August 26, 2014

Morgan v. Interim Healthcare - Refusal to Accept Suitable Employment


The purpose of workers' compensation is to give workers and employers a straightforward process by which to request and offer benefits to those who have been injured at work, without the hassle of a lawsuit. The ultimate goal in most cases is for the worker to return to gainful employment, whenever possible.
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A worker who refuses to seek or secure employment when the commission deems the worker eligible to do so may risk forfeiting these benefits. Such was the case recently in Morgan v. Interim Healthcare, before the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

Our Asheville workers' compensation lawyers know there may be situations in which the North Carolina Industrial Commission overestimates a worker's ability to return to the workforce. An advocate in these circumstances is necessary.

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August 23, 2014

Multiple Employers and Repetitive Trauma Injuries


The term "work injury" conjures a construction fall or a truck crash - something severe and sudden. However, some of the most common types of work-related injuries for which people seek workers' compensation in Rock Hill are those related to repetitive motion. dentist04.jpg

Repetitive motion disorders are those muscular conditions that result from repeated motions performed in the course of normal work activities. Among the more common conditions: tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, epicondylitis, bursitis, tenosynovitis, ganglion cyst and trigger finger. Essentially, these conditions are caused by too many uninterrupted repetitions of an activity or motion or some awkward or unnatural position, such as twisting or overexertion.

While these work-related conditions are certainly worthy of benefits, they tend to be more challenging for the fact that they occur over time. If a worker has been employed by multiple companies over the course of that time, it's important to have an experienced workers' compensation lawyer help conduct a thorough analysis of which employer may be responsible for covering benefits.

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August 22, 2014

North Carolina Lumber Mill Worker Killed in Forklift Accident


According to a recent report, a North Carolina factory worker was killed in an on-the-job accident. The worker was employed at a large lumber mill in Pitt County when a forklift overturned. The worker was a machine operator who had been employed at the mill for seven-and-a-half years before his death.

oak-boards-202348-m.jpgThe mill employs nearly 200 people and is closed until further notice. The state workers' safety department is conducting an investigation into what went wrong. It has also been reported that this company has had four serious safety violations listed on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) website.

As your Winston-Salem workers' compensation attorney can explain, while most people think of workers' compensation in terms of an on-the-job injury, the deceased employee's family can file a claim for death benefits under the program.

Workers' compensation death benefits are designed to pay for the costs associated with the worker's death, including medical expenses and the funeral, as well as lost wages. The method of payment will depend on what type of settlement is reached between the workers' compensation insurance carrier and the claimant. Sometimes there is a lump sum payment and other times there are payments made over time on regular intervals.

It should be noted significant negotiation or litigation may be necessary before the workers' compensation carrier agrees to a reasonable settlement. Even if your employer fully supports the payment to the surviving family, the insurance company may still deny a claim, because it is in their financial interest.

Normally, the worker's estate is required to file a claim for death benefits with the employer and is prohibited from suing the employer in a wrongful death negligence action. However, there may be exceptions to this prohibition if there is a third party that could be held liable for a worker's death.

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August 20, 2014

Potter v. McCulla: Repetitive Stress Injuries and Workers' Compensation


Our Spartanburg workers' compensation lawyers understand that a claim involving an employee who has changed jobs may require additional litigation.

dental-office-751830-m.jpgPotter v. McCulla, a case from the Nebraska Supreme Court, involved a plaintiff who began working as a dental hygienist in the early 1980s. She worked four days a week. Around 2007, she began experiencing neck pain that got worse throughout the workday. She believed it was caused by the angle at which she was required to lean while working.

When the neck pain did not go away, she saw a doctor who prescribed oral steroids for the pain and ordered that she have physical therapy, but did not restrict her work activities.

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August 17, 2014

Plane Bound for Asheville, North Carolina Suddenly Dives, Injuring Workers and Passengers


According to a recent article for Fox News, a plane bound for Asheville was forced to make an emergency landing after it suddenly made a significant dive. While diving, a flight attendant hit the ceiling and then fell on a passenger, injuring him. A drink cart also caused an injury. A total of six people were reported hurt.

propeller-1428908-m.jpgAs your Asheville workers' compensation attorney can explain, when employees, such as flight attendants, are injured on the job, it is likely that they will have to file a claim under the state's workers compensation program rather than filing a civil negligence lawsuit.

