April 10, 2014

Self-Inflicted Work Injuries Not Compensable Under South Carolina Law

For the most part, if you suffer a work-related injury in South Carolina or some illness that arises out of the course of your duties, you are entitled to workers' compensation benefits.
However, there are a few exceptions. One of those would be cases in which the injury was intentionally self-inflicted. That is, if you deliberately do harm to yourself while at work, your company may not have to pay you workers' compensation benefits.

It's important to note, though, that it is possible for an injury to be self-inflicted, but not intentional - and therefore compensable. In these cases, it all comes down to proving intent, and that can make the procedures a bit more complicated and bit more subjective than in other situations. This is where having an experienced Anderson workers' compensation lawyer can make a difference.

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April 7, 2014

Temporary Worker Protection A Growing Focus

Amid growing concern that legislators have failed temporary workers by allowing regulation of their well-being to slip through the cracks, lawmakers in California are taking action. factory2.jpg

According to a new report by ProPublica, the state may become one of the first in the country to hold company's legally responsible for safety and wage violations by subcontractors and temp agencies that supply them with a temporary work force.

Our Greensboro workers' compensation lawyers have grown increasingly concerned about the ballooning temporary workforce. Although these individuals are entitled to work injury compensation through the staffing agency or subcontractor, the fact is they suffer work ailments at a rate 50 percent higher than the average worker. (In some states, the rate has been noted as more than 70 percent higher).

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April 5, 2014

Poultry Industry Danger Highlighted at Congressional Hearing

In light of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's proposal to allow work-speed increases within the nation's poultry processing plants, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights heard testimony from work safety advocates asserting that such action would not only increase the risk of foodborne illness, but worker injuries as well.
Charlotte workers' compensation lawyers know that North Carolina ranks No. 4 in the country's poultry processing industry, employing some 28,000 workers statewide and producing some 3.7 billion pounds of chicken. That represents more than 25 percent of our state's total agricultural take for the year.

And yet, workers in these plants frequently suffer serious injuries, though they are vastly under-reported. A 2013 report by the Southern Poverty Law Center called "Unsafe at These Speeds" focuses on Alabama's poultry industry, interviewing more than 300 workers and culling federal data from the Bureau of Labor and the Occupational Safety & Health Administration. Alabama ranks third in the nation for poultry production.

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April 3, 2014

Securing Medical Coverage for South Carolina Work Injuries

The effects of a Spartanburg work injury can linger or worsen even after an employee has returned to work. sorter.jpg

The worker may have been medically cleared to return to most of his or her regular duties, but that may not be the end of ongoing pain or a condition that becomes aggravated or grows worse with time.

Workers in these situations are entitled to seek compensation for their continued medical care, and missed time off work. This is true even if the worker is no longer employed at the company where the original injury occurred. In these instances, however, it's important for the workers' compensation lawyer representing you to establish that the current condition is directly related to the prior work injury.

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March 29, 2014

Employers Seek to Reduce Workers' Compensation Costs

Employees who have suffered a work injury in Charlotte need to know from the outset that your employer is more interested in mitigating his or her own costs than ensuring you receive the proper compensation. sparks.jpg

If you needed proof, just look to the recent article printed in Insurance Business America entitled, "InFocus: How agents can slash 20% to 50% from workers' comp costs."

The report indicates that a recent MarketScout study found that across the country, workers' compensation rates rose an average of 3 percent in February, indicating insurance carriers are raising their rates and reducing their offerings. The article outlines ways that employers can reduce their workers' compensation expenses.

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March 27, 2014

New Chemical Safety Provisions From OSHA Pending

Last year, 15 workers were killed in West Texas during an ammonium nitrate explosion. The incident spurred officials with the Occupational Safety & Health Administration to issue a new Process Safety Management standard per the President's Executive Order 13650. chemicals.jpg

The agency recently announced it would be extending the comment period for potential stakeholders before making final revisions and formalizing the measure.

