Workers’ Compensation for Public Servants – Firefighters, Police Officers, and Medical Emergency Service Workers

Posted on Tuesday, October 2nd, 2018 at 4:49 pm    

Police officers, firefighters, and providers of emergency medical services deserve more than just our thanks and respect. They deserve to be honored for the extremely hard jobs and often dangerous work they do. One way to honor them is to pay them the workers’ compensation benefits they deserve when they are unable to perform their jobs due to workplace injuries or occupational illnesses.

Why the jobs of so many public servants are so dangerous

  • Police officers. Police officers are constantly at risk of being shot or attacked. Just one domestic dispute which gets out of control, one police stop of someone who has a weapon, or one accident while they are trying to direct traffic or help the public – can end in the police officer losing his/her life or suffering long-term injuries. Police work is a tough balance between helping the public and protecting the civil rights of defendants. Police officers also need a proper balance between the emotional stresses of their job and the demanding physical requirements of their job.
  • Firefighters. Any fire can take a firefighter’s life. Even the most skilled firefighters can die or require long-term care if the flames suddenly shift direction or if the smoke overwhelms. Firefighters often must deal with dangerous chemicals and toxins. In some cases, they risk their lives to save a child, spouse, relative, friend, or even a beloved pet from on the onrush of the fire’s flames.
  • EMS employees. EMS workers often fly or speed to help get medical care to someone who has been the victim of an accident, an attack, an illness, or just the events of daily life. EMS workers can be injured in car crashes getting the accident site or going to the emergency room. They can suffer infections or contract diseases from the people they treat. Often, carrying or lifting a patient can result in chronic pain.

Many public servants work long hours, sometimes in the middle of the night. Injuries are a natural part of all three types of public service jobs.

Injuries and illnesses that firefighters, police officers, and EMS workers often need medical care and time off from work for

 

Public servants who exert themselves physically and emotionally and who work with people in distress can easily suffer an accident or attack that leads to one or more of the following injuries/illnesses:

  • Burns. Firefighters and other servants who get burned during a rescue process, putting out a fire, or for other reasons often need multiple skin graft surgeries. Some workers need to have plastic surgery. These workers often need to take months off from work just to deal with the physical recovery. Many workers also require long-term psychological counseling especially if the burns are on their face or arms.
  • Smoke inhalation. When there’s fire, there’s often smoke. Firefighters inhale the chemicals which can be dangerous. Fires use up the oxygen the firefighters need to breathe. Without oxygen, workers can die due to asphyxiation. Survivors can suffer serious lung damage.
  • Overexertion. Police officer, firefighters, and EMS workers often need to carry or lift heavy objects, move people, or push equipment out of the way. Overexertion often caused back pain, neck pain, and other types of aches. Treatments usually requires extensive physical and rehabilitative therapy. There have been some recent cases that appear to carve out a bit of an exception to the typical rule that such injuries are not compensable as workers compensation. If it can be shown that the overexertion or repeated carrying or exertion occurred over a defined period of time, in that it represents one “piece of work” —such as the rescue of a person from a burning building—then this has been held to be compensable in Virginia.
  • Injuries due to blunt force. Firefighters are at risk for beams, roofs, and other objects falling on them. Police officers are at risk for being struck or getting injured while trying to avoid being hit. EMS workers can be struck by objects at the accident site they go to help the accident victims.
  • Broken bones. One misstep can cause a public servant to fall. A police officer who is attacked can suffer broken ribs, a broken limb, or other broken bones. Firefighters who are struck by objects or who fall (on a floor or even through a floor) can break a bone in any part of the body. One slip means an EMS worker injuries himself/herself and possibly the person who’s being helped.
  • Cuts and bruises. Firefighters, EMS workers or police officers, or any public servant can be injured due to broken glass or other sharp objects if they’re in a vehicle accident or for other reasons.
  • Exposures to toxins and dangerous chemicals. Firefighters may be exposed to toxins when they try to put out a fire. Toxins can cause more than they respiratory problems. They can cause cancer.
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)-Although to a certain degree, “this is what you signed up for,” even the strongest of individuals can break if the situation is so suddenly shocking or frightening that it is out of the norm of what the public servant would normally be exposed to.

