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

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

MEDIATION

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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.

[06/01/17]   Every year, about 17,000 people in the United States sustain a spinal cord injury. That's 46 new injuries every day. Most of these people are injured in auto accidents, falls, violence and sports-related accidents. The average age of newly injured patients is 42, and 80 percent of them are men.

What are the effects of a spinal cord injury?

The effects of a spinal cord injury depend on the type and level of the injury. Spinal cord injuries can be divided into two types of injury – complete and incomplete. A complete injury means there is no function below the level of the injury – no sensation and no voluntary movement. Both sides of the body are equally affected.

An incomplete injury means there is some function below the primary level of injury. A person with an incomplete injury may be able to move one limb more than another, may be able to feel parts of the body that cannot be moved, or may have more functioning on one side of the body than the other. With the advances in acute treatment of spinal cord injuries, incomplete injuries are becoming more common.

The level of injury is very helpful in predicting what parts of the body might be affected by paralysis and loss of function. Remember that in incomplete injuries, there will be some variation in these prognoses.

Cervical (neck) injuries usually result in quadriplegia. Injuries above the C-4 level may require a ventilator for the person to breathe. C-5 injuries often result in shoulder and biceps control, but no control at the wrist or hand. C-6 injuries generally yield wrist control, but no hand function.

Individuals with C-7 and T-1 injuries can straighten their arms, but still may have dexterity problems with the hand and fingers. Injuries at the thoracic level and below result in paraplegia, with the hands not affected. At T-1 to T-8, there is most often control of the hands, but poor trunk control resulting from a lack of abdominal muscle control. Lower thoracic injuries (T-9 to T-12) allow good trunk control and good abdominal muscle control. Sitting balance is very good. Lumbar and sacral spinal cord injuries yield decreasing control of the hip flexors and legs.

Besides a loss of sensation or motor function, individuals with spinal cord injury also experience other changes. For example, they may experience dysfunction of the bowel and bladder. Very high injuries (C-1, C-2) can result in a loss of many involuntary functions, including the ability to breathe, necessitating breathing aids such as mechanical ventilators or diaphragmatic pacemakers.

Other effects of spinal cord injury may include low blood pressure, inability to regulate blood pressure effectively, reduced control of body temperature, inability to sweat below the level of injury and chronic pain.

These injuries are life changing and if they occur as a result of a workplace accident you will need help. Call us to help you.

[05/25/17]   Knee injuries are incredibly common for workers. It can happen from something as dramatic as falling hard on your knee to the simple act of climbing stairs. Falling, twisting or hitting the knee can cause injury. While there are a number of different ligaments that you can injure, but far and wide the most workplace knee injuries occur in the meniscus cartilage.

What are Meniscus Tears?
As the most common knee injury, you would be right to suspect that a meniscus tear occurs in a commonly used area of the knee. The term meniscus tear is used to describe a tear in the cartilage in the knee joint. The meniscus is a disc that cushions the knee joint and is responsible for the balance of the knee and apportioning the weight put on it. Damage to either meniscus disc on either knee is excessively painful and often results in temporary loss of use of your leg, meaning you probably won’t be able to work until it is fully healed.

Common ways to injure this part of the knee is standing in a bent-knee position, turning quickly, or twisting on planted feet. As you can imagine, acts like heavy lifting and unloading trucks are common causes for this knee injury while at work.

If you do suffer a meniscus tear, typically there are three degrees of injury – minor, moderate, or severe. Minor injuries can heal up in two to three weeks, but even then you will likely still need worker’s compensation for your medical bills and lost wages. However, if the injury is of an advanced nature it can cause reoccurring pain even after the healing period or, in the most severe cases, disability to the knee and thus the leg.

Compensation for Meniscus Tears:

After your doctor has diagnosed the severity of the meniscus tear, treatment can either be easy or difficult depending on the extent of the injury. Treatment can range from resting the leg and icing it all the way to surgery and physical therapy. In the most severe cases, a total knee replacement surgery may be needed. Depending on the extent of the injury, workers may need permanent disability and may even need to change jobs to something less strenuous on the knee.

Regardless on if the meniscus tear was severe or minor, if it happened at work, you are entitled to compensation. Even if the injury happened in part because of a pre-existing knee condition, a torn meniscus can still receive compensation.

