August 15, 2014

Graven v. N.C. Dept. of Public Safety - Injuries From Holiday Lunch Accident Not Compensable


The North Carolina Supreme Court has denied workers' compensation coverage to two state workers seriously injured in an automobile accident while returning from a holiday lunch in a state-owned vehicle driven by a state employee.
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In the consolidated appeal of Graven v. N.C. Dept. of Public Safety, the court held the injuries did not occur within or arise during their term of employment, as the lunch, although encouraged by supervisors, was not a mandatory work function. Further, the vehicle in which they were passengers was not authorized for transport to the lunch, and a supervisor would later testify that if a request had been made for such use, it would have been denied.

The decision is a devastating blow for the two state highway patrol technical services workers, one of whom was paralyzed from the chest down and the other of whom suffered head trauma. Our Charlotte workers' compensation lawyers recognize this case reveals the importance of proving to the court that an injury was directly related to one's work. Here, the totality of the exact circumstances was critical to the court's findings. This is why our workers' compensation attorneys dedicate so much time to analysis of the case prior to trial.

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August 13, 2014

State Accident Fund v. SC Second Injury Fund - Reimbursement for "Second Injuries"


Workers who are injured on the job in South Carolina are entitled to receive compensation for those injuries, even if they suffered a pre-existing condition that was exacerbated by the injury.
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In these instances, our Rock Hill workers' compensation lawyers know that employers and insurers have the option of seeking some degree of reimbursement from the state's "Second Injury Fund." In order to collect, employers/insurers have to show the costs for treatment for a worker's injury exceeded what otherwise might have been paid because the incident resulted in a "second injury" that aggravated a pre-existing condition.

This would seem like a boon to employers, but many are trying to do away with it, arguing it tends to cost them more than what they are ever repaid. This is why employers and insurers fight so hard to avoid paying any benefits in cases where a "second injury" is alleged. Injured workers are still entitled to benefits, but they should expect a tougher fight. An experienced attorney can help ensure workers receive the rightful degree of compensation.

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August 11, 2014

Poole v. University of North Carolina - Vocational Rehabilitation Often Mandated


Individuals who are awarded workers' compensation benefits must understand that this money often comes with certain requirements they must meet in order to continue collecting.
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Among one of the more common requirements is the one to attend vocational rehabilitation services. This is a state-run organization, operated under the umbrella of the Department of Health and Human Services, that offers training, education, counseling, transportation and job placement for individuals who have suffered a disabling work injury. The idea is to minimize the amount of time the worker receives benefits, and also to help the worker find sustainable employment, even if he or she can no longer do the work they once did.

Asheville workers' compensation lawyers understand that not all injured workers are going to benefit from such a service, especially when doctors have offered opinions indicating the worker may never be employable again. Even so, a refusal to participate, barring a medically-solid reason, could be grounds for revocation of benefits.

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August 6, 2014

Philbeck v. University of Michigan - Court Finds Work Injury Unexplained, Not Idiopathic


In order to obtain an award of workers' compensation benefits in North Carolina, three elements must be proven:


  • That the injury was caused by an accident;

  • That the injury was sustained in the course of employment;

  • That the injury arose out of the employment.


In cases where the exact cause of the injury is not fully explained, employers will often seek to argue the injury was caused by idiopathic conditions. That is, that the worker suffered some medical condition unrelated to his or her employment that was the root cause of the accident and injury. gavel7.jpg

Charlotte workers compensation lawyers know that if the employer is successful in making a strong case for this, the injury will not be compensable.

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August 3, 2014

Levi v. Northern Anderson County EMS - Exclusive Remedy and Appealability


In South Carolina, as in all other states, workers' compensation is designed to serve as the "exclusive remedy" to injuries sustained in the course of employment.
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Our Anderson workers' compensation lawyers recognize this means workers can't sue their employer for damages and also collect workers' compensation benefits. Additionally, per the precedent established in the 2006 case of Kimmer v. Murata of Am., Inc., employers must be given notice of settlement with third parties, or else the worker is barred from seeking workers' compensation benefits.

In the recent case of Levi v. Northern Anderson County EMS, this issue, along with a question of appropriate appealability by the employer, was raised. The South Carolina Court of Appeals ultimately reversed an earlier order dismissing her workers' compensation claim. The lower court had held that by accepting a $550 check from a third party without notifying her employer, she had forfeited her right to collect workers' compensation. The appellate court rejected this finding.

