Recently in Workers' Compensation Procedures Category

July 5, 2015

O'Neal v. Inline Fluid Power, Inc. - Denial of Indemnity Benefits

About half of all workers' compensation benefits paid in North Carolina are indemnity benefits. These are benefits paid to workers who are injured with the purpose of replacing or supplementing worker's lost income.
Another term for indemnity benefits is "lost wages." There are two basic types: Temporary and permanent. Temporary benefits are paid to supplement worker wages while the worker is recovering from his or her injury. This could be while worker is unable to work or while he or she returns part-time. Permanent indemnity benefits, meanwhile, are paid to workers who have reached maximum medical improvement and may have suffered permanent disability as a result of the work injury.

The amount of indemnity benefits an employee will receive will depend on the amount of the worker's pay history prior to the injuries, and most jurisdictions allow for two-thirds of worker's regular gross pay.

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June 30, 2015

Lifting Accidents and Injuries Common for Nurses and Nursing Assistants

Working as a nurse often involves more physical lifting of heavy loads than most people realize. This, in turn, leads to more incidents of work-related injury. According to a recent news feature from Business Insurance, nurses routinely suffer from injuries while lifting patients, even though all hospitals provide lifting aids.

hospital-1385736-m.jpgRecent study data from the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) shows nurses and nursing assistants suffered from more musculoskeletal injuries than many other occupations. The actual numbers depict a rate of nearly 209 lifting injuries per 10,000 full-time workers. This is a significant rate when we consider that, in an average of all industries, there is a rate of around 36 musculoskeletal injuries per 10,000 full-time employees.

Most of these injuries to the nurses and healthcare workers happen when they are attempting to lift or physically move a patient. To help make things easier at hospitals around the country, regulations require a variety of different types of patient lifting systems. This includes state-of-the-art hoists, full-body sling lifts, and overhead lifting systems to help lift patients who are confined to a hospital bed and unable to sit up without help. There is also a great deal of lifting when transporting patients from one bed to another. To help minimize this, they are now using hospital beds as movable gurneys whenever possible. In some hospitals, patient beds are even being used in place of traditional operating tables.

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June 28, 2015

Common Carolina Workplace Injuries and Causes

Some jobs are more dangerous than others. However, we often think of dangers in terms of large, single-event catastrophes, where a worker was healthy on his or her way to work and ended up in the hospital by day's end. However, many of the job injuries and illnesses result from long-term work involving repetitive tasks.

wristpain.jpgFor example, carpal tunnel syndrome is normally the result of performing repetitive tasks during a long period of time and is not the result of a single workplace accident.

According to a recent news article from Owatonna People's Press, certain types of work environments are more likely to lead to workplace injuries than others. However, there are certain steps that can be taken at most workplaces to prevent on-the-job injury and illness.

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June 26, 2015

Timing of Reporting Workplace Injuries in South Carolina

One of the most important things any injured worker can do is to make sure his or her workplace accident or work-related illness is promptly reported to his or her employer and a claim is filed for workers' compensation as soon as possible following the incident.

clock-1408511-m.jpgAccording to a recent news article from Business Insurance, it is not only injured employees who can benefit from timely reporting, as this timeliness of claims should also be important to employers. Experts say that encouraging employees to immediately file accident and injury reports can help keep their costs down. However, these same experts warn employers there should never been an employer-controlled penalty for failing to file a workers' compensation claim in a timely manner. If there is a state statute of limitations on how long a worker can wait to file a workers' compensation claim, then the state statute, and not an employer's policy, should dictate any penalty, including dismissal of a claim.

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June 24, 2015

Worker Killed During Construction of New Smithsonian Museum

Each year, millions of tourists from all over the world come to Washington, DC for a family vacation. One of the best things about Washington, DC is that, while it may be expensive to stay there, there are many family-friendly activities that are completely free. The best examples of this are the various museums administered by the Smithsonian Institute. Many of these Smithsonian museums are located around the National Mall. The most popular museums, based upon annual visitors, are the Air and Space Museum and the American Museum of Natural History.

building-1086498-m.jpgHowever, these are just two of the many museums that are housed in buildings that are each true works of art. Many of these buildings have been constructed and renovated over the years, and new museums are under construction or in planning stages. The museum scheduled to open next is the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is being constructed near the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. While the museum will be a wonderful place to visit once complete, for the workers helping to build it, it is like any other construction job, and that means it can be a dangerous place to work.

