Workers' Compensation Law Firm

The Workers' Compensation Law Firm is a team of attorneys representing clients in the workers' compensation legal system.

A full service law firm with emphasis on Work and Auto Accidents

As a licensed attorney in NC & SC, Sherman is attending the 41st Annual SC Workers’ Compensation Educational Association Conference and had the opportunity to speak with and meet SC Governor, Henry McMasters.

Canada's wake-up call to the US on NAFTA

cnn.com

North Carolina is a ‘at will’ employment state. Many people ask us: When can an employer fire an employer? We explain that as an ‘at will’ state, a North Carolina employer can fire an employee for any reason and does not have to establish ‘just cause.’ The employer is prohibited from firing an employee for discriminatory purposes as defined under the U.S. Civil Rights Act, i.e. race, age, gender, religion, etc... or in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Often the employee feels this is patently unfair. We remind employees that while this may seem unfair, an employee has the reciprocal freedom to quit their job at anytime and are not bound to a contract subjecting them to damages. Employees have the freedom to retire, take a better job, move, etc... No contract exists between the employee/employer.
This article is interesting as it addresses the issue in light of NAFTA. Just an interesting read on how state law can affect trade agreements and vice versa.

cnn.com The state "right to work" laws are exploiting American workers and need to be repealed, and I've introduced a bill that can help, writes Elizabeth Warren

[09/14/17]   NC Workers' Compensation

The North Carolina Industrial Commission recently announced that they will no longer accept any filings for relief or responses to filings for relief filed by an adjuster. As of Monday, September 18, 2017, the Industrial Commission will no longer accept certain documents from adjusters including, but not limited to, Form 24 Applications, Responses to Form 23 Applications, Responses to Form 28Us or Responses to 18Ms.

Per the Commission’s announcement, they will also not accept Motions filed by adjusters, including, but not limited to, Motions to Compel Compliance with Medical Treatment, Motions to Compel Compliance with Vocational Rehabilitation, Responses to Medical Motions or any other requests for relief.

However, the Commission will continue to accept Form 26As, Form 60s and agreements regarding death benefits entered into by the adjuster.

The Industrial Commission’s decision appears to be a response to the North Carolina State Bar’s concern that the filing for relief and filing responses to motions by adjusters constitutes an unauthorized practice of law. Per the Commission’s announcement, any submission by an adjuster detailed above will be rejected and not considered by the Commission.

Going forward, it will be necessary to retain an attorney to file Form 24 Applications, Responses to Form 23 Applications, Responses to Forms 28Us and Responses to Form 18Ms, as well as Motions to Compel Compliance and Responses to Medical Motions. If Defendants wish to respond to a pending administrative filing by Plaintiff, the Commission may grant Defendants 10 days from the date of the rejection to obtain legal counsel and file a response.

This announcement should not affect an adjuster’s ability to negotiate settlement terms.

Thanks to MGC for this information.

[09/14/17]   New Rules for Adjusters

The North Carolina Industrial Commission recently announced that they will no longer accept any filings for relief or responses to filings for relief filed by an adjuster. As of Monday, September 18, 2017, the Industrial Commission will no longer accept certain documents from adjusters including, but not limited to, Form 24 Applications, Responses to Form 23 Applications, Responses to Form 28Us or Responses to 18Ms.

Per the Commission’s announcement, they will also not accept Motions filed by adjusters, including, but not limited to, Motions to Compel Compliance with Medical Treatment, Motions to Compel Compliance with Vocational Rehabilitation, Responses to Medical Motions or any other requests for relief.

However, the Commission will continue to accept Form 26As, Form 60s and agreements regarding death benefits entered into by the adjuster.

The Industrial Commission’s decision appears to be a response to the North Carolina State Bar’s concern that the filing for relief and filing responses to motions by adjusters constitutes an unauthorized practice of law. Per the Commission’s announcement, any submission by an adjuster detailed above will be rejected and not considered by the Commission.

