Consistent with the Trump administration’s overall effort to curb the growth of the federal government, the number of federal workplace safety inspectors from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has decreased over the past year. According to an NBC News report, OSHA has lost 40 inspectors through attrition since President Donald Trump took office – 4 percent of the total inspection force, with no new hires as of Oct. 2, 2017.

stockfresh_4367909_package-ready-for-dispatch-in-warehouse_sizeS-300x200The decline in total inspectors to below 1,000 raises questions of how effectively the agency can inspect workplaces, enforce federal safety requirements, and reduce workplace accidents. While this decrease in federal bureaucracy extends across a number of federal agencies, the lack of OSHA inspectors could have a real impact on workplace safety, especially in more dangerous work environments like construction, manufacturing, and meatpacking.

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Many products are advertised and promoted to men to boost their testosterone levels. While testosterone therapy may sound appealing for its promised increase of testosterone in older men, there are numerous downsides to the treatment that can have moderate to severe and potentially long-term lasting effects.

An article titled “The Risk of Testosterone Replacement in Men” stockfresh_8396921_doctor-giving-prescription-to-patient-at-hospital_sizeS_8759de-300x200published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information reported that testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) “has been linked with prostate cancer” and advised that such therapy should be taken with caution. The occurrence of polycythemia, or elevated red blood cell count, is also increased for those who undergo TRT. Finally, the article reported that men who seek the treatment are found to suffer more frequently from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

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This time of year we at Grimes Teich Anderson get a lot of calls regarding falls on ice. Sometimes people fall in parking lots of businesses or outside of storefronts.  Many times these falls result in fractures and serious injuries.  With high deductibles or no health insurance, people sometimes want to know if they can sue owners for their medical bills or for pain and suffering.

In the state of North Carolina, landowners are required to exercise reasonable care to provide for the safety of those visitors who are lawfully on their property.  Whether a landowner’s care is reasonable is judged against the conduct of a reasonably prudent person undestockfresh_2071921_ice-pattern_sizeS-300x199r the circumstances.  What this means is that they are not held to higher standard, they must simply do what other reasonable people would do under the same circumstances.  Additionally, landowners have no duty to protect a person from dangers which that person knows about, or dangers that are so obvious that it would be reasonable to think the person would discover those damages.  Or to put it another way, the courts have said that a landowner doesn’t need to warn people of “apparent hazards or circumstances of which” the person has equal or superior knowledge.” Von Vicazy vs. Thoms.  More specifically about store owners, the courts in North Carolina have even said that a “proprietor of a store is not an insurer of the safety of his customers” and that there is no presumption of negligence just because a customer sustains an injury on his premises. Skipper vs. Wayne Oil Co. Inc.

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In NC, workers compensation has the right to select and is required to pay for your treating physician once they accept your claim as compensable. Whether or not they have accepted your claim as compensable is the question. If workers compensation refers you to a particular physician to treat your injury, that does not obligate them to pay for anything more than that particular visit. In other words, they can pay for as little or as much stockfresh_404317_medicine-bandage-on-human-injury-hand_sizeS-300x201treatment as they wish until they decide to accept or deny the compensability of your claim. You can’t assume that workers compensation will start paying weekly benefits if you can’t work or continue to pay for medical treatment unless your claim is accepted as compensable.

How Do You Know If  My Claim Is Compensable? 

There’s a poster in every business that has workers compensation that tells an injured worker to notify the employer in writing of an injury within 30 days and to File a Form 18 with the NC Industrial Commission if they wish to claim workers compensation benefits. Continue Reading

dreamstime_s_31345940-200x300The old adage “other agencies may take care of a Veteran’s family, but the VA only takes care of the Veteran” is only partially true.  In certain circumstances, family members, dependents, and survivors of Veterans may be entitled federal VA benefits.  These benefits may include an increase to the Veteran’s disability compensation, dependency and indemnity compensation (DIC), death compensation (including Accrued, Substitution, and Non-negotiated Benefits), educational and training assistance (DEA), health care, VA home loans and housing-related assistance, and death pension.

Dependent Pay

If a Veteran has a service-connected disability rated at or greater than 30%, the Veteran’s disability payments will be increased if he or she has a spouse and/or dependents – including biological children, step-children, and eligible parents.  These increased payments for children continue until the 18th birthday of children who are not enrolled in an educational institution.  If the child enrolls in and attends courses at an educational institution, this compensation may be continued until age 26, as long as the attendance is recorded and sent to the VA.  It is the responsibility of the Veteran to record and send to the VA proof of attendance on a VA Form 21-674, and any other pertinent forms, every year.  The amount of time it takes the VA to process dependent pay can vary greatly.

