Articles Posted in North Carolina Workers’ Compensation

Some work-related injuries are obvious: There is bruising, a laceration, bleeding or a fracture clearly visible on an X-ray. Other injuries may not be easily seen or verified. That does not necessarily mean one cannot receive workers’ compensation for them, but they are tougher to prove. Prior injuries too can prove challenging when trying to establish that the ailment in question is causally related to work.hospitalhall

The recent case of Yarborough v. Duke University before the North Carolina Court of Appeals involves a claim filed by a hospital cafeteria worker who claimed to have suffered a shoulder injury after being struck by a swinging door while returning from delivering patient meals.

The issue in this case was not whether plaintiff was acting in the course and scope of her employment at the time of her alleged injury. Rather, defendant employer disputed that an accident had occurred at all, and the full commission concluded she hadn’t suffered an injury by accident. This case came down to a he-said-she-said matter of credibility. Continue reading

The award of workers’ compensation benefits in North Carolina isn’t the end of the story. In many cases, employers or insurance companies will challenge the continuity of these benefits. knees

Such was the case in Hale v. Barnes Distribution, recently weighed by the North Carolina Court of Appeals, wherein the plaintiff appealed the commission’s finding that his employer properly ceased payments of his workers’ compensation benefits.

According to court records, the court’s hands were somewhat tied due to a mediated agreement the employee made in obtaining his benefits in the first place.

The mediated settlement agreement was that employer/ insurer would cover his workers’ compensation claim for total disability benefits – unless and until his primary care physician released him at least for light duty. Continue reading

A North Carolina man injured at work in both 2010 and again in 2014 while working at two different jobs is entitled to collect workers’ compensation from both, the North Carolina Court of Appeals has just ruled. worker1

In Harris v. Southern Commercial Glass, the appellate panel affirmed the North Carolina Industrial Commission, which had ruled the worker’s second employer was liable to pay both workers’ compensation and disability benefits to the worker.

All sides had previously agreed plaintiff was seriously hurt at work in 2010, necessitating back injury and ultimately resulting in a maximum medical improvement rating of 15 percent disability. That’s the rating he walked into his second job with. However, he still managed to work full-time – sometimes as much as 70 hours weekly – and lift up to 75 pounds. Then in April 2014, all sides agree he experienced back pain after bending slightly while performing job duties. What the parties sharply disagreed about in this case was the legal significance of that second occurrence. Continue reading

A spate of on-the-job electrical injuries has health and safety officials hoping to raise awareness about this serious and potentially fatal issue. dangerelectricwires

Electrocutions are one of the “Construction Fatal Four” in terms of the commonality of the problem on job sites. Given that 1 in 5 work-related deaths occurs in the construction industry, the fact that electrocution is the No. 2 cause of death for construction workers makes it a major problem. And it’s not just those within the construction industry that need to worry because electricity is in virtually every workplace. The potential for danger is there.

Our Winston-Salem workers’ compensation attorneys know that employees who suffer electrical shock or surviving dependents of those electrocuted may seek benefits through their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. They may additionally want to explore third-party litigation if there is evidence someone else was negligent in causing the hazard or failing to warn about it.  Continue reading

A number of new diseases have made their way to the U.S. in recent years, including Zika and Ebola. That puts laboratory workers on the front lines of important diagnostics, testing, research and treatment. But it has also put them at higher risk of a work-related injury.laboratory

OSHA estimates there are approximately 500,000 laboratory workers in the U.S., and considerations of how they can stay safe in a difficult working environment must be prioritized.

Lab workers face a myriad of potential dangers that may result in workers’ compensation claims, including chemical and biological risks, but also musculoskeletal injuries, such as those caused by constant, repetitive movements. Continue reading

News reports out of Richmond are that a Virginia woman had to be taken to a local hospital after she was bitten by a snake while at work. The 29-year-old said she was on her break and preparing to go outside when she felt a shooting pain and something wet on her foot. She glanced down, and realized she’d been bitten by a baby copperhead. snake

She was rushed to a hospital, where she spent three days recovering after being given several doses of the anti-venom. She is now undergoing physical therapy to fully recover.

However, she’s been delivered a second sting: Her workers’ compensation claim has been denied. Company representatives are consulting with their legal department to obtain more clarification on the denial, but it seems to have something to do with the fact that the bite occurred while the woman was on break.  Continue reading

Our workers’ compensation lawyers know that the exclusive remedy provision prohibits employees from suing their employers for work-related injuries. door1

However, we always want to explore whether there is a possibility for a third-party lawsuit. This provides another avenue of compensation that can help the worker regain financial stability.

These cases must be pursued with caution, as it is possible your workers’ compensation insurer will seek reimbursement for the portion of health care expenses and lost wages that have already been paid. However, they are still often worth going after because plaintiffs may be paid pain and suffering and perhaps even punitive damages – two substantial forms of compensation that are not available with workers’ compensation benefits.  Continue reading

A truck driver from North Carolina has died after a load-shifting injury that occurred as he was preparing to deliver cardboard materials to a warehouse. truckcargo

According to a sheriff’s office investigation, as reported by, the 63-year-old trucker exited his tractor-trailer, the worker got out of his tractor-trailer and opened the door. What he didn’t realize was that the load inside the truck had shifted. The material reportedly fell onto the trucker and crushed him.

He was rushed to a nearby emergency room, but workers were unable to resuscitate him. The husband of 32 years, father of eight children and grandfather to 13 grandchildren, was pronounced dead. In addition to the sheriff’s office, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has launched an investigation. OSHA will be looking to see whether the trucking company and the worker followed safety laws and industry guidelines, or whether violations or lapses contributed to the accident. The company has not yet indicated whether it will also launch an internal investigation to determine whether its own policies were followed.  Continue reading

An injured worker will receive workers’ compensation benefits after the North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed the state industrial commissions decision to find credible the employee’s testimony that he hadn’t heard a supervisor give him a direct order not to touch a live wire near standing water. electriclightbulb

In Keaton v. ERMC III, the court noted that while it is true (per the 1982 decision in Hoyle v. Isenhour Brick & Tile Co.), that disobedience to a direct and specific order by a then-present supervisor will break the causal relation between employment and resulting injury, in this case, the plaintiff denied ever hearing the pertinent instruction from his boss. But because the full commission found credible the worker’s instruction that he didn’t hear this testimony, it stands to reason the worker could not disobey an order he never heard.

Therefore in this case, worker’s injuries are compensable.  Continue reading

Workers’ compensation claims in North Carolina are considered by the state industrial commission. A disagreement regarding a decision from a single commissioner will go before the full commission. A disagreement at that level can be appealed to the state appeals court and then, if necessary, to the state supreme court. gaveljan

But those appellate judges generally do not try to reweigh all the evidence. That’s the job of the commission, which has a great deal of discretion in deciding how much credibility to assign to which witnesses. The appeals courts are usually only concerned with whether the commission and/or lower courts abused discretion or misapplied the law. This same general schema is present in most state workers’ compensation systems.

In the recent case of IA Construction v. WCAB, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was asked whether the appeals court was wrong to reverse the industrial commission on the basis that it had given improper weight to one of employer’s expert witnesses.  Continue reading

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