North Carolina Workers' Compensation Lawyers Blog

Articles Posted in North Carolina Workers’ Compensation

In personal injury claims, once a settlement is finalized, that’s pretty much it. There is no going back to ask for more or alter the terms of the agreement. However, a workers’ compensation attorney can often help employees reopen claims after settlement. constructionzone

This type of workers’ compensation assistance is imperative in cases where an employee has a disability that has recurred or increased. Whether a case can be reopened often hinges on whether it was settled by a “stipulation and award” or “compromise and release.” The latter usually resolves all worker’s claims – including into the future. Absent fraud, these settlements are usually final. However, cases that are resolved by stipulation and award can usually be reopened.

In the recent case of Poremba v. Southern Nevada Paving, the question was whether a worker was precluded from reopening his workers’ compensation claim after spending some of the settlement money on non-medical expenses. Continue reading

Workers’ compensation awards for psychological injuries in North Carolina can be tougher to prove than physical injuries. However, they are no less compensable. packagedelivery

Our dedicated Greensboro workers’ compensation attorneys understand that trauma to one’s psyche can be just as damaging and crippling as a physical injury. We will carefully analyze each case to determine whether this also should be considered in a client’s efforts to secure workers’ compensation benefits.

In the recent Connecticut Supreme Court case of Hart v. Federal Express Corp., benefits awarded to an injured worker for both physical and psychological injury were challenged by the employer. Ultimately, the benefit award was upheld. Continue reading

A significant number of employees in North Carolina work for contractors and subcontractors of larger firms. The question of workers’ compensation benefits in those cases hinges upon which agency was the actual employer. Courts consider a myriad of factors when considering this question, and in some cases will find the worker had two employers, based on the joint employee doctrine and the lent employee doctrine. cleaning

These doctrines were laid forth in the 1989 North Carolina Court of Appeals case of Anderson v. Texas Gulf, Inc. The same court cited that case in weighing the more recent Whicker v. Compass Group USA et al, which considered whether a worker for a cleaning crew was employed by both the cleaning contractor and the health center to which she reported each day.

According to court records, the cleaning company contracted with numerous health care organizations to provide standard cleaning services to various facilities. The contract between the cleaning company and this health care company provided services to 13 facilities in North Carolina, including one in Forsyth, which was the center of this complaint.  Continue reading

Last month, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) released a report to detail the progress of the severe work-related injury reporting program, implemented one year ago. That report indicates there were nearly 10,400 severe work-related injuries in the U.S. in 2015 – the first full year of the new federal requirement. workers

Included in this number: Eye loss, amputation, hospitalization. All of this has to be reported in the first 24 hours. Within that 10,400 were 2,644 amputations and 7,636 hospitalizations. Fatalities have to be reported within eight hours.

But until this requirements, OSHA officials were often grasping at straws when it came to identifying an actual number of serious workplace injuries. As one official described it, each of those instances was “a wake-up call for safety that went unheeded.”  Continue reading

The latest annual report from UL’s Integrated Health & Safety Institute (IHSI) has issued a report that ranks the prevalence of health conditions of work safety in each state as compared to the national average.worker5

The results for North Carolina and South Carolina reveal something of a mixed bag.

For example, the North Carolina workplace fatality rate is in the 10- to 20-percent better range. However, the risk of certain health determinants, such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke were in the 10- to 20-percent worse category. Continue reading

Our police officers in North Carolina take an enormous risk every day they show up to work.prison

Every time they don that uniform, their lives are on the line. In fact, the FBI reports that in 2013, there were 76 officers killed in the line-of-duty in the U.S. that year, plus nearly 50,000 who suffered line-of-duty assaults, with 30 percent of those suffering serious injury as a result.

Because state legislators recognize this possible danger, laws have been enacted that bolster protections and benefits for state-employed officers who are hurt on-the-job. Part of that involves full salary for officers injured in the line-of-duty – even when he or she can no longer perform his or her regular duties – per N.C. Gen. Stat. 143-166.19. That’s a benefit most other workers do not get. Those who are unable to work are usually paid 66 2/3 of their regular weekly wage.  Continue reading

Permanent total disability involves a Carolina work injury so severe, the plaintiff is unable to continue with his or her current job – or any type of work, for that matter. snowyroads

N.C. Gen. Stat. 97-29 spells out the definition and rate of permanent total disability. There is a lot to the statute, but essentially, if you have lost the use of both hands, arms, legs, feet or eyes or if you have suffered a severe spinal or brain injury or burns, you would qualify for permanent total disability.

But even when a worker’s injuries are profound, you can expect the employer and/or insurer to fight vigorously to avoid a finding of permanent total disability benefits. Take for example the recent Ohio Supreme Court case of State ex re. Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc. v. Indus. Comm’n. Continue reading

Non-profit news organization ProPublica has been doggedly covering the issue of eroding workers’ compensation benefits throughout the country in recent years.party

Now, in a recent report, an investigation sheds light on the explosive growth of an industry that is thriving off “cost-cutting” workers’ compensation benefits. These companies, billing themselves as “cost containment” entities, offer services ranging from negotiation of medical bills to claim management to arrangement of medical providers, defense lawyers and expert witnesses in workers’ compensation cases. All promise to lower costs for companies by “getting workers working again more quickly.” But the reality is, these companies are raking in enormous profits and wield tremendous influence on the outcome of workers’ compensation cases – often to the detriment of workers.

As evidence of this cottage industry’s success, ProPublica detailed one of the 150 or so national conferences the industry holds annually – about one every other day. The scene: Las Vegas. Acrobats dangling from the ceiling. Neon lights. Techno music. Scantily-clad female dancers on poles. Open bars and free chocolate truffles. Designer handbag giveaways. Free Hummer limousine rides. Photo-ops with Olympians and celebrities. Rock star performances. And a live alligator. Continue reading

As it now stands, there are two types of workers: Employees and independent contractors. Now, a number of technology firms, like Uber and others, are seeking the creation of a third category of worker, somewhere in between.iphone1

In workers’ compensation law, the categorization of an worker is critical. Employees, by-and-large, are covered by workers’ compensation insurance if they are injured or become ill on-the-job or in the course and scope of employment. Independent contractors, meanwhile, cannot expect these protections.

The former should receive relatively quick response from the company on coverage of medical bills and a portion of lost wages and/or death benefits. For them, negligence is generally not a factor that precludes them from benefits, though they are generally less than what one might receive prevailing in court. Independent contractors can take the companies for which they work to court for injuries or illness, and they can even receive compensation for losses like pain-and-suffering (not available to workers’ compensation recipients) – but they have to prove negligence. Continue reading

Workplace violence is a serious problem in many settings. However, it is especially pervasive within the health care industry, where aides, nurses and doctors provide hands-on treatment to individuals who may be unstable and combative. nurses

Health care workers suffer assaults that include hits, scratches, kicks, bites, threats and harassment on a regular basis. In fact, a 2014 survey revealed that nearly 80 percent of nurses reported being attacked while on the job last year. An article published in Scientific American last year highlighted a Bureau of Labor Statistics report indicating health care workers suffer the most non-fatal workplace violence of any profession – by a wide margin. In fact, attacks on these professionals account for about 70 percent of all non-lethal workplace assaults resulting in days off work.

Earlier this year, the North Carolina Legislature passed a law, which went into effect Dec. 1, 2015, making it a felony to commit acts of violence in North Carolina hospitals. The hope is that this will significantly curb such incidents. On the same day that law went into effect, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) unveiled a new webpage created to provide health care workers and employers strategies to prevent workplace violence.  Continue reading

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