Articles Posted in North Carolina Workers’ Compensation

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 WSET.com, 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

One of the questions we see crop up frequently in online forums pertaining to North Carolina workers’ compensation is whether workers absolutely need to a hire an attorney or whether they are better off going it alone. gavel1

The answer is that while there is nothing legally preventing you from proceeding with a claim without a lawyer, if you have suffered serious injury, you really should seek legal counsel.

Some examples of situations in which you might not need a lawyer:

  • You missed little or no work due to the injury;
  • The injury was minor, i.e., requiring a few stitches;
  • You don’t have any pre-existing condition;
  • Your employer concedes the injury occurred at work.

But if your workers’ compensation claim is any more complicated than that, discussing it with a lawyer at an initial consultation can give you a sense of the sorts of legal challenges you may encounter and how an attorney can help with your case.  Continue reading

Much has been written about the awful conditions at poultry plants throughout the U.S. (and particularly in the South). But a new report by Oxfam America reveals a whole new level of ugly. restroomsymbol

According to the 15-page report, entitled “No Relief: Denial of Bathroom Breaks in the Poultry Industry,” workers at these facilities are so routinely denied the right to use the bathroom at work, many have taken to wearing diapers during their shift. Some lower their food and drink intake to dangerous levels to avoid the urgent need to use the restroom. Women who are menstruating and pregnant often suffer the most. In general, women are biologically more susceptible to bladder-related infections. In many cases, workers are suffering infections, such as urinary tract infections, and bowel and bladder damage as a result of being forced to remain on the line when they desperately need to use the restroom.

Not only does this kind of practice offend workers’ dignity, it is a serious threat to their health. They endure not just the pain and discomfort of being unable to use the restroom, they suffer the emotional scars of humiliation and the severe stress of concern for their job security.  Continue reading

The attorneys at Lee Law Offices, P.A. regularly work with clients in North Carolina and South Carolina who need to re-open their workers’ compensation claim. manstandingonwall

Typically, these are individuals who are already receiving workers’ compensation benefits as a result of occupational injury, and then those injuries get worse. In some cases, the condition evolves into a permanent injury.

In North Carolina, injured workers have two years from the date their settlement is accepted in which they can re-open their workers’ compensation claim, assuming the settlement was based on their rating of disability. There are certain cases that may not be ripe for re-opening (i.e., those involving clincher agreements). But these are details injured workers will need to discuss with an attorney.  Continue reading

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

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