Recently in North Carolina Personal Injury Category

July 9, 2015

Kelly v. Ray of Light Homes, LLC - Proving Causation, TTD

Plaintiff in North Carolina Appeals Court workers' compensation case of Kelly v. Ray of Light Homes, LLC et al. undoubtedly had been through an enormously difficult time.handsholding.jpg

Her adult brother, for whom she was a 24-hour caregiver through a residential care program, died suddenly. Making matters worse was that on the day of his death, she suffered a serious injury when she rushed to his side to help him as he had fallen onto the floor and lost consciousness. Another injury was later discovered which she asserts was related to the incident.

On top of all that, she had to fight her employer to prove the injury was work-related, that those injuries were causally related to the incident and that she was entitled to temporary total disability. She was not successful on each of those fronts.

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December 26, 2014

Injuries at Holiday Work Parties May Not be Compensable

Every year at this time, companies across the country are hosting holiday parties, lunches and other gatherings. These events are usually not directly related to work, and are intended to simply give the team a break, boost morale or celebrate a good year and thank all for a job well done.
But of course, injuries can occur at any time. Holiday parties may in some cases result in an increased risk of injury if alcohol is served or if there is a need to drive off site to the event.

Whether injuries stemming from these incidents will be compensable is a difficult question, and the answer is going to rely on a host of factors, including:

  • Whether the company required or expected workers to attend

  • Employees were paid to participate

  • The incident occurred on company property and the property contained an unsafe condition the employer failed to timely correct

  • The employer directly or impliedly endorsed the event and/or derives a benefit from it

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December 12, 2014

North Carolina Pays High Price for Medical Treatment of Workers

Nearly every employee in North and South Carolina is covered by the workers' compensation system. In industries and jobs where the rate of accidents and injuries is higher, employers may have greater workers' compensation claims and costs. According to a new study by the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI), hospitals in North Carolina pay higher costs for work-related injuries than in most states. The report, titled "CompScore Medical Benchmarks for North Carolina," assessed medical costs between 2007 and 2012 and compared the data to 15 other states. The report concluded that overall, medical payments were higher in North Carolina than in other states.


In addition to the overall costs, there were also varying medical payments depending on the provider. According to the analysis, North Carolina had the highest cost per claim among the states evaluated in the WCRI study. Despite the higher cost of hospital care, the state had lower "nonhospital" costs related to workers' compensation. Public health officials, legislators, and hospital officials have worked to tackle the issue of rising health care costs in North Carolina and nationwide. In 2009, the state made significant headway in reducing the hospital outpatient reimbursement rate. For most hospitals this rate fell from 95 percent to 79 percent of charges.

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December 6, 2014

One Dead, Four Workers Injured in Bridge Collapse

Construction workers face some of the most dangerous working conditions when on the job. In a recent tragedy, one man was killed and four workers were injured when a pedestrian bridge collapsed at the Wake Technical Community college campus in Raleigh. According to reports, the injured workers were rushed to the hospital after the collapse. On man suffered severe back and neck injuries, another broke his leg and a third was being treated for pain. Three of the four injured workers were forced to undergo surgery after the accident.


Construction sites are dangerous because of faulty support, heights, potential problems with electricity and a host of other conditions that can pose a risk to workers. In the event of an accident, victims and their loved ones have the right to file a workers' compensation claim and to collect financial benefits to cover lost wages and medical expenses. Though workers cannot traditionally bring claims against their employers, they can bring personal injury claims against third-parties, including property owners, manufacturers, and other subcontractors.

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December 5, 2014

OSHA Investigates: Man Killed By Falling Tape Measure

Freak accidents can occur on construction sites or in other work zones, especially when proper safety precautions are not in place. In a tragic case, a construction worker was killed when a tape measure fell over 50 stories and struck the worker on the head. According to reports, the 58-year-old man was bringing dry wall to the site when he was struck with a tape measure that had fallen from the belt of a worker on the high rise. The object was only 1-pound, but had the power to kill the man who stood below.

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Witnesses reported that before it struck the victim, the tape measure hit another piece of metal approximately 15 feet from the ground, the ricocheted before it caused the fatal injury. The case is a reminder of the importance of proper training and equipment on a worksite. Usually construction sites are gated and include signs that remind workers, visitors, and others that it is a 'hard hat area.' According to reports, the victim was not wearing a hard hat at the time of the accident. He had stopped at another man's truck to have a conversation. Witnesses say it was a clear case of "wrong place, wrong time."

