner, and unfortunately this doesn’t always happen. 

In a perfect world, you’re visiting us today as part of your own research, as a means to protect yourself against the possibility of injury, and to be informed in case you ever need to file a premises liability complaint. But if you’re injured, and a property owner failed in their duty to provide reasonable safety and security in their building or on their land, you’re dealing witha   potential premises liability claim. That means the courts are ready for you to seek a financial settlement as compensation for your resulting injuries.

Going into it, you should know the kind of considerations a court balances when deciding on premises liability settlements. The major ones are:

  1. If the harm you sustained was foreseeable to the owner
  2. The closeness of connection between the owner’s conduct and the injury you suffered. 
  3. The moral blame that can be attached to the owner’s conduct, or lack thereof. 
  4. Their policy of preventing future harm. 
  5. The availability, the cost, and the prevalence of insurance for the risk involved in your injury. 
  6. How much care the owner actually exercised in the prevention of harm. 
  7. Most importantly, the extent of the burden, and the consequences to you as part of a community that they have a duty to protect. 

These are difficult conversations to navigate and we pride ourselves on having a client’s back from our initial conversation to settlement negotiation, and, if need be, litigation. What’s that process actually look like? Every case is different. Premises liability definition is wide and can be difficult to interpret. 

Every case begins with the filing and service of a Summons and Complaint. The Complaint will contain one or more causes of action, such as “Breach of Contract” or “Fraud.” After the Summons and Complaint have been filed with the court, they must be properly served on the defendant. They then have 30 days from the date of service of the Summons and Complaint to serve on the Plaintiff(s) either an Answer to the Complaint or a pleading challenging the sufficiency of the the Complaint.

Every case begins with the filing and service of a Summons and Complaint. The Complaint will contain one or more causes of action, such as “Breach of Contract” or “Fraud.” After the Summons and Complaint have been filed with the court, they must be properly served on the defendant. They then have 30 days from the date of service of the Summons and Complaint to serve on the Plaintiff(s) either an Answer to the Complaint or a pleading challenging the sufficiency of the the Complaint.

Once the Complaint and Answer have been filed both parties commence “discovery” procedures by which the evidence necessary to prosecute both sides of the case. If a party fails or refuses to comply with discovery requests, it may be necessary to make a motion in court to compel responses. If the court grants the motion, further responses will be made. If those responses are still inadequate, another motion may be made and the court can fine the resisting party. In extreme cases the court can even terminate the action in favor of the moving party.

Throughout the case the court will set a series of Case Management Conferences to be attended by attorneys for all parties. These hearings are designed to determine whether the case is ready for trial. When the court feels that a case is ready for trial, it will set the date and make orders concerning completion of discovery and final preparation.

Now, the vast majority of cases settle before trial, but if the parties cannot settle the case, that’s the only way to resolve the issue. Whichever form the proceedings take, having a solid advocate can make all the difference. So, what makes a good premises liability lawyer? At the core of our firm is Samuel Dordulian, former Deputy District Attorney, who has a vast array of experience prosecuting criminals and seeking justice on behalf of their victims. Now days, he’s based in Glendale, CA and is using this tenacity and experience to help people who need it most. With over $50 million recovered, and more than 1000 injury cases successfully represented, we’re here if you ever need us.

DLG Secures $3.25 Million Settlement For Spinal Cord Injury Case

Sam Dordulian with Gwendolyn Harris

Click here for official press release.

Gwendolyn Harris has always been known as an independent and vibrant 72-year-old — actively involved in her Church, the matriarch of her family, and an avid chef. Additionally, Ms. Harris has been the caretaker of her sister for several years. But Ms. Harris’s quality of life was suddenly changed one day when taking her sister for a routine visit to see the doctor.

While waiting for an elevator at the medical center, Ms. Harris attempted to sit down on a nearby wooden bench provided by the building management and owners. As she sat down, the bench instantly broke and gave way, causing her to fall straight to the floor. The fall seriously injured Ms. Harris, and she was immediately transported by ambulance to a hospital for emergency neck surgery. Due to the severity of the fall, the injury caused her spinal cord to become compressed. If left unresolved, such an injury can immediately lead to paralysis. Fortunately, the emergency surgery prevented paralysis, but Ms. Harris was left with additional serious injuries.

The property owners and their insurance company attempted to settle the matter for a few thousand dollars, a figure that would not have covered even a fraction of Ms. Harris’s medical bills, let alone the future health care she requires due to the injuries sustained. Dordulian Law Group fought on Ms. Harris’s behalf from day one, and refused to allow the property company to skirt their responsibility. 

In the end, through Dordulian Law Group’s perseverance and dedication to Ms. Harris, we were able to secure a settlement for her in the amount of $3.25 million on the eve of trial. The settlement award will provide her with the necessary resources to have professional nursing care staff in the comfort of her own home. 

Ms. Harris’s unfortunate accident is a prime example of why it’s critical to hire an experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorney like Dordulian Law Group if you’re ever involved in an accident. Fighting with the at-fault party and their insurance company is something you shouldn’t have to do on your own (especially if your situation requires extensive medical care and rehabilitation). 

You need an advocate like DLG who will ensure that you receive justice in the form of an adequate settlement. For Ms. Harris, by hiring Dordulian Law Group to represent her in the fight against the property company, she received a fair settlement ($3.25 million rather than a few thousand dollars) and is receiving the care she needs without worrying about financial burdens and obligations.