If you suffer a compensable accident at work or an occupational disease, the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act determines what benefits you are entitled to receive.  An injured worker is entitled to receive, at no cost to him or her, the medical treatment for any item which is reasonably calculated to provide relief, lessen the period of disability or effect a cure for the injured worker.  The workers’ compensation carrier is entitled to pick the medical providers, with some exceptions.

stockfresh_9551054_manual-worker-helping-injured-colleague-in-construction-site_sizeM-300x200In addition, the injured worker is entitled to receive a weekly indemnity check while he or she is either completely written out of work for the injury, or is restricted to work that the employer cannot accommodate.  This money is referred to as a temporary total disability payment.  The amount of this check may be calculated using different methods, depending on factors such as the employee’s length of employment prior to the injury.  The goal is to most nearly approximate the amount the injured employee would be earning if not for the injury.  The weekly check may continue for up to 500 weeks under the law, with some possibility of extending it beyond that in certain cases.

Alternatively, if the worker can do part-time work, he or she would be entitled to a partial check while not able to earn the amount earned prior to the date of injury.  This is known as a temporary partial disability payment and is essentially two-thirds of the difference between the pre-injury average weekly wage and the post-injury average weekly wage.

As of writing this article, blue water Vietnam Veterans are entitled to the same presumptive service connection as if they had boots on the ground in the Republic of Vietnam.  The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has ruled that blue water Vietnam Veterans are entitled to receive benefits for illness because of exposure to Agent Orange.

stockfresh_6621310_military-ship_sizeM-300x201Vietnam Veterans know that for many years the VA has distinguished between what is known as “blue water Veterans” and “boots on the ground” Veterans.  Blue water Veterans are Veterans who served aboard ships off the coast of the Republic of Vietnam, or in Vietnam’s deepwater ports, between January 9, 1962, and May 7, 1975.  Boots on the ground Veterans are Veterans whose feet physically touched the ground in the Republic of Vietnam, even if just for one second, during that same period.[1]  For the sake of brevity, “brown water” Veterans (those who served in Vietnam’s navigable rivers and in-country waterways), Veterans who served on airbases in Thailand, and other Veterans who have been added to the presumptive service-connection list will simply be included under the category of “boots on the ground” Veterans.

In Procopio v. Wilkie, 2017-1821 (January 29, 2019)[2] (click here for the decision), the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held that Congress had always intended all members of the uniformed services who served within the twelve nautical miles territorial sea of the Republic of Vietnam to be entitled to the presumptions detailed in 38 U.S.C. §1116.  Congress, the Court states, never had any intention of differentiating between blue water Veterans and boots on the ground Veterans.  The Court goes further to state that the VA never had the authority to add the boots on the ground requirement at a later date.  In adding this later requirement and subsequently denying Veterans who had served in the territorial waters off the coast of the Republic of Vietnam for Agent Orange related presumptive service-connected conditions, the VA ceased applying the applicable law accurately.  As of the day this article was written, February 1, 2019, the decision in Procopio had not been appealed.

If the accident wasn’t my fault, why does my insurance have to pay? Why am I responsible?  We hear this all the time when clients first come to our office.  The simple answer is yes; you should give the hospital your health insurance information. It benefits you to file your health insurance for several reasons.  First of all, even if the hospital says they will file the at-fault-drivers car insurance, you still are the responsible party on that bill.  There is also a common misconception that car insurances will pay the bills as you get treatment.  This is simply not the case.  stockfresh_8864104_physiotherapist-fixing-knee-braces-on-womans-leg_sizeM-300x200The hospital or doctors offices are merely just waiting to get paid out of YOUR settlement, and until there’s a settlement, they come knocking at your door for the payment.  Because people involved in serious accidents may end up receiving treatment for months or years, these bills can languish and sometimes even go to collections. People often don’t even know the bills are owed or going to collections because they think the liability insurance pays immediately like health insurance.  But that is not the case.  You are the one responsible for those bills.

There are a few other reasons to make sure your providers have your health insurance information, beyond saving your credit.  There are laws about how hospitals can bill people, for these laws to be used to your advantage by your attorney at the end of the case, it is very important that you do a good job documenting that you at least advised the hospital that you had health insurance.  Even a simple note to yourself of when you gave them your health insurance information and who you spoke to.  If possible, even encourage them to make a copy of your card and document if they refuse.  This is helpful regardless of the type of insurance you have, private, Medicare or Medicaid.

A third reason to make sure to give providers your health insurance card is because the adjusters want you to.  If you give your health insurance information to the medical providers, your health insurance will pay a lower amount than is charged in other situations because they have agreements with providers to cut down the costs.  This, in turn, saves money for the insurance company when calculating your medical costs.  Adjusters will claim you have not “mitigated” your damages, meaning you have not done your best to cut down the medical treatment costs, and will then try and pay a smaller amount on a bill, even though, you of course still owe the WHOLE bill.  In these instances, it is very helpful for your attorney to have documentation of who you tried to give your health insurance information to.  It comes down to the simple fact that hospitals think they will get paid more by the car insurance company rather than your health insurance.  Don’t let them bully you, push them to file your health insurance.   How to best handle all your medical bills from a car wreck is very complex, but a skilled attorney can help you navigate these complicated issues. Please call us today if you have any questions.  There is no fee to discuss your injury case.