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December 2, 2014

Sheriff Files Workers' Compensation Claim and Lawsuit After Collision

Law enforcement officers face dangerous working conditions when on the job. In addition to the potential for assault or violence, officers could be at risk of a car collision or other accident. In a recent case, a South Carolina sheriff's deputy was injured in an automobile accident that also resulted in the death of a woman.


According to reports, the sheriff's deputy was riding with his partner when he lost control of the patrol car. Police reports indicated that after losing control, he struck another vehicle resulting in the death of a 45-year-old woman and four other passengers. The sheriff is entitled to workers' compensation benefits and is filing additional lawsuits against Anderson County and the South Carolina Department of Transportation.

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July 18, 2014

SC OSHA Investigating Plant Explosion

In the event of a workplace accident, including an injury or fatality of an employee, it is likely that there will be both an internal investigation as well as an OSHA investigation. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is responsible for ensuring that employers maintain safe working conditions. If an investigation reveals regulatory violations, OSHA also has the authority to fine the responsible entity or entities. South Carolina OSHA is going to be investigating an explosion that injured three workers at an Edgefield plant.


According to reports, two employees are in critical condition as a result of the explosion.
Workplace accidents should be investigated by OSHA as well as an independent advocate who can help to preserve evidence and protect the rights of workers. Our Spartanburg workers' compensation attorneys are dedicated to raising awareness to increase workplace safety. Our team will also investigate any workplace accident to identify misconduct, regulatory violations, or wrongdoing. In addition to helping victims recover compensation, we are also prepared to take on third-party claims against all responsible individuals or entities.

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April 26, 2014

Court: Mental, Emotional Injuries of Workplace Violence Compensable

Emotional and mental turmoil resulting from workplace violence can be debilitating, in some cases manifesting in the form of a chemical dependency. As such, the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled in Kim v. Gen-X Clothing, Inc., that the resulting treatment for such dependency should be compensable.
Asheville workers' compensation lawyers recognize this ruling as important because it represents a shift in attitude with regard to our understanding of chemical dependency. Specifically as it pertains to workers' compensation, treatment for chemical dependency can be covered when the claimant can show it is directly related to a traumatic workplace incident.

That's not to say it will be an easy win, but this case shows it is possible.

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February 14, 2013

North Carolina Workplace Violence a Top Concern

Last month, a gunman burst through the doors of a Greensboro lumber company, killing three and critically wounding a fourth. Authorities later found him at his home, also critically wounded from a self-inflicted gunshot, a rambling manifesto beside him. gun1.jpg

Our North Carolina workers' compensation attorneys understand authorities soon learned that the shooter also worked at the plant. They are exploring the possibility that he may have lashed out after suffering some form of workplace harassment.

The incident unfolded at the same time the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released its 2013 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries report. The annual study analyzes the fatal workplaces injuries that occur each year in the U.S. - including those that involve violence.

What the agency discovered was that homicidal acts carried out at work overwhelmingly involved firearms - about 80 percent.

Between 2006 and 2010, an average of 550 employees were killed annually in work-related homicides. In 2010, the most recent year with available data, there were nearly 520 workplace homicides, accounting for more than 10 percent of all workplace fatalities this year. Of those, nearly 80 were multiple-fatality homicides, just like in Greensboro, where two or more people were killed.

It's also worth noting that despite the term "going postal," the vast majority of these incidents didn't involve government workers. In fact, 83 percent of these incidents occurred in private-sector businesses. About a dozen incidents occurred in schools, but that really only accounted for about 4 percent. The retail trade industry meanwhile accounted for nearly 30 percent of all fatal workplace shootings. The leisure and hospitality industry accounted for 15 percent, while transportation and warehousing accounted for 8 percent.

And again, we're only talking about those incidents that result in death. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration estimates that roughly 2 million workers suffer some form of workplace violence each year.

What all of this tells us is that situations like what happened in Greensboro last month aren't some tragic fluke. It's a serious problem that requires the careful consideration by employers to put preventative systems in place.

Some things to keep in mind when deciding what type of systems might be most effective:

  • Four out of every five workplace homicide victims are men;

  • Robbers and other assailants accounted for more than 70 percent of homicides to men, but 37 percent of those involving women;

  • Relatives or acquaintances were responsible for nearly 40 percent of workplace homicides involving women;

  • Individuals with no prior personal relationship to the victims accounted for about two-thirds of all workplace homicides.

