June 22, 2014

Medlin v. Weaver Cooke Constr. - Overpayment Credit Demanded by Employer

It's unnerving to think that months or even years after you, your doctors and your attorneys have established to the North Carolina Industrial Commission and perhaps even the courts that you suffered a work-related injury worthy of compensation, that those benefits might ultimately be challenged. Not only that, but your employer could later accuse you of overpayment, which you could be forced to pay if the court determines you were not disabled for as long as you collected benefits.
This actually happens more than you might think, and our Charlotte workers' compensation lawyers know how important it is to have a legal team with experience handling your case as soon as you receive notice from your employer about a potential overpayment.

This was the scenario weighed by the North Carolina Supreme Court recently in the case of Medlin v. Weaver Cooke Constr., LLC. Here, the employer (or in this case, former employer) asserted that the plaintiff's lack of a job was not related to his disability, but rather to the overall poor economic climate.

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June 20, 2014

Williams v. Petromark - Worker Challenges Coming-and-Going Rule

It's a long-held principle in workers' compensation law that if you are injured on the commute to or from work, those injuries are not considered to be work-related, and therefore not eligible for benefits.
However, our Greensboro workers' compensation attorneys know there are often exceptions that can be made when the facts are conducive to proving the commute was in fact part of your job.

This was the sort of case before the Kansas Supreme Court in Williams v. Petromark Drilling, LLC. The justices were asked to decide whether the serious injuries sustained by an oil driller who was in a co-worker's vehicle as they drove home was covered by workers' compensation.

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June 18, 2014

Simmons v. Charleston - When Spider Bites Prompt Workers' Compensation Claim

It's summer: The flowers are in full bloom. The weather is warm. The bees are buzzing - and so are a lot of other insects and other pests, many of which carry much more potential danger.spider.jpg

Spartanburg workers' compensation lawyers recognize that those who work outdoors or in the agriculture industries may be most at-risk for insect or other animal bite-related injuries. However, that's not always the case, and so long as the bite results in injury and arises out of occurs in the course of your employment, it is likely to be compensable.

Hopefully, if you suffer an insect or other animal bite, the worst that happens is a small red mark that is treatable with a first-aid kit and doesn't cause you to miss any work. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. Some workers may be allergic to certain types of bites, and may require special or extensive treatment to recover. Beyond that, however, certain types of spider bites in particular may be compensable when they result in serious injury.

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June 16, 2014

Shatto v. McLeod Regional - "Independent" Contractor Hospital Worker Makes Successful Claim

The South Carolina Court of Appeals has finally granted workers' compensation to an "independent contractor" nurse who fell in the operating room in 2007, and has been fighting for benefits since then - even having her case taken all the way to the South Carolina Supreme Court.
The appellate court recently reviewed the case of Shatto v. McLeod Regional Medical Center et al. on remand from the state supreme court, which determined that despite claims from the hospital she wasn't an "employee," the facts appeared to indicate otherwise.

In granting the worker "employee" status, the supreme court paved the way for her to then pursue workers' compensation benefits for her injuries. And finally, the appellate court green-lighted them for her.

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June 14, 2014

Burley v. U.S. Foods - The Commission Isn't Always Right

An out-of-state trucker may now pursue workers' compensation benefits in North Carolina for a back injury he sustained out-of-state, based on the fact that the division headquarters was local. This was despite the state's Industrial Commission's initial refusal to accept jurisdiction over the matter.
The North Carolina Court of Appeals later accepted review of Burley v. U.S. Foods, et al. at the plaintiff's request, and ultimately reversed the commission's finding in favor of the plaintiff.

Charlotte workers' compensation lawyers know this case reveals that workers should not necessarily be discouraged by the outcome of the initial hearing. This is not the first time the commission's decision has been successfully challenged, and it certainly won't be the last.

