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Walmart succesful in challenging injured worker claim

When a worker is injured on the job, he or she may be able to obtain benefits via workers' compensation insurance. This can be costly for an employer, although it is also possible for employers in California and other states to challenge an injured worker claim. Walmart successfully did this four years ago in one particular case. However, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration is now looking to make it more difficult for the company to apply the same employer defense strategy for similar cases in the future.

The incident happened four years ago when an employee was stocking during an overnight shift while working for Walmart. The woman began to notice pain in her arms, but she decided to continue working through the pain. By the time her lunch break came around, she was not able to even raise her arms. Her doctor indicated that the woman was suffering from tendinitis of the bicep that was caused by her employment at Walmart.

However, the company contested the woman's workplace injury claim and was successful in its workers' compensation defense. If the woman had been a factory worker, she could have had a stronger case by using data collected via the database of information collected by OSHA. There is no equivalent database for retail workers maintained by OSHA.

Now, OSHA is looking to gather this type of data from all industries by making use of its new reporting requirements that are about to go into effect. These new regulations would require employers to report all workplace injuries on a quarterly basis to OSHA. Many business groups are challenging the new OSHA requirements, arguing that they are too burdensome.

No matter what the outcome of the challenges to the new OSHA regulations, an employer in California or elsewhere will always have the right to challenge an injured worker claim. Nevertheless, the employer will have to make sure to understand the applicable laws and procedures when it comes to workers' compensation claims. Armed with this knowledge and support from an attorney experienced in these types of proceedings, the employer will be able to assess the claim properly and determine which legal strategy is appropriate to the circumstances.

Source: motherjones.com, "How Companies Like Walmart Are Fighting to Keep Workplace Injuries Secret", Erika Eichelberger, Jan. 16, 2015

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