Greensboro workers' compensation lawyers understand the new measure broadly seeks to improve chemical safety and security at all workplaces.

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March 25, 2014

Court: Workers' Comp Laws Bar Estate From Wrongful Death Case

The estate of a residential treatment counselor who worked at a mental health clinic will not be allowed to proceed with its wrongful death action against two administrators at the facility, according to a recent ruling by the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.
Although the ruling in Estate of Moulton v. Puopolo is technically only applicable in that state, our Asheville workers' compensation lawyers know that the reasoning is based on a legal principle that is relevant to North Carolina injured workers and their families.

The basis of the decision is this: Workers' compensation laws serve to act as an exclusive remedy to injuries that arise out of the course of employment. That means that eligible employers are usually immune from personal injury or wrongful death claims that result from workplace hazards. Personal injury actions and wrongful death claims resulting from work injuries must be filed against third parties other than the employer.

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March 24, 2014

OSHA Postpones Crane Operator Certification Requirements

Not long ago, three construction workers in Raleigh were injured while working on a project at North Carolina State University when they were struck by a steel beam dropped from a crane. crane.jpg

The incident is still under investigation, but word of the accident emerged around the same time that officials with the Occupational Health & Safety Association announced they would extend the deadline for crane operator training requirements - by three full years.

The new rules, which were supposed to go into effect this November, have been pushed back until November 2017. Once they do go into effect, anyone who operates a crane will have to be either certified by an approved organization or qualified by an audited employer program.

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March 22, 2014

Proof of Casual Relationship Required for Compensable Work Injuries

The lingering effects of a work-related injury can last a lifetime. If a worker has to undergo continuing treatment for that earlier injury, our Winston-Salem workers' compensation lawyers will fight to make sure that the new expenses are covered.
It's important for workers in these situations tounderstand that proving correlation between current medical treatment and a previous work injury can be a complex matter. However, it's imperative that there be ample and continuing documentation proving that the two are connected. Otherwise, an administrative law judge could reject your claim.

That's what happened in the recent case of Bodily v. State ex rel. Wyo. Workers' Safety & Comp. Div., which was reviewed by the Wyoming Supreme Court.

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March 19, 2014

Old Work Injuries Can Factor Into Newer Injury Findings

Workers whose jobs have caused them to sustain repeated and worsening injuries should present a case to the North Carolina Industrial Commission that reflects the entire picture. Old work injuries can become factors in determining the extent to which a worker can be compensated for new injuries.

Our Greensboro workers' compensation lawyers know that employers will push back on these cases, arguing that each injury is separate and unrelated in the hopes of lessening their liability. However, an experienced attorney can help connect the dots for an administrative law judge by presenting documentation and medical expert testimony countering the employer's stance.

This is what happened recently in Mike Brooks, Inc. v. House, in which a workers' compensation claim made it all the way to the Iowa Supreme Court.

Court records indicate an administrative law judge determined the worker had suffered permanent total disability as a result of multiple work-related injuries. A district court affirmed this ruling, but the appellate court reversed it. Then, the state supreme court later reversed the appellate finding, once again deciding in favor of the worker.

The employee in question had made a career as a commercial truck driver. The record reveals that in 2002, he was involved in a crash that resulted in injuries to his shoulder, neck and cheek bone. Two years later, he again injured his neck while attempting to push a large tire onto a rack. He filed a workers' compensation claim based on a finding of 26 percent industrial disability.

He returned to work after that, and in 2005, began working for the company that later became a party to his workers' compensation lawsuit. Two years after he started working for this firm, he slipped and fell in an icy parking lot while retrieving cargo from the back of his truck. The result of his fall was a serious back injury. He had to undergo surgery and physical therapy, though he was eventually allowed to return to work with significant restrictions. Later, he returned to work with no restrictions, though he was deemed to have a lingering disability rating of 5 percent.

His back pain continued for many months, with him disclosing to his supervisors that it was "tearing me up" and he was placed on pain medications. Several months later, as he pushed open a heavy door while at work, he felt an immediate burning in his back, as if he had been stabbed by a hot poker.

