North Carolina Workers' Compensation Lawyers Blog

When there is a lapse between the time of a work injury and the full manifestation of its effects, it can be challenging to successfully obtain workers’ compensation. However, it is by no means impossible, as the case of Sorensen v. Harbor Bar, LLC showed. bar

The key is to present ample medical evidence proving that a causal link between the incident and subsequent injuries were most probably causally connected.

In this South Dakota Supreme Court case, an employer sought to deny workers’ compensation coverage to an employee who suffered a severe brain hemorrhage requiring brain surgery about one week after being injured at work. Continue reading

Many North Carolina workers’ compensation claims will ultimately settle by way of a “clincher agreement.” This is a compromised agreement or settlement between an employer, the insurance company and the injured worker. mineelevator

In most cases, this involves a lump sum cash settlement and coverage of certain medical expenses in exchange for release of all future reliability against both the employer and the insurer. It’s imperative in these negotiations to ensure your attorney is actively involved in the process. These agreements are essentially contracts, and there could be lifelong implications. Workers have to be sure that not only are immediate and outstanding medical expenses will be covered, but future claims as well. That may require extensive medical analysis and an in-depth look at future costs.

It was  a “clincher agreement” that was at the center of Newlon v. Teck American, Inc., a case recently before the Montana Supreme Court. Continue reading

Per the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, Article 1, Section 97-31, there are is a schedule of injuries. This provision serves as a guideline for how much an injured worker should be awarded for certain losses. gavel2

For example:

  • Loss of a thumb – 66 and two-thirds percentage of the average weekly wages for 75 weeks
  • Loss of a great tow – 66 and two-thirds percentage of the average weekly wage for 35 weeks
  • Loss of a hand – 66 and two-thirds percent of the average weekly wage for 200 weeks
  • Loss of a foot – 66 and two-thirds percent of average weekly wage for 144 weeks
  • Serious facial or head disfigurement – a proper award not to exceed $20,000

The list goes on like this. Many other states have similar guidelines, and they are fairly straightforward. However, as the recent case of Goff v. W. Va. Office of Ins. Comm’r shows, sometimes there are complicating factors. Continue reading

In the event of an injury that is so severe, it results in lifelong impairment, South Carolina law provides for total and permanent disability benefits. The maximum benefit payment is equal to 500 weeks (or 9.5 years), with the value of any previous payments for temporary total benefits deducted from the sum. In cases where individuals are left paraplegic, quadriplegic or suffer physical brain damage will receive weekly compensation for life. cane

Claims for permanent total disability are not granted without thorough vetting. Unfortunately, employers and insurers will often battle legitimate claims for permanent total disability because they know the payout in these cases will be substantial. Anything they can do to reduce the payments or eliminate them altogether is in the best interest of employers/insurers.

That’s why it’s imperative to have an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer fighting for your rights from the start. Continue reading

There are some cases in which an employee’s injury is so severe that he or she cannot continue on in his or her previous job. If there is no other alternative employment within the company, the worker may be terminated by the company. In these cases, workers must be justly compensated for ongoing disability benefits. grocery

However, when a worker is fired after suffering a compensable injury for reasons unrelated to that injury, benefits may be terminated. In order to determine whether this is the case, courts in North Carolina apply the Seagraves test, so named for the 1996 case of Seagraves v. The Austin Company of Greensboro. As explained by the North Carolina Supreme Court, in order to prohibit payment of benefits, an employer has to demonstrate that:

  • Employee was terminated for misconduct;
  • The same misconduct would have resulted in termination of a nondisabled employee;
  • Termination was unrelated to employee’s compensable injury.

If an employer can demonstrate all this, it sets the foundation for employer to show employee constructively refused to perform suitable work, which would bar benefits for lost earnings. The exception would be if worker can then show he or she is unable to find or hold other employment at a comparable wage earned prior to the injury as a direct result of the work-related disability. Continue reading

Normally, plaintiff in Kelly v. Blue Ribbon Linen Supply Inc. wouldn’t have been driving for any work-related purpose. She worked at a fixed location at a retail store. She did travel to and from work, but of course, state workers’ compensation laws in Idaho (where this case unfolded), as in North and South Carolina, prohibit benefits for injuries that occur during the daily commute (known as the “coming-and-going” rule). highway2

But in November of 2013, she was traveling 125 miles away from home at the request of her employer’s workers’ compensation insurer to undergo an independent medical exam. This request was made with the understanding that if she didn’t go, she would forfeit any right to workers’ compensation benefits for an earlier claim stemming from a foot injury caused when a shopping cart rolled over it.

An independent medical exam is often ordered by an employer’s insurance company to resolve questions about a claimant’s medical condition, including the degree of impairment. Claimant went to this exam. On her return, which involved no stops or detours, a sport utility vehicle traveling the opposite direction on the highway crossed the center line and struck her vehicle head-on. Nothing claimant did caused or even contributed to the crash. As a result of that impact, she suffered severe injuries to her lower extremities, and had to be placed in a skilled nursing facility for four months after the crash. Some of her injuries may be lifelong. Continue reading

Construction work is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States, and demolition work is even more dangerous that the average construction project. Some demolition projects involve teams using carefully placed explosives, so a large building implodes and neatly collapses on itself, but the vast majority of demolition work involves people with power saws and sledgehammers taking a building down piece by piece.
According to a recent news article form ABC 7 News, a demolition worker was just killed when a building in which he working in midtown Manhattan collapsed around him.

dangerhardhat.jpgAuthorities have said one worker was killed and another was injured when the building internally collapsed while they were inside. Specifically, a large portion of the ceiling broke lose from its support on the rear side of the building and started falling from the top of the eight story structure. As it fell, it crashed through floor after floor, crushing one worker who died on the scene and injuring the other. The worker who was killed is believed to have died as soon as the debris landed on him and did not suffer.
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North Carolina has very diverse economic base. There is still a great deal of manufacturing in part of the state, as well as a strong technology sector in the area known as the Research Triangle. However, agriculture still makes up a very large portion of jobs in the state economy, and among the different types of agriculture, poultry farming is particularly prevalent, as are pig farms.

chicken-1403659.jpgWhile we used to have mainly privately owned farms with a decent number of chicken coops, many of these family farms have been bought out by what we now call super farms, or they were otherwise forced to close. This is also true of the pig farms, which have been closed to make way for major national producers such as Smithfield, which has large operations centers in the state of North Carolina.
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A worker at an Abercrombie & Fitch distribution center was killed when he crashed his forklift into another forklift at the distribution center according to a recent news article form the Columbus Dispatch. Authorities say worker was in his mid to late 40s. They have not released the name of employee who was killed on the job, so his family could be notified first.

Forklift Picture for Equipment Accident blog post.jpgImmediately after the forklift collision, someone at the distribution center called 911, and first responders arrived at the warehouse. This particular facility was just across the street from the company’s headquarters, so corporate executives were also on site following the worker’s death.
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Kingery v. Sumitomo Elec. Wiring, an appeal from the Supreme Court of Kentucky, involved a claimant who was injured in 1989. She applied for workers’ compensation after being injured on the job and was awarded benefits.

gaveljan.jpgSpecifically, the type of injury was a repetitive stress injury (RSI). According to claimant’s testimony, she was required to reach over her head and hang coils of electrical wire on pegs. She had to do this all day and was required to hang approximately three wire coils per minute. Due to the fact that she was only four feet, eight inches tall, she had to really strain her body to reach the pegs, which were over maximum reach without straining. After working for the employer for about a month, she began to experience pain in her upper back and neck.
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