Articles Posted in Medical Treatment

Many North Carolina workers’ compensation claims will ultimately settle by way of a “clincher agreement.” This is a compromised agreement or settlement between an employer, the insurance company and the injured worker. mineelevator

In most cases, this involves a lump sum cash settlement and coverage of certain medical expenses in exchange for release of all future reliability against both the employer and the insurer. It’s imperative in these negotiations to ensure your attorney is actively involved in the process. These agreements are essentially contracts, and there could be lifelong implications. Workers have to be sure that not only are immediate and outstanding medical expenses will be covered, but future claims as well. That may require extensive medical analysis and an in-depth look at future costs.

It was  a “clincher agreement” that was at the center of Newlon v. Teck American, Inc., a case recently before the Montana Supreme Court. Continue reading

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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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.

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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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Workers’ compensation benefits are available to any worker who suffers injury or loses his or her life while performing work-related job duties. Some cases can be more complicated than others. For example, drivers who are in an accident while leaving or heading to work or workers who suffer illness. Can a worker collect compensation when they are injured as a result of a pre-existing or chronic condition? Every case is unique and should be reviewed by an experienced advocate. When pursuing workers’ compensation benefits after an accident or injury, it is important to know your rights and the potential obstacles you may face.

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In some instances, workers with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, will often take longer to recover from an on-the-job injury. If the worker suffers from partial or permanent disability, workers’ compensation costs go up for employers. Even if an employer has advanced knowledge of the condition, workers’ compensation benefits may still extend to total cost of an injured workers medical care and lost wages. Some states, including Connecticut, Florida, New York, and California, allow disability benefits to be split between and employer and another responsible entity, such as a former employer or state-controlled injury fund.
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Our North Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys understand that compensation claims for injuries that occurred on the way to and on the way home from work are often initially denied by employers under the “coming-and-going” rule. The North Carolina Court of Appeals addressed this issue in Gillette v. Dollar Tree Stores, Inc.

ice-frozen-river.jpgIn Hanik v. Christopher & Banks, Inc., a case filed in the Supreme Court for the State of Kentucky, Kimberly Hanik was an assistant store manager at Christopher & Banks clothing store in Kentucky. The store was located the Summit shopping center in Louisville. The shopping center is designed in the shape of “U” with a parking lot in the middle and the stores on the outside. There is also a rear parking lot. The store has doors that open to both lots.

While walking to her car parked in the back lot, Hanik slipped on black ice and fell, injuring her shoulder. She promptly reported the accident to the store manager. The manager, Patricia Spence, and the company both concluded that the accident happened in the employee parking lot.
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In the age of computers, more and more workers are leaving jobs involving heavy labor and relying on technology to perform their jobs. Sitting at desk tops, hunched over iPads and Blackberries, today’s workforce faces a number of different chronic and repetitive stress injuries than earlier generations. For many workers, cramped wrists, sore necks and back pain are part of desk jobs and office work. When does a work-related injury over time give rise to workers’ compensation claim?

Repetitive stress injuries are becoming increasingly common, especially for desk-job employees who spend their entire work day at a computer. Our Greensboro workers’ compensation attorneys are experienced in handling a range of claims and understand the pain and frustration faced by workers with repetitive stress injuries. Every case is unique so it is important to have your case and claim reviewed by an experienced workers compensation attorney.

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OSHA is well-aware of how repetitive stress can impact the lives of American workers. The agency reports that repetitive stress injuries are the fasted growing of workplace injuries and involve more than 100 different job-induced injuries involving overuse and wear and tear of the body. Even though repetitive stress injuries can be difficult to prove, they can severely limit the ability of an employee to continue working and to manage day to day tasks. In some cases, repetitive stress injuries completely destroy the workers’ ability to continue with job performance.
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Proper training, equipment, and safety precautions are necessary to prevent workplace injury. While preventing accidents in the workplace is critical, the general well-being of employees can also help to create a safe and healthy work environment.

The National Safety Council launched its Employee Wellness Week this month to promote safe behaviors that can prevent injury and death. The agency is seeking to promote educated decisions with regard to general health and well-being.

Many people do not consider their health or well-being until they have an illness or injury. Overall health means taking care of your body, having regular check-ups, and avoiding harmful behaviors. Knowing good behavioral practices can ensure that you keep your mind and body healthy. This promotes overall well-being at home and in the workplace. Our North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers also know that general employee wellness can often be overlooked. We are dedicated to helping the NSC promote safety and the general health of employees.

