May 25, 2015

Workers' Compensation Opt-Out Proposed in South Carolina

According to a recent news article from Business Insurance, South Carolina legislatures are considering a bill, which would allow employers to opt-out of the requirement to purchase a workers' compensation insurance policy by providing an alternative benefits plan.

law books.jpgSouth Carolina is only one of four states that have either already enacted an alternative benefits opt-out law or is considering doing so. The first state to do this was Texas, which actually adopted the law over 100 years ago. Oklahoma enacted a workers' compensation opt-out law in 2013, and Tennessee is in the process of creating this type of legal exception.

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May 23, 2015

Devine v. Great Divide Insurance Company: Workers' Compensation Appeals

Devine v. Great Divide Insurance Company, an appeal from the Supreme Court of Alaska, involves claimant who was working at concrete pouring job site when he was attacked by another employee. Claimant was the owner of Company B.

traffic-warning-sign-1-1102879-m.jpgAccording to the court record, there were two independently owned and operated masonry contractors operating in the remote geographic area in which this work-related accident occurred. One of the companies (Company A) had purchased a general commercial liability (GCL) policy but did not purchase a workers' compensation insurance policy.

On the day of the work-related accident, there was only one cement truck available for rent, and both Company A and the other company (Company B) needed the truck, as they both had jobs to perform. Company A had already reserved the truck that day. Company A offered to help Company B with its concrete pouring job, so the work would be completed sooner, and the truck would be available for Company B's job. Company A accepted help from the other company but did not pay Company B for its work on the first concrete pouring job.

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May 20, 2015

North Carolina Worker Killed in Bridge Collapse

Construction work is a dangerous occupation. When employees are required to work on tall buildings and other structures high off the ground, like bridges, the work is even more treacherous.

pedestrian-bridge-1445954-m.jpgAccording to a recent news report from the News and Record, a worker was recently killed in North Carolina when an alleged design flaw cause a bridge on which he was working to collapse.

Accident investigators say employee was working on a bridge in Raleigh, North Carolina, which was being constructed for Wake Technical College, when design flaws in the support girders caused it to collapse. The bridge being built was designed to be a pedestrian bridge.

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May 17, 2015

Worker Killed in Anderson, South Carolina

According to a recent article from WYFF 4 News, a worker died on-the-job at a business in Anderson, South Carolina. Authorities say the 49-year-old victim was a long-time of employee of the business, which operates a recycling facility. At the time of this fatal workplace accident, employee was operating a baler when a fire ignited. Employee fell to his death when he was trying escape the large baler, which had become engulfed in flames.

recycle-sign-1263263-m.jpgFor those not familiar with the recycling industry, a recycling baler is a large piece of machinery consisting of a conveyor belt which carries recyclable materials up to an industrial compacter, which then crushes aluminum, cardboard, paper and plastic in large compressed blocks to be stacked for later processing. Due to the combustible nature of some waste material and the tremendous amount of crushing force, it is not unheard of for the material to catch on fire. A large industrial baler, such as the ones used at worker's place of employment, can form blocks weighing up to 1,100 pounds, so the machines themselves are very large and high off the ground.

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May 15, 2015

Grain Bin Entrapments Increase Nationwide, Resulting in Farm Worker Deaths

Many agricultural workers in North and South Carolina perform work that requires them to go into a grain bin. While it may be something many who are not working in agriculture have never considered, grain bins can be very dangerous places to work. One typical accident, which can cause serious injury or even death, involves a shifting of contents, causing workers to get trapped inside. Another danger posed by grain bins is bacteria can cause fermentation, which can actually lead to spontaneous combustion inside a grain bin, which, in turn, can injure or kill workers.

industry-1042408-m.jpgHowever, it should noted, some do not believe there has been any significant increase in the number of grain bin collapses and related deaths or injuries, but, rather, there has been a large increase in reporting of such incidents in recent years as this is now a focus.