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August 15, 2014

Graven v. N.C. Dept. of Public Safety - Injuries From Holiday Lunch Accident Not Compensable


The North Carolina Supreme Court has denied workers' compensation coverage to two state workers seriously injured in an automobile accident while returning from a holiday lunch in a state-owned vehicle driven by a state employee.
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In the consolidated appeal of Graven v. N.C. Dept. of Public Safety, the court held the injuries did not occur within or arise during their term of employment, as the lunch, although encouraged by supervisors, was not a mandatory work function. Further, the vehicle in which they were passengers was not authorized for transport to the lunch, and a supervisor would later testify that if a request had been made for such use, it would have been denied.

The decision is a devastating blow for the two state highway patrol technical services workers, one of whom was paralyzed from the chest down and the other of whom suffered head trauma. Our Charlotte workers' compensation lawyers recognize this case reveals the importance of proving to the court that an injury was directly related to one's work. Here, the totality of the exact circumstances was critical to the court's findings. This is why our workers' compensation attorneys dedicate so much time to analysis of the case prior to trial.

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August 13, 2014

State Accident Fund v. SC Second Injury Fund - Reimbursement for "Second Injuries"


Workers who are injured on the job in South Carolina are entitled to receive compensation for those injuries, even if they suffered a pre-existing condition that was exacerbated by the injury.
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In these instances, our Rock Hill workers' compensation lawyers know that employers and insurers have the option of seeking some degree of reimbursement from the state's "Second Injury Fund." In order to collect, employers/insurers have to show the costs for treatment for a worker's injury exceeded what otherwise might have been paid because the incident resulted in a "second injury" that aggravated a pre-existing condition.

This would seem like a boon to employers, but many are trying to do away with it, arguing it tends to cost them more than what they are ever repaid. This is why employers and insurers fight so hard to avoid paying any benefits in cases where a "second injury" is alleged. Injured workers are still entitled to benefits, but they should expect a tougher fight. An experienced attorney can help ensure workers receive the rightful degree of compensation.

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August 11, 2014

Poole v. University of North Carolina - Vocational Rehabilitation Often Mandated


Individuals who are awarded workers' compensation benefits must understand that this money often comes with certain requirements they must meet in order to continue collecting.
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Among one of the more common requirements is the one to attend vocational rehabilitation services. This is a state-run organization, operated under the umbrella of the Department of Health and Human Services, that offers training, education, counseling, transportation and job placement for individuals who have suffered a disabling work injury. The idea is to minimize the amount of time the worker receives benefits, and also to help the worker find sustainable employment, even if he or she can no longer do the work they once did.

Asheville workers' compensation lawyers understand that not all injured workers are going to benefit from such a service, especially when doctors have offered opinions indicating the worker may never be employable again. Even so, a refusal to participate, barring a medically-solid reason, could be grounds for revocation of benefits.

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August 6, 2014

Philbeck v. University of Michigan - Court Finds Work Injury Unexplained, Not Idiopathic


In order to obtain an award of workers' compensation benefits in North Carolina, three elements must be proven:


  • That the injury was caused by an accident;

  • That the injury was sustained in the course of employment;

  • That the injury arose out of the employment.


In cases where the exact cause of the injury is not fully explained, employers will often seek to argue the injury was caused by idiopathic conditions. That is, that the worker suffered some medical condition unrelated to his or her employment that was the root cause of the accident and injury. gavel7.jpg

Charlotte workers compensation lawyers know that if the employer is successful in making a strong case for this, the injury will not be compensable.

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August 3, 2014

Levi v. Northern Anderson County EMS - Exclusive Remedy and Appealability


In South Carolina, as in all other states, workers' compensation is designed to serve as the "exclusive remedy" to injuries sustained in the course of employment.
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Our Anderson workers' compensation lawyers recognize this means workers can't sue their employer for damages and also collect workers' compensation benefits. Additionally, per the precedent established in the 2006 case of Kimmer v. Murata of Am., Inc., employers must be given notice of settlement with third parties, or else the worker is barred from seeking workers' compensation benefits.

In the recent case of Levi v. Northern Anderson County EMS, this issue, along with a question of appropriate appealability by the employer, was raised. The South Carolina Court of Appeals ultimately reversed an earlier order dismissing her workers' compensation claim. The lower court had held that by accepting a $550 check from a third party without notifying her employer, she had forfeited her right to collect workers' compensation. The appellate court rejected this finding.