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Every day, we make important decisions that will affect our overall health. When you wake up in the morning, you could choose to eat eggs and bacon or a piece of fruit. You could opt to ride your bike to work or drive a car. During the workday, you could choose to eat a salad or a cheeseburger.The choices we make have the ability to impact our bodies, intellect, and emotional well-being affecting our performance at home and at work.

In addition to eating well and getting appropriate exercise, employers and employees should also be aware of any drug or alcohol habits that could affect health and mindfulness. According to the NSC, the use of prescription pain medication has reached epidemic levels in the United States. Every day, there are 45 people who die of an overdose of prescription pain medication. This is a shocking statistic that should make regular users question their intake and habits.

If you are prescribed a painkiller, you should take additional precautions to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. You medications should be kept in their original containers and stored out of sight and away from children. If you have finished with your prescription or you have decided that you no longer need a prescription, you should make sure any leftover pills are properly disposed. This can prevent theft or abuse of your old medications. If a doctor has given you a prescription, you should know the proper dose and only take your medication as it has been prescribed.

The NSC is reaching out to organizations, communities and the general public to disseminate important information about health and to effectively reduce the damage of prescription abuse and addiction. If someone you love is suffering from an addiction, you should seek appropriate resources.

Remember that the decisions you make now can have long-term impact on your overall health. Employers as well as employees should be aware of behavioral patterns that could impact workplace safety. If you have questions about your health or healthy habits, you should consult with your doctor. Promoting general health in the workplace can also prevent future illness and injuries.
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It’s flu season! And companies across the country need to be ready. It’s imperative that we learn how to reduce the spread of the flu in our workplaces.

According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), workers in the healthcare field should be especially careful! In this field, many workers complete tasks like specimen analysis, aerosol-generating procedures, direct patient care and other dangerous tasks. These tasks are also performed in a number of setting, including both in- and out-patient care, schools, correctional institutions and industrial workplaces.
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According to recent research, the 2012-2013 seasonal flu vaccine will protect against the three influenza viruses
Our Charlotte workers’ compensation attorneys understand that there are a number of ways that you can prevent fly transmission. Some of these preventative measures include getting vaccinated, following the proper steps for cough and hygiene etiquette, staying home if you’re sick, following all infection control practices in your work place and using surgical masks, gloves, gowns and other protective equipment when needed.

The truth of the matter is that pandemic flu continues to be a concern for employees and employers across the country. One of these pandemics can happen at any time,

The pandemic in 2009 was considered by HHS/CDC to be mild but it still created a number of challenges for employers and showed that many of our country’s workplaces weren’t prepared.

How to Protect Yourself in the Workplace during a Pandemic:

-If you’re feeling sick, stay home. You don’t want to spread the condition.

-Make sure that you’re washing your hands often. Wash with water and soap for a minimum of 20 seconds.

-Try not to touch your eyes, mouth or nose.

-When coughing, be sure to cover your mouth.

-Wash your hands after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing.

-Try not to work within close quarters of others. Try to keep a 6-foot space.

-Avoid shaking hands. If you have to, wash your hands afterward.

-If you’re wearing gloves on the job, be sure to wash your hands once you take them off.

-Surfaces that are touched often, like the phones, computers or door handles, should be cleaned frequently.

-Try to stay away from other workers’ desks and personal items.

-Make sure all meeting and common rooms are properly ventilated.

-Keep unnecessary individuals out of the work place.

-Make sure your living health. Make sure you have a healthy diet, you’re getting enough exercise and you’re getting plenty of rest.
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At this time of year we would like to remind employers to be proactive when it comes to flu prevention in the workplace. Catching the flu at work and bringing it into households with young children, elderly residents and those with compromised immune systems can be troublesome.
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Our North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers in Gastonia and elsewhere understand that this year’s flu vaccine will protect you against three influenza viruses: A (H1N1), A (H3N2) and influenza B virus. Three types of flu include:

Seasonal influenza

This is a respiratory illness outbreak in the U.S., usually occurring in the fall and winter. Outbreaks are usually limited, and many people have immunity to the particular virus strain. To prepare for the flu season a vaccine is made in advance to match the particular strain.

Pandemic influenza

This is an outbreak of a new virus strain that happens worldwide that can be passed from person to person. In the early stages of an influenza pandemic, few people will have a natural immunity to the new strain. This leads to more people getting sick, thus increasing the spread of the virus. Since it is a new strain there may not be a vaccine or if there is, there will be limited availability for many months. Currently there is no influenza pandemic but it is feared that it is only a matter of time before the next one occurs. The severity of it is unpredictable and could be anything from a bad flu season to a catastrophic influenza pandemic that could lead to vast numbers of sick people and fatalities, economic loss and social disruption. The 2009 pandemic flu was deemed mild by the CDC but it exposed many issues in the workplace that employers were not ready for.

Avian influenza (AI)

Bird flu is a virus that infects domestic poultry and wild birds and varies in its form. The virus is grouped by low pathogenic and highly pathogenic strains. Low pathogenic naturally occurs in wild birds and can extend to domestic birds. It causes very mild or no symptoms in the birds and has no effect on humans. The low pathogenic strain can lead to the highly pathogenic strain which can result in rapid spreading and death to the birds. The H5N1 strain can be spread to humans.

How employers can minimize the risk of spreading pandemic flu in the workplace:

-Advise ill workers to stay home.

-Instruct workers to frequently wash their hands and try to not touch their eyes, mouth and nose.

-Advise workers to sneeze or cough into their sleeve and they should wash their hands after blowing their nose, sneezing or coughing.

-Supply the public and customers with trash cans, tissues and an area to disinfect or wash their hands.

-All work surfaces, computer equipment, telephones and other repeatedly touched items and surfaces should be cleaned with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved disinfectant.

-Discourage your workers from using other worker’s equipment and work area.

-Cancel group outings and avoid unnecessary meetings.

-Promoting a healthy lifestyle will increase the body’s immune system to fight off the flu. Programs should include exercise, smoking cessation and good nutrition.

-Workers should avoid contact with other workers when possible. It is recommended to maintain a separation of at least 6 feet.
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Tenneco Automotive Operating Company’s manufacturing facility located in neighboring Georgia has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for 20 health and safety violations. Many of the violations involve hexavalent chromium exposure. The proposed monetary penalty is $90,000.
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Our North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers in Greensboro know that exposure to hexavalent chromium can cause damage to the lungs, nose and throat and have lifelong effects on a worker’s quality of life.

Hexavalent chromium is a metallic form of chromium that is a naturally occurring element found in various objects like soil, plants, rocks, volcanic dust and gases. There are many industrial applications that use hexavalent chromium including leather processing, welding stainless steel, arc welding, painting, electroplating, grinding stainless steel, textile dying, wood preservation and chrome finishing.

A spokesperson for OSHA commented that violations regarding hexavalent chromium exposure are inexcusable due to the abundance of information available to employers.

In May 2010, OSHA started enforcing new standards for hexavalent chromium, which require engineering controls for anyone working with hexavalent chromium. The most important change in the new standard involves workers’ exposure limit. The old standard had an exposure limit of 52 micrograms per cubic meter on an 8-hour time-weighted average. The new standard has an exposure limit (PEL) of 5 micrograms per cubic meter. It is vital to limit employee exposure limits because hexavalent chromium is a known carcinogen when inhaled.

Safety equipment needed to protect workers from hexavalent chromium can include respirators, fume extractors, goggles and safety clothing. It is recommended that employers have a separate area for employees to store and change their protective clothing and provide them access to a clean air supply before leaving the workplace
Seventeen serious violations were cited. Serious violations are defined as those with a significant probability that a worker could die or become seriously ill or injured from the hazard that the employer knew or should have been aware. Seven of these violations involved hexavalent chromium including:

-Failing to avoid exposure above OSHA’s allowed exposure limits.

-Not having a plan on how to limit exposure time.

-Not giving workers a separate storage/changing area for personal protective equipment.

-Failing to discuss with a doctor about chromium exposures.

-Not having an eyewash area.

-Not providing clean work area surfaces free from chromium particles.

-Not providing sealed containers for disposal of waste.

The other serious violations involved entering confined spaces, lockout/tag-out procedures and lack of safety guards and covers on machines and electric panels.

Violations that resulted in no financial penalty included a lack of confined space training, improper mounting of switch boxes and outlets, and a blocked electrical disconnect.

For more information on hexavalent chromium , visit OSHA’s website.
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