Stephen Halton Jr. was on his way to save a life, while working toward a better life for his family. A medical worker at a large hospital in Northeast Ohio, Halton was on-call for the early-morning shift. He got word around midnight: Be here by 6 a.m. A patient needs a liver transplant. We need your help.
The hospital technician had been working the overtime so he could help afford a better education for his two children. To make sure he could make it to work on time, he got to the inner-city bus stop by 4 a.m. That’s where, police say, he was fatally shot by a third party.
Now, his family is fighting for the workers’ compensation benefits they insist he is owed. The hospital says it isn’t responsible for a random act of violence that occurred while Halton was on his way to work. But his family argues he would not have been at that bus stop had he not specifically been called in for a job assignment. The hospital argues his on-call shift didn’t start until 6 a.m. His family counters that because his on-call contract clearly states he was to be paid for the time he spent returning to the hospital that he was acting in the course and scope of employment 1.5 hours before he actually started working.
According to Cleveland.com, the young man’s father – who isn’t a party in the legal action, but rather was speaking on behalf of his son’s widow and surviving young children – said he was dismayed that his son’s employer would treat his family this way. His son was a loyal, hard-working employee and his employer owed a duty to ensure his family was taken care of after he died in the course of helping to further the employer’s operations.
The shooting happened at an RTA bus stop while Halton was on his way in to the hospital. Although a hearing officer with the state industrial commission initially denied the family’s claim for workers’ compensation death benefits, reasoning Halton wasn’t considered on-call until 6 a.m., the full commission reversed. With that ruling, the large hospital system was ordered to start paying the death benefits, which would be retroactive to when the claim was first filed.
However, the case has now hit another road block, as the employer hospital has filed an appeal in state court, asking a judge to overturn the commission’s ruling. Halton’s father wrote in a letter to the media to express his “shock” at both the “insensitivity” and “greed” of the employer.
Unfortunately, he shouldn’t be shocked. There are many employers who may have been great to work for, but the minute a worker suffers a work-related injury or illness or worse, the tone of the relationship quickly sours. It often leaves many former workers and their family members bewildered and feeling very alone in the benefit-seeking process.
An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer is essential. We understand the tactics these companies wield in order to persuade workers and their families to give up their fight for their rightful benefits. We work tirelessly to ensure your rights are protected and the best interests of workers and families are furthered.
For information on Atlanta work injury compensation, contact J. Franklin Burns, P.C., at 1-404-303-7770.