As it now stands, there are two types of workers: Employees and independent contractors. Now, a number of technology firms, like Uber and others, are seeking the creation of a third category of worker, somewhere in between.iphone1

In workers’ compensation law, the categorization of an worker is critical. Employees, by-and-large, are covered by workers’ compensation insurance if they are injured or become ill on-the-job or in the course and scope of employment. Independent contractors, meanwhile, cannot expect these protections.

The former should receive relatively quick response from the company on coverage of medical bills and a portion of lost wages and/or death benefits. For them, negligence is generally not a factor that precludes them from benefits, though they are generally less than what one might receive prevailing in court. Independent contractors can take the companies for which they work to court for injuries or illness, and they can even receive compensation for losses like pain-and-suffering (not available to workers’ compensation recipients) – but they have to prove negligence. Continue reading

Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s estimated that 720,000 people in this country suffer a heart attack each year, which works out to about one every 34 seconds.heart

The question of whether a heart attack is compensable under the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act is a complicated one. Under Section 42-11-10, in order for a heart attack to be compensable, the claimant needs to show:

  • Extraordinary or unusual physical exertion, strain or unusual condition occurring in the course of employment;
  • A causal connection between the exertion, unusual condition or strain and the heart attack.

Claimants aren’t necessarily going to be able to succeed in a case simply because a heart attack occurred at work. However, if there is evidence of exceptional circumstances relating to the job that caused or significantly contributed to the heart attack, the claim could be successful. Continue reading

Lumber mills and saw mills are among the most dangerous occupations for North Carolina workers. There are a number of saw mill and lumber sale locations in Greensboro and throughout the state. woodpile

Recently, the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) reported that in Region 4 – which covers North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky – there have been a series of violations at lumber mills that jeopardize worker safety. The agency has levied fines against employers that fail to ensure employees have a safe work environment – something to which they are entitled.

The first involves a lumber mill in Alabama, which despite repeated warnings, OSHA says continues to expose workers to the risk of amputations, falls and other fatal workplace accidents. Following an inspection in October, the agency cited the mill for two repeated and seven serious safety and health violations. An inspection of the facility was initiated after a worker was injured and had to be hospitalized in an incident that was unrelated. Continue reading

Workplace violence is a serious problem in many settings. However, it is especially pervasive within the health care industry, where aides, nurses and doctors provide hands-on treatment to individuals who may be unstable and combative. nurses

Health care workers suffer assaults that include hits, scratches, kicks, bites, threats and harassment on a regular basis. In fact, a 2014 survey revealed that nearly 80 percent of nurses reported being attacked while on the job last year. An article published in Scientific American last year highlighted a Bureau of Labor Statistics report indicating health care workers suffer the most non-fatal workplace violence of any profession – by a wide margin. In fact, attacks on these professionals account for about 70 percent of all non-lethal workplace assaults resulting in days off work.

Earlier this year, the North Carolina Legislature passed a law, which went into effect Dec. 1, 2015, making it a felony to commit acts of violence in North Carolina hospitals. The hope is that this will significantly curb such incidents. On the same day that law went into effect, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) unveiled a new webpage created to provide health care workers and employers strategies to prevent workplace violence.  Continue reading

When accepting a workers’ compensation settlement, affected employees need to understand they are making a decision that could well impact the rest of their lives. Courts consider these “clincher” agreements to be binding, enforceable contracts. That means regardless of whatever complications or circumstances arise afterward, the agreement is going to stand. client1

That’s why it’s imperative that all possibly foreseeable expenses and outcomes be carefully weighed by claimant’s attorney before approving the terms.

Recently before the Alaska Supreme Court was the case of Municipality of Anchorage v. Stenseth. Here, claimant had to repay the city a portion of benefits and costs relating to his workers’ compensation claim after he was caught distributing some of the medications he received as part of the settlement. Continue reading

Two workers were killed and a third seriously injured recently at a North Carolina transformer plant in Goldsboro, about two hours east of Greensboro. transformer

According to news reports, one of the workers fell into a transformer, and the two others went in to save him. However, they too became unresponsive. Although authorities have identified the three men involved, indicating the deceased were ages 51 and 33 and the injured was 40, they have not indicated which of the three fell in, or how exactly the two decedents died. The 40-year-old survivor was reportedly being treated at the intensive care unit of a nearby hospital in critical condition days after the accident.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration has launched an investigation into the incident – and it apparently is not the first. Continue reading

When a worker is injured in the course and scope of employment, but also due to the negligence of a non-employer third party, that worker may be entitled to pursue both workers’ compensation and personal injury compensation. However, these kinds of claims must be handled carefully, and preferably by a law firm that can handle both.emergency

That’s because the employer/ workers’ compensation insurance company may be entitled to impose a lien on benefits obtained in the personal injury lawsuit. That doesn’t necessarily mean plaintiff would receive nothing for the additional trouble of pursuing a personal injury case, but it must be above board, or else risk forfeiture of the right to collect workers’ compensation insurance.

That’s what happened in the recent case of Easter-Rozelle v. City of Charlotte, recently before the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Continue reading

There are some cases in which a Winston-Salem work-related injury is so serious, the employee is deprived of some level of independence. He or she may require assistance at home with basic tasks. In these situations, workers’ compensation benefits should cover the costs of attendant care.concretestairs1

This was what was ordered in the case of Chandler v. Atlantic Scrap & Processing, a determination recently affirmed by the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Justices ruled not only was plaintiff entitled to attendant care costs, but defendants were required to pay her attorney’s fees for the appeal.

The underlying injury in this case is a severe head injury, though it did not present that way initially, which is why the workers’ compensation insurance company fought it so hard. Continue reading

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

Contact Information