The South Carolina Supreme Court issued a workers’ compensation case ruling that it conceded was as “rare as the proverbial hens’ teeth.” It had to do with an immediate appeal of an interlocutory administrative decision. Normally, in these cases, such matters must reach a final conclusion before either side can appeal them. However in this case, which justices described as a set of “extraordinary circumstances,” the court ruled that requiring the plaintiff to wait for a final agency decision wouldn’t provide him with an adequate remedy. spiderTo explain why, we start by explaining there was never a dispute in Hilton v. Flakeboard America Limited as to the compensability of the plaintiff’s work-related injury. Both sides agreed the plaintiff sustained a compensable injury as a result of an insect or spider bite while working at a sustainable forest product manufacturer. The issue was whether the plaintiff required additional medical treatment to reach maximum medical improvement.

Maximum medical improvement is one of the thorniest issues in workers’ compensation claims. It’s the point at which the worker’s injuries have stabilized, and any further functional improvement is not likely, even with continued physical therapy or medical treatment. In other words, that’s as good as it’s going to get. From this point, the employer is going to seek a determination of the degree of permanent or partial impairment, which will set the stage for all future workers’ compensation benefits. It will define which long-term benefits the employee can expect.

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A recent investigative report by Buzzfeed details the way in which mail-a-meal tech start-up Blue Apron, in a rush to quickly scale operations, allegedly flouted health and safety rules and failed to protect employees from a violent work environment.Meal

The company, now worth $2 billion, is based in California and ships tens of thousands of meal kits to households across the country each day. Company leaders wanted to alter the way Americans buy, receive, and prepare food, while also slashing food waste and increasing distribution and delivery efficiency. In order to make this happen, the firm had to very quickly hire a huge unskilled workforce. On the surface, this was a good thing. It brought jobs to an economically depressed area. However, the Buzzfeed investigation revealed through dozens of interviews and hundreds of documents that the company may not have been prepared to properly manage those workers and ensure their safety. The result was a spate of health and safety violations for workers.

Like many start-ups – particularly in e-commerce industries – the company reportedly relies heavily on temporary workers. There is also a heavy demand for high work quotas that leave workers exhausted. As these companies grow, wages for workers at the bottom shrink. The growing capital isn’t extended to the lower levels of the company, and that often includes health and safety considerations.

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A construction worker in Utah lost his life after jumping in to a trench to rescue a co-worker from a cave-in. News outlets have only identified the victim a a 41-year-old man. Co-workers say he was a husband and father. Trench

Although authorities at the future housing development site characterized the incident as a “tragic accident,” the fact of the matter is that trench cave-ins are the type of incident that should never occur if proper safety protocol is followed.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reports an average of two workers are killed each month in trench collapses. Employers have a legal duty to provide a workplace that is free from recognized safety hazards. When there is a trench on the work site, that means employers are responsible for complying with guidelines on trenching and excavation, as set forth in 29 CFR 1926.651 and 1926.652.

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When you are injured at work in South Carolina, your first order of business – aside from seeking medical treatment – should be to consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer. Preferably, you want someone who not only understands workers’ compensation law in your state but also handles personal injury litigation. The reason is because while workers’ compensation claims are often filed first, it’s important that the investigation considers any subsequent third-party lawsuit that could be filed. Scaffolding

Although injured workers can’t typically sue their employers if they’re collecting workers’ compensation, even if the employer was negligent, they may be able to pursue compensation from responsible third parties. On construction sites, these could potentially include general contractors, property owners, other subcontractors, product or machine manufacturers, and others. The reason this is an important consideration is because third-party lawsuits tend to result in higher damages awards. Workers’ compensation claims will cover medical bills and a portion of lost wages, but you won’t get compensated for pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, or punitive damages. You can claim all of those damages in a third-party lawsuit.

In the recent case of Schaefer v. Universal Scaffolding, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit was asked whether the plaintiff could proceed with a case against a third party for spoliation of evidence. He’d tried to proceed with a negligence lawsuit against the product provider/manufacturer, but when the piece of scaffolding that struck him went missing, he added claims of spoliation of evidence against both his employer and the energy plant where he was working at the time.

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All insurance companies – including those that dole out workers’ compensation benefits – have a duty to act in good faith and fair dealing. This is implicit in all insurance policies.worker

When they do not, pursing a bad faith action could be required, which if successful, may result in a significant damages award against the insurer. However, the availability of this option could be limited, depending on the state where you live and the case law that applies. For example, in North Carolina, the state supreme court held in Trivette v. Yount that all claims arising from an employer or insurer’s processing and handling of a workers’ compensation claim – including bad faith actions – fall within the exclusive jurisdiction of the industrial commission, even if the conduct was intentional or negligent.

In the recent case of Mordhorst v. Dakota Truck Underwriters, the question before the South Dakota Supreme Court was whether a worker injured while working for a furniture company had the right to seek punitive damages against his workers’ compensation insurer for an alleged bad faith denial of workers’ compensation benefits.

