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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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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May 18, 2014

Top Risks for South Carolina Construction Workers This Summer


A South Carolina construction worker lost his life at the end of last year when he was struck in the head by a piece of iron. According to South Carolina Radio Network, the worker was removing steel beams when a 30-foot piece of steel tumbled seven feet and hit him in the head. untitled-1428039-m.jpg

This death was one of many similar fatal accidents that befell construction workers. In 2011, there were 81 worker fatalities in South Carolina, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2012, there were another 62 worker deaths. Eight workers were killed in falls and six were killed when they came into contact with objects or equipment, like the man hit by the falling steel.

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May 15, 2014

Staffing Agency Responsibilities for Temporary Workers


The Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) Administration has made protecting America's temporary workers a leading initiative. The use of temporary workers has grown in a shifting economy, giving employers the ability to manage workflow through temp agencies. While this trend has given business owners flexibility and created a billion dollar industry for staffing agencies, workers may be losing out on important rights and benefits.

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According to OSHA, temp agencies must treat temporary workers as they treat existing employees. That means that agency employers are responsible for ensuring compliance with OSHA standards. Our Greensboro workers' compensation attorneys are dedicated to helping workers recover compensation after suffering a work-related injury. We are also committed to staying abreast of developing issues at the state and federal level that impact North and South Carolina workers. Our priority is to ensure keep safe working conditions to prevent future injuries and to help victims and their loved ones recover the compensation they deserve.

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May 14, 2014

How Does Obesity Weigh In Workers' Compensation?


Every employee enters a worksite with varying degrees of health problems. For some, health issues, including obesity can increase the chances of workplace injury.

According to a report published by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, individuals with a body mass index (BMI) in the overweight or obese range has an increased risk of traumatic workplace injury. How does this impact the right to workers' compensation or third-party injury claims?

The short answer--it doesn't.

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Workers' compensation is entitlement for all employees who are injured while in the course of performing work-related duties. Even if you are injured as a result of your own negligence or health issues, you are still entitled to workers' compensation benefits. Our Asheville workers' compensation attorneys are committed to raising awareness to protect employee rights and improve workplace safety. Our priority is to help keep workers safe and to reduce the number of accidents, while also helping victims and their loved ones collect full compensation in the event of injury or wrongful death.

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May 11, 2014

Is Cell Phone Tower Climbing America's Most Dangerous Job?


Nationwide, American workers perform dangerous and even life-threatening feats to complete their jobs. While many workers will head to the security of an office, others face higher stakes when on the clock.

What is the most dangerous job in America? We already know that construction, industry, farming and fishing are hazardous, but cell phone tower climbing and maintenance is a burgeoning industry that has led to an alarming number of accidental deaths. For workers in this dangerous industry, the risks are high, in part because cell phone carriers and tower owners aren't taking responsibility for complying with safety protocols.

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According to OSHA reports, there are 10,000 workers in the tower-climbing business, which is now being called the most dangerous job in America. Now federal safety watchdogs are changing the way they investigate and designate responsibility in the event of an accident. Our Asheville workers' compensation attorneys are dedicated to protecting the rights of injured workers and helping victims collect benefits. We are abreast of safety issues and concerns that impact America's workers, including legal developments and regulatory changes. According to reports, OSHA has been spurred by the high number of accidents involving cell phone tower climbing and is working to hold entities accountable.

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May 7, 2014

Fourth Circuit: Miner's Widow Should Receive Black Lung Benefits


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which oversees North Carolina, has vacated an earlier ruling denying a coal miner's widow benefits for "Black Lung." Formally known as pneumoconiosis, the victim argued the condition was the result of his employment.
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The decision in Collins v. Pond Creek Mining Co. settles a long-running claim, and may help pave the way for future claims.

Black Lung Benefits are filed under state workers' compensation laws, and can be done with the help of an experienced Asheville workers' compensation lawyer.

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May 5, 2014

Steel Foundary Fined $2.4 Million for Safety Violations


Rampant health and safety violations at four plants owned by Republic Steel have resulted in a fine of more than $2.4 million against the company. Officials with the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration reported the hefty fine is the result of more than 100 violations at the firm's various plants, including a fall through a roof, an arc flash incident and a plethora of serious fall hazards.
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Charlotte work injury lawyers understand the company has agreed to immediate abatement of all existing hazards, and the implementation of several policies and procedures to ensure those risks don't arise again. In the event of substantial non-compliance with any part of the agreement, the company agreed to pay even larger fines.

OSHA began intense inspections of the Ohio-based firm after a worker fell through the roof at one factory location. At that same location, a worker was injured in an arc flash incident. At another site, the number of fall hazards were high, according to safety inspectors.

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May 2, 2014

Restaurant Worker Slip-and-Falls in South Carolina


Spartanburg workers' compensation lawyers note a slip-and-fall work injury case recently made it all the way to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which vacated two earlier conflicting rulings on the standard for disability determination.
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The case, Kentucky Fried Chicken of McAlester v. Snell, would have been fairly straightforward, but for that standard of review.

The case presents an opportunity to talk about a larger issue, which is workplace slip and fall hazards in restaurants.

The Occupational Health & Safety Administration reports falls cause 15 percent of all accidental, work-related deaths (second only to motor vehicle crashes). The specific risks vary depending on the type of work environment. For example, the fall risks on a construction site are going to be very different from those at a restaurant, but can pose equal dangers if not addressed.

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