Other typical injuries that cause a public servant to need to file for workers’ compensation include:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Respiratory disorders and illnesses
  • Amputations
  • Loss of vision or hearing
  • Muscle, ligament, and tissue damage
  • Internal bleeding
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Repetitive stress injuries
  • Heart problems such as angina and high blood pressure
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Radiation exposure

 

Firefighters, police officers, and EMS workers are very prone to develop stress-related disorders and diseases. For this reason, injured public servants should feel confident that these medical conditions will be taken seriously by the North Carolina Industrial Commission or Virginia Workers Compensation Commission.

Get help for your work injury claim today

Joe Miller Esq. has been helping public servants and all types of workers for more than 30 years. At the Work Injury Center, he represents work injury victims in both North Carolina and Virginia. He’s helped thousands of workers get economic justice. To speak with an experienced, caring workers’ compensation lawyer, please call (888) 694-1671 or fill out my contact form.

Why Broadside Accidents and Head-On Crashes are So Dangerous

Posted on Monday, September 24th, 2018 at 4:07 pm    

Not every accident is equal. At one extreme are rear-end collisions which rarely kill someone. In most cases, the car accident victims suffer whiplash and soft tissue issue injuries. At the other extreme, are head-on collisions and broadside collisions. These latter types of injuries often kill a car occupant or cause the driver or passengers to suffer very serious injuries.

According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, for the year 2016:

  • 1,441 people wee killed in car accidents
  • 130,137 people were injured
  • There were over a quarter-million vehicle crashes – nearly 700 a day
  • Nearly ¾ of all crashed occurred between 7am and 7pm
  • Nearly 1/3 of all accidents were due to speeding

Experienced North Carolina car accident lawyers guide families of the deceased and guide the survivors through each phase of the trial process.

Broadside collisions

In this type of a crash two vehicles collide front to side. This means the front of one car, usually the car at fault, drives into the side of another car. Broadside crashes are also called T-bone crashes because the position of the cars on impact looks like the letter “T.” Because the cars strike at right angles to each other, there’s a strong likelihood that one or both cars will spin out of control which can cause a multi-vehicle accident.

The occupants of the car whose side is struck often suffer the most harm because the side of a car offers virtually no protection – unlike the hood of the other car. Side airbags are also less likely to deploy than front air bags. The occupants of both cars are likely to be thrown about the car, if the airbags don’t deploy. The occupants in the car whose front strikes the other car are also likely to be thrown into the windshield or the dashboard. Occupants of both cars are likely to be thrown into each other.

How broadside car crashes happen

Generally, the car whose front strikes the side of the other car is the car at fault. The driver and the owners of this front car should be held accountable for any injuries or deaths they cause. Some of the reasons for broadside accidents are:

  • Reckless driving
  • Driving while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs
  • Failing to merge properly
  • Running through a red light or a stop sign at an intersection
  • Not yielding the right of way
  • Driving while distracted. Drivers who are distracted can easily veer into the wrong lane or run through an intersection. Distracted driving includes texting while driving, talking on a smart-phone, or eating or drinking while drinking
  • Not being prepared for bad weather including icy roads, oil slicks due to rain, glare due to the sun, snow, and sleet
  • Defective car parts
  • Cars that haven’t been inspected

Types of injuries drivers and passengers suffer from T-bone accidents

The worst-case scenario is that a driver or passenger will be killed. When someone dies, experienced North Carolina and Virginia car accident lawyers file wrongful death actions on behalf of the estate of the decedent and the surviving family members.

Survivors of broadside collisions can suffer traumatic brain injury, paralysis, broken bones, acute and chronic bone, damage to ligaments and muscles, damage to the spinal cord, internal bleeding, and any many other injuries. Some injuries may resolve with months or years of medical care. Other injuries can completely alter a person’s life. Flying glass, striking other car parts, knocking into passengers, and even being stuck on the steering column are common broadside injuries.