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The U.S. Labor Department, in a new report released this month, calls for an “exploration” of federal oversight and possibly federal minimum benefits for injured workers who seek a remedy through the state workers’ compensation program. Congress

The report asks, “Does the workers’ compensation system fulfill its obligation to injured workers?” In short, the agency says, workers who are hurt on the job are at serious risk of slipping into poverty.

Over the years, there have been numerous changes to workers’ compensation laws across the country. This is not a coincidence, but instead, as ProPublica reported in its excellent series, “The Demolition of Workers’ Comp.,” part of a calculated effort by large businesses to lobby state legislators for lower benefits or tougher access for injured workers. This effort has largely been successful, as evidenced by the fact that workers face more barriers to benefits than ever before. In fact, while employers are paying the lowest rate for workers’ compensation coverage, and insurance companies are turning an 18 percent profit, injured workers are turning to taxpayer-funded programs like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Medicare to recover lost wages and medical costs they are no longer receiving through their workers’ compensation plans.

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Workers’ compensation subrogation liens are actions taken by an employer asserting the right to collect on damages an injured worker won in a third-party injury lawsuit. For example, a worker who is injured by a negligent driver in a car accident may pursue not only workers’ compensation benefits but also a third-party lawsuit against the negligent driver. Intersection

N.C. 97-10.2(f) holds that employers have subrogation rights if they have filed a written admission of liability for benefits, and the employee has obtained a judgment against or settlement with a third party for the same injury. There are some guidelines, though. First, out of that damages award, the actual court costs and reasonable expenses incurred by the employee for litigation have to be paid. Then, the attorney who represented the employee in the third-party action has to be paid (not exceeding one-third of the total amount recovered). Then, the employer can be reimbursed for all of the benefits by way of compensation or medical bills paid by the employer. Then, after all that, the employee or personal representative will get paid.

This system puts the employer’s subrogation lien above the worker’s right to be made whole. It is not so in some other states. In Montana, for example, the law is that workers must be made whole before an employer has the right to impose a subrogation lien and collect its share. The conflict in the different state laws on subrogation was seen recently in the case of Talbot v. Cudd, a Montana Supreme Court case.

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A woman who worked for a Trader Joe’s store in New Jersey has been awarded $7 million in a personal injury lawsuit filed against an elderly driver who lost control of her vehicle and crashed through the store three years ago. grocery carts

The 52-year-old employee was forced to undergo a leg amputation – one of 13 surgeries she endured following the incident – when a motor vehicle driven by a 75-year-old disabled woman went out of control. The vehicle jumped the curb and slammed into the victim as she stood in the cart corral location just in front of the store. The plaintiff was thrown through a window and pinned by the vehicle.

The victim was rushed by helicopter to an emergency room in Hackensack, where doctors tried for hours to save her leg. They were ultimately unsuccessful and had to perform an amputation just below the knee joint. Infections ultimately required the plaintiff to lose her leg above the knee too. In the months since, reports she has been required to go through many months of rehabilitation and physical therapy, all of which has been extremely physically painful. She has also battled “phantom-limb pain,” and she struggles with anxiety and the permanent, life-altering injuries that left her unable to continue working. Her attorney also made note of the fact that her treatment has included powerful and potentially habit-forming narcotic pain medications.

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Spartanburg County has received 45 complaints of employees seeking workers’ compensation benefits since a project to remove mold at the local courthouse started over the summer. mold

Since mid-July, the clerk of courts reports nearly 19 percent of its workforce has been afflicted with mold-related illness. There are a total of 240 employees who regularly work at the courthouse. The county council agreed the nearly 60-year-old facility, located on Magnolia Street, was in dire need of repairs. Approximately $300,000 has been set aside specifically to remove mold.

Unfortunately, the abatement is taking much longer than originally anticipated. Originally, contractors vowed to have the work finished by Labor Day. However, removal crews reportedly discovered even more mold problems. Numerous departments were displaced while work was conducted in their normal workplaces. Most employees are now back to their original locations. However, the county continues to receive worker complaints that include problems such as raspy voices, nosebleeds, sore throats, and swollen eyes.

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Federal safety regulators as well as hotel employees are demanding improved safety protocols after a hotel worker was found deceased inside a walk-in freezer at the high-end Westin Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta. freezer

Authorities discovered the body of a 61-year-old female worker who spent an estimated 13 hours inside a freezer that was set to below minus 10 Fahrenheit. It’s not clear whether the hotel realized she was missing, but it wasn’t until her husband called the hotel to report that she had not returned home that her body was finally discovered.

Safety inspectors and union leaders now say these types of walk-in freezers need to have some type of standard alarm inside so that anyone who becomes stuck or hurt inside would be able to set off an alarm that would directly alert either hotel security or emergency services. Workers at the hotel are also proposing some type of “panic button” they could keep on them at all times in order to send out a signal in case of an emergency.

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