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

[01/30/18]   Winter Accidents

Icy conditions, snow-packed roads, freezing temperatures: it’s that time of the year again! Although the Carolinas may not experience as much of an impact as other areas in the country, we still get a winter, especially the further inland you go. And because we, like most others, face wintery conditions, we’re no stranger to increases in workers’ compensation claims due to slips, falls, and other injuries that the winter season can cause. Now is the time for employers to do everything they can to eliminate hazards and generate winter safety awareness among employees.

General Slips and Falls

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 34,860 workplace slip and fall injuries involving ice, sleet and snow in 2014. These injuries also resulted in employees taking at least one day away from work to recover. They also reported there were thousands of minor slip and fall injuries that did not result in lost work time. One of the most effective ways to reduce the number of incidents is to coat sidewalks immediately before and after a storm. It’s also a good idea to remind employees to take their time and walk slowly to and from their vehicles to allow themselves to react quickly to any changes in traction. And when snow is tracked indoors into the entrances of businesses, it’s important to place a wet floor sign to slow people down, or invest in floor mats to catch excess water.

Road Accidents

It’s true that motorists cannot control the conditions of the road, but they can uphold good driving behavior. This is especially true for those whose job involves travel, whether by car or commercial vehicle. Being trained for hazardous weather conditions can save many workers from being stranded in the middle of a snow storm. A good process is to confirm each company vehicle is in working order (checking brakes, engine, electrical system, tires, etc.) before employees start their routes. It’s also a good idea to encourage drivers to travel slowly and allow plenty of time and space to brake. The more trained and prepared employee drivers are,the smaller the chance they’ll get into an accident or damage property.

Outdoor Professions

Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean the work stops for some industries. Working outside in freezing temperatures requires the body to work extra hard to stay warm, meaning fatigue occurs more often in outdoor workers. It’s critical that all employees dress in multiple layers to prevent frostbite and hypothermia, while also having the option to remove layers to cool down. Workers should also wear slip-resistant footwear to maintain balance and safety. If certain businesses require employees to work near highways or well-traveled roads, being aware of out-of-control drivers is a must

[01/08/18]   As the snow and ice begin to melt be safe. Parking lots and sidewalks are still icy and can be a serious peril getting around. Falls on ice may be covered as workers compensation claims and need to be reported when they happen. Even if a fall is embarrassing you need to report it if an injury occurs. Call us with may questions you may have.

[01/02/18]   Welcome 2018! Happy New Year!

Entertainment in Raleigh, Durham & Chapel Hill | triangletoday.com

Raleigh News & Observer | NewsObserver.comNC overdoses | Rules for limiting injured workers access to addictive opioids up for public comment
Hurt on the job and need painkillers for weeks? Pee in this cup, please.

BY LYNN BONNER
lbonner@newsobserver.com
DECEMBER 20, 2017 06:13 PM

UPDATED DECEMBER 20, 2017 06:42 PM

RALEIGH
Initial prescriptions of opioid painkillers for injured employees on workers’ compensation would be limited to a week or less, and workers would be asked to take urine tests before getting prescriptions for opioids to treat chronic pain.

The N.C. Industrial Commission, which is responsible for enforcing workers’ compensation laws, has proposed new rules aimed at reducing addiction and overdoses among injured workers. The package of nine rules would have injured workers use the lowest effective doses, and people with chronic pain would see their opioid prescriptions limited to 30 days at a time.

Urine tests would be required of injured workers prescribed opioids for more than 35 to 37 days. Their health care providers would have to determine whether those workers are at risk of overdose or other opioid-related health problems.

“Many injured workers are prescribed opioid medications as part of treatment for their injuries, creating an overlap between the opioid crisis and the workers’ compensation system,” Industrial Commission Chairman Charlton L. Allen said at a news

Charlton L. Allen, Chairman of the North Carolina Industrial Commission
Robert Willett rwillett@newsobserver.com
A study of people in the workers’ compensation system and opioid overdoses found that more than 800 people on workers’ comp died of an overdose over about four years. It’s not known whether or how prescriptions for pain medication contributed to the deaths, Allen said.

Among the proposals is for health care providers to consider prescribing a drug that reverses overdoses along with opioids in cases where employees are at risk of overdose.

Instead of drugs, providers would be able to prescribe physical therapy, acupuncture, massage, or other pain treatments.

Allen established a task force in February to come up with ideas for reducing injured workers’ risk of opioid addiction. The task force included injured workers, insurance carriers, lawyers, doctors, public health officials and Industrial Commission members.

Allen said the rules are consistent with the new state law that more closely regulates the prescribing of painkillers, called the STOP Act, and Centers for Disease Control guidelines for prescribing opioids. Other states’ worker compensation systems have developed guidelines for prescribing opioids, and Allen said the task force considered their changes.

The Rules Review Commission must approve the proposals and the Industrial Commission must adopt them.

North Carolina’s professional group for doctors, the N.C. Medical Society, applauded Allen and the task force “in their commitment to address the opioid epidemic within the North Carolina workers’ compensation system,” CEO and Executive Vice President Robert W. Seligson said in a statement.

“This is a complicated and multi-faceted problem with no simple solutions,” he said. “In the coming weeks, we will be reviewing the proposed rules with our members for clinical appropriateness. We look forward to sharing the physician perspective in the rulemaking process.”

A public hearing on the proposed rules is scheduled for March 2, and the Rules Review Commission is accepting written comments until March 19. The earliest the rules could go into effect is May 1.

triangletoday.com Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill is entertainment central! Find things to do, exclusive restaurants, amazing music, and fine art in the Research Triangle.

[12/12/17]   Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from our family to yours!