There are many health reasons to give up cigarettes for good, and you can start today as part of the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout, but if you need another reason to quit you may be motivated by knowing that smoking could lead to a doctor refusing to perform surgery on you.  In February 2018, the Charlotte Observer reported that a growing number of physicians have begun to ask patients to quit smoking or at least stop four to six months before and after the surgery.

stockfresh_3942704_cigarette-butt-no-smoking_sizeS-200x300According to the Observer, smokers do not fare as well as non-smokers following spinal fusion surgery and joint replacements, and one study found that smokers had an 80 percent higher chance than nonsmokers of needing repeat surgery after a joint replacement because of complications from an infection. This is because smoking inhibits blood flow, which in turn inhibits healing.

The Observer also reported that most doctors are paid through fee-for-service systems under which they are reimbursed for every appointment, test, or procedure and, thus, make more money when a patient has complications. Some surgeons who perform spine surgery and knee and hip replacements in Charlotte, however, have started using “value-based” systems in which a single “bundled payment” is accepted for each patient encounter. A doctor or hospital keeps the savings when care is delivered for less than the contract price but must absorb the extra cost when there are complications for which the patient requires additional care.

Grimes Teich Anderson is reviewing claims focusing on potential cases for people regularly exposed to Roundup as part of their work, such as landscapers, lawn and garden workers, and golf course maintenance personnel who sprayed Roundup for ground maintenance.

stockfresh_8936388_close-up-of-crop-sprayer-against-twig_sizeS-300x200A jury in Superior Court of California in San Francisco deliberated for three days before ordering agricultural giant Monsanto to pay $289 million in damages to a former school groundskeeper who claimed his cancer was caused by the company’s weed killers, such as Roundup, The New York Times reported on August 10, 2018. According to the Times, the case of 46-year-old Dewayne Johnson was the first lawsuit to go to trial alleging that Roundup and other glyphosate-based weed killers cause cancer.

Bloomberg reported that Johnson “mixed and sprayed hundreds of gallons of Roundup,” and his exposure included incidents in which he was “soaked from head to toe” in the herbicide. Johnson worked for the Benicia Unified School District and was diagnosed with cancer in 2014. He was given six months to live by his oncologist in July 2017 after chemotherapy and other treatments.

Road accident crash damaged car or wreck broken vehicle with used airbag

If you are a passenger in a car accident, it can be a confusing and stressful situation, especially if you are seriously hurt. You know the accident was not your fault, but whose insurance coverage is responsible for paying for your medical bills and other expenses you incur because of the crash?

Filing a Claim Against the Driver’s Insurance

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, an average of 230 people per day are admitted to the hospital for injuries caused by fireworks in the days leading up to the Fourth of July. Several of these injuries result in fatalities.

Fireworks have been known to prematurely explode and cause severe injuries. Most of the injuries due to the use of fireworks are burns to the head, face, ears, hands and fingers. Even fireworks like sparklers pose a huge safety risk since they can burn at over 2,000 degrees. Using handheld fireworks can be very dangerous and are the reason why so many people end up in an emergency room during the Fourth of July holiday.

Due to the dangers posed by fireworks, North Carolina has fairly restrictive laws. Fireworks that are illegal in North Carolina include:

The summer months are peak vacation time. This means that more tourists are in town, and more pedestrians and cyclists can be seen on crosswalks, sidewalks, and bike lanes. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, nearly 54% of car accidents happen during the spring and summer months. Pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities amount to about 16 percent of all traffic fatalities.

Some of the most catastrophic types of traffic accidents happen when a motorist hits a pedestrian or a bicycle. Without the protection of being in a car, a pedestrian or a cyclist can easily suffer devastating injuries in a crash.

Bike Traffic Laws

According to a study conducted by Kaiser Permanente, there is a noticeable spike in emergency room visits during the warm summer months. The study showed a 15 to 27 percent increase in visits to emergency rooms from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

Children made up a significant portion of the increase in accidents and illness, and the pattern of injury was very distinct. This led researchers to conclude that the longer days and increases in popular activities in the summer also put individuals at higher risk of injury.

As summer begins, you should be aware of the top reasons for summer ER visits and how to prevent injury to yourself and your children. Some of the most commonly reported injuries that result in ER visits during the summer include:

Hiking and exploring waterfalls are great ways to see nature, explore, and get some exercise. Enjoying the great outdoors can come with specific risks though. In Western North Carolina and Upstate South Carolina, including popular sites like Table Rock State Park and DuPont State Forest, hikers have suffered serious, and sometimes fatal, injuries in recent hiking accidents and waterfall accidents.

The Charlotte Observer reports that the first local waterfall death in 2018 occurred at Western North Carolina’s Catawba Falls in the Pisgah National Forest. There, an out-of-state visitor walked ahead of his hiking group and fell over the edge of a 50-foot cliff while trying to take a picture. In another recent tragedy from April, a man visiting a North Carolina waterfall near Twin Bridges fell nearly 70 feet and suffered fractures.

Failure to follow basic hiking and waterfall safety precautions while hiking and visiting waterfalls could easily lead to serious injury or death. In order to avoid serious or fatal accidents, outdoor enthusiasts should consider the following safety tips:

Contact Information