In addition to killing or injuring passengers, T-bone crashes often destroy the vehicles involved or require extensive repairs. Generally, if the cost to fix the car is more than the value of the car, the damage is considered a total loss. In total loss cases, owners are entitled to demand payment from the responsible drivers/owners and applicable insurance companies for the value of the car.

Head-On Collisions – Causes and Dangers

Head-on car crashes are often deadly. Survivors often suffer catastrophic injuries which require a lifetime of care. Many victims often need the jaws of life tool just to be extricated from the vehicles. In most cases, one driver is clearly in the wrong because he/she was in the wrong lane of traffic. But this is not always the case. Sometimes a vehicle may be knocked into the oncoming lane by a vehicle headed in the same direction, in which case the fault would originate with the vehicle who slammed into the car that was thrust into the oncoming lane. Some reasons why a driver might go the wrong way down a one-way street, drive on the wrong side in a two-lane road, or go the wrong way on a road ramp are:

  • Intoxication. Drivers who are drunk lose any sense of where they are
  • Driving while under the influence of drugs. Drugs affect a driver’s ability to reason
  • Driver distraction. Drivers who talk or text on cellphones, or who aren’t watching the roadway, can find themselves going in the wrong direction into a stream of traffic
  • Speeding. Cars that go too fast may miss signs indicating which lanes of travel they should take
  • Bad weather, slick roads, pouring rain, heavy fog, and even glare from the sun can make it difficult for drivers to see where they are and where they should go;
  • As mentioned above, another driver traveling in the same direction who loses control and  knocks the head on driver into the oncoming lane.

In head-on collision cases, the personal representative for the estate of someone who was killed can hold the driver who was going the wrong way and/or other at-fault drivers accountable for wrongful death damages. In North Carolina, the Estate of the deceased should sue the irresponsible driver for all their damages such as physical pain of the deceased, loss of service and society, as well as the emotional suffering of the beneficiaries, lost wages, and medical bills. Medical bills include surgeries, hospital stays necessary to attempt to save the life of the decedent.

In addition to standard damages, experienced North Carolina trial lawyers will often seek to punish the driver’s bad behavior through an award of punitive damages. Punitive damages can be awarded in North Carolina, if a defendant acted recklessly, wantonly, or maliciously. A case can be made that a drunk driver, a distracted driver, or a speeding driver was acting recklessly and without any regard for the safety of passengers and the occupants of other vehicles.

Of course, if the deceased or injured driver was acting in the course of employment, an additional claim must be made for workers compensation benefits. If there is a death, then there are additional workers compensation death benefits available to the dependents of the deceased worker under the Workers Compensation Act. It is very important, particularly in Virginia, that the injury case against the other driver NOT be settled, as long as there is a pending workers compensation case. If this occurs, it could wipe out any workers compensation benefits available to the dependents of the deceased or the ongoing workers compensation case of the injured worker.

Make the call to a respected North Carolina and Virginia accident lawyer today

At the North Carolina and Virginia Law office of Joe Miller Esq., we have the experience and resources to hold irresponsible and reckless drivers accountable for the physical pain and emotional harm they cause. Attorney Joe Miller has been fighting for injury victims for more than 30 years. To schedule a free consultation, please call (888) 694-1671 or complete my contact form.

Common Reasons Injured Workers File North Carolina and Virginia Workers’ Compensation Claims

Posted on Monday, September 17th, 2018 at 9:18 am    

Accidents at work happen for all sorts of reasons. Many injured workers who call our office start out talking about all the reasons why the employer was “at fault” for the accident, and how they want to “sue” their employer because of this.
First of all, with extremely limited exceptions, you cannot “sue” your employer. All cases against an employer for work-related injuries are subject to either the Virginia or North Carolina Workers Compensation Act.