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In North Carolina, just because a worker gets hurt at work does not necessarily mean there is a compensable claim under the NC Workers’ Compensation Act.  An injury and an accident are not the same thing.  Accidents occur when the work routine has been interrupted, and unusual conditions are created.  If you trip, fall and break your leg while doing your job, that is a compensable accident and injury.  If you are doing your normal job, in its normal manner, and experience an injury, you may not have a compensable claim.  You should call a workers compensation attorney if you have questions related to the circumstances of your injury.

The two main kinds of compensable injuries in NC are astockfresh_6098357_worker-falling-off-ladder-in-warehouse_sizeS-200x300ccidents and occupational diseases.  There are a few other categories of injuries that will qualify you for benefits, including back injuries attributable to a specific traumatic incident, and hernias under certain conditions.

The most important thing to remember is if you are hurt at work, you need to report it to your supervisor immediately and seek medical treatment as soon as possible.  Any delay in seeking treatment can be used to undermine the validity of your claim.

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Unfortunately, when many South Carolinians suffer an on the job injury, that injury results in permanent scarring or disfigurement to their body. I am often confronted with whether my client is entitled to compensation or additional compensation when they are left with permanent scarring or disfigurement. Whether the injury is a result of serious burn injuries, lacerations, or if a worker has surgical scarring it is important that they know their rights.stockfresh_270855_scar-4_sizeS-200x300

In South Carolina, it is possible to receive compensation for permanent scars. Under our laws, a Commissioner may award an injured worker up to 50 weeks of compensation for serious scars or disfigurement that is located on the head, neck, or other body part that is normally exposed during employment. For example only, if a worker’s compensation rate is $300.00 per week and a Commissioner finds that he or she is entitled to full disfigurement benefits, that worker’s disfigurement benefit would total $15,000.00. (For questions regarding how a compensation rate is determined please ready my prior blog post:

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Drunk driving-related incidents spike on Super Bowl Sunday according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and an analysis by another group reports that “states and regions with a team in the game can see drinking violations that are double or even triple the norm.”

stockfresh_5180_glass-of-beer-and-keys-on-bar-table_sizeS-200x300Ultimately, it is the responsibility of every individual to make smart choices during Super Bowl parties. This means paying attention to how much alcohol you consume at parties and making safe decisions when it comes to transportation. With popular ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft operating in many areas of North Carolina and South Carolina, there is no excuse for drinking and driving. If you live in a location that doesn’t have Uber or Lyft, a taxi or a designated driver are still dependable and safe choices that should be relied upon if you plan to drink during the holidays.  The NHTSA also has a SafeRide app which identifies your location so you can get a taxi or friend to pick you up and give you a ride home.

If you are hosting a party, it is important to consider the safety of your guests and the safety of others on the road. Make sure to watch how much alcohol your guests are consuming at your event, and take the keys away from anyone who has had too much and tries to drive themselves home. By letting people stay at your home or finding them a safe ride home through an Uber, Lyft, taxi, or sober ride, you can ensure the safety of your friend and countless others who are on the road.

For most of us, the idea of someone – and especially a relative – taking advantage of the elderly is unthinkable. The tragic truth is that elder abuse is widespread, and the majority of abusers are family members, according to

stockfresh_1263647_old-woman-hands_sizeS-300x200One all-too-common type of elder abuse comes in the form of financial exploitation. A family member, friend, or caregiver may take advantage of an older adult’s finances for their own gain. It may be up to you to put a stop to it.

Financial abuse of the elderly takes many varied forms, and often includes the forging of signatures, taking money or property, fraud or scams, and coercion or deception. Elderly individuals are often forced to relinquish ownership through wills, deeds, or powers of attorney through threats, intimidation, or fraud at the hands of an abuser who is close to them.

stockfresh_1513518_social-security-benefits_sizeS-300x199The Social Security Administration keeps track of the medical status of some of its beneficiaries with what is called a Continuing Disability Review (CDR).  CDRs take place for beneficiaries of both Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  They are not the same as the financial review that people receiving SSI benefits undergo each year to verify their eligibility. This article will explain the frequency of CDRs, how they are carried out, and what to do in the wake of discontinuation of your benefits.

Typical CDR Cycles

If you are a Social Security Disability beneficiary under the age of fifty or one of those deemed likely to recover in a relatively short period of time (more than 12 months but likely in a few years), the SSA typically sets the first CDR for three years, or less, after benefits begin.  In cases where recovery is expected to take a long time or continue permanently, the SSA typically sets CDR dates at five to seven years from the initial determination of disability.  [Note:  These are not hard and fast timelines! In some cases, the SSA might perform a CDR one or two years from the initial finding of disability, and in very rare cases, such as those where the claimant has a permanent injury, they might perform a CDR beyond seven years from the initial review.]  Continue Reading

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