According to a recent article in the Washington Post, a worker was recently killed when scaffolding collapsed during construction of the new museum. The 50-year-old construction worker was on scaffolding above the roof of the museum during its construction when he became trapped in some of the scaffolding on which he was working. While he was trapped in the scaffolding, it collapsed, and he fell to the roof surface. Witnesses immediately called 911, and first responders quickly arrived on the scene. When emergency personnel made it to the roof of the building, they assessed the nature and extent of worker's injuries. They quickly removed him from the roof and began to initiate CPR.

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June 22, 2015

Five Workers Injured from Poison Gas Leak at Apple Data Center in NC

According to a recent report from The Guardian, five workers were taken to the hospital as a result of a chlorine gas leak at Apple's massive data center located in Maiden, North Carolina.

chlorine-gas-116007-m.jpgData centers for computer giants like Google and Apple, both of which are located in the Carolinas, use extremely powerful servers and data handling computers to manage the operation. Essentially, the network is designed to not only manage data, but to serve as a conduit for cloud computing operations. These powerful computers tend to get extremely hot, so, in addition to using an enormous amount of electricity, they also require a large supply of water to cool the data servers.

Water-cooled electronics are not common in terms of consumer products, but it is a very common method of cooling large commercial data centers and switches. However, due to the sensitive nature of the server's equipment, including the cooling system, the water must be sterilized to prevent any contamination from disrupting operation of the data center. Chlorine is often used as a chemical agent to sanitize the water being pumped through the coolant system.

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June 19, 2015

Fatal South Carolina Workplace Accident - Falling Concrete Block

Throughout much of our history, construction jobs have always been one of the more dangerous occupations. While construction work has become significantly safer over the past 100 years, there are still frequent accidents, and some of the accidents result in a worker being killed.

wall-4-589624-m.jpgAccording to a recent news report from WISTV, a worker in Orangeburg, South Carolina was killed when a falling concrete block hit him. Witnesses say the 70-year-old victim was working on a masonry project taking down a cinderblock wall at the time of his on-the-job fatal injury.

While he was attempting to dismantle the wall one block at a time, the wall became unstable and collapsed, causing a large concrete block to fall on him. Authorities conducted an investigation into the fatal work-related accident, as is always done, and quickly determined the worker's death was in fact the result of an accident. No other workers at the construction site were injured when the wall collapsed.

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June 16, 2015

Report: Young, Hispanic Immigrant Construction Workers at High Risk of Injury

Young, Hispanic immigrant construction workers employed by small companies have the highest risk of suffering an on-the-job injury. That's according to a new study conducted by NIOSH and the American Society of Safety Engineers.
The agencies were interested in examining the safety of individuals with overlapping vulnerabilities. A number of factors contribute to the likelihood of an injury, such as race, class, gender, the growth of the temporary workforce and the weaknesses of companies with 20 or fewer workers.

The report identifies three groups - Hispanic immigrants, small business employees and young workers that, separately, have an elevated risk of job-related injury and poor health outcomes when an accident does occur. When a worker shares all of these traits, the researchers found, the risk of injury is even higher.

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June 6, 2015

Fields v. H&E Equipment Services LLC - Importance of Expert Witness Testimony

Certain matters of fact in a workers' compensation lawsuit may require special explanation by an expert witness. These matters can range from injury causation to extent of injury to the types of treatments deemed reasonably necessary.
In the recent North Carolina Court of Appeals case of Fields v. H&E Equipment Services LLC, the issue was the employee's inability to find other work.

This may not seem a highly technical issue on the surface, but it can be when the court is comparing the types of injuries a worker sustained to the kinds of jobs available that he or she can reasonably do.

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May 31, 2015

Workers' Compensation Lawsuit Over Pain Killer Addiction

It is an unfortunate fact that many victims of debilitating injuries eventually become seriously addicted to the opioid painkillers their doctors have prescribed during the recovery process. According to a recent news article from Insurance Business, around 30 plaintiffs have filed a series of civil actions alleging defendant doctors and medical treatment facilities over-prescribed narcotic painkillers in such quantities that caused plaintiffs to become addicted to the opioid-based medications.

pills2.jpgThe majority of painkillers listed in the respective lawsuits were Vicodin, OxyContin, Lortab, and Xanax (technically a benzodiazepine), and were prescribed for injured workers who suffered on-the-job accidents and automobile injuries. They were able to do this under a recent West Virginia state court decision that allowed workers' compensation victims to sue medical providers for allegedly over-prescribed and over-dispensing narcotic medications.

