Recently in North Carolina Workers' Compensation Category

September 21, 2015

Ride-Sharing Services Must Pay for Workers' Compensation Coverage

Ride-sharing company Uber is now available for services in North Carolina in Asheville, Charlotte, Fayetteville, Outer Banks, Piedmont Triad, Raleigh-Durham and Wilmington. In South Carolina, it's available in Charleston, Columbia and Greeneville.
This is a convenient service for users hoping to catch a quick, affordable ride in a clean vehicle, ready to pick them up at their location within minutes.

But Uber has never fashioned itself a company that provides rides. Rather, it has insisted, it is a technology company that connects riders to rides. Drivers, the company insists, are independent contractors who must pay for their own liability insurance, are paid by the ride and aren't entitled to benefits such as unemployment or workers' compensation.

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September 17, 2015

Hynes v. Good Samaritan Hosp. - Total Disability for Nurse After Patient Attacks

Workers' compensation covers medical expenses, lost wages and other costs when an employee has suffered a work-related injury. But these injuries need not always be physical in nature.sadness4.jpg

There are some cases in which emotional injuries or psychological injuries may be compensable. For example, the North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled in the 1986 case of Hogan v. Forsyth Country Club that emotional injuries sustained due to workplace incidents may in fact be covered. To limit these claims for emotional distress, courts have ruled, would be against public policy.

When work-related, psychological conditions are the result of a work-related accident, workers' compensation claims are not barred, courts have held.

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September 9, 2015

Washington County Sch. Dist. v. Labor Comm'n - Workers' Comp for Subsequent, Non-Work Injury

Workers' compensation is intended to provide accessible, adequate coverage of medical bills and lost wages to workers who have suffered an on-the-job injury.
Injuries that do not occur at work or aren't work-related generally aren't going to be covered. However, there may be some exceptions if the work injury aggravates a pre-existing condition or if a subsequent, non-related work injury exacerbates a previous work injury.

The case that highlights one of these possibilities is Washington County Sch. Dist. v. Labor Comm'n, weighed recently by the Utah Supreme Court. Justices were asked to address the causal connection an employee has to prove between an initial, compensable workplace injury and a subsequent non-workplace injury in order to obtain workers' compensation coverage for the second injury.

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August 19, 2015

Holliday v. Tropical Nut & Fruit Co. - Workers' Comp for Laser Tag

The North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed the award of workers' compensation benefits to plaintiff in Holliday v. Tropical Nut & Fruit Co., over objections by employer that worker hadn't suffered a compensable injury, wasn't injured in the course of employment and wasn't entitled to temporary total disability benefits.
According to court records, the injury was sustained while plaintiff was playing "laser tag" at a company-sponsored event in Charlotte. The game was part of a three-day conference and plaintiff's attendance was mandatory. Normally, he was based in Asheville, but the conference was in Charlotte, and he wasn't allowed to bring his wife or children with him. He was paid normal salary for his time there.

During the day, the company discussed the previous year's sales, new products, new sales strategies and offered opportunities to meet with vendors and colleagues in other locations.

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August 16, 2015

Report: Workers' Compensation Costs Rise, Benefits Fall

Workers' compensation insurance is continuing to get more costly for businesses, and at the same time, workers are receiving even lesser benefits.
That's according to the latest report from the National Academy of Social Insurance.

What this means is people injured at work in North Carolina are going to have to fight even harder to obtain benefits to which they are entitled. And even if they secure benefits, they may be in for a battle when it comes to the extent of those benefits.

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July 3, 2015

North Carolina Worker Misclassification Bill Advances, Some Critical

Last fall, the Raleigh News & Observer published a mammoth, five-part series on the problem of worker misclassification, both nationally and specifically in North Carolina, where the practice is especially pervasive.
The issue involves companies classifying workers as independent contractors when in fact they are employees. In so doing, these firms can avoid paying workers' compensation benefits, income taxes or unemployment taxes. Not only does this harm workers, who are left without these protections, it also harms other businesses that are unable to compete with those skimming an estimated 20 percent of their costs off the top. Further, the newspaper reported these actions cost North Carolina $467 million every year in lost tax revenue - and that's just in the construction industry alone!

What's more, the report revealed an astonishing 45 percent of the 826 companies participating in HUD-funded projects in this state from 2009 through 2013 misclassified workers.

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July 1, 2015

SeaBright Ins. Co. v. Lopez - Workers' Compensation for Auto Accident

It is possible for someone who is injured in a motor vehicle collision to receive workers' compensation benefits if the vehicle was being driven in the course and scope of employment. accident2.jpg

Of course, where workers are professional drivers, the question of an accident being work-related is fairly simple. However, when a worker is commuting, the answer gets more complex.

Generally, courts in North Carolina and many other states abide by the "coming-and-going-rule." This allows that workers who are "coming and going" to and from work are not protected under workers' compensation provisions. The thinking goes that a worker who is coming to or leaving from work isn't engaged in the business of the employer and therefore is not benefiting the employer and so accidents that occur in this context aren't compensable.

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June 9, 2015

Taylor v. Howard Transportation, Inc. - Jurisdiction in NC Workers' Comp Cases

Work forces today are more fluid than ever. Employees work from home. Some may travel extensively out-of-state as part of their work.
While these things can benefit industry and commerce, they can muddy the waters where workers' compensation is concerned.