OSHA recommends adoption of the following measures:

  • Secure the workplace. Where it may be appropriate, install video surveillance, alarm systems and extra lighting. Also, minimize access to outsiders with the use of ID badges, guards and electronic keys.

  • Set up drop safes so you limit the amount of cash on hand.

  • Offer field staff cell phones and handheld alarms and require them to keep in regular contact throughout the day.

  • Tell employees to never enter any place where they feel unsafe.

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December 9, 2012

Sleepy Workers Increasing Accident Risks in the Carolinas

We trust the drivers of planes, trains, trucks, buses, limos and taxis to get us to where we need to be safely. Unfortunately, these workers are likely to suffer sleep problems. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) and the 2012 Sleep in America poll, the plane and the train operators were the worst of the bunch. They reported sleep-related job performance more than any other occupation.
Whose sleepiness on the job is affecting their performance and safety?

-More than 25 percent of train operators.

-Roughly 23 percent of pilots.

-Only about 15 percent of non-transportation workers.

Our Asheville workers' compensation attorneys understand that sleep is vital to work safety. When employees are sleepy on the job -- accidents happen. It's important that employers are allowing their workers with plenty of time to catch up on some Z's before and after work. This is especially important for workers who are working fluctuating shifts and those who work overnight.

Serious Errors Resulting from Sleepiness:

-One out of every five pilots.

-One out of every six train operators.

-One out of every six truck drivers.

The people listed above say that they've had a "near miss" on the job because of their sleepiness.

Sleepiness isn't only affecting these workers on the job either. It's also affecting their commute to and from work. Again it's the operators of planes and trains that are at risk. According to the 2012 Sleep in America poll, these workers are much more likely than non-transportation workers to be involved in a car accident cause by sleepiness while heading to or from work.

"We should all be concerned that pilots and train operators report car crashes due to sleepiness at a rate that is six times greater than that of other workers," said Dr. Sanjay Patel with Harvard Medical School.

It's these positions in which the margin of error is small. We need these workers to be well-rested and at the top of their game. It's not only going to help to protect them on the job, but it's also going to help to keep each of us safe who rely on their services.

The bottom line: Sleep improves performance.

Advice for the Sleepy:

-Make sure you're lying down and going to bed at the same time each day/night.

-Use your bedroom only for sleep. This will help to strengthen the association between your body and bedtime.

-Make sure your room is dark, cool and quiet. Make it comfortable to you.

-Create a bedtime ritual to help to calm yourself down. You can read a book, take a warm bath, listen to calming music or anything else that will help to ease you into the bed.

-Clear your mind. Keep your worries for the next day. There's no use in worrying yourself out of sleep.

-Make sure you're exercising regularly, but don't do it around bedtime.

-If you suffer from excessive daytime drowsiness, snoring, or episodes of "stop breathing" during sleep, contact your physician or health care professional for a sleep apnea screening.

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November 12, 2012

Protecting Workers with Safety Equipment -- An Employer's Responsibility

Employers have a responsibility to keep workers safe and protected on the job.

One of the biggest responsibilities is to provide employees with the proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This kind of equipment is designed to protect employees from serious workplace illnesses and injuries that can result from contact with electrical, physical, mechanical, radiological, chemical and other workplace hazards.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), protective equipment goes way beyond just face shields. For deserving occupations, workers should also be provided with respirators, earplugs, vests, gloves, coveralls, goggles, safety shoes, hard hats and safety glasses -- whatever is required to complete the job safely! It's also a federal requirement that employers make sure that workers are using these devices in the conditions they're designed for. Having PPEs is no good if they're not used.
In Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), it states that employers are required to conduct a hazard assessment of their workplaces to figure out which hazards are present that would require the use of protective equipment. When this is determined, the equipment must be provided and the workers must be required to use it in a sanitary and reliable condition. Our Asheville workers' compensation attorneys understand that this isn't always the case. Unfortunately, workers are sent out in dangerous conditions without the proper protective gear they need. This is how careless accidents happen.

PPE is essential, but it's usually the last line of defense after engineering controls, administrative controls and safe work practices. Listed below are the conditions of each safety control.

Engineering Controls: When a work environment or a machine is changed to make operation safer.

Administrative Controls: When how/when workers are completing their jobs. Changing these factors can many times reduce the risks for accidents, injuries and fatalities.

Work Practices: Training workers in the safest and most effective ways to complete the job without and hazard or accident risks.

Employees must be properly trained to complete the following:

-Use PPE properly. Each device should be thoroughly understood by all using workers.