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August 1, 2014

Fore v. Griffco of Wampee, Inc. - Caution in Communications Regarding Work Injury


Increasingly, employers seeking to refute work injury claims are culling information from a variety of sources, including your digital profile, employment records and witness statements.
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It's easy to underestimate how an offhand remark or photograph online may affect your Spartanburg workers' compensation claim. The recent case of Fore v. Griffco of Wampee, Inc. before the South Carolina Court of Appeals reveals how such items can find their way into evidence.

This case started with what was unquestionably a compensable work injury in South Carolina. For three years starting in 2005, the worker was employed as a meat cutter, and was responsible for unloading trucks, cleaning and rotating coolers and typically carried items weighing between 40 and 80 pounds every day. Then in 2008, the worker was injured when she bumped into a piece of heavy equipment while carrying some 60 pounds of meat.

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July 29, 2014

Isack v. Acuity: Workers' Compensation and Reimbursement Rights


Our Spartanburg workers' compensation attorneys know that complex litigation can result when a person files a lawsuit after already receiving a workers' compensation award.

480202_broken_car.jpgIn Isack v. Acuity, a case in the South Carolina Supreme Court, a worker was injured in a serious automobile accident. A co-worker was driving the van during the course of employment. The accident was reportedly caused by the negligence of a third party who was also driving in the course of his employment.

After the accident, the claimant's employer's workers' compensation insurance company paid benefits to the injured workers. A couple of weeks later, a family member of the claimant contacted a car accident lawyer seeking representation for the accident. The attorney contacted the workers' compensation insurance company to speak with them about their right to offset any benefits paid, and then entered into an engagement agreement with the claimant.

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July 26, 2014

Mosley v Hannaford Bros. Co.: PTSD and Workers' Compensation


Our Asheville workers' compensation attorneys know that mental health conditions, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), that are caused by work-related events can become very complicated and require special attention.

1307593_mobile_phone_in_hand.jpgAccording to a recent article in the NY Daily News, a former supermarket manager was found eligible to receive Workers' Compensation benefits due to PTSD after being harassed and threatened with genital mutilation.

The store manager claimed that the jealous husband of a female employee began harassing him in 2007. The manager called the employee at home on her day off and, the following day, the husband came to the store and threatened to kill him for having an affair with this wife. The manager denied having an affair with the female employee and said that the only reason he was calling was to inform her that due a slowdown in business, the store would be cutting back on hours for workers.

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July 23, 2014

Lenz v. Cent. Parking Sys. of Neb., Inc.: Workers' Compensation Claims and a Substantially Worsened Condition


Our Winston-Salem workers' compensation lawyers understand that the effects of an on-the-job injury can become substantially worse as time passes. This can further complicate an already difficult situation due the two-year statute of limitations on applying for workers' compensation benefits.

hospitalroom1.jpgIn Lenz v. Cent. Parking Sys. of Neb., Inc., a worker developed frostbite while working as an outdoor parking lot attendant. The frostbite was on his right foot, and he could no longer work while receiving treatment. He applied for and received workers' compensation benefits under a temporary permanent disability rating and, later, a partial permanent disability rating of 20%.

During the course of treatment, the worker moved from Nebraska to Colorado and applied for additional benefits under the state indigent care program, rather than the company's workers' compensation insurance carrier. The following year, he returned to Nebraska. The frostbite had still not healed, and he developed ulcers that became infected, and he was hospitalized.


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July 20, 2014

Carbajal v. Precision Builders, Inc.: Employees and Independent Contractors in Workers' Compensation Cases


Our Asheville workers' compensation attorneys understand that questions will often arise as to whether an injured worker was an employee or an independent contractor.

770382_scaffold.jpgThe North Carolina Industrial Commission has outlined the requirements related to workers' compensation insurance when dealing with independent contractors.

In Cabajal v. Precision Builders, Inc., the Supreme Court of Oklahoma ruled on the issue of whether the injured worker was an employee for the purposes of workers' compensation eligibility. The worker was allegedly injured while he was on scaffolding that was blown over. He filed for workers' compensation benefits, claiming that he was an employee of the construction company.

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