Specifically where accidents occur out-of-state, the N.C. Gen. Stat. ยง 97-36 says that when workers are injured in an accident that occurs out-of-state, employees and/or dependents are entitled to workers' compensation benefits only in the following circumstances:

  1. If the employment contract was made in North Carolina

  2. If employer's principal place of business was in North Carolina

  3. If worker's principle place of employment was in North Carolina

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June 3, 2015

South Coast Framing v. Workers' Comp. Appeals Board - Death Benefits After Drug Overdose

One of the most common forms of treatment for pain following a work injury is medication. We are often lulled into a false sense of security about the safety of pain medication.
Not only is it highly addictive, but certain combinations can be dangerous too.

Illness or death caused by prescription medication taken in accordance with a doctor's orders for a work-related injury may be compensable - as much so as the underlying injury that prompted the person to receive the medication. (There could also be grounds for a medical malpractice claim, though that would be an entirely separate matter.)

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April 25, 2015

Tribal Worker Killed in North Carolina

When people think of workers' compensation, they typically think in terms of an employee being injured on the job and missing work. However, some work-related accidents are fatal, and surviving family members will be required to file a workers' compensation claim seeking death benefits to cover medical bills related to employee's fatal injury or illness, lost wages, and funeral expenses under state workers' compensation regulations.

crash4.jpgAccording to a recent article from ABC News 13, a tribal transportation worker was killed in an on-the-job car accident in Cherokee, North Carolina. The accident occurred between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.

One witness said she was getting ready for work around that time when she heard a loud crash. She did not know what happened until she was driving to work and saw police had blocked the road ahead of her. All she could see was a truck in the grassy area alongside the travel lane. She later learned her daughter's boyfriend had witnessed the fatal work-related accident and rushed to assist victim. The boyfriend found the injured employee and stayed with him, talking to him until paramedics arrived. He said the victim's head was essentially in his lap till help arrived.

Authorities are still investigating the cause of this tragic on-the-job accident but have released a statement saying victim was an employee for the Tribal Department of Transportation driving an agency truck when he collided with an SUV traveling in the opposite direction. One of victim's coworkers said she believes victim was driving straight, and the driver of the SUV allegedly crossed over the double yellow center line of the roadway and crashed into victim's truck.

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April 11, 2015

Williams v. Best Cartage Inc. - NC Workers' Compensation for Knee Replacement

A semi-truck driver who suffered a knee injury during a fall while exiting his truck when he stopped for breakfast will receive workers' compensation, according to a recent decision by the North Carolina Court of Appeals.
The employer appealed the initial grant of benefits on grounds commission erred in failing to identify a specific reason for plaintiff's fall and secondly in concluding plaintiff's knee injury was causally related to his work accident and therefore compensable. Plaintiff's pre-existing arthritis was a primary point of contention in this case.

But the appellate court affirmed, meaning plaintiff will receive benefits for his knee replacement.

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March 8, 2015

Patton v. Sears Roebuck - NC Appeals Court Weighs Asbestos Work Injury Case

Workers who have suffered injury as a result of asbestos exposure on the job are likely to be facing serious health consequences and do have several avenues for compensation.
That may involve product liability litigation against the makers of the dangerous products, but in some cases it can also involve claims for workers' compensation. While workers' compensation is the exclusive remedy for work-related claims, that only pertains to liability of an employer. Third party claims (such as those against manufacturers of dangerous products) are not barred by this rule.

Recently, the North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed an award of worker's compensation death benefits to survivors of a worker who died of illness caused by decades-old work-related exposure to the deadly asbestos fibers.

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February 10, 2015

Demetres v. East West Construction, Inc. - Near-Fatal Bulldozer Injuries and Exclusive Remedy

After being nearly killed by a subcontractor employee operating a bulldozer, a former general contractor supervisor, of North Carolina, attempted to pursue a negligence lawsuit against the subcontractor and its worker.
However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled in Demetres v. East West Construction, Inc. the subcontractor was protected per the exclusive remedy provision of Virginia's workers' compensation law.

Exclusive remedy means injuries arising out of and in the course of one's employment are only compensable by workers' compensation - so far as the employer is concerned. While third-party negligence lawsuits are sometimes pursued, co-workers, sub-contractors and general contractors may be protected under this provision too, depending on the details of the relationship and incident.

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January 29, 2015

Making Workplace Accident Prevention a 2014 Goal

The New Year means it is time for resolutions. Employers need to resolve to take workplace seriously safety this year and to do what they can to try to improve work conditions. business-men-silhouette-1014502-m.jpg

Employees can also do their part to protect themselves this year. Workers should resolve to know their rights when it comes to safety issues and to speak up if they believe something is wrong on their job site.

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January 19, 2015

Gun Policies affect Workplace Violence Concerns in North Carolina

In the United States, there are now 22 different states that permit employees to bring guns to work and leave the guns in their cars in the office parking lot. North Carolina was one of the most recent states to approve these new gun laws, along with Tennessee and Missouri. According to WBUR, the loosening of gun laws in North Carolina and other states have left employers debating on what to do to ensure the safety of the workplace. black-and-white-gun-1409524-m.jpg

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), almost two million Americans report victimization by workplace violence each year. There are likely many more cases of violence that are not reported and tallied.

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