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June 12, 2014

Union Carbide Corporation v. Nix - Third-Party Liability for Work Illness

In South Carolina, the legislature structured workers' compensation to serve as an "exclusive remedy" for workers who are hurt or become ill as a result of job-related actions.
Workers' compensation lawyers in Anderson want clients to understand this means that if you suffer an illness caused by your job, and your employer carries coverage, you cannot sue your employer. However, you are entitled to the workers' compensation benefits, so long as you show your sickness was caused by work.

In many ways, this is a mutually beneficial arrangement for both sides. It avoids the strain of litigation and it ensures workers don't have to put up a fight for financial survival every time they are hurt trying to earn a living - as roughly a quarter will be.

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June 10, 2014

OSHA Strives to Prevent Heat-Related Illness to Workers

The summer months are here. While we often associate this time of year with family cookouts and Little League games, workers' compensation attorneys in Winston-Salem know that summer heat means heat-related illness.

According to the United States Occupational Health and Safety Administration Hot Sun Day(OSHA),thousands of employees suffer from heat-related illness each and every year. Many of these workers die from heat exposure. Under the laws governing worker's compensation cases, it is an employer's responsibility to keep workers safe.

While it should come as no surprise that performing labor-intensive tasks in hot temperatures can cause your core body temperature to rise, many employers tend to overlook the added dangers to temporary workers. During the summer, many of people will seek temporary employment. These temporary or seasonal jobs often involve working outside in the hot sun for many hours a week with little time off. Spending all day in the heat is often vastly different from the employee's daily life during the other months of the year.

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June 8, 2014

Beckman v. Sysco Columbia - Multiple SC Work Injuries Considered Under Loss of Earning Capacity Law

Anderson workers' compensation attorneys are familiar with the fact that a single work-related injury to a "scheduled member" (ie., body part) is typically assigned a disability award based on a pre-determined amount.
South Carolina Code 42-9-30 spells out the various schedule of awards based on which body part was injured. So for example, the loss of a thumb entitles a worker to 66 percent and two-thirds average weekly wages for 65 weeks. Meanwhile, the loss of the fourth finger entitles a worker to 66 percent and two-thirds weekly wages for 20 weeks. The loss of an arm entitles a worker to 66 and two-thirds wage compensation for 220 weeks. The list goes on.

However, if a worker sustains injury to more than one body part, this schedule is not to be used. The reasoning South Carolina courts have found (specifically in the 2003 ruling in Wigfall v. Tideland Utilities Inc.) is that when a worker can show additional injuries beyond a lone scheduled injury, it is a common-sense fact that the combined disabling effect may be far greater than the arithmetical total of scheduled allowances. For these workers, the courts have held, compensation needs to be based on total loss of earnings capacity, as spelled out in South Carolina Code 42-9-20.

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June 6, 2014

Willard v. VP Builders - NC Appeals Court Upholds Worker Death Benefit Ruling

The North Carolina Court of Appeals recently upheld an award of workers' compensation death benefits to a widow whose husband had died as a result of pain medication prescribed following surgery to a crushed thumb, which he'd suffered while on the job.
The key issue in this case was whether the deceased had consumed the medication in a manner contrary to what was prescribed. What the commission found - and what the appellate court ultimately upheld - was that there was no proof that he had. Therefore, his widow was entitled to death benefits, as his death was a direct result of the treatment he'd undergone for a work-related injury.

Charlotte worker's compensation lawyers note that this case highlights the fact that not all cases are straightforward matters, but it can be worthwhile to thoroughly explore the legal options with an experienced attorney.

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June 3, 2014

Carter v. Verizon Wireless - Ongoing Coverage for Worker's Knee Injury at Issue

A Greenville worker sustained a work-related injury to her knee back in 2006. At the time, her employer didn't challenge her claim for worker's compensation coverage, finding there was little dispute that the injury was proximately caused by her work.
However, the case recently came before the South Carolina Court of Appeals after the employer challenged ongoing coverage of the injury, arguing the worker's worsening condition and ongoing medical needs were the result of intervening causes.