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May 12, 2015

Tree Trimmer Dies on the Job in North Carolina

An employee can get injured on any job. It does not matter whether he or she is working on the deck of a crab boat in the Bering Sea as featured on Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch or working as a stocker at a local big box store. If an employee is injured on the job, employee is entitled to receive workers' compensation.

beech-1446300-m.jpgHowever, some jobs are inherently more dangerous than others, and working as a tree trimmer is one of the more dangerous occupations. While people may think of someone standing on the ground with a pole saw trimming low hanging branches, in reality, tree trimmers regularly climb to the tops of large trees while holding a chainsaw, and many of these trees are in very frail condition, as they are old and diseased or may have been hit by lightning.

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May 9, 2015

Workers March in Memorial of Employee Deaths in North Carolina

According to a recent news article from WRAL, workers in Raleigh, North Carolina marched from the site of a fatal construction accident in remembrance of workers who died or suffered severe on-the-job injury.

constructionworker.jpgThose taking part in the march included members of a national labor union, the North Carolina Counsel of Churches, a farm labor organization, and several other state workers' rights group. This march was held on International Workers' Memorial Day.

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May 6, 2015

Collins v. Seko Charlotte: Workers' Compensation and Subcontractors

Collins v. Seko Charlotte, a case from the Supreme Court of South Carolina, involved a claimant who was killed while working for a delivery company. He was returning to South Carolina from a delivery in the Midwest when he was involved in a fatal car accident.

crash4.jpgAt the time of death, claimant was working for a company directly and doing work for another company that had entered into a contract with his employer. Following fatal work-related accident, his family filed a workers' compensation claim against both companies and insurance carriers for both companies. After a hearing, commissioner determined the company his employer had contracted with (contract employer) was his employer for purposes of workers' compensation pursuant to section 42-1-410 of the South Carolina Code.

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May 4, 2015

Andrews v. Ridco, Inc.: Bad Faith Handling of Workers' Compensation Claims

Andrews v. Ridco, Inc., a case from the South Dakota Supreme Court, involved an individual who suffered an injury to his back and neck in March of 2005 while working as a gold polisher. Employer's workers' compensation insurance company paid claimant benefits for two years following his accident, until claimant filed a claim with the workers' compensation commission seeking additional benefits, as his condition had worsened over time.

gaveljan.jpgDuring this hearing, a workers' compensation commissioner concluded claimant's increased head and neck pain was work-related, as his on-the-job injury was a major contributing factor. Roughly three years after this, claimant filed a lawsuit against insurance company in which he alleged bad faith handling of his workers' compensation claims.

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May 2, 2015

Liberty Mutual Ins. Co. v. Domtar Paper Co.: Third-Party Lawsuits and Workers' Compensation

Liberty Mutual Ins. Co. v. Domtar Paper Co., a case from the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, involved claimant who slipped and fell while working for a trucking company. Claimant was in a parking lot owned by one company and leased to another at time of the accident.

trucker.jpgFollowing the work-related injury, claimant filed a workers' compensation claim with trucking company's workers' compensation insurance carrier, and insurance carrier paid claimant around $33,000 in benefits as compensation for his injury.

Following payment of claimant's workers' compensation benefits award, employer's insurance company filed an action against parking lot owner and parking lot lessee seeking reimbursement for money paid to claimant on grounds accident was due to their negligence. Insurance company listed itself as having assumed claimant's rights, though claimant himself never filed any action against defendants.

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April 30, 2015

North Carolina Workers' Compensation Death Benefits

In North Carolina, the workers' compensation system was created to compensate employees who suffer a work-related injury or illness. Workers' compensation benefits are designed to provide compensation for medical bills, lost wages, future medical expenses, and funeral expenses in case of a fatal work-related accident or illness.

gavel5.jpgWhile most people associate lost wages with people who are injured on the job but still living, lost wages benefits are often the most important aspect of a workers' compensation claim involving a worker who has been killed on the job.