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May 28, 2015

Investigating Workers' Compensation Fraud

Insurance companies and employers are constantly accusing workers of faking or exaggerating an injury or illness to claim workers' compensation benefits to which they are not entitled. Here is an example of the lengths these companies will go to try to prove a worker is not really disabled as seen in a recent feature from ABC News.

binoculars-a-1020910-m.jpgNews reporters accompanied private investigators who were conducting surveillance on a rural farm to catch the supposedly injured farmer engaging in any activities which tended to show was not truly as injured as he claimed. Investigators were wearing full camouflage, operating at night, and used night vision cameras and optics as part of their surveillance efforts.

The team then jumped from their SUV and attempted to covertly move through a rural field to get to a suitable observation post. The investigators waited hours until the sun had risen and literally danced with excitement as they captured the man appearing to carry some type of object which was about the size of shoebox into his pickup truck. As the reporter noted "it hardly feels like enough to call the farmer a fraud", but the investigators proudly proclaim this is enough for them to start building a case against the man. They say they are interested in finding any proof that he may be working. It should be noted there have been no charges filed against this man or claims of workers' compensation fraud as of the time the news feature was published.

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May 25, 2015

Workers' Compensation Opt-Out Proposed in South Carolina

According to a recent news article from Business Insurance, South Carolina legislatures are considering a bill, which would allow employers to opt-out of the requirement to purchase a workers' compensation insurance policy by providing an alternative benefits plan.

law books.jpgSouth Carolina is only one of four states that have either already enacted an alternative benefits opt-out law or is considering doing so. The first state to do this was Texas, which actually adopted the law over 100 years ago. Oklahoma enacted a workers' compensation opt-out law in 2013, and Tennessee is in the process of creating this type of legal exception.

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May 23, 2015

Devine v. Great Divide Insurance Company: Workers' Compensation Appeals

Devine v. Great Divide Insurance Company, an appeal from the Supreme Court of Alaska, involves claimant who was working at concrete pouring job site when he was attacked by another employee. Claimant was the owner of Company B.

traffic-warning-sign-1-1102879-m.jpgAccording to the court record, there were two independently owned and operated masonry contractors operating in the remote geographic area in which this work-related accident occurred. One of the companies (Company A) had purchased a general commercial liability (GCL) policy but did not purchase a workers' compensation insurance policy.

On the day of the work-related accident, there was only one cement truck available for rent, and both Company A and the other company (Company B) needed the truck, as they both had jobs to perform. Company A had already reserved the truck that day. Company A offered to help Company B with its concrete pouring job, so the work would be completed sooner, and the truck would be available for Company B's job. Company A accepted help from the other company but did not pay Company B for its work on the first concrete pouring job.

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May 20, 2015

North Carolina Worker Killed in Bridge Collapse

Construction work is a dangerous occupation. When employees are required to work on tall buildings and other structures high off the ground, like bridges, the work is even more treacherous.

pedestrian-bridge-1445954-m.jpgAccording to a recent news report from the News and Record, a worker was recently killed in North Carolina when an alleged design flaw cause a bridge on which he was working to collapse.

Accident investigators say employee was working on a bridge in Raleigh, North Carolina, which was being constructed for Wake Technical College, when design flaws in the support girders caused it to collapse. The bridge being built was designed to be a pedestrian bridge.

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May 15, 2015

Grain Bin Entrapments Increase Nationwide, Resulting in Farm Worker Deaths

Many agricultural workers in North and South Carolina perform work that requires them to go into a grain bin. While it may be something many who are not working in agriculture have never considered, grain bins can be very dangerous places to work. One typical accident, which can cause serious injury or even death, involves a shifting of contents, causing workers to get trapped inside. Another danger posed by grain bins is bacteria can cause fermentation, which can actually lead to spontaneous combustion inside a grain bin, which, in turn, can injure or kill workers.

industry-1042408-m.jpgHowever, it should noted, some do not believe there has been any significant increase in the number of grain bin collapses and related deaths or injuries, but, rather, there has been a large increase in reporting of such incidents in recent years as this is now a focus.

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