October 14, 2014

Barzey v. City of Cuthbert: On Workers' Compensation Death Benefits and Other Heirs


In workers' compensation claims that involve an employee who died as a result of a workplace accident, benefits can be paid as either a lump sum death benefit or in monthly installments for a certain period of time. One question that may arise is who is considered a beneficiary of a deceased employee for the purposes of a workers' compensation death benefit award.

tyne-cot-cemetery-892543-m.jpgBarzey v. City of Cuthbert, a case from the Supreme Court of Georgia, dealt with this issue. In Brazey, the mother of a deceased worker challenged the constitutionality of barring her from collecting the workers' compensation death benefits award for her son.

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October 9, 2014

Whigham v. Jackson Dawson Communications: Defining a Workplace Injury in South Carolina


Sometimes employers require employees to go to various teambuilding activities and company retreats. A question arises as to whether an injury during one of these company events is considered as on-the-job for the purposes of workers' compensation.

kickball-606231-m.jpgIn Whigham v. Jackson Dawson Communications, the Supreme Court of South Carolina addressed the issue of whether an employee injured at a company kickball game was eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits.

According to court records, petitioner was employed as the Director of Creative Solutions at a marketing and PR company. He was required to attend meetings twice a month, where the importance of team building activities was frequently discussed. Petitioner came up with the idea of a company kickball game, and his employer gave him a budget to spend on shirts and food for the game.

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October 7, 2014

North Carolina Workers Killed on the Job: Proving a Workers' Compensation Claim


Sometimes an accident is simply an accident where nobody is at fault. In the context of most personal injury cases, the plaintiff tries to establish that, while we often use the term accident, it was actually negligent conduct by the defendant that caused personal injury or wrongful death. This is required for a plaintiff to collect. However, in a workers' compensation claim, an injured employee can receive benefits if he or she was injured on the job, even if the injury really was caused by an accident that nobody could have prevented.

wood---tall-838468-m.jpgAccording to a recent news report from the News & Observer, a worker was killed at a wood products company in Moncure, North Carolina when a large piece of machinery fell on him. Authorities are saying that the 29-year-old worker's death is under investigation, but they have not released details. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been contacted, as it is their responsibility to investigate all work-related deaths and other serious injuries in the United States.

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October 4, 2014

Gaytan v. Wal-Mart: Employees and Contractors in Workers' Compensation Cases


Gaytan v. Wal-Mart, a case from the Nebraska Supreme Court, involved a worker ("employee") who was killed in an accident that occurred on a construction site. The facts are somewhat confusing, but essentially a general contractor was hired by storeowner to build a new store location. The general contractor subcontracted the construction of the roof to a roofing company that hired employee to work on the construction project.

airtube-628899-m.jpgAmong his other responsibilities, employee was responsible for installing steel decking sheets on the roof of the building. The sheets were first put in the approximate place to be installed, then aligned and permanently installed though the use of a Controlled Decking Zone (CDZ). A controlled decking zone is the process by which corrugated steel decking sheets are secured on a construction project. The CDZ is set up to help aid in worker safety.

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October 3, 2014

Walston v. Boeing Co.: Workers' Compensation as an Exclusive Remedy


Walston v. Boeing Co., a case from the Supreme Court of the State of Washington, involved petitioner who was acting as the personal representative for the estate of decedent. Court records indicate that decedent was employed by respondent from the mid-1950s through the mid-1990s. In 1985, decedent was exposed to asbestos. That year, maintenance workers were repairing pipe insulation in the ceiling above the hammer shop in which decedent worked.

airplane-1445545-m.jpgThe maintenance workers wrapped the pipes to contain flaking of the asbestos insulation. These workers were also using ventilators and wearing hazmat suits to protect them from exposure to asbestos dust. Asbestos fibers can become embedded in the tissue of the lungs and other organs and cause a deadly type of cancer known as mesothelioma, as well as lung cancer.

During the entire time the work was being performed overhead, the workers in the hammer shop down below were not wearing any protective clothing or ventilators. Decedent placed a plastic sheet over his toolbox to protect it from the flakes that were falling onto it. At one point, decedent and his coworkers complained to a supervisor, but they were told to get back to work but try to avoid working directly under the overhead activity.

