Recently in North Carolina Workers' Compensation Category

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.
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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.
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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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January 17, 2015

Schultz v. Workers' Compensation Appeals Board - Coming and Going Rule Exception


While workers' compensation law can vary from state-to-state, generally the coming-and-going rule is universally recognized as barring coverage of benefits. That is, if a worker is on her way to or leaving from her place of employment, any injuries sustained in the course of that commute are not compensable because they don't occur within the ordinary course of employment.
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However, courts across the country have come to different conclusions about what exactly "coming and going" is and how it should be interpreted.

Many states, including North Carolina, have accepted the "premises exception" to the coming and going rule. This essentially holds that injuries arising on the employer's premises (i.e., a parking lot, stairway, etc.) would be payable, even though the worker was hurt while going to or leaving work.

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January 5, 2015

Seamon v. Rand and Travelers - Repetitive Motion Injury Compensation Affirmed


In many workers' compensation cases, the illness or injury at issue is one that occurs over time or in some cases can occur naturally for some people, due to genetics or other factors. In these situations, no one doubts the severity of the condition, but proving causation between work-related duties and the injury/illness is central.
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Such was the case in Seamon v. Rand and Travelers, recently reviewed by the North Carolina Court of Appeals, following a decision favoring plaintiff by the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

At issue was a condition known as distal occlusive disease and thrombosis in one hand and aneurysms in both hands, resulting in blood clotting in his fingers. Clots had to be surgically removed from plaintiff's hands, and several fingers were amputated.

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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.

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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 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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November 30, 2014

Cuomo v. Crane Co. - Asbestos Exposure Work Injury Claim


In North Carolina, workers who have suffered on-the-job injury or illness must file a claim in a timely manner. The North Carolina Industrial Commission allows some latitude to injured workers who fail to file written notices of injury with an employer, but all are bound by the requirement that a claim must be filed with the commission within two years of the incident resulting in injury. Otherwise, the claim is forever barred.
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Because the exceptions to this rule are extremely narrow, it's imperative workers suffering occupational injury or illness contact an experienced workers' compensation lawyer right away.

One of the very few exceptions that may be recognized would be occupational illness stemming from asbestos exposure. The reason exceptions are made in these cases is because workers generally do not know whether exposure to asbestos at work has caused them injury or illness until the very late stages of asbestos-related disease (such as asbestosis and mesothelioma). Until symptoms appear, often decades after the fact, workers would have no indication of illness.

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November 3, 2014

Fox v. Sara Lee Corp. - Workers' Compensation for Sexual Assault at Work


A recent report by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission indicated there are more than 12,000 reports of sexual harassment to that agency annually. The actual number of incidents is almost certainly far higher. The official figures also don't necessarily include the number of sexual assaults at work. Every two minutes in the U.S., a woman is sexually assaulted, and nearly 40 percent of those instances involve someone they know - including potentially co-workers, customers, etc.
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In these instances, is workers' compensation the exclusive remedy for employees who are sexually assaulted on-the-job or at a job site? The answer is: It depends.

Workers compensation laws, as enacted in all 50 states, provide payments to workers who are injured during the course and/or scope of employment. With few exceptions, these laws provide exclusive remedy for workplace injuries, and thus bar workers from filing civil lawsuits against their employers.

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October 20, 2014

Bass v. Harnett County - Failure to Immediately Report Work Injury Can Damage Case


Back injuries are among the most common type of work-related physical injury employees sustain. It's also one of the toughest to prove work-related causation, especially where previous issues existed.
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That's why immediate medical attention of a back injury - no matter how seemingly minor - is always advised by workers' compensation lawyers. Receiving an assessment right away can help rule out later assertions that the injuries in question are related to pre-existing conditions, and therefore not compensable.

In order to be payable under state workers' compensation laws, most claims have to begin with an "injury by accident." Back injuries are one of the exceptions, with N.C.G.S. 97-2(6) allowing some injuries don't necessarily rise out of an "accident," but rather a "specific traumatic incident of the work assigned."

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September 21, 2014

Harris v. Haynes: On Worker's Compensation in Car Accident Cases


Harris v. Haynes, an appeal heard before the Supreme Court of Tennessee, involved a claimant ("Claimant") who was working as a police officer for the local sheriff's office. Claimant was assisting with a traffic control operation when a woman driving a pickup truck ("Defendant") ran into him.

480202_broken_car.jpgClaimant applied for and was awarded workers' compensation benefits to compensate him for lost wages and medical bills. Claimant also filed a civil lawsuit against Defendant under a theory of negligence. The trial court entered a default judgment against Defendant and awarded Claimant and his wife $1,250,000 million in damages.

Claimant also filed a claim against the state risk management ("SRM") department under the uninsured motorist (UIM) plan. Claimant and SRM filed cross summary judgment motions. While parties acknowledged that claimants who receive workers' compensation benefits are not also eligible to collect on an uninsured motorist policy, Claimant argued that a portion of the state code conflicted with that prohibition under this particular set of circumstances.

Our Charlotte, North Carolina injury attorneys who represent people injured on the job understand that there are often issues that arise when there are more parties involved in a workers' compensation action than simply the employee and his or her employer.

The trial court granted SRM's motion for summary judgment on grounds that the SRM is a state insurance pool and Employer had specifically rejected UIM coverage when signing the policy contract.

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September 3, 2014

Black Lung Work Illness Benefits Upheld for Former Smoker


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently upheld a lower court's decision to grant federal Black Lung benefits to a former coal miner, despite the fact that his years as a cigarette smoker had raised questions regarding the source of his illness.
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The case of Central OH Coal Co. v. Dir.r, Office of Workers' Comp. Programs reveals that when it comes to federal benefits for "black lung," there is much in the worker's favor, assuming he has an experienced Asheville work injury lawyer to advocate on his behalf.

The Black Lung Benefits Act allows for payment to workers deemed 100 percent disabled due to pneumoconiosis, which is a chronic dust disease of the lung caused by coal mining. It's distributed through the U.S. Department of Labor, unlike workers' compensation benefits, which are overseen by the state.

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August 26, 2014

Morgan v. Interim Healthcare - Refusal to Accept Suitable Employment


The purpose of workers' compensation is to give workers and employers a straightforward process by which to request and offer benefits to those who have been injured at work, without the hassle of a lawsuit. The ultimate goal in most cases is for the worker to return to gainful employment, whenever possible.
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A worker who refuses to seek or secure employment when the commission deems the worker eligible to do so may risk forfeiting these benefits. Such was the case recently in Morgan v. Interim Healthcare, before the North Carolina Court of Appeals.

Our Asheville workers' compensation lawyers know there may be situations in which the North Carolina Industrial Commission overestimates a worker's ability to return to the workforce. An advocate in these circumstances is necessary.

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August 17, 2014

Plane Bound for Asheville, North Carolina Suddenly Dives, Injuring Workers and Passengers


According to a recent article for Fox News, a plane bound for Asheville was forced to make an emergency landing after it suddenly made a significant dive. While diving, a flight attendant hit the ceiling and then fell on a passenger, injuring him. A drink cart also caused an injury. A total of six people were reported hurt.

propeller-1428908-m.jpgAs your Asheville workers' compensation attorney can explain, when employees, such as flight attendants, are injured on the job, it is likely that they will have to file a claim under the state's workers compensation program rather than filing a civil negligence lawsuit.

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