Greenville workers' compensation attorneys note the court's decision in Carter v. Verizon Wireless, which party affirmed and partly reversed earlier findings. The case is important because those who sustain work-related injuries may not always be in top physical shape, but that doesn't mean that they aren't entitled to ongoing benefits when the underlying condition worsens.

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May 29, 2014

Report: Employer Warned of "Extreme Risk" Prior to Worker's Death

Workers at a hummus manufacturer in Massachusetts were rounding out their day when they heard the piercing screams of their 28-year-old colleague. He'd become trapped in rotating screws that blend the hummus. His co-workers tried desperately to free him from the slow-churning, 9-inch blades.
The temporary worker's arms were crushed and part of his head was severely injured. He died before an ambulance could transport him to the hospital.

Horrific as his 2011 death was, our Asheville workers' compensation lawyers understand it was entirely preventable. In fact, federal officials recently concluded a report on the accident indicating that had the plant implemented a basic practice known as lock out/tag out, which requires workers to cut power to machinery before cleaning, it would never have happened. Worse, this company had been warned two years earlier that serious risk of death was imminent if this practice wasn't implemented.

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May 27, 2014

Wingfield v. Hill Bros. Transp. - Proving Legal and Medical Causation in Work Injuries

Work injury compensation claims don't necessarily have to involve a one-off incident. In some cases, they can be made concerning chronic conditions or illnesses - sometimes even preexisting ones, so long as it can be shown that causation or exacerbation arose out of the scope and course of employment.
For example, a person who sits at a keyboard all day for their job might be able to present a strong case that a diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome is a direct result of repetitive motion at work.

However, in cases where medical conditions were preexisting, our Spartanburg workers' compensation lawyers know the burden of proof is going to be higher. It must be shown that work conditions or duties significantly contributed to the injury or ailment.

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May 24, 2014

Conley v. Alaska Communications - Third Party Lawsuits Following Work Injuries

North Carolina workers have a right to expect that worker's compensation benefits will cover their expenses if they suffer a job-related injury or illness.
What they may not realize is that, while workers' compensation benefits serve as a sole remedy barring claims against an employer, acceptance of these benefits does not forbid a worker from filing third-party liability action against other entities that may bear responsibility for the injury. Our Asheville workers' compensation lawyers can help with both types of claims.

The standard of proof in the two cases, however, are likely to be vastly different. In a workers' compensation claim, one must prove that the injury in question occurred during the course of one's employment. In a third-party lawsuit, one must prove not only that negligence occurred, but that negligence was a proximate cause of the worker's injuries or ailments. Workers can collect both, but will need an experienced attorney to handle their claims.

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May 22, 2014

Could More Criminal Prosecution Save North Carolina Workers?

Workplace fatalities and injuries can devastate the lives of an employee and his family. Unfortunately, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is doing little to prevent these types of incidents from occurring. OSHA is understaffed and rarely performs inspections of worksites. Further, even when safety violations are identified, fines are usually much too low to be a deterrent. handcuffs-1156821-m.jpg

Recognizing the problem, OSHA is now making an effort to do something to help workers. According to Safety News Alert, OSHA will be trying to facilitate more criminal prosecutions in the future in situations where employer wrongdoing results in the death of workers.

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May 20, 2014

OSHA is Failing At protecting Workers from Chemical Exposure

The job of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is to provide protection for workers from on-the-job hazards. OSHA does this through inspections of worksites and through promulgating rules and regulations that apply to employers and that impose minimum safety requirements. Unfortunately, while OSHA has passed a number of different rules on things like fall safety and air quality, one area where OSHA is really letting workers down is in the regulation of chemicals. chemicals-506057-m.jpg

When a worker is exposed to a chemical on-the-job and he gets sick, he or she should be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to prove that an illness was caused by workplace exposure to toxins. An Anderson, SC workers' compensation lawyer can protect the rights of injured employees.

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