My question involves an injury that occurred in the state of: California
Here is some background information: I was recently employed (in October 2011) through a work agency for employment in a warehouse facility. My duties where to get items from a pallet, place them in a conveyer belt that transported them inside a loading truck, where another person would organize the merchandise. Such merchandise included household appliance, clothing, etc. My accident occurred as follows; as I was placing the merchandise in the conveyer belt, it got stuck so i had to manually grab the boxes from the pallet and place them inside the truck. Being that this type of work is fast paced, we all had to make sure the merchandise was placed in the cargo trucks as fast as possible. On that day of my injury, the cargo truck was not fully secured to the loading dock, therefore leaving a gap between the loading dock and the rear of the cargo truck. Usually, the trucks are fully backed up and secured with hinges so that there is no opening. Also, from the dock to the floor is about a 6 foot drop. So, on that day, as previously noted, the conveyer belt got stuck so we had to manually move the boxes from the pallet to inside the truck. As I was carrying first box I had to manually move, I began walking quickly towards the cargo truck, then I fell inside the gap between the dock and the truck and got stuck. Keep in mind that I was not aware of such gap because the box was obstructing my view from below. So, I fell inside the gap and my entire lower portion got stuck, crushing the lower portion of my body. the only thing that held me from falling all the way down was that I quickly reacted by making by body (by use of my arms) in to a "T" shape and my hands held me from falling inside the gap. The main visible area of damage incurred that day was to my right knee, which a few days later literally turned black (if pic are needed, i can post them).
After the injury, the work agency (which is a very big work agency which houses in hose doctors and specialist) was quickly notified of my injury and quickly had me seen by their doctors within the agency in the facility. After consulting with the doctors and specialist, I was given 9 therapy sessions for my injury. During those first 6-7 sessions, the therapist was focusing on my lower back, as that is the part of my body that hurt the most ( and still does). They also focused on my right knee which took a lot of physical damage, being that it turned black because of my injury. Although the injury was very painful at the time, the therapist where able to relief SOME of the pain within my knee and lower back. So, the work agency offered me a desk job within their facility until the end of my sessions, which they claimed I would be feeling better.
As stated, I was given the opportunity to work within the agency's facility quickly after my injury. My duties where simply, mostly highlighting and sorting important documents, as they did not want me to work a physical job that required the use of my body. The agency offered me 4 hours per day, 5 days per week of work. That was 4 hours less per day, as I was working a full 8 hour, 5 days a week at the warehouse facility where I was injured. So, during the period of my 8 sessions, I began working in the work agency facility doing what was stated above. I asked the main person in charge if I could be given additional hours per day to compensate for my lost hours (being that I was given 8 at the warehouse); however, he quickly responded with a NO. Being that I am a single mother with 3 children under my roof, 4 hours per day at minimum wage is not nearly enough.
As for my injuries, my latest MRI scan showed damage to the nerves located in my knee. The doctors and specialist have been curing me by therapy (massaging) and by giving me a "ortho-nesic pain relieving gel" which I apply daily. My back continues to hurt, and I am afraid that the damage to my knee might affect me in the long run. Now that I am at the end of my therapy sessions, the "specialist" told me that I was ok to return back to work at the shipping warehouse job I was initially given by the work agency. He also told me that during these three weeks that are to come, I should work and see if my body is OK for the job.
Personally, I know I am not ready for the job as my back still hurts over time, and my knee pain sometimes prevents me from sleeping at night. My biggest scare is that in the long run, my knee injury will affect the way I walk, or even my ability to do so as I feel it is not yet cured. The "specialist" told me that if I was not cured or OK with the job within the next three weeks, he would authorize a more extensive therapy sessions.
At this point, I am fed up with the way this company operates as these doctors and specialist I am seeing work FOR the agency, and not under the agency. Here is where it seems a bit fishy: During the entire time (from October to recently), I would ask the person in charge at the agency if I had the right to workers compensation for my injury. In other words, if I had the right to get paid for those 4 additional hours per day I am unable to work because they refused to give me work. That person’s initial response was NO, as I had to be employed with them for over a year. After fighting with them for over a month for those lost hours, I recently threatened to press legal charges. Immediately, they responded and I was informed that I was going to be receiving compensation for those lost hours. Recently, I have gotten payment for those lost hours, so I was in fact paid, but only after fighting and threating to press charges.
Overall, I feel I am being treated unfairly and that these doctors are not treating me correctly. At first, the MRI showed and I was told by the doctor that I had a torn nerve and might need a small surgery, but the specialist who saw those scan said I was OK and needed nothing but to continue with my therapy sessions. Now that he authorized permission for me to return to my normal warehouse job, I feel it is unsafe for me to return because of my injuries. i have asked if I could continue with my desk job at the agency; however, they told me that I had to return to my normal job they provided me at the warehouse.
Any thoughts, opinions, etc as to my rights? Should I take legal action against this agency, if so, what can I do?
Any more information or pictures I can provide at your request.
Thank you and I apologize for such lengthy post.
November 2011- started working through an agency
October- Injury occurred where I received therapy (massaging) sessions and was prescribed a pain relieving gel
October-Present – Begain working at the agency. Desk job; highlighting and sorting documents. Also, during this time frame I have received 8 of 9 therapy sessions authorized by the agency’s injury specialist MRI scan showed damage to my knee, however, specialist said its nothing.
Now- Specialist said I was now OK, which I am not and authorized my papers to begin my normal job of lifting packages into conveyer belt.