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Representing Injured Workers Since 1955

Some California caregivers not protected against work injuries

Professional caregivers across the state of California work in a huge number of different environments. Often times, caregivers are expected to not only provide for the medical needs of their patients but also account for patients’ physical and mental well-being. Performing caregiver duties can be increasingly difficult, not to mention dangerous, in cases where a particular disease can cause mental instability and/or violent behavior in the patient.

One home health caregiver in Los Angeles filed a lawsuit against her patient and the patient’s husband after sustaining injuries to her left hand in an incident involving the patient in 2008. The patient, who suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease and was prone to physically combative and violent actions, apparently hurt the woman with a knife. The plaintiff in the suit claimed that her injuries resulted in chronic pain and loss of sensation. The plaintiff had worked with the patient for three years prior to the incident and was allegedly assigned to the case understanding the nature and severity of the patient’s condition.

The California Supreme Court recently responded to that lawsuit by ruling that home health workers employed by agencies to care for Alzheimer’s patients cannot sue their employers for injuries they sustain as a result of the patient experiencing disease symptoms. The vote was not unanimous, as two justices claimed that employees suffering from such workplace injuries should have the right to sue for compensation. However, a Justice representing the majority noted that home health care workers are knowingly employed to manage and address confrontational Alzheimer’s patients.

Caregivers who sustain painful injuries as a result of the actions or behavior of a patient may have questions or concerns over their rights as workplace injury victims. Speaking with an attorney can be incredibly helpful to understand company and state guidelines regarding injury claims.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Court says paid caregivers can’t sue if injured by Alzheimer’s patients,” Maura Dolan, August 4, 2014

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