Doctors noted possible nerve damage. After ordering an MRI, his doctor advised him to stop working. Several surgeries were performed on the worker's back in order to fuse his spine.

By the following summer, he was given the green light to return to work, but with significant restrictions on bending, twisting and lifting. He was rated at 23 percent impairment. The worker never returned to work for that particular company.

He filed a petition for workers' compensation benefits, Two doctors testified at an administrative law hearing that his injury slipping and falling on the ice was a "substantial contributing factor" to all of the back problems for which he had been subsequently treated.

The administrative law judge agreed, finding that the worker had sustained permanent total disability and rejecting the employer's assertion that the later injury involving the heavy door was separate and distinct. He also rejected the employer's claim that the injuries he incurred while working for his previous employer were far more significant.

The administrative law judge's decision was upheld by the district court. However, the appellate court found that the testifying experts lacked critical information regarding the worker's older injuries.

The Iowa Supreme Court reversed, finding that the district court's ruling was "supported by substantial evidence when the record is viewed as a whole."

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March 16, 2014

Temp Workers, Workers' Compensation & Staffing Agencies

The United States is often considered advanced in areas of employee rights. However, the U.S. is behind in the protections provided to temporary workers when compared to other countries.


Our Asheville worker's compensation lawyers know that the temporary workers in the United States deserve better treatment and more beneficial employment laws.

Arecent articlecompared the fate of a temp worker in the United States with what might have happened in other countries with more favorable laws for temporary workers.

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March 14, 2014

Private Prison Industry is Responsible for a Growing Number of Work Injuries

The private prison industry is one ofthe most dangerous places to work, according to research from the United States Department of Labor.


Our Anderson worker's compensation lawyers note the private prison industry is one of the most dangerous sectors for employees in the United States.

The industry is responsible for 459 injuries per 10,000 full time workers while the average for the private sector and state and local governments is 112 injuries per 10,000 full time workers.

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March 10, 2014

Carolina Farm Injuries a Spring Risk

As spring arrives, there will be an increase infarming injuries throughout the Carolinas.


Our Asheville worker's compensation lawyers know that as the warmer weather comes around it brings with it increased farming activity and the end result is more farm injuries.

The fertilizer industry in particular suffers a number of injuries. For this reason, the Agricultural Retailers Association is partnering with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Fertilizer Institute to attempt and reach over 7,000 agricultural producers, distributors, retailers, and other facilities in the fertilizer sector to caution employers about safety concerns.

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March 8, 2014

National Severe Weather Safety Week - Does Your Company Have a Plan?

In a combined effort, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has teamed with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to institute national severe weather safety week. During the week two participants aim to encourage the public to prepare to respond in the event of severe weather.


Our Asheville worker's compensation lawyers know that severe weather, such as tornadoes, can strike without warning and all employers should establish a plan for a severe weather emergency.

Severe weather can be deadly, particularly when there is no plan in place and workers are not equipped to handle the emergency. All businesses should develop an emergency plan that includes a number of basic and simple steps to implement procedures aimed at saving lives in the event of a severe weather emergency.

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March 4, 2014

Know Your NC Workers' Compensation Rights

It's not unheard of that a company, faced with a potential workers' compensation claim, will attempt to suppress that claim by discouraging the worker from reporting it.
Not only is this unethical, it's illegal. Our Greensboro workers' compensation attorneys are staunch advocates for workers' rights, and we believe it's imperative that employees be informed about what to do if they're hurt on the job and how to respond to suppression tactics or retaliation.

A good example of this arose recently in Ohio, where the Occupational Health & Safety Administration alleges in a recently filed lawsuit that a phone company initiated more than a dozen unpaid suspensions in the course of two years to worker who reported on-the-job injuries. This kind of retaliatory action not only impacts the 13 workers directly involved, but it sends a clear message to anyone else thinking of filing a workers' compensation claim: Beware.

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