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September 29, 2014

Malcomson v. Liberty Northwest - Denial of Insurer's Ex Parte Communication With Doctors


Our Spartanburg workers' compensation attorneys know that in some cases, insurers providing coverage will seek to communicate with medical providers outside the patient's knowledge or participation. This is called ex parte communication, and it can only be done with a patient's explicit, written consent.
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While that communication may sometimes necessary for certain administrative purposes, the Montana Supreme Court recently ruled in Malcomson v. Liberty Northwest the communication should not be unlimited, particularly when information gleaned is broad and not relevant to the immediate case. Further, the court affirmed an earlier ruling by the state's workers' compensation commission that a patient's refusal to allow unmitigated access to her health care providers regarding her case violated her constitutional rights to medical privacy.

This is a case that illustrates why it is important to have an attorney assisting you from the outside of filing a claim.

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September 27, 2014

Dozier v. American Red Cross - SC Supreme Court Weighs Workers' Compensation Appeal


The South Carolina Supreme Court recently weighed the appeal of a plaintiff in a workers' compensation case who alleged lower courts had erred in failing to find her permanently totally disabled, due to her 5-pound weight lifting restriction imposed after a work-related injury.
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In Dozier v. American Red Cross, the high court affirmed the determination of lower courts, finding job opportunities were available to her in this weight-lifting restriction range, and she failed to properly preserve her claim on the major underlying condition, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome/Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy, a progressive ailment of the nervous system.

Our Rock Hill work injury attorneys know cases like this, where injuries or ailments may be obscure or ambiguous, are difficult to prove. It's imperative to work with an experienced lawyer, or else the claim may have little chance of succeeding.

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September 24, 2014

Lewis v. N.C. Department of Corrections - Mandatory Interest on Lump Sum Permanent Disability Award


The North Carolina Court of Appeals recently awarded interest on a lump sum permanent workers' compensation disability award, finding state law mandated it under N.C.G.S. ยง 97 - 86.2. prison1.jpg

The statute indicates that in any workers' compensation case in which the claimant is successful upon appeal, the company or its insurer "shall pay" interest on the final award or any unpaid portion from the date the claim was first made.

Our Asheville workers' compensation attorneys know the key point in the statute, pertaining to the case of Lewis v. N.C. Department of Corrections, is "shall pay."

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September 21, 2014

Harris v. Haynes: On Worker's Compensation in Car Accident Cases


Harris v. Haynes, an appeal heard before the Supreme Court of Tennessee, involved a claimant ("Claimant") who was working as a police officer for the local sheriff's office. Claimant was assisting with a traffic control operation when a woman driving a pickup truck ("Defendant") ran into him.

480202_broken_car.jpgClaimant applied for and was awarded workers' compensation benefits to compensate him for lost wages and medical bills. Claimant also filed a civil lawsuit against Defendant under a theory of negligence. The trial court entered a default judgment against Defendant and awarded Claimant and his wife $1,250,000 million in damages.

Claimant also filed a claim against the state risk management ("SRM") department under the uninsured motorist (UIM) plan. Claimant and SRM filed cross summary judgment motions. While parties acknowledged that claimants who receive workers' compensation benefits are not also eligible to collect on an uninsured motorist policy, Claimant argued that a portion of the state code conflicted with that prohibition under this particular set of circumstances.

Our Charlotte, North Carolina injury attorneys who represent people injured on the job understand that there are often issues that arise when there are more parties involved in a workers' compensation action than simply the employee and his or her employer.

The trial court granted SRM's motion for summary judgment on grounds that the SRM is a state insurance pool and Employer had specifically rejected UIM coverage when signing the policy contract.

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September 19, 2014

Schmitz v. U.S. Steel Corp: On Retaliation for Filing a Workers' Compensation Claim


In Schmitz v. U.S. Steel Corp., a case from the Minnesota Supreme Court, a worker ("Claimant") filed a civil lawsuit against the company at which he was formerly employed ("Employer") on claims of retaliatory discharge and threats to discharge his workers' compensation claims.

1314902_medical_doctor.jpgClaimant was working as a mechanic at Employer's steel plant when he injured his back. He felt a pop and fell to the ground. Claimant immediately told his supervisor about the accident. Claimant did not fill out an accident report that day, because, according his testimony, it was the foreman's job to fill out the report. Our Spartanburg workplace injury attorneys know that promptly reporting any on-the-job injury and ensuring an accident report is generated greatly increases your chance of obtaining a workers' compensation benefits award.

In Schmitz, Employee called his foreman the next day and said that he was experiencing pain in his side and back. According to court records, Employer's agents warned Claimant not to fill out a workers' compensation claim form. He was told that Employer would not like it if he filled out the report. He asked if they would fire him if he filled out the report, and his supervisor allegedly told him that, yes, they would fire him.

