Delay in treatment did not show store fraudulently concealed injury
Maraj v. Ralphs Grocery Co., No. B223410 (Cal. Ct. App. 05/25/11, unpublished).
Ruling: In an unpublished decision, the California Court of Appeal held that a worker could not show that an exception to workers' compensation exclusivity applied.
What it means: In California, an exception to workers' compensation exclusivity exists where an employer fraudulently conceals the existence of the injury and its connection with the employment.
Summary: A worker at a grocery store tried to raise the flag on the flag pole at the store where she worked. A shopping cart was placed on the pole as a prank by a third party. The cart fell on her head, causing a severe neck fracture, brain injury, and deficits in her mobility, self-care, and cognition. The store director arrived at work and was informed that the worker was injured. The director saw the worker bleeding on the ground and told another worker to call the company the store calls when an employee is injured. While waiting for paramedics, the director held a towel to the worker's head.
The worker sued the store, asserting that workers' compensation did not apply because the store fraudulently concealed her injury and its connection with her employment. The California Court of Appeal held that the worker did not raise a triable issue of fact as to whether the exception applied.
The court explained that no evidence showed that the store concealed the worker's injuries or their connection to her employment. The director immediately took action and had another worker call the company the store called when workers were injured. The director also gathered workers' compensation paperwork to take to the hospital. Although paramedics were not called until 40 minutes after the injury, no evidence showed the delay in treatment was to conceal the injury's existence.
The court said there was also no evidence that the injury was aggravated by the store's employees. A doctor's opinion that he could not rule out the possibility that displacement of her spine occurred during the director's toweling her head and the delay in calling paramedics was speculative.
The court also said that any pain the worker suffered was collateral to her injury, not an aggravation, contrary to the worker's argument.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
August 1, 2011
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