-Know when PPE should be used. Workers should be required to use the PPE in these conditions.

-Know which PPE is needed for each job. Different jobs require different PPE.

-Understand the limitations of PPE. PPEs can help, but they can also restrict. Be sure you know when each is in effect.

-How to put on, wear, adjust and remove PPE.

-How to maintain PPE and keep it in good-working order. Ensured safety relies on the condition of these devices.

If you feel like you're not being provided with the proper PPE on the job, it's your job to speak up. If you feel in any way that your safety is in jeopardy, then you should not be working in those conditions. It's an employers responsibility to make sure that each work area is safe for each employee.

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October 29, 2012

North Carolina Work Safety: Generator Safety Risks

Generators are used on many work sites across the nation. While they're convenient and help to make many workdays a lot easier, they can also come with a slew of risks that can seriously injure or kill users.

Portable generators are internal combustion engines that are used to create electricity where none is available. These devices are key when remote or temporary power is needed. They're commonly used during recovery and cleanup efforts after disasters. You better believe that a slew of people, both workers and residents, will be using generators to clean up the mess left by Hurricane Sandy.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), some of the most common causes of injury and death from generators include electrocution and shocks when they're not used properly or are improperly connected to various structures, like trailers, shops, offices and residences.

Our Asheville workers' compensation lawyers understand that there are specific safe work practices that need to be carried out when using these devices. Employers are required to make sure that these practices are followed and that each employee is trained in how to use these devices, how to spot hazards, how to correct these hazards and what to do in the event of an emergency. One of the first things that should be done in these situations is making sure that these generators are properly maintained and are operated in accordance with the manufacturer's use and safety instructions.

These devices aren't only used by workers either. Many of the homes in the area have a backup generator out in their garage. It comes in handy when disaster strikes, whether from large power mishaps or from natural disasters -- like Hurricane Sandy. Whether you work with a generator or not, it's a good idea for you to review the following safety tips below and share them with friends and family -- really anyone who uses a generator.

More Safe Work Practices:

-No one should ever attach a generators directly to the electrical system of a trailer, office or home, unless the generator has a correctly installed open-transition switch.

-Only manufacturer cords should be used when plugging in appliances to the generator. All tools and appliances should be plugged directly into the generator.

-Make sure you use extension cords that have a grounding conductor, are heavy duty and are 3-wire flexible cords.

-All generators and connected equipment should be inspected before, during and after use.

-Make sure that you're using the proper ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) as the manufacturer instructs.

-Never use underrated cords. You want to use cords that use heavier gauge wires.

-Never attach appliances that have any frayed cords.

-When possible, your best bet is to use battery-operated tools.

According to federal standards with OSHA, the frame of a generator that is portable does not need to be grounded (connected to the ground) and the frame can serve as the ground.

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September 25, 2012

NC Work Safety Initiatives a Vital Use of Resources

It's an employer's responsibility to make sure that the workplace is safe and free from known and preventable hazards. This is true in every industry for every company. Everyone, from the owner of the company to the most recent hire must be able to recognize dangers on the job and must be properly trained to complete the tasks for which they've been hired. Dangers must be identified and eliminated. But you're going to need a program in place to make sure that this is completed efficiently.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), workers and their employers are urged to take that responsibility seriously. Officials with OSHA are here to help, to reduce the risks for work-related accidents, injuries, illnesses and deaths. Not only is it a federal law to keep workers safe, but it should be a moral law, too!

Our North Carolina workers' compensation attorneys understand how important it is to invest in safety practices and procedures on the job. As a matter of fact, officials with OSHA say that an effective health and safety program on the work site can save an employer up to $6 for every $1 they invest. Not only should employers be investing in employee safety, they should also recognize that this is an investment that's going to benefit them, too. These kind of programs, when effective, have the ability to lower overall costs, increase productivity of workers as well as maintain a higher worker morale. Safety and health programs are a win-win for everyone. Employers save money and employees are better insulated from on-the-job injury.

Work accident are often quite costly. However, there is an opportunity for a significant savings in lost workdays as well as workers' compensation payouts when the number of accidents, injuries and fatalities are reduced through proper safety training and other initiatives.

One of the best things that you can do to help to reduce these risks is to comply with OSHA's safety and health standards. Compliance with voluntary programs is also highly encouraged. In the end, taking a proactive approach to workplace safety can save time and money.

You need to make sure that these kinds of programs are tailored to fit your company and your workplace. There are five components that complete a comprehensive safety and health program, including education, training, prevention, control participation and evaluation.