Going forward, it will be necessary to retain an attorney to file Form 24 Applications, Responses to Form 23 Applications, Responses to Forms 28Us and Responses to Form 18Ms, as well as Motions to Compel Compliance and Responses to Medical Motions. If Defendants wish to respond to a pending administrative filing by Plaintiff, the Commission may grant Defendants 10 days from the date of the rejection to obtain legal counsel and file a response.

This announcement should not affect an adjuster’s ability to negotiate settlement terms. Thanks to MGC for this information.

Sherman Lee Criner just satisfied his Continuing Mediation Education requirements by completing "Ruminations: Regulations, Rulings, and Reconsiderations--The DRC's Role in Mediator Certification and Practice." Mediation is not only a critical tool in trying to resolve litigation in a workers' compensation case but it is required before a case can proceed to court. Litigation is time consuming and unpredictable. Mediation allows our clients to control the resolution of their case effectively and efficiently. Legal matters are complicated. You do not have to risk being taken advantage of by negotiating on your own. You also do not have to risk losing control of your decision making authority. We can help you negotiate these complicated cases while you retain final decision making authority at a mediation.

Attorney, AshleyandJulia Edwards, will go to any heights to represent his clients.

MEDIATION

youtube.com

There is no mechanism to force a settlement or to determine a value to a workers' compensation case. A workers' compensation case can only resolve or settle if the parties voluntarily agree. This primarily happens through the mediation process but most injured workers have never been through a mediation. Here is a good 11 minute video by one of our attorneys explaining the mediation process.
https://youtu.be/n0a_KULVieA

Alternative Dispute Resolution of the Carolinas - Introduction to Mediation.

HISTORY OF WORKERS' COMPENSATION
The rise of the Industrial Revolution meant extreme working conditions in early factories. Hazards were plenty, and injury rates were colossal. Though hurt workers rarely received compensation, they could turn to the courts for help.

However, the legal framework for compensating injuries was exceptionally restrictive – so restrictive that the following principles became known as the “unholy trinity of defenses.” If the employer could prove these to be true about the injury, the worker couldn’t claim a farthing:

Contributory negligence. The employer wouldn’t be held liable if the worker was responsible for his own injury, regardless of how hazardous the machinery or work environment was. So if a worker slipped and lost a hand, they wouldn’t receive compensation.

The “fellow servant” rule. If a fellow employee caused the worker’s injuries, employers were not held liable.

Assumption of risk. This doctrine held that employees accepted the hazards of their work when they signed their contracts. To make matters worse, many industries had employees sign contracts that relinquished their right to sue for injuries. That’s why these unfair documents earned the grim moniker “death contracts.”

Luckily, the rise of Realpolitik in Prussia would usher in the end of these dark times for workers. Chancellor Otto von Bismarck implemented a system of social insurance, known as the Employers’ Liability Law of 1871. This provided some social protection for workers in certain factories, quarries, railroads, and mines.

In 1884, Bismarck championed Workers’ Accident Insurance, which laid the groundwork for today’s Workers’ Compensation Insurance.

WORKERS' COMPENSATION IN AMERICA

The trend toward compensating workers for their occupational injuries was a little slower to hit the United States. It took Upton Sinclair’s shocking 1906 novel The Jungle, which details the horrors workers experienced in Chicago slaughterhouses, to stir the public’s outrage.

Eventually, Congress passed the Employers’ Liability Acts of 1906 and 1908, which made contributory negligence doctrines less restrictive. Between 1898 and 1909, New York, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Montana attempted and failed to pass workers’ compensation acts.

Wisconsin passed the first comprehensive workers’ compensation law in 1911, while Mississippi was the last state to jump onboard in 1948. These early laws required employers to provide medical and wage replacement benefits for injured workers. If the injured employee accepted these benefits, they forfeit their right to sue the employer.

Today, this basic structure for Workers’ Comp is essentially the same. Most states require employers to carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance for their full- or part-time employees.