As a meniscus tear is so easy to diagnose, the filing process for worker’s compensation should be fairly straight-forward. You are entitled to loss of wages and disability benefits for the amount of time you need to heal. However, your employer is entitled to offer you a different position that accommodates your injury. If the new position features significantly less pay, you can get be compensated fore the difference in pay.

Our team of layers deal with these claims everyday and can make sure all benefits available are paid .

Call 910-341-3202 to discuss your case.

[05/11/17]   What types of repetitive strain injuries are most common?

A: Tendonitis, an inflammation of the tendons, is the most common repetitive use injury we treat. Tendons connect muscle to bones, and they can be inflamed or injured along their course by repetitive movements. “Trigger finger” and “tennis elbow” are two common maladies that are actually tendonitis. Uncommonly, tendonitis is caused by a disease.

Q: What are the symptoms of repetitive use injury?

A: In addition to pain, other common symptoms can include swelling, tingling, numbness, stiffness, weakness and sensitivity to cold or heat.

Q: How soon should I seek treatment if I suspect a repetitive strain injury?

A: Don’t wait until the pain and functional loss is severe. In other words, if pain and loss of function are limiting your activities, seek medical help immediately. Even if you are experiencing mild discomfort and dysfunction, you may want to look at modifying your activities or work techniques to reduce further injury.

Carpal Tunnel and Tendonitis are common repetitive use injuries workers compensation may cover. The key is to get treatment and diagnosis as soon as possible.

[05/04/17]   If driverless cars deliver on their promise to eliminate the vast majority of fatal traffic accidents, the technology will rank among the most transformative public-health initiatives in human history. But how many lives, realistically, will be saved?

By the end of this century, there’s good reason to believe that tens of millions of traffic fatalities will be prevented around the world.

This is not merely theoretical. There’s already some precedent for change of this magnitude in the realms of car culture and automotive safety. In 1970, about 60,000 people died in traffic accidents in the United States. A dramatic shift toward safety—including required seat belts and ubiquitous airbags—helped vastly improve a person’s chance of surviving the American roadways in the decades that followed. By 2013, 32,719 people died in traffic crashes, a historic low.

Researchers estimate that driverless cars could, by midcentury, reduce traffic fatalities by up to 90 percent. Which means that, using the number of fatalities in 2013 as a baseline, self-driving cars could save 29,447 lives a year. In the United States alone, that's nearly 300,000 fatalities prevented over the course of a decade, and 1.5 million lives saved in a half-century. For context: Anti-smoking efforts saved 8 million lives in the United States over a 50-year period.

Until then drive safety and if you are in accident contact a lawyer to help.

[04/20/17]   Texting and Driving can be deadly.

A study released Wednesday suggests 92 percent of U.S. drivers with cell phones have used them while moving in a car.

“It’s pretty insane,” said Ryan Ruffing, director of communications at EverQuote Inc., the company behind the research. “Most people consider themselves good drivers, but they are not aware of how often they are using their phones behind the wheel.”

An app called EverDrive collected data on more than 2.7 million vehicle trips and 230 million miles driven, according to the company. By sensing motion changes and other factors, the app assigns drivers a score on everything from phone use to use hard braking, speeding, risky acceleration and hard turns.

Many states now ban texting and driving. It can not only result in a ticket but can cause an accident that can end a life..

EverDrive, a privately-held firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and founded in 2011, calls itself an online insurance marketplace in the U.S. matching drivers with insurance providers based on price and coverage needs. The company insists it does not share individual driver data with insurance companies without permission, according to Ruffing, but its goal is to encourage safer habits by making drivers more self-aware.

Is it working? Company officials say there is evidence it may be. That 92 percent figure for phone use may sound high, but it was higher last year: 96 percent.

Southerners have the highest phone usage rate while driving — on 41 percent of trips. Other regions used the phone on 34 percent to 37 percent of trips.

Last year EverQuote calculated Americans were on the phone about half a mile for every 11 miles driven.

Insurance companies such as Progressive have invited customers to use plug-in devices to measure many driving behaviors, if not necessarily phone use.

Still, just about everyone acknowledges phone use behind the wheel represents a big and growing safety issue.

“We hope this data sheds light on actual driving habits versus people’s perception of their driving skills,” said Seth Birnbaum, CEO of EverQuote. “Our goal is to empower drivers to use their scores to improve their driving skills and ultimately make the roads safer for themselves and the 214 million drivers on the roads across the U.S.”

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508 Market St
Wilmington, NC
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