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April 29, 2015

Children of Fallen South Carolina Highway Workers Awarded Scholarships

When we drive down a highway in South Carolina, we often see signs warning us to drive within the speed limit and watch out for highway workers, especially at night. These signs often contain warnings such as "Slow down, my mommy works here," and other similar statements, and there is good reason. Working on the side of a highway is one of the most dangerous occupations in the nation.

men-at-work-1032939-m.jpgAccording to a recent feature from Construction Equipment Guide, a builder's association has just awarded college scholarships to 10 children who suffered the tragic loss of a parent who died or was permanently disabled while on the job. All of these employees were killed during their shifts as highway and roadside workers.

One of these award recipients suffered the loss of her father while he was working for the South Carolina Department of Transportation. He was removing traffic signs from a construction site along Interstate 26 in Lexington County, when he was struck and killed by another vehicle. His daughter plans to attend Clemson University and major in architecture.

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April 27, 2015

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Poultry Workers

When people think of on-the-job injuries, they often think of a single accident or incident, but carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and other repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) are, in reality, often a work-related condition for which a patient may be able to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits. Also, when people think of carpal tunnel syndrome, they often associate it with sedentary jobs that involve sitting in front of a computer for hours a day.

But chicken-4-1392637-m.jpgaccording to a recent article from Safety and Health Magazine, poultry workers are at a particularly high risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome while on the job. The article focuses on a recent National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study, which found more than 50 percent of workers at a poultry plant in Maryland suffered from at least one musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) affecting a hand or wrist. NIOSH performed this study at the request of plant's employer. One of the main types of musculoskeletal disorder affecting hands and wrists is carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), along with other types of repetitive stress injuries.

As the poultry plant employs people whose job responsibilities vary greatly depending upon position, NIOSH looked at each particular job. The study found nearly 60 percent of positions surveyed required workers to perform more hand repetitions and with greater force than considered safe by NIOSH and OSHA guidelines. This significantly increases the risk a worker will develop a musculoskeletal disorder, including carpal tunnel syndrome.

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April 26, 2015

Bakery Explosion Results in Serious Burn Injuries to Worker

Restaurant workers get burned all the time. Normally, it is not a serious burn, but they happen frequently from causes such as splattering grease, reaching too close to a food warmer, or even from a hot dishwasher. Many "back of the house" employees consider getting minor burns just another part of the job. However, a recent news article from WPRI involves a much more serious accident from a much more serious cause.

bread-1426350-m.jpgAuthorities say worker was at his place of employment, a bakery, around 10 p.m. when witnesses say he went to light a pilot light on an oven, and an explosion occurred in which employee was seriously injured. Following the explosion, worker was able to get out of the bakery without assistance, despite having suffered serious second-degree burns on over 20 percent of his body.

When first responders arrived at the scene, EMTs went to provide immediate medical attention to employee, as firefighters went to put out the large structure fire being fueled by natural gas. Firefighters, with assistance from the local gas utility company, were eventually able to shut off the flowing gas and suppress the fire.

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April 25, 2015

Tribal Worker Killed in North Carolina

When people think of workers' compensation, they typically think in terms of an employee being injured on the job and missing work. However, some work-related accidents are fatal, and surviving family members will be required to file a workers' compensation claim seeking death benefits to cover medical bills related to employee's fatal injury or illness, lost wages, and funeral expenses under state workers' compensation regulations.

crash4.jpgAccording to a recent article from ABC News 13, a tribal transportation worker was killed in an on-the-job car accident in Cherokee, North Carolina. The accident occurred between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.

One witness said she was getting ready for work around that time when she heard a loud crash. She did not know what happened until she was driving to work and saw police had blocked the road ahead of her. All she could see was a truck in the grassy area alongside the travel lane. She later learned her daughter's boyfriend had witnessed the fatal work-related accident and rushed to assist victim. The boyfriend found the injured employee and stayed with him, talking to him until paramedics arrived. He said the victim's head was essentially in his lap till help arrived.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of this tragic on-the-job accident but have released a statement saying victim was an employee for the Tribal Department of Transportation driving an agency truck when he collided with an SUV traveling in the opposite direction. One of victim's coworkers said she believes victim was driving straight, and the driver of the SUV allegedly crossed over the double yellow center line of the roadway and crashed into victim's truck.

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