That being said, there is also no requirement to prove the employer caused the accident or was negligent. The main requirements are that the worker was an employee, that the accident was work-related, and that that the worker currently cannot work because of the injuries suffered in the accident. North Carolina has a higher requirement of proof than Virginia. In Virginia, an employee can simply be lifting something very heavy or be forced to turn in an awkward way—and this can be compensable.

In North Carolina, unless it is a back injury, this will not suffice. There must be a slip, trip, or fall to qualify for a work injury.

Workplace accidents can differ depending on the type of work you do. Generally, construction workers and folks in high-risk occupations such as tree-cutting are more prone to accidents than other workers. Still, nurses, technical workers, restaurant servers, and anyone in any job may suddenly find themselves unable to work due to a workplace injury.

Some of the injuries that force workers to file a workers’ compensation claim are:

  • Overexertion. Workers who do any type of physical labor such as firefighters, police workers, janitors, industrial workers, and construction workers – are often lifting, carrying, pushing, and pulling heavy objects. Nurses are often lifting and turning patients and mattresses. Everyone has their breaking point – the point where one extra motion causes a backache, a pulled muscle, or other physical injuries. Unfortunately, with very few exceptions, repetitive motion injuries are not compensable under workers compensation.
  • Slips, trips, and falls. At nearly every job, it’s possible to slip and fall. Factory workers can fall over equipment. Retail workers can fall over merchandise. Apartment workers can fall over loose wires. Teachers can fall over books on the floor or something spilled on the floor. Again, there is no need to prove someone was at fault. Falls can cause broken bones, severe bruises, back and neck pain, brain injuries, and other injuries that need long-term treatment to get healthy again.
  • Falls from high place. Construction workers, firefighters, and other workers can fall from high-beams, scaffolding, ladders, and other places that are high. These falls are especially dangerous. If the worker dies, a distinct possibility, the family of the worker has the right to request workers’ compensation benefits. If there are no witnesses, then there can be a challenge to the compensability of the case.

Workers who survive the fall may suffer paralysis, traumatic brain injury, never damage, broken bones and other serious injuries. Workers who can’t work again due to these injuries can claim up to 500 weeks of temporary total disability benefits. (TTD) Workers with certain types of injuries may have the right to demand additional benefits, as they near the end of their 500 weeks, which would be permanent and total injury benefits. Workers who can work again but at less stressful jobs can claim temporary partial disability (TPD) until they can work again. When the worker then starts working at a lower paying job, they can claim partial disability work injury benefits at 2/3rds of the difference between the pre-injury wage and the lower wage, for up to 500 weeks.

  • Being struck by an object. Construction workers, even when wearing helmets, are at constant risk of being struck from above by falling equipment, lunch pails, tools of the trade, and other equipment. Retail workers can be struck by falling merchandise. These injures can cause brain injury and other serious harm. Sometimes workers get pinned against a dangerous object. An object may be thrown at them by someone who wasn’t looking.
  • Motor vehicle. Anyone who drives a car, truck, or other motorized vehicle for a living may get into an accident. Distracted drivers, speeding drivers, drunk drivers, and just careless drivers are likely to cause an accident. Drivers who are focused on their work may get into an accident. The main issue in vehicle accidents is whether the accident occurred while the worker was doing his/her job and did the accident cause your injuries. You should know that even if the worker is at fault for the accident, he or she still may be able to recover workers compensation benefits. A huge caution: NEVER settle your third party injury case before your workers compensation case. This could subject you to being cut off of your benefits, in most cases, permanently.
  • Equipment accidents. Forklifts, cranes, scaffolding equipment, electronic tools, and other work equipment may malfunction. The equipment may not be used properly. Workers may not see that someone else is using the equipment. Employers are generally required to follow federal regulations such as OSHA (Office of Safety and Health Administration) rules and local state work safety rules. Each piece of equipment should be inspected before it is used. Workers should be trained on the proper way to use electronic devices, jackhammers, expanding ladders, and other devices. Workers are supposed to also be trained on proper safety measures so that electronic shocks, chemical or electric burns, radiation exposure, and other life-threatening injuries don’t occur or that they are protected – such as by wearing goggles and gloves. Once again, there may be a third-party claim against the manufacturer of a piece of equipment. Once again, you should NEVER settle the third-party claim prior to the workers comp claim, or this could deprive you of your ongoing benefits.
  • Repetitive motion injuries. Repeating the same motion over and over again can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, inflammation, and other injuries. People who work with computers or do assembly line work are especially prone to get these injuries. While there is usually a requirement to show a specific accident caused your injuries, employees who are required to do repetitive work may have a legal basis for arguing the claim is an occupational illness or that one particular accident made the condition worse.
  • Workplace violence and catastrophic, violent injuries. The police are especially prone to being attacked during arrests, while investigating crimes, and while handling domestic disputes. A disgruntled worker or an angry worker may take out his/her frustrations on other workers. Angry customers or armed robbers can harm store clerks, retail workers and other types of employees. Nurses, counselors, or other medical personnel who work in mental health facilities or rehabilitations facilities have and do frequently suffer attacks from mentally disturbed or otherwise violent patients or inmates. Anyone who suffers injury due to workplace violence is entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim. Many victims of violence end up not just with physical injuries, but with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) , severe depression, anxiety, and need years of psychological counseling and psychiatric treatment for their physical injuries. Many will never be able to return to their former occupation because of what they were exposed to on the job. We represent many clients who have suffered PTSD as a result of violence in the workplace, or simply because they have suffered a violent and catastrophic accident such as a fall from heights.  