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September 17, 2014

Adamson v. Municipality of Anchorage and Novapro Risk Solutions: Work-Related Cancer and Firefighters


Adamson v. Municipality of Anchorage and Novapro Risk Solutions, and the State of Alaska, involved a firefighter ("Claimant") who had worked for the municipal government for more than 30 years.

711356_firefighter.jpgWhen Claimant was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he filed a workers' compensation claim. The city ("Employer") filed a challenge to his claim on grounds that there was not evidence that the cancer was a workplace injury or illness. Employer included with the challenge a letter from Claimant's physician that stated that he had evidence that the cancer was related to his work as a firefighter.

Claimant was seeking workers' compensation under a Temporary Total Disability Rating (TTD) and was seeking coverage of his medical expenses. As your Asheville attorneys who represent workers injured on the job can explain, workers' compensation benefits are often determined by the claimant's disability rating.

In Adamson, Claimant was relying on a statute that provided that prostate cancer could be considered a workplace injury for a firefighter who did now show any evidence of the disease during his or her qualifying examination at the time of hire, received a complete physical for each of the first seven years on the job, and was exposed to a substance classified as a known carcinogen by an international cancer research agency.

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September 14, 2014

Workers' Compensation Retaliation: Know Your Rights


A West Virginia man recently filed a lawsuit alleging his former employer, a mining company, fired him after he suffered an on-the-job injury and attempted to file for workers' compensation benefits.
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This kind of action is not unheard of. It's called workers' compensation retaliation, and it's illegal.

Our Asheville workers' compensation lawyers recognize that while many employers will challenge a claim for benefits, there are those who may seek to prevent workers from filing one at all. There could be a number of reasons for this. They may fear higher insurance premiums. There is also the concern that a high number of claims could draw the attention of state labor officials, leading to possible government sanctions.

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September 11, 2014

North Carolina Industrial Commission Targets Companies Lacking Workers' Compensation Insurance


The North Carolina Industrial Commission is cracking down on companies that illegally fail to maintain workers' compensation insurance, as required by law to ensure injured employees will have coverage. mortar.jpg

Using a new fraud alerting tool called the Non-compliant Employer Targeting System (NETS), the agency pinpoints potentially non-compliant companies, and then ranks them in terms of priority. The system went live in April, and has since discovered five employers who flouted state worker insurance law.

Workers' compensation lawyers in Charlotte know state law mandates all businesses employing three or more people must maintain workers' compensation insurance. Lumped into this are corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships and sole proprietorships. Exceptions are made for self-insured employers, but for the most part, almost all companies have to maintain it, or else face possible government sanctions.

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September 8, 2014

Caniff v. CSX Transp., Inc. - Compensation Under Federal Employers' Liability Act


Most work-related accidents in South Carolina will fall under the purview of state regulators. However, if you work for a railroad company - and there are numerous carriers in South Carolina - injury claims will be decided by federal authorities according to the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA).
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Our Rock Hill worker injury attorneys know that 45 U.S.C. 51 holds railroad carriers liable for worker injury or death if the incident was the result of any defect or insufficiency, or due to its negligence, cars, engines, appliances, machinery, track, works, wharves, roadbed or any other issues with equipment. A person is considered to be the "employee" of the company if his duties "in any way directly or closely and substantially" further the business of interstate commerce.

Given that this is such a physically taxing job, worker injuries are not uncommon. Still, the railroads are not eager to offer up payouts, so injured employees can expect to fight for compensation. A recent example occurred in Kentucky in the case of Caniff v. CSX Transp., Inc., considered by the Kentucky Supreme Court.

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September 6, 2014

Gov. McCrory's Appointment to N.C. Industrial Commission Sparks Ire


The recent appointment of Charlton L. Allen to serve as commissioner of the North Carolina Industrial Commission has raised concern and sparked ire in among workers' advocates, following the release of troubling evidence that Allen's views are prejudice against workers and also minorities.
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Gov. Pat McCrory held firm to his choice to appoint Allen, an attorney from Mooresville who previously served as the Republican party chairman for Iredell County, even after red flags were raised. There is concern that someone with such reportedly dubious views on race and equality will not fairly weigh the rights of all workers who appeal to the commission seeking review of their request for benefits.

Our Charlotte workers' compensation lawyers recognize the commission, a quasi-judicial authority, has historically been split down the middle, with three pro-business commissioners and three pro-workers. This approach has worked well to maintain balance and fairness. However, some have expressed concern that Allen's views go beyond the liberal/conservative divide.

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