Actor & Crew Workers Comp for Injury on TV & Film Sets
If you live in Los Angeles, you have no doubt seen film crews scattered across the city from time to time. Though fun and exciting to see as a bystander or passerby, film sets are often dangerous workplaces for the actors and crew.
Movie sets are filled not only with directors, actors and their stunt doubles – but also with workers performing different trades, such as electricians, carpenters, stage hands, seamstresses and delivery/transport workers. These employees perform tireless and physical jobs to ensure the movie set gets created as planned. And accidents unfortunately occur on movie sets, just like any workplace – and often sometimes more so.
Crew members on feature and short film productions, documentaries sets, TV shoots, commercials, and music videos should always be covered by work comp insurance. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case. In this article the experienced workers comp attorneys at Cantrell Green discuss workers compensation in the film and television industry.
Famous Film Set Accidents
Examples of TV and film set injuries abound. On the film set for “Lone Ranger”, a crew member tragically drowned. And while filming “Transformers 3” a young extra a young woman was left with a permanent brain injury. During the Nicholas “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” starring Nicholas Cage, nine crew members were injured in an auto crash.
And actors as well as crew get injured. Poor Halle Berry damaged her eye in “Die Another Day”, as well as suffered a broken arm in “Gothika”. Similarly, Brad Pitt tore his Achilles tendon while filming “Troy,” Russell Crowe suffered shoulder damage filming “Gladiator,” and Orlando Bloom broke several ribs falling from a horse on the set of “Lord of the Rings”. And, in probably the most famous film set tragedy of all, Brandon Lee died from injuries sustained while filming “The Crow”.
Types of Film Industry Workers Comp Injuries
Not surprisingly, action films and TV projects have the greatest risk of cast and crew injury – from stunts, car chases, falling objects, and the audience-favorite explosions.
Movie set accidents are often a result of not following proper safety procedures, improper or inadequate training or safety equipment, or poor equipment maintenance. Some of the most common film set accidents include:
- Car, boat, motorcycle, helicopter or plane accidents
- Falling objects, equipment or props and crushing injuries
- Stunt accidents such as falling from heights or drowning
- Falls and trips from set dressings or equipment
- Electrocution or “shocks” from equipment and wiring
Collecting Workers Comp for TV & Film Set Injury
By law, cast and crew on any film productions, short films, commercials, documentaries and music videos should always be covered by work comp insurance. If you are a cast or crew member working on ANY shoot – even low or no budget film productions – you should always ask the producer if they have workers comp coverage (as well as general liability insurance).
Workers comp is a type of insurance that provides benefits to workers injured on the job including: any and all medical costs, rehabilitation expenses, and loss of future income. Under California law the filmmaker is obligated to provide coverage for any cast or crew that they hire. In some cases the workers compensation coverage is arranged through a private entertainment insurance broker.
Keep in mind that if an injured cast or crew member is covered by work comp benefits, they typically waive the right to sue the producer/production company – regardless of who was at fault. (There are some exceptions to this). But the upside to workers comp coverage – on film sets and anywhere – is that workers comp medical and lost wage benefits are “automatic” no matter whose fault the injury was.
Note, though, that if you are NOT being paid to be on set, though, in most instances you may not qualify for workers comp benefits if you are injured. However, you may be able to sue the producer/production company in civil court for your injuries.
What to Do if You’re Injured on a TV or Film Set
If you are a cast or crew member injured on a TV or film set, report your injury to your employer immediately and seek prompt medical treatment for your injuries, even if the injury appears minior. Then follow up with either your regular your doctor, or a good specialist.
Seeing a medical professional right away not only ensures the best chance of recovery, but also can help determine if you have any hidden, unknown or possible long-term effects. Good medical documentation also helps you make a better workers comp claim, that will be processed faster and have a higher chance of approval. Also try to take photo records of the scene of the accident, if possible, and get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses to help your workers comp or personal injury case if you bring one.
Next, discuss the situation with an experienced film industry workers comp attorney as soon as possible, like the lawyers at Cantrell Green. Discussing your case with an experienced film industry workers comp attorney not only protects your right to compensation, but may also help protect others from experiencing similar danger or injury.
Like any injury cases, time can be of the essence in a workers comp case. If you are going to file a claim, be sure to contact an attorney who can file your claim as soon as possible after your accident. There are statutory time limits on both worker comp and personal injury claims. And, the longer you wait, the more difficult it is to obtain the evidence you need to win your case.
Film Industry Workers Comp Attorneys
If you are a director, actor, stunt double or crew member – such as electrician, carpenter, stagehand, grip, boom operator, cameraperson, seamstress, craft service or delivery/transport worker – who was injured on a TV or film set, our attorneys can help.
Call the experienced film industry workers comp attorneys at Cantrell Green today for a free consultation, to discuss the compensation you deserve for your TV or film set injury.