Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

Many larger employers may have Short Term and Long Term Disability benefits available if you can’t work. These are usually tied in with your rights under FMLA and Americans with Disability Act protection.  This is an important benefit if you have a prolonged non-work related medical condition, or if you are hurt at work, and the claim is denied by workers’ compensation.

stockfresh_4489991_work-accident_sizeS-300x208Short Term Disability benefits usually last between three and six months. Usually, you can’t collect Short Term Disability benefits if you are receiving workers’ compensation. People expect that you usually can’t “double-dip,” which means you won’t receive both a full comp check and a Long Term Disability benefit.  Therefore, Long Term Disability benefits typically, but not always, will be reduced by your workers’ compensation benefit.  However, it may be advisable to apply for LTD anyway. In some cases, you may only be entitled to a small monthly benefit in addition to workers’ compensation, sometimes more if you have paid for extra LTD coverage.  Your LTD may also provide additional benefits when you settle your workers’ compensation case. Keep in mind that usually, your employer won’t encourage you to apply for LTD while you are on worker’s compensation. Continue Reading

Tragically, there are work-related deaths in NC.  What if your husband or wife dies in a work accident or from an occupational disease?  In the sad event, an employee dies from injuries sustained at work, there are rules which govern the compensability for the dependents/beneficiaries of the deceased.  The State does have provisions for widows and widowers or other dependents of the person killed at work.stockfresh_8850471_woman-with-lily-flowers-and-coffin-at-funeral_sizeM-300x200

A death claim is different from the claim the injured worker had while he or she was alive.  The death claim is brought in the name of the person(s) entitled to benefits.

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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.

It’s all over the news; Bill Cosby was found guilty of sexual assault.  But many people might ask, why was he convicted this time and not last time? Last year Cosby was tried, and because the jury couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict, a mistrial was declared.  So what made the big difference this time? Same victim, same crime, same investigation. One key difference was the prosecution’s use of an expert witness.  What is an expert witness? How are they different than a normal witness? Expert witnesses are people with so much training and education in a specific field that they are qualified to be “experts” in a particular field.  This is important because it allows them to testify to their opinion, rather than just testifying to the facts like is required of normal witnesses.  The expert in the Cosby trial was Dr. Barbara Ziv, a psychiatrist who specialized in the treatment of sexual assault victims and offenders. While a sexual assault prosecutor in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, I had several opportunities to work with Dr. Ziv and call her as an expert witness.  In any case, where an expert is called, the expert’s schooling and work history is presented to the jury.  So, Dr. Ziv’s education in becoming a psychiatrist and her work history working in the field of sexual assault would have been analyzed in depth by both the prosecution and defense before the Judge in the case qualified her as an expert witness.  After this Dr. Ziv would have been allowed to testify to her opinion regarding the behavior of sexual assaults victims, combating many pre-conceived notions and myths held by jurors. This education of jurors from the witness stand likely played a critical part in their ultimately reaching the guilty verdict.

It’s not just in criminal cases that experts can mean the difference between success and failure.  In the right case, expert witnesses can and should be used in a personal injury case.  When people are seriously hurt in a car accident or a slip and fall, there are several experts that are used in court.  Calling an expert to testify to the cost of future medical care they will need or calling an expert to testify to the ramifications on a person’s ability to earn a living can have a huge impact on what a jury will award an injured person.  It is essential to have an attorney on your side who knows when an expert should be used, knows those best qualified in their fields, and knows how to present them to a jury.   Just like in the Cosby trial, use of an expert in a personal injury case can have a huge impact on the outcome of a case.  You need an attorney who understands that and who is skilled in their use of experts.  At Grimes Teich Anderson LLP we use expert witnesses when we believe it will help our clients’ case.

Senta Rhodes is a personal injury attorney at Grimes Teich Anderson LLP

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.

The 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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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 treatment 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

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 accidents 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.

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:  https://www.injurylaw-carolinas.com/2015/02/injured-cant-work-much-receive-week-work-benefits.html).

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Workplace injuries can be devastating for anyone, regardless of gender. But a recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that while women have historically received fewer workplace injuries than men, the types of on-the-job injuries can be quite different for females.

According to the recently released data, men accounted for 4,836 workplace fatalities in 2015. By contrast, 344 women died on the job during the same period. The leading cause of job-related deaths for both genders is the same – transportation accidents that occur by road, air, water or railway.

Then the numbers begin to diverge, where the second most common cause of workplace deaths death for women is by violence and other injuries by persons or animals. By contrast, the second leading cause for men are caused by slip, trip, and fall mishaps.

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When you have been in a car wreck or any other type of accident, everything that happens after can be confusing or scary.  One of the questions we regularly ask potential clients is what type of diagnostic tests they have had.  A lot of times people are not sure which tests they have had, and if they do know which tests, they might not know the reasons for the tests.

Three Tests That Might Be Ordered For You

There are three typical tests that people have when they are hurt.  The first test almost any emergency room will run is an X-ray. X-rays are a type of electromagnetic radiation or electromagnetic waves.  While used in many ways in the medical field, including treatment of cancer, the most common way is for taking pictures of bones to look for fractures. The radiation produced can penetrate soft tissue, such as skin, fat, and muscle but does not penetrate bone, resulting in shadowy black and white photos of those bones.  While radiation can help cure cancer, it is also classified as a carcinogen itself, but it is widely accepted in the medical community that the benefits of x-rays far out weight the risks. X-rays would be best used to diagnose broken bones suffered in an accident.

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