Recently in Workers' Compensation Procedures Category

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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May 12, 2015

Tree Trimmer Dies on the Job in North Carolina

An employee can get injured on any job. It does not matter whether he or she is working on the deck of a crab boat in the Bering Sea as featured on Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch or working as a stocker at a local big box store. If an employee is injured on the job, employee is entitled to receive workers' compensation.

beech-1446300-m.jpgHowever, some jobs are inherently more dangerous than others, and working as a tree trimmer is one of the more dangerous occupations. While people may think of someone standing on the ground with a pole saw trimming low hanging branches, in reality, tree trimmers regularly climb to the tops of large trees while holding a chainsaw, and many of these trees are in very frail condition, as they are old and diseased or may have been hit by lightning.

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May 9, 2015

Workers March in Memorial of Employee Deaths in North Carolina

According to a recent news article from WRAL, workers in Raleigh, North Carolina marched from the site of a fatal construction accident in remembrance of workers who died or suffered severe on-the-job injury.

constructionworker.jpgThose taking part in the march included members of a national labor union, the North Carolina Counsel of Churches, a farm labor organization, and several other state workers' rights group. This march was held on International Workers' Memorial Day.

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May 6, 2015

Collins v. Seko Charlotte: Workers' Compensation and Subcontractors

Collins v. Seko Charlotte, a case from the Supreme Court of South Carolina, involved a claimant who was killed while working for a delivery company. He was returning to South Carolina from a delivery in the Midwest when he was involved in a fatal car accident.

crash4.jpgAt the time of death, claimant was working for a company directly and doing work for another company that had entered into a contract with his employer. Following fatal work-related accident, his family filed a workers' compensation claim against both companies and insurance carriers for both companies. After a hearing, commissioner determined the company his employer had contracted with (contract employer) was his employer for purposes of workers' compensation pursuant to section 42-1-410 of the South Carolina Code.

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May 4, 2015

Andrews v. Ridco, Inc.: Bad Faith Handling of Workers' Compensation Claims

Andrews v. Ridco, Inc., a case from the South Dakota Supreme Court, involved an individual who suffered an injury to his back and neck in March of 2005 while working as a gold polisher. Employer's workers' compensation insurance company paid claimant benefits for two years following his accident, until claimant filed a claim with the workers' compensation commission seeking additional benefits, as his condition had worsened over time.

gaveljan.jpgDuring this hearing, a workers' compensation commissioner concluded claimant's increased head and neck pain was work-related, as his on-the-job injury was a major contributing factor. Roughly three years after this, claimant filed a lawsuit against insurance company in which he alleged bad faith handling of his workers' compensation claims.

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May 2, 2015

Liberty Mutual Ins. Co. v. Domtar Paper Co.: Third-Party Lawsuits and Workers' Compensation

Liberty Mutual Ins. Co. v. Domtar Paper Co., a case from the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, involved claimant who slipped and fell while working for a trucking company. Claimant was in a parking lot owned by one company and leased to another at time of the accident.

trucker.jpgFollowing the work-related injury, claimant filed a workers' compensation claim with trucking company's workers' compensation insurance carrier, and insurance carrier paid claimant around $33,000 in benefits as compensation for his injury.

Following payment of claimant's workers' compensation benefits award, employer's insurance company filed an action against parking lot owner and parking lot lessee seeking reimbursement for money paid to claimant on grounds accident was due to their negligence. Insurance company listed itself as having assumed claimant's rights, though claimant himself never filed any action against defendants.

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April 30, 2015

North Carolina Workers' Compensation Death Benefits

In North Carolina, the workers' compensation system was created to compensate employees who suffer a work-related injury or illness. Workers' compensation benefits are designed to provide compensation for medical bills, lost wages, future medical expenses, and funeral expenses in case of a fatal work-related accident or illness.

gavel5.jpgWhile most people associate lost wages with people who are injured on the job but still living, lost wages benefits are often the most important aspect of a workers' compensation claim involving a worker who has been killed on the job.

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April 26, 2015

Bakery Explosion Results in Serious Burn Injuries to Worker

Restaurant workers get burned all the time. Normally, it is not a serious burn, but they happen frequently from causes such as splattering grease, reaching too close to a food warmer, or even from a hot dishwasher. Many "back of the house" employees consider getting minor burns just another part of the job. However, a recent news article from WPRI involves a much more serious accident from a much more serious cause.

bread-1426350-m.jpgAuthorities say worker was at his place of employment, a bakery, around 10 p.m. when witnesses say he went to light a pilot light on an oven, and an explosion occurred in which employee was seriously injured. Following the explosion, worker was able to get out of the bakery without assistance, despite having suffered serious second-degree burns on over 20 percent of his body.

When first responders arrived at the scene, EMTs went to provide immediate medical attention to employee, as firefighters went to put out the large structure fire being fueled by natural gas. Firefighters, with assistance from the local gas utility company, were eventually able to shut off the flowing gas and suppress the fire.

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April 23, 2015

North Carolina State Worker Injured on the Job

According to a recent news report from Eyewitness News 11, a state worker is in the hospital with life-threatening injuries as result of a serious on-the-job accident. Witnesses say employee was working at the State Archives in Raleigh setting up a scissor lift at the time of his accident.

workers-01-566067-m.jpgWitnesses say two employees were working to repair an outside light using a scissor lift when the left fell over crushing one of the employees. Fortunately, there were already police officers working at the location, and they were able to provide immediate assistance to the injured employee. Police officers performed CPR until EMTs arrived and transported him to a local level-one trauma center.

A spokesperson for the NC Department of Administration says two maintenance employees were working on an exterior light when a scissor lift toppled over, injuring one of the workers. North Carolina Occupational Safety and Health Administration is currently conducting an investigation into how this was able to happen, and they have net yet released any conclusions.

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April 18, 2015

Sheena H. v. W. Va. Office of Ins. Commissioner

Sheena H. v. W. Va. Office of Ins. Commissioner, a workers' compensation appeal from West Virginia, involved employee who was a 24-year-old coal miner who died as result of a seizure while he was sleeping. His mother and his 6-year-old daughter survived him.

This case involved a workers' compensation death benefits claim on behalf of employee's surviving daughter. While his mother filed the appeal, she was not a party to the matter.

strip-mine-excavator-3-262839-m.jpgPrior to his death in December of 2010, employee was injured in an on-the-job accident in March of 2009. While employee was working in the mine, a wrench which was on the ceiling of the coal mine fell and hit employee on the head. He was knocked unconscious for about a minute and was left with a knot on his head approximately the size of a golf ball.

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April 5, 2015

State ex rel. Viking Forge Corp. v. Perry - Disability Payments After Termination

Workers who suffer a job injury need to understand that if they voluntarily leave their job, they may no longer be entitled to collect disability. In some cases, employers have argued voluntary abandonment of the job, even when the worker was terminated.
It's important for a worker in this situation to consult with an experienced lawyer because companies too often improperly label an employee departures in an effort to avoid providing workers disability benefits they are otherwise due.

This is what reportedly happened in the case of State ex rel. Viking Forge Corp. v. Perry, where a worker suffered an on-the-job injury but did not seek temporary total disability benefits until after he'd been fired for violation of work rules. Although the state industrial commission approved his award of temporary total disability benefits, the employer sought to have that ruling thrown out. However, the Ohio Supreme Court ultimately affirmed.

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