Articles Posted in Carolina Work Accident

One of the best arguments one can make for securing uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage is that it will provide coverage even if you aren’t actually driving or in a motor vehicle. For example, if you are a pedestrian or bicyclist struck by an uninsured or underinsured driver, you can seek coverage from your UM/UIM carrier to make up the difference. highway

However, insurance companies are free to write the terms of their coverage, so this isn’t a guaranteed benefit. In the recent case of Spiller v. Travelers Property Casualty Co. of America, the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Kentucky ruled that a worker who was not in his employer’s truck when he was struck by a negligent driver was not entitled to collect UIM benefits.

The underlying facts of this work injury lawsuit were that the plaintiff, employed by a contractor, was tasked with making certain repairs along  a four-lane expressway. In the course of doing this work, he was trailed by a large truck equipped with an arrow that flashed. This was supposed to alert rear traffic to move left because there was construction on the right. A few hours into his shift, a motorist slammed into that arrow board attached to the truck, pushing the truck into the plaintiff and causing him to suffer injuries.

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Worker misclassification is by no means a new problem. However, it is one that has been getting more attention lately in North Carolina. Investigative journalism over the last two years has revealed the trouble is rampant in the Tarheel State, with employers labeling workers as independent contractors – rather than employees – in an effort to skirt their responsibilities. In particular, they want to avoid paying for government-required protections, such as workers’ compensation, overtime, and family and medical leave.

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Recently, officials at the North Carolina Industrial Commission signed an agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor to coordinate resources in order to dig up and address instances of worker misclassification in this state.

This was the culmination of a growing effort. In March 2015, the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration released a report, “Adding Inequality to Injury: The Cost of Failing to Protect Workers On the Job,” which explored Government Accountability Office data revealing more than 500,000 construction workers in North Carolina, Florida, and Texas were misclassified as independent contractors in 2009 – when their job duties entitled them to the benefits of employment. It was revealed that misclassification affected more than 35 percent of construction workers in North Carolina, and in that industry alone, it lost state and federal governments some $467 million in taxes. Of course, it’s not just in construction. The practice has become extremely pervasive across many industries, and it can be tough to root out.

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surgeryEmployees can expect that costs for medical expenses for work-related injuries will be covered by workers’ compensation benefits. These include subsequent injuries that occur as a direct result of the original injury. In these cases, however, one can expect the employer/insurer to require proof of causation. That means showing that the secondary injury was proximately caused by the work-related injury or illness.

This was the case in the matter of Hood v. State, ex rel. Department of Workforce Services, recently before the Wyoming Supreme Court.

The plaintiff was injured in December 2008 while working on an oil rig. Another worker knocked off a chunk of ice, and it fell, striking him on the head and injuring his neck. His doctor put him on light duty and recommended fusion surgery on his vertebrae.

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Drug and alcohol impairment on-the-job can pose serious hazards for workers. However, it’s not necessarily a deal-breaker in terms of workers’ compensation. It really depends on the underlying circumstances and whether the worker was appreciably impaired and the impairment caused the injury. bud

This issue is going to be coming up with greater frequency as pro-marijuana legislation sweeps this country. Although the drug is still illegal in both North Carolina and South Carolina, bills have been floated in both states that would change that. As it now stands, more than half the states in the U.S. plus D.C. allow the drug for medicinal purpose and a handful allow it for recreation. The question of what constitutes as marijuana “impairment” is a tough one because unlike alcohol, THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) remains in one’s system for much longer than 24 hours. That means evidence of the drug in one’s blood stream – even at higher levels – does not necessarily prove intoxication.

