Articles Tagged with North Carolina workers’ compensation

Smartphones are often in the headlines for in some way contributing to the risk of injuries. Typically, this has to do with their propensity to distract users, whether they are walking down the street, getting behind the wheel, or doing anything else that requires their full attention. iphone

However, a new study by the University of Wisconsin-Madison finds that smartphone technology could be used to help lower the risk of workplace injuries.

Specifically targeted in this study is factory and manufacturing work. Manufacturing companies require workers to make, package, prepare, and deliver products we use each day. The physical demands of this labor can result in a host of serious injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis. Work injuries are trouble not just for employees and their families, but also for companies, which must pay workers’ compensation benefits and also lose out on time and productivity. Industrial engineering professors say they have found a way to tackle these problems.

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When it comes to workers’ compensation claims in North Carolina, injured workers seeking temporary total disability need to show they are incapable of returning to work in the pre-injury job because the job requirements exceed the injury-related work restrictions, and the plaintiff has made reasonable but unsuccessful efforts to obtain suitable employment. tires

The requirement goes back to the term “disability” as it is understood in the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, which is the incapacity to earn wages because of the work-related injury. Thus, for the state industrial commission to find an injured worker should receive workers’ compensation for loss of capacity to earn wages, it first has to find the worker was not capable after the injury of earning the same money as before in the same job, was not capable after the injury of earning the same money as before in a different job, and lacked the capacity to earn these wages due to the work injury.

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The law in North Carolina requires workplaces that have three or more employees – regardless of whether they are full-time or part-time – to secure workers’ compensation for those workers. work boots

Approximately 70,000 workers were injured on the job in North Carolina last year. Many people assume that if they are injured at work, they’ll be covered by workers’ compensation, a no-fault system that covers medical bills and lost wages.

Unfortunately, according to a new report from WSOC-TV, tens of thousands of businesses in the state aren’t offering the coverage – defying legal requirements.

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In North Carolina workers’ compensation cases, there are sometimes instances in which a work-related injury has rendered an individual unable to work in his or her previous job and also makes it futile to even consider a job search. This would of course include situations in which a person is profoundly and permanently injured. However, futility in finding another job could also be a result of a number of different factors that affect one’s employability. This could include factors like age, education, communication skills, and previous work experience. butcher

The purported futility of any further job search efforts was central to the recent North Carolina Court of Appeals case of Neckles v. Teeter.

According to court records, the plaintiff is a 68-year-old man who moved to the U.S. from the Caribbean island nation of Grenada. Although he completed two years of college in his native country, he did not graduate, and since his 1989 arrival in the U.S., he had only worked as a meat cutter for various employers. He worked for the defendant employer starting in 2007.

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It looks like the North Carolina Industrial Commission will have a host of improvements to tackle in 2017.worker

The state initiated an audit of the agency, and determined that there have been improvements in the agency’s oversight of North Carolina workers’ compensation claims. However, it is still failing to meet identification and investigative targets, the audit concluded.

This report was a follow-up of the commission’s performance following a previous audit three years ago that concluded the NCIC was not acting on data that was complete, reliable and accurate to proactively single out companies that did not have workers’ compensation insurance, as required by law. This has been an ongoing issue in South Carolina, where a series of articles by The News & Observer of Raleigh revealed there were at least 30,000 companies in this state as of 2012 that were operating without the proper workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Auditors indicated they believed that number might be as high as 52,000, which could mean there are as many as 156,000 employees in North Carolina working for non-compliant companies. Continue reading

One of the best arguments one can make for securing uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage is that it will provide coverage even if you aren’t actually driving or in a motor vehicle. For example, if you are a pedestrian or bicyclist struck by an uninsured or underinsured driver, you can seek coverage from your UM/UIM carrier to make up the difference. highway

However, insurance companies are free to write the terms of their coverage, so this isn’t a guaranteed benefit. In the recent case of Spiller v. Travelers Property Casualty Co. of America, the U.S. District Court in the Western District of Kentucky ruled that a worker who was not in his employer’s truck when he was struck by a negligent driver was not entitled to collect UIM benefits.

The underlying facts of this work injury lawsuit were that the plaintiff, employed by a contractor, was tasked with making certain repairs along  a four-lane expressway. In the course of doing this work, he was trailed by a large truck equipped with an arrow that flashed. This was supposed to alert rear traffic to move left because there was construction on the right. A few hours into his shift, a motorist slammed into that arrow board attached to the truck, pushing the truck into the plaintiff and causing him to suffer injuries.

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In North Carolina, people who immigrated illegally to the U.S. can still collect workers’ compensation, per the 1999 case of Rivera v. Trapp. The North Carolina Court of Appeals in that matter decided that immigrants without legal status in the U.S. are treated no differently in determining their right to workers’ compensation benefits. worker

A number of other cases have arisen in recent years that challenge an employer’s responsibility to continue the payment of benefits, particularly in the long term. Generally, courts have held that it is the employer’s burden to produce evidence showing there are suitable jobs the worker is capable of doing, “but for” his or her illegal immigration status (see Gayton v. Gage Carolina Metals, Inc., 149 N.C. App. 346, 349 (2002)).

North Carolina isn’t the only state to grapple with this issue. The Indiana Supreme Court is slated to hear oral arguments in the case of Escamilla v. Shiel Sexton Co., which asks about the types of relief to which undocumented workers are entitled – and for how long – when they are injured on the job.

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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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A nationwide campaign led by some of the country’s biggest companies to allow employers to “opt-out” of workers’ compensation insurance was dealt a major blow recently after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled these plans are unconstitutional. This was after the legislature three years ago granted employers in that state the ability to “opt-out” of the state’s workers’ compensation system and create their own plans.workboots

This led to a situation where the companies were allowed to set the terms dictating things like:

  • Which injuries would be covered;
  • Which doctors injured workers were allowed to see;
  • How workers would be compensated;
  • How disputes for workers’ compensation benefits would be handled.

As you can imagine, this was a system clearly designed to give employers the upper hand in these proceedings. It’s no wonder the measure was backed fervently by the gas industry, the oil industry and major retailers like Lowe’s, Hobby Lobby and Walmart.  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

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