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August 1, 2014

Fore v. Griffco of Wampee, Inc. - Caution in Communications Regarding Work Injury


Increasingly, employers seeking to refute work injury claims are culling information from a variety of sources, including your digital profile, employment records and witness statements.
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It's easy to underestimate how an offhand remark or photograph online may affect your Spartanburg workers' compensation claim. The recent case of Fore v. Griffco of Wampee, Inc. before the South Carolina Court of Appeals reveals how such items can find their way into evidence.

This case started with what was unquestionably a compensable work injury in South Carolina. For three years starting in 2005, the worker was employed as a meat cutter, and was responsible for unloading trucks, cleaning and rotating coolers and typically carried items weighing between 40 and 80 pounds every day. Then in 2008, the worker was injured when she bumped into a piece of heavy equipment while carrying some 60 pounds of meat.

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July 29, 2014

Isack v. Acuity: Workers' Compensation and Reimbursement Rights


Our Spartanburg workers' compensation attorneys know that complex litigation can result when a person files a lawsuit after already receiving a workers' compensation award.

480202_broken_car.jpgIn Isack v. Acuity, a case in the South Carolina Supreme Court, a worker was injured in a serious automobile accident. A co-worker was driving the van during the course of employment. The accident was reportedly caused by the negligence of a third party who was also driving in the course of his employment.

After the accident, the claimant's employer's workers' compensation insurance company paid benefits to the injured workers. A couple of weeks later, a family member of the claimant contacted a car accident lawyer seeking representation for the accident. The attorney contacted the workers' compensation insurance company to speak with them about their right to offset any benefits paid, and then entered into an engagement agreement with the claimant.

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July 26, 2014

Mosley v Hannaford Bros. Co.: PTSD and Workers' Compensation


Our Asheville workers' compensation attorneys know that mental health conditions, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), that are caused by work-related events can become very complicated and require special attention.

1307593_mobile_phone_in_hand.jpgAccording to a recent article in the NY Daily News, a former supermarket manager was found eligible to receive Workers' Compensation benefits due to PTSD after being harassed and threatened with genital mutilation.

The store manager claimed that the jealous husband of a female employee began harassing him in 2007. The manager called the employee at home on her day off and, the following day, the husband came to the store and threatened to kill him for having an affair with this wife. The manager denied having an affair with the female employee and said that the only reason he was calling was to inform her that due a slowdown in business, the store would be cutting back on hours for workers.

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July 23, 2014

Lenz v. Cent. Parking Sys. of Neb., Inc.: Workers' Compensation Claims and a Substantially Worsened Condition


Our Winston-Salem workers' compensation lawyers understand that the effects of an on-the-job injury can become substantially worse as time passes. This can further complicate an already difficult situation due the two-year statute of limitations on applying for workers' compensation benefits.

hospitalroom1.jpgIn Lenz v. Cent. Parking Sys. of Neb., Inc., a worker developed frostbite while working as an outdoor parking lot attendant. The frostbite was on his right foot, and he could no longer work while receiving treatment. He applied for and received workers' compensation benefits under a temporary permanent disability rating and, later, a partial permanent disability rating of 20%.

During the course of treatment, the worker moved from Nebraska to Colorado and applied for additional benefits under the state indigent care program, rather than the company's workers' compensation insurance carrier. The following year, he returned to Nebraska. The frostbite had still not healed, and he developed ulcers that became infected, and he was hospitalized.


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July 20, 2014

Carbajal v. Precision Builders, Inc.: Employees and Independent Contractors in Workers' Compensation Cases


Our Asheville workers' compensation attorneys understand that questions will often arise as to whether an injured worker was an employee or an independent contractor.

770382_scaffold.jpgThe North Carolina Industrial Commission has outlined the requirements related to workers' compensation insurance when dealing with independent contractors.

In Cabajal v. Precision Builders, Inc., the Supreme Court of Oklahoma ruled on the issue of whether the injured worker was an employee for the purposes of workers' compensation eligibility. The worker was allegedly injured while he was on scaffolding that was blown over. He filed for workers' compensation benefits, claiming that he was an employee of the construction company.

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July 18, 2014

SC OSHA Investigating Plant Explosion


In the event of a workplace accident, including an injury or fatality of an employee, it is likely that there will be both an internal investigation as well as an OSHA investigation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is responsible for ensuring that employers maintain safe working conditions. If an investigation reveals regulatory violations, OSHA also has the authority to fine the responsible entity or entities. South Carolina OSHA is going to be investigating an explosion that injured three workers at an Edgefield plant.

