The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against U.S. Steel Corp., demanding the company change its workplace injury reporting policy, which currently mandates workers immediately report incidents when they occur. The company has taken disciplinary action against workers who don’t immediately file. steelbeam

Although this kind of policy may at first seem like a way to protect workers – after all, it may be in their best interest to report a work accident with injuries immediately – the problem is not all injuries are immediately apparent. A worker who doesn’t suffer any problems until days later will be discouraged from reporting the injury, due to the policy.

That fear would be with good reason, given what recently happened to two of U.S. Steel’s employees.  Continue reading

South Carolina should pay close attention to the decision recently handed down by the Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission, which just ruled the 2013 opt-out statute is unconstitutional. gavel21

The ruling in Vasquez v. Dillards now paves the way for an appeal to the state supreme court and, perhaps ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court. This is a significant victory for workers everywhere, who have seen their workers’ compensation provision protections gutted in recent years by a concerted effort by lobbyists and politicians.

The Oklahoma Employee Benefit Act – also known as the “Opt-Out Act,” gave employers an alternative system to satisfy the state requirement to carry workers’ compensation insurance to grant benefits to workers injured on the job.  Continue reading

A horrific scene unfolded in Kansas recently, where a workplace shooting resulted in four deaths and 14 injuries at a manufacturing plant near Wichita. The gunman, an employee at the plant, was eventually shot and killed by a police officer.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Authorities speculate it may have had something to do with the fact the gunman had been served an order of protection by his former girlfriend just hours before the rampage. The tragic incident draws attention once again to the serious problem of workplace violence. This was the fourth workplace shooting in the last 12 months.

A report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals that between 2006 to 2010, an average of more than 550 workers a year were killed in work-related homicides. Continue reading

Employees who are injured on the job are entitled to collect benefits for those injuries, including coverage of medical bills and a portion of lost wages, through workers’ compensation.hospital2

The time to act on these rights is immediately. That’s because workers do not have unlimited time to gather evidence and file a claim. Even though the law allows the injured worker latitude in failing to give written notice of the incident, all claims have to be filed with the North Carolina Industrial Commission within two years.

Failure to file a Form 18 within this allotted time frame will result in the claim being forever barred, with no chance of recovery – not matter how strong your case. Even then, once the forms have been filed, the case cannot be allowed to languish. The courts will not wait forever. Continue reading

Our police officers in North Carolina take an enormous risk every day they show up to work.prison

Every time they don that uniform, their lives are on the line. In fact, the FBI reports that in 2013, there were 76 officers killed in the line-of-duty in the U.S. that year, plus nearly 50,000 who suffered line-of-duty assaults, with 30 percent of those suffering serious injury as a result.

Because state legislators recognize this possible danger, laws have been enacted that bolster protections and benefits for state-employed officers who are hurt on-the-job. Part of that involves full salary for officers injured in the line-of-duty – even when he or she can no longer perform his or her regular duties – per N.C. Gen. Stat. 143-166.19. That’s a benefit most other workers do not get. Those who are unable to work are usually paid 66 2/3 of their regular weekly wage.  Continue reading

Greenville News has reported a 55-year-old contract worker has died at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center, days after a serious fall at a BMW manufacturing facility in Greer.ladder

Details of what happened – including the type of work the contractor was doing, the circumstances surrounding the accident and even the height from which he fell – were not immediately revealed by authorities. In fact, even the manner and cause of death were not disclosed, pending further investigation from the coroner.

What we do know is this: Falls are the No. 1 cause of death in the construction industry, and they are also a significant cause of injury and fatality at other work sites. Continue reading

If you have been injured at work and file for workers’ compensation benefits, know there is a good chance employer’s insurance company has hired a private investigator to follow you.lens

That’s right: You have to steel yourself for the possibility you may be watched – and this is totally legal. It’s justified by companies who say they just want to make sure the worker is telling the truth about the extent of his or her injuries.

Of course, this idea that workers’ compensation fraud is rampant is a myth. National studies have shown repeatedly that only about 1 to 2 percent of all workers’ compensation cases are fraudulent. It probably seems like it’s much higher than that because media is complicit in helping insurance companies blow these cases out of proportion to justify these tactics. Continue reading

Employees injured in a job-related accident covered by workers’ compensation may also be entitled to personal injury lawsuit proceeds if third-party negligence was also at play.electricwires

That worker has a right to proceed with both a workers’ compensation claim as well as a third-party lawsuit. However, the workers’ compensation insurer will have a lien on that third party recovery. The idea is workers shouldn’t be able to collect twice for the same injury. But to how much are employer insurers entitled?

The highest court in Massachusetts recently took on this question in a pair of two cases wherein lower courts had issued conflicting rulings. The cases were DiCarlo v. Suffolk Construction Co. and Martin v. Angelini Plastering Inc. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court was asked to decide whether employer insurers are entitled to collect a lien on damages awarded for pain and suffering. Continue reading

As far as brutal winters go, North Carolina tends to have it better than some of our northern neighbors. Still, we are no stranger to snow and ice, and this can create serious problems when motorists aren’t used to driving in these conditions and they fail to slow down.icewalk

Those who work on the roads in particular face hazards.

Case in point was a crash that recently injured a fellow motorist as well as a worker for the state department of transportation on a snowy highway exit ramp in Illinois. Continue reading

South Carolina courts have long recognized that an employee’s pre-existing health conditions do not prevent that worker from having a compensable work injury – so long as the injury happened in the course of and arose out of the worker’s employment. So workers can’t be denied compensation for a work injury claim simply because he or she was more susceptible to injury than a person who was otherwise healthy. firefighter1

Further, pre-existing injuries that are aggravated by a work injury claim may be compensable. However, there has to be proof of aggravation.

This issue was raised in the recent case of Gill v. City of Charleston, which involved a firefighter injury in West Virginia.  Continue reading

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