[11/14/17]   In an car accident while working?

Several factors come into play between the drivers involved and employer when it comes to car/trucking accident related injuries, such as:

Who owns the car?
Who’s responsible?
Were you on your way to or from work?
Who’s insurance company pays?

Some insurance companies often point the finger at each other and refuse to pay what is owed. Workers Compensation carriers should pay regardless of fault of the employee but may have lien to get paid back if the liability carrier pays a settlement or judgment. This lien can be negotiated or eliminated in some circumstances. You need lawyer who can handle both claims to coordinate your benefits. We handle all aspects of your case and can negotiate all these claims.

Sometimes work related car accidents develop into complicated legal matters between employer and employee, especially in unique situations. Getting in an accident driving a company vehicle for out of town work purposes is a common disagreement for workers’ compensation cases. Employers often claim their workers were not actually working at the time. This often results in many employees not receiving the workers’ compensation benefits they deserve.

Sherman Lee Criner is attending the North Carolina Bar Association Workers’ Compensation Section Council meeting.

Sherman is conducting an arbitration for the American Arbitration Association in Bennettsville, SC with parties from Los Angeles, CA, Washington D.C. & South Carolina.
The Bennettsville Courthouse is one of my favorite courthouses. It was one of the few courthouses who’s records were not destroyed by General Sherman, during his southern campaign. One of Sherman’s commanding generals, General Jospeh Hawley, was originally from this area, Stewartsville, and it is believed he intervened to save its destruction. He went on to serve as Governor of Connecticut & US Senator.

[10/30/17]   NECK & BACK
Neck and Back Injuries
Spinal Vertebrae injuries can be the most painful and lingering injuries that a person sustains on the job.
According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OHSA), damage to the neck and back are the second most common workplace injuries in the United States. Never wait to report a neck or back accident! Injuries to the spinal area are very delicate and delaying treatment could result in irreversible damage.

Recent workers’ compensation cases suggest that by failing to clearly and accurately state the location of her injuries, a worker not only delayed neck treatment, which ultimately can lead to a more severe injury, but also difficulties seeking compensation for neck injury because they may only reported shoulder pain at first.

Common Workplace Neck and Back Injuries:

Neck and back workplace injuries are generally a result of overextension of the spine from pulling, pushing, lifting and having poor posture when sitting for long periods of time. Accidents can occur simply from lifting a box that’s too heavy or from persistent strain on muscles and discs protecting the spinal vertebrae. Neck and back pain can be broken down into two types of pain:
Acute: temporary pain that comes on quickly but lessens within a few weeks.
Chronic: pain that lasts more than six weeks, sometimes even years.

Common neck and back injuries from which workers often suffer include lower back strain, fractured vertebrae, pinched nerves, herniated disc, and spinal cord damage. The most common industries that experience these injuries include:
Construction
Manufacturing
Mining
Automobile Repair

After scheduling a visit with a physician, workers are given an injury diagnosis that determines their type of disability.
Temporary disability: workers are able to go back to work and resume job duties after recovery.
Permanent partial disability: workers are able to go back to work after recovery, but not perform their former job duties.
Permanent total disability: workers are not able to return to their previous job.

[10/20/17]   Trucker must rest to help avoid accidents:

First announced in December 2011 by FMCSA, the rules limit the average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours to ensure that all truck operators have adequate rest. Only the most extreme schedules will be impacted, and more than 85 percent of the truck driving workforce will see no changes.

Working long daily and weekly hours on a continuing basis is associated with chronic fatigue, a high risk of crashes, and a number of serious chronic health conditions in drivers. It is estimated that these new safety regulations will save 19 lives and prevent approximately 1,400 crashes and 560 injuries each year.

"These fatigue-fighting rules for truck drivers were carefully crafted based on years of scientific research and unprecedented stakeholder outreach," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "The result is a fair and balanced approach that will result in an estimated $280 million in savings from fewer large truck crashes and $470 million in savings from improved driver health. Most importantly, it will save lives."

FMCSA's new hours-of-service final rule:

Limits the maximum average work week for truck drivers to 70 hours, a decrease from the current maximum of 82 hours;
Allows truck drivers who reach the maximum 70 hours of driving within a week to resume if they rest for 34 consecutive hours, including at least two nights when their body clock demands sleep the most - from 1-5 a.m., and;
Requires truck drivers to take a 30-minute break during the first eight hours of a shift.
The final rule retains the current 11-hour daily driving limit and 14-hour work day.

Companies and drivers that commit egregious violations of the rule could face the maximum penalties for each offense. Trucking companies and passenger carriers that allow drivers to exceed driving limits by more than three hours could be fined $11,000 per offense, and the drivers themselves could face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense.

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.


Want your business to be the top-listed Law Practice in Wilmington?

Click here to claim your Featured Listing.

Telephone

Address


508 Market St
Wilmington, NC
28401

Opening Hours

Monday 08:30 - 17:00
Tuesday 08:30 - 17:00
Wednesday 08:30 - 17:00
Thursday 08:30 - 17:00
Friday 08:30 - 17:00
Saturday 00:00 - 00:00
Sunday 00:00 - 00:00
Other Labor & Employment Law in Wilmington (show all)
The Law Offices of Richard Flexner The Law Offices of Richard Flexner
3805 Oleander Dr
Wilmington, 28403

Attorney Richard Flexner, the firm’s founder, is a North Carolina trial attorney. He has successfully represented injured persons and their families for more than 35 years.

Hall & Green, LLP Trial Attorneys Hall & Green, LLP Trial Attorneys
718 Market Street
Wilmington, 28401

Hall and Green specializes in legal matters that involve criminal, personal injury, workers compensation and social security disability.