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Terror Victim Fights for Treatment – Workers’ Compensation Issues

On December 2, 2015, 15 people were killed and 22 more were seriously injured in a mass shooting in San Diego that was later classified a terrorist attack.  This was the horrific incident that involved a husband and wife who targeted a training meeting for employees of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, as well as an office holiday party. The couple who were killed by the police while attempting to get away had also planned to detonate a bomb.

gunNow more than a year has passed, and the victims are still suffering from serious medical conditions, both physical and mental, and they are being told that treatment is no longer going to be paid for to the same degree as it had, according to a recent news article from The New York Times.  However, these victims are not fighting with a health insurance company, but rather with the workers’ compensation policy holders and plan officials, because many of these injures were classified at as workplace injury.

The first thing to understand is that while people typically associate workplace injuries with being accidents in terms of workers’ compensation, even an intentional injury such as terrorist shooting can be considered an on-the-job injury.  As our Boston workplace injury attorneys can explain, in the case of an on-the-job injury, workers’ compensation is the primary recovery option, if not the exclusive remedy, pursuant to the Workers’ Compensation Act.

In the case of a victim who was interviewed as part of this story, she was hit with multiple bullets from the terrorists’ guns.  She has paralysis in her left hand, very painful bone fragments and even bullet fragments in her pelvis, tissue damage, and mental illness. She has a large void the size of a fist in her thigh muscle where the bullet made impact and tumbled around, causing considerable damage.

She has had more surgical procedures than she can recall and has had more infections than she cares to recall. Her physical conditions make it impossible for her to perform routine tasks.  She can no longer put on a bra by herself, for example.  She has trouble walking or even sitting.  While she is still in need of many more treatments and therapy, she is told that her treatment plan is being scaled back.

The reason for this is because the state workers’ compensation laws were not created with these types of injuries in mind, victims and advocates say.  While there are many serious or even fatal workplace injuries, the typical workers’ compensation case does not involve multiple victims with the same type of injuries we see in soldiers returning home from the battlefield. The workers’ compensation law talks in terms of maximum medical improvement (MMI) in terms of a cost-benefit analysis that may not be appropriate in cases like this.

This is not to say that you cannot obtain a full and appropriate award of workers’ compensation benefits, but it does mean that it may be a difficult fight.  For that reason, you want someone on your side who is fighting for your rights and will do what is necessary to get you the best possible results. We can help.

If you or someone you love has been injured a Boston work accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

‘Victimizing Me All Over Again’: San Bernardino Victims Fight for Treatment, November 30, 2016, Richard Perez-Pena

More Blog Entries:

OSHA’s New Injury Reporting Rule and Employee Drug Testing, July 14, 2016, Boston Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog