Articles Posted in North Carolina Workers’ Compensation

The number of fatal workplace injuries in the U.S. increased in 2015, according to the final figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.sad face

There were a total of 4,836 job-related deaths in 2015, as compared to the 4,821 recorded in 2014. This was the highest number that has been counted since 2008, when there were 5,214. Still, the rate of injury was lower last year – 3.38 per 100,000 full-time workers, compared to 3.43 in 2014.

An especially vulnerable group included workers of Hispanic and Latino descent. There were 903 of these workers who lost their lives on the job in 2015, which is the most there has been since 2007, when there were 937. For them, the rate of injury also rose 12 percent, from 804 per 100,000 full-time workers up to 903. Workers over the age of 65 also historically have a high rate of injury and death, with 650 of those workers dying in 2015. Still, this represented a slight dip from the 2014 figure of 684.

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The issue of workplace violence is one that affects employees in a vast array of industries, but it’s especially pervasive for those in the health care industry.medical doctor

Last month, the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) issued a formal request for information on potential standards to prevent workplace violence, specifically in health care and social assistance settings. The goal is to collect as much detailed information as possible on a variety of topics so that the agency can help develop strategies that will be effective in lowering the risk of workplace violence. The deadline for submitting information is in April. The agency is also planning on holding a public meeting for those interested on commenting on the issue.

The move was prompted by a report issued by the Government Accountability Office in April that called on OSHA to improve the safety of health care workers, who reportedly suffer much higher rates of workplace violence. In fact, workers in this field suffer some type of violent incident at work at rates that are five times the national average.

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An injured worker in Charlotte sought added medical compensation from the Transit Management in Charlotte following a previous job-related injury.bus

The trial court in Lewis v. Transit Management of Charlotte denied that request, and for reasons explained below, the appellate court affirmed this ruling.

According to court records, the plaintiff worked as a bus operator for the transit management department when he suffered what the defendant conceded was a compensable work-related injury in June 2009. That’s when the driver of a sport utility vehicle rear-ended the bus the plaintiff was driving. The plaintiff reported that injury to the commission. By November 2009, the plaintiff had reportedly reached maximum medical improvement, and, according to his treating physician, he had sustained 0 percent permanent impairment on his back. The plaintiff returned the form, and it was indicated he received up to that date $22,600 in compensation – including $8,800 in medical compensation.

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As families across America prepare for large feasts this holiday season, central to those meals is a large bird. Stuffed. Trussed. Seasoned. Roasted. Fried. Slow-cooked. People give a great deal of thought to the ways in which the turkey, chicken, or duck is prepared. However, less thought is generally given to the labor and peril of workers who toiled to get it kitchen-ready. turkey

A recent investigative report by The Investigative Fund and Slate Magazine reveals workers in the poultry industry endure grueling conditions, particularly in the lead up to major holidays toward the end of the year. Many of the workers are immigrants, the jobs are low-paying, and the rates of workplace injury and illness are high.

One worker explained the frenetic pace of being required to slice and de-bone the de-feathered turkeys with sharp knives – 47 birds per minute. That works out to 1,410 birds an hour, or 11,000 per shift. That’s in a normal shift. In preparation for the holidays, the pace is even faster.

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Workers’ compensation benefits provide immediate relief for workers injured – or family members of those killed – by covering the cost of medical bills and a portion of lost wages. However, workers should not hesitate to explore all their legal options. This is especially true for family members of those who are killed at work. Such a devastating loss can leave the whole family reeling, but it’s important to secure future financial stability. steel tube

These other options can include:

  • Personal uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) benefits;
  • Third-party litigation (i.e., product liability, building owner liability, negligent driver liability, etc.); and
  • Life insurance.

It might in some cases also include coverage from an employer’s UM/UIM policy. The question of eligibility under this provision was raised in Vasquez v. American Cas. Co. of Reading, recently before the New Mexico Supreme Court. Specifically, the question was whether there was a discontinuity between the language in the state’s uninsured motorist statute and the workers’ compensation act.

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Some work-related injuries are obvious: There is bruising, a laceration, bleeding or a fracture clearly visible on an X-ray. Other injuries may not be easily seen or verified. That does not necessarily mean one cannot receive workers’ compensation for them, but they are tougher to prove. Prior injuries too can prove challenging when trying to establish that the ailment in question is causally related to work.hospitalhall

The recent case of Yarborough v. Duke University before the North Carolina Court of Appeals involves a claim filed by a hospital cafeteria worker who claimed to have suffered a shoulder injury after being struck by a swinging door while returning from delivering patient meals.

The issue in this case was not whether plaintiff was acting in the course and scope of her employment at the time of her alleged injury. Rather, defendant employer disputed that an accident had occurred at all, and the full commission concluded she hadn’t suffered an injury by accident. This case came down to a he-said-she-said matter of credibility. Continue reading

The award of workers’ compensation benefits in North Carolina isn’t the end of the story. In many cases, employers or insurance companies will challenge the continuity of these benefits. knees

Such was the case in Hale v. Barnes Distribution, recently weighed by the North Carolina Court of Appeals, wherein the plaintiff appealed the commission’s finding that his employer properly ceased payments of his workers’ compensation benefits.

According to court records, the court’s hands were somewhat tied due to a mediated agreement the employee made in obtaining his benefits in the first place.

The mediated settlement agreement was that employer/ insurer would cover his workers’ compensation claim for total disability benefits – unless and until his primary care physician released him at least for light duty. Continue reading

A North Carolina man injured at work in both 2010 and again in 2014 while working at two different jobs is entitled to collect workers’ compensation from both, the North Carolina Court of Appeals has just ruled. worker1

In Harris v. Southern Commercial Glass, the appellate panel affirmed the North Carolina Industrial Commission, which had ruled the worker’s second employer was liable to pay both workers’ compensation and disability benefits to the worker.

All sides had previously agreed plaintiff was seriously hurt at work in 2010, necessitating back injury and ultimately resulting in a maximum medical improvement rating of 15 percent disability. That’s the rating he walked into his second job with. However, he still managed to work full-time – sometimes as much as 70 hours weekly – and lift up to 75 pounds. Then in April 2014, all sides agree he experienced back pain after bending slightly while performing job duties. What the parties sharply disagreed about in this case was the legal significance of that second occurrence. Continue reading

A spate of on-the-job electrical injuries has health and safety officials hoping to raise awareness about this serious and potentially fatal issue. dangerelectricwires

Electrocutions are one of the “Construction Fatal Four” in terms of the commonality of the problem on job sites. Given that 1 in 5 work-related deaths occurs in the construction industry, the fact that electrocution is the No. 2 cause of death for construction workers makes it a major problem. And it’s not just those within the construction industry that need to worry because electricity is in virtually every workplace. The potential for danger is there.

Our Winston-Salem workers’ compensation attorneys know that employees who suffer electrical shock or surviving dependents of those electrocuted may seek benefits through their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. They may additionally want to explore third-party litigation if there is evidence someone else was negligent in causing the hazard or failing to warn about it.  Continue reading

A number of new diseases have made their way to the U.S. in recent years, including Zika and Ebola. That puts laboratory workers on the front lines of important diagnostics, testing, research and treatment. But it has also put them at higher risk of a work-related injury.laboratory

OSHA estimates there are approximately 500,000 laboratory workers in the U.S., and considerations of how they can stay safe in a difficult working environment must be prioritized.

Lab workers face a myriad of potential dangers that may result in workers’ compensation claims, including chemical and biological risks, but also musculoskeletal injuries, such as those caused by constant, repetitive movements. Continue reading

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