Recently in Colorado, it was revealed that a worker who died after being crushed in a Denver factory had THC in his system. However, the investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is more heavily focused on the purported flaws in the equipment.  Continue reading

In North Carolina workers’ compensation cases, employers have the ability to assert that liability should be apportioned between or among multiple employers or carriers when more than one is believed to have contributed to a workers’ condition. This is an assertion that would apply to cases where a worker has some prior or pre-existing injury or condition, though the applicability of apportionment is a determination that is made by the state workers’ compensation board (which here is the North Carolina Industrial Commission). workerexcavator

Generally, where a prior condition wasn’t the result of some compensable injury and/or the worker had been able to perform his or her job just fine despite the pre-existing condition, apportionment typically can’t be asserted.

In the recent North Carolina Court of Appeals case of  employer appealed the workers’ compensation benefits awarded to plaintiff on the grounds that it should not be solely responsible for plaintiff’s condition, and that previous employers should share some portion of the liability. The appellate court rejected this assertion, siding with the earlier decision by the NC Industrial Commission that this employer was solely liable for worker’s injuries.  Continue reading

A construction worker was rushed to a hospital in Charlotte after an excavator accident in Fort Mill left him with serious work-related injuries. excavator

According to the Herald Online, the accident occurred sometime around 4 p.m. at the Doby Bridge Road construction site. He reportedly became trapped under the truck of the excavator. Police investigators are still piecing together what happened, but initial reports are that one worker had been operating the excavator while another worker was nearby, explaining a maintenance issue the machine had been having.

The operator then moved the vehicle and as he was moving it, the second worker was struck, knocked down and then became trapped underneath the track of the vehicle.  Continue reading

Workers’ compensation benefits in South Carolina are available to almost all employees whose injuries occur on the job. Wage loss benefits are based on an individual’s average weekly wage at the date of injury. Workers are to receive 66 and 2/3 percent of their average weekly wage in the six months prior to the injury, not to exceed $784.03 per week as of 2016 according to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission.businessman

For self-employed workers who suffer injury, the issue of compensation can get a bit sticky.

The commission reports that sole proprietors and partners are considered owners and thus not automatically included under workers’ compensation, but they can elect to be covered if they are active in the business and have given appropriate notice to the insurance company. The only way owners would be automatically covered is if they were also employees. Continue reading

The issue of workers’ compensation death benefits is one that is important to review with an attorney because spouses and other dependents may be entitled to collect payments for certain expenses and for years after. sadness2

N.C.G.L. 97-38 allows for death benefits where a fatality results from a work injury or occupational disease. If death proximately results form a compensable injury or occupational disease within six years thereafter or within two years of a final determination of disability (whichever comes later), the employer has to pay death benefits equal to 66 2/3 percent of the average weekly wage of the decedent worker at the time of the accident, plus burial expenses.

But when there is any question about whether a firm should have to pay workers’ compensation death benefits, they will fight it because it’s usually costly. Families must fight back because often, the financial stability of the family is at stake.  Continue reading

New figures from the National Safety Council (NSC) indicate 1 worker is injured every 7 seconds in the U.S. Each day, that adds up to 12,900 injured workers and 4.7 million every year. worker0

The report shows that younger workers and those who are new to the job are at the greatest risk of injury.

Another recent study, Travelers’ Insurance “Injury Impact Report” revealed more than 25 percent of all workplace injuries happen in the very first year of employment. The Travelers’ report analyzes five years worth of workers’ compensation claims – 1.5 million in all – in hopes of determining how and why workplace injuries in the U.S. occur. The study also wanted to look at how much they cost.  Continue reading

In almost all states, workers’ compensation provides an exclusive remedy for employees injured on-the-job. What that means is workers cannot sue their employers for job-related injuries or illness; the only relief to which they are entitled from the employer is via workers’ compensation benefits. The trade-off is workers don’t have to prove the company was at-fault, and benefits are supposed to be provided faster. prison1

But what if the worker injured was an incarcerated federal inmate?

These individuals do still have rights (although they are limited) and their work-related injuries are covered under the Inmate Accident Compensation Act, which sets forth procedures for payment of accident compensation resulting from work-related injuries to federal prison inmates or their dependents.    Continue reading

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