Each states' laws vary and we will happily answer any questions you have regarding your North Carolina or South Carolina claim. Call us for a free consultation at (910) 341-3202.

[06/21/17]   A Pre-Existing Injury :

An injured worker is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if the on-the-job injury is an aggravation of a prior injury or condition (both are called pre-existing conditions). A worker is not eligible for workers’ comp benefits if the only injury is the pre-existing one; he must have sustained a new injury.

Pre-existing injuries can include herniated disks, broken bones, torn ligaments, and other relatively obvious injuries. Other conditions may be more closely related to general physical health, such as age-related spine degeneration or arthritis.

It’s not uncommon for an insurance company to wrongfully deny a legitimate claim because of a pre-existing medical condition. Many times, an injured worker simply gives up on the claim; however, insurance companies cannot immediately deny an on-the-job injury claim based solely on a pre-existing condition.

Workers’ compensation laws were enacted to make the employer-worker injury claim process less adversarial. Over time, insurance companies responsible for compensating injured workers became huge corporations with stockholders to answer to, profit margins to meet, and executive salaries to pay. As a result, the once non-adversarial system has become more adversarial than ever.

Insurance companies look for any means to deny your injury claim. The insurance adjuster assigned to your claim will thoroughly investigate your medical background and look for any evidence of falsehoods concerning pre-existing conditions.

Trying to be greedy in a claim ultimately backfires. It’s better to tell the truth. If questions on the doctor’s admitting form ask if you have any pre-existing medical conditions, you must answer truthfully. If the medical staff or doctors ask you, you must be honest with them. Failing to disclose a pre-existing condition can be grounds for denial of your claim.

Be clear when discussing your current pain and discomfort with the doctors that it’s very different from any residual pain and discomfort you may have from a pre-existing injury. Let them know you did not have symptoms before your current injury. If you tell the doctors your current symptoms are no different than those you’ve been experiencing since your previous injury, your claim will likely be denied.

Giving detailed information during your medical exams is very important. Clearly explain that you weren’t having pain or discomfort from a prior injury when your new injury occurred. Describe any changes in the type of pain you’re feeling, including its frequency, intensity and duration. Tell the doctor how the new injury is affecting your daily activities in a way it hasn’t since your prior injury.

Most important don't give up. Get a lawyer with experience to help you.

[06/12/17]   Nursing can be dangerous work. In 2015, about five of every 1,000 registered nurses missed work due to injury, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And back injuries in particular are the scourge of the nursing profession.

According to a different analysis, nurses rank 11th among categories of workers most likely to be hurt on the job. There are relatively few occupations that are more hazardous, and most of those involve what’s traditionally considered “hard labor.” The average person just doesn’t think of nursing as tough physical work.

But often that’s exactly what it is.

“Nursing graduates face the dangers of heavy lifting, and we know that even the best body mechanics will not protect them from cumulative, debilitating musculo-skeletal injuries,” said Lucy Marion, dean of the College of Nursing at Augusta University.

The College of Nursing advises all its graduates to seek out safe work environments to protect themselves.Patients are getting heavier. The increasing average weight of the population means an extra risk to nurses who have to handle patients. CDC figures show that the percentage of adult Americans considered obese rose from 30.5 to 37.7 percent between 2000 and 2014.

Nurses often act fast and risk injury to themselves because the situation demands it.

“Younger nurses sometimes say to you, ‘I’d let them fall, I’m not going to throw my back out for a patient,’ ’ Smith said. But when those young nurses actually see a patient in danger of falling, they spring into action, she noted.

Though nurses may talk about looking out for themselves first, they are “by nature caretakers, caregivers,” said Cummings. Given that sense of duty, sometimes nurses’ injuries, and the pain that comes with them, may be unavoidable.

Any accident needs to be reported to a supervisor and doucmented in writing as soon possible.

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Wilmington, NC
28401

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