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According to reports, two employees are in critical condition as a result of the explosion.
Workplace accidents should be investigated by OSHA as well as an independent advocate who can help to preserve evidence and protect the rights of workers. Our Spartanburg workers' compensation attorneys are dedicated to raising awareness to increase workplace safety. Our team will also investigate any workplace accident to identify misconduct, regulatory violations, or wrongdoing. In addition to helping victims recover compensation, we are also prepared to take on third-party claims against all responsible individuals or entities.

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July 15, 2014

State Office of Risk Mgmt. v. Carty: Workers' Compensation Death Benefits and Third-Party Settlements


Our workers' compensation attorneys know that a wrongful death settlement is typically a complex undertaking, which can lead to further litigation when an insurance carrier demands to be reimbursed for benefits already paid. When those benefits were paid under a workers' compensation claim, it can become even more complex.

sterilisation.jpgState Office of Risk Management v. Carty, shows us just how complicated matters can become.

In State Office of Risk Management, Jimmy Carty was participating in training in Texas when he died. His wife and three young children survived Carty. In Texas, the State Office of Risk Management ("Risk Management") serves as the workers' compensation insurance company that covers all state employees. Risk Management paid for Carty's medical bills and funeral expenses. Risk Management also paid workers' compensation in the form of death benefits to Carty's wife and children.

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July 12, 2014

Hanik v. Christopher & Banks, Inc.: Workers' Compensation and the Coming and Going Rule


Our North Carolina workers' compensation attorneys understand that compensation claims for injuries that occurred on the way to and on the way home from work are often initially denied by employers under the "coming-and-going" rule. The North Carolina Court of Appeals addressed this issue in Gillette v. Dollar Tree Stores, Inc.

ice-frozen-river.jpgIn Hanik v. Christopher & Banks, Inc., a case filed in the Supreme Court for the State of Kentucky, Kimberly Hanik was an assistant store manager at Christopher & Banks clothing store in Kentucky. The store was located the Summit shopping center in Louisville. The shopping center is designed in the shape of "U" with a parking lot in the middle and the stores on the outside. There is also a rear parking lot. The store has doors that open to both lots.

While walking to her car parked in the back lot, Hanik slipped on black ice and fell, injuring her shoulder. She promptly reported the accident to the store manager. The manager, Patricia Spence, and the company both concluded that the accident happened in the employee parking lot.

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July 8, 2014

Vicente Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co.: Workers' Compensation and Undocumented Workers


Our South Carolina Workers' Compensation lawyers know that when an undocumented worker is injured on the job, things can become very complicated for the injured worker. However, in South Carolina, the Supreme Court has ruled that undocumented workers are eligible for workers' compensation benefits. The court's reasoning was that if employers could hire undocumented workers and not have to worry about their well-being or safety, this would encourage the hiring of more undocumented workers.

passport.jpgIn Vicente Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co., a Supreme Court of California case, the employer manufactured chemicals used to treat water. This included water in swimming pools. In the warmer months, there is an increased demand for Seirra's products, so the company hires additional staff. During the fall and winter, demand for pool chemicals is much lower so the company lays off many of its workers. These laid-off workers are normally called back to work when demand increases. This is a typical seasonal employment arrangement.

The plaintiff, Vicente Salas, began working for the company in April 2003. On his job application, he provided a Social Security number and a resident alien card. He also completed an I-9 immigration form with the same information. This form was signed under the penalty of perjury. Salas then started working on the production line. In the fall of that year, he was laid off with the rest of the seasonal production line workers. The following spring, Salas applied again and was employed for the summer on the pool chemical production line.

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July 5, 2014

Job Security and Recovery After Work-Related Injury


Workers who suffer on-the-job injury may have more to worry about than just physical recovery or medical bills. According to recent reports published by the Workers' Compensation Research Institute (WCRI), employees who have filed workers' compensation claims are often concerned about retaliation or job loss following the injury. Furthermore, individuals who have some security in their employment may fare better in their recovery. Research indicates that those who feel that they have job security after an injury have shorter periods of disability than those who fear they may be fired.

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These studies show both the emotional and psychological damage of a work-related injury and also the reality that some employees may hesitate to file a claim because of job security issues. Our Asheville workers' compensation attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of individuals who have been injured on the job. In addition to raising awareness to secure workers' rights, we are also staunch advocates for clients seeking to recover workers' compensation benefits or third-party damages.

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