Everyone has to work toward a common goal -- safety!

It's important that workers and employers communicate. Make sure that your company's safety and health policy is clearly posted in the workplace. Make sure that everyone is involved in making policies to maintain a safe environment.

Lastly, hold regular meetings to discuss your efforts and how they are working -- and make the necessary changes to improve your work-safety program!

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July 30, 2012

Bill Signed to Help Ensure Workers' Compensation Throughout NC

Gov. Bev Perdue recently signed a bill that will be used to help to track down and reprimand employers who don't offer workers' compensation to employees. According to Insurance Journal, media groups have voiced concerns, saying that employer information should be kept as a public record. A provision of this movement would call for the information sent by the Rate Bureau to the commission to remain private due to proprietary concerns.
The approval of House Bill 237, was the result of criticism of North Carolina's loose efforts to help to enforce the current workers' compensation law. Too many workers in the state were being injured on the job and weren't being compensated. They were left to deal with the injury and the financial problems on their own because their employer failed to maintain state-required workers' compensation insurance.

Our Asheville workers' compensation attorneys understand that, under the new law, employers' and company's coverage status collected by the privately run non-profit North Carolina Rate Bureau is required to be shared with the state-run Industrial Commission. This Commission is used to help to ensure that employers have workers' compensation coverage available to workers. The Commission adjudicates workers' compensation claims.

The bill was sponsored by Nelson Dollar, R-Wake.

There were many articles ran by news sources recently which cited thousands of employers in the state who weren't offering this coverage to their workers. Even though companies are required to let the Industrial Commission know when they get, renew or discontinue their workers' compensation policies. Still, the Commission hardly ever gets word of it until a worker files a claim and it's too late. After these cases, the Commission would investigate the company and the claim. When no coverage was identified, the companies were hardly ever penalized for disobeying the law.

Right now, workers can go to the Industrial Commission's website to see if their employer has workers' compensation insurance.

If you don't have access to an on-site health provider, your employer can instruct you to go to a designated health care office in case of a work accident. If appropriate to the seriousness of your injury, you're to report to that facility.

If there is no employer health care provider on-site or designated off-site, you are to get the appropriate medical attention from elsewhere. Depending on your circumstances and the characteristics of the injury, you may be able to obtain medical attention from your family doctor or from an emergency room. You should also tell your selected healthcare provider that your injury is work related. Tell them where you work and other employer information so that the healthcare provider can bill treatment as a Workers' Compensation claim.

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July 15, 2012

OSHA Campaign to Reduce Fall Accidents in Carolinas

Safety officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are working to spread the word about a work safety campaign that is being used to help to protect workers in the construction industry.

Fall accidents in the Carolinas are a leading cause of construction accidents. Nationwide, there were more than 10,000 employees in the construction industry who were injured from fall accidents while working from heights in 2010. More than 250 workers were killed in these accidents.
Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis, with OSHA, made the announcement of the launch of the new campaign at the Action Summit for Worker Safety and Health. This was one of the many events held to honor Workers' Memorial Day. This Memorial Day is used to recognize all of the workers who we lost as a result of accidents that could have been prevented. The Los Angeles event was held by officials with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, the Labor Occupational Safety and Health program of Los Angeles and the University of California.

Our Greensboro workers' compensation attorneys understand that there were nearly 5,000 employees killed at work across the country in 2010. During the same year, there were about 150 workers who were killed on the job in the state of North Carolina, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Nationwide, more than 10 percent of all fatal work accidents were the result of a falls to a lower level. Falls are the second leading cause of fatal work accidents among all industries behind transportation accidents. What's most unfortunate about these kinds of accidents is that they're easily prevented. Workers and employers clearly require more education, more training and more preventative resources to help to reduce the risks of these accidents.

According to Solis, the best way to honor workers who we've lost is to recognize them on Workers' Memorial Day and to work harder to make sure that no other families have to endure the pain and suffering that accompany these kinds of accidents. Falls are the deadliest of accidents in the construction industry. They are also one of the most avoidable. Solis adds that about a third of all constriction worker fatalities are fall-related. The message of the new campaign is a simple one -- Safety Pays. Falls Cost.

The new fall campaign was created by officials with OSHA and with those at the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) as well as NIOSH's National Occupational Research Agenda program. Officials will be working with everyone in the construction industry to help to provide the proper education, safety materials and preventative measures to help to eliminate the risks of these kinds of accidents.

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