In all work injury cases, employees are entitled to payment of all reasonable and necessary medical bills including surgeries, doctor visits, physical therapy, emotional counseling, medical devices, and medications. They should demand their wage loss benefits, which are 2/3rds of the Average Weekly Wage usually for up to 500 weeks, as long as the injured worker is unable to work.  Workers shouldn’t be forced back to work until they are ready. In some cases, injured workers may be entitled to vocational rehabilitation benefits so they can transfer to a different type of job.

Understand your work injury rights by calling us today

At the North Carolina and Virginia Law office of Joe Miller Esq., we are respected for our ability to get strong results. For more than 25 years, we’ve been fighting for injured workers. We work to show your claim is valid. We understand the arguments insurance companies use to try to deny your claim.  Do not wait to call us or take any action in your case without calling our office first. Many injured workers ruin their case by taking action on their own without contacting a knowledgeable workers compensation lawyer. Please do not do this. Attorney Miller works with your doctors to understand your medical condition, prognosis, and the reasons you can’t work. To speak with an experienced work injury lawyer, please call (888) 694-1671 or fill out my contact form to schedule an appointment.

Teachers and Workers’ Compensation Rights

Posted on Thursday, September 13th, 2018 at 1:00 pm    

Teachers help our country become a better place by education our children and giving them hope for the future. While there are many rewarding sides to teaching, there are physical risks and a great deal of stresses. These risks and stresses can lead to accidents and illnesses. Several questions also arise in teaching claims such as whether claims can be made if you get hurt in after-school and away-from the school activities. In addition, with regard to public schools, which are typically funded by cities and counties, settlement may be out of the question. This is because for the most part— with some exceptions— municipalities and public entities tend to shy away from settling workers comp cases. It really depends how the public entity is insured and whether there are funds set aside to settle cases.

Physical injuries that can lead to teacher workers’ compensation claims in North Carolina and in Virginia

Some of the ways teachers can hurt while teaching include:

    • Slip and fall accidents. Teachers can slip, trip, or fall in a lot of different ways. There’s a lot of traffic among students, teachers, and even parents. This puts a lot of strain on physical resources. Tiles can be become cracked or broken, carpets can tear, and outdoor lighting may not work which can make it hard to see. Students often leave books on floors. Locker contents can spill. Bathrooms can become messy. Kitchen areas often become wet and dangerous. Just one bad slip or trip can cause broken bones, spinal cord damage, chronic pain, muscle damage, torn ligaments, and other injuries. Bad falls can even result in a traumatic brain injury.
    • Exposure to toxic chemicals and substances. Some old schools still have asbestos which can cause life-threatening illnesses. Many schools have mold and dust which can make it hard to breathe. Teachers may suffer rashes, headaches, and other illnesses due to the environment they work in. In severe cases, teachers may even be diagnosed with cancer. Teachers who acquire illnesses may have the right to workers’ compensation benefits based on having an occupational disease; however, these claims can be difficult to prove without the proper proof. This proof tends to come in the form of air samples of measurements of these substances, as well as definitive statements from a qualified doctor that the illness of the worker is from exposure at the job site.
    • Repetitive stress issues. Teaching involves different types of repetitive stresses such as constantly writing on chalkboards, using computers on a daily basis, marking papers, and other repeated actions. These stresses can cause carpal tunnel syndrome requiring the teacher to take off from work while he/she receives treatment. Other complications include bursitis (inflammation), tendinitis, and rotator cuff injuries. Repetitive stress injuries may be compensable if the worker, with the help of a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer can show:
      • That the stresses were due to work conditions and not home or other conditions
      • That the school environment contributed to their repetitive stress injuries and
      • That the risk of developing repetitive stress injuries were more than the general public typically faces
    • Injuries that are unique to the courses being taught. Chemistry teachers might have a chemical accident. Driver’s education teachers are always at risk of a student getting into a crash. Physical education teachers constantly risk a pulled muscle, sprained back, or other injury. Teachers who work with after-school musicals can hurt instructing a student how to dance.
    • Unusual stresses. Teaching is hard work. There’s constant pressure from parents to want their kids to excel. Often, teachers need to be substitute parents. Many children have emotional problems. Teachers have to make sure their students pass standardized tests. There’s a lot of paperwork. Many days, teachers suffer from depression, frustration, high blood pressure, and anxiety. These stresses can lead to mental health concerns which require the teacher to take time off to rest and get psychological help. Unfortunately, these sorts of things are not typically going to be compensable via workers compensation.
    • Violence and physical attacks. Sadly, in some schools, teachers are either attacked directly by disgruntled students or they are hurt trying to break up fights. In many schools, these days, gun violence is a major realistic concern. Teachers may be also be stabbed or kicked. Teachers who are physically attacked or shot have the right to demand workers’ compensation while they tend to their physical and emotional health. Exposure to a violent incident may result in Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

 

 

 

 

  • Benefits an injured teacher or a teacher with a work injury or proven occupational illness is entitled to:

 

Teachers are entitled to the following:

  • The cost of all medical treatment including pain doctors, orthopedists, surgeons, hospitals, and other physicians
  • The cost to treat with physical therapists that are reasonably required to heal physical injuries
  • Payment for psychologists, psychiatrists, and mental health counselors – as reasonably needed
  • Generally, 2/3rds of the teacher’s average weekly wages while the teacher is temporarily unable to work for up to 500 weeks.
  • Permanent and Total disability payments for life if the teacher can’t return to work, and the injury qualifies as a permanent and total disability case.
  • If the teacher is able to return to work, possible additional money if there is a permanent impairment to a ratable body part;
  • Mileage reimbursement to and from the medical provider’s offices

Teachers may also be entitled to vocational rehabilitation if they are unable to return to teaching again.

Dependents of teachers who are tragically killed have the right to demand workers’ compensation death benefits.

Some additional teacher workers’ compensation issues

Some additional issues teachers face in claiming North Carolina or Virginia work injury benefits.

  • Injuries after-school and away from work. Many teachers work as sports, cultural, and other instructors after school. Many times, these activities take them to other schools and to organizations at places in different counties and even in different states. As a general rule, teachers are entitled to workers’ compensation as long as they were in the employ of the public or private school district when the accident occurred.
  • Injures while driving to school. Generally, teachers are not entitled to work injury benefits while they commute to school. Each case is unique. Some exceptions do apply. Injured teachers should speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to learn if they have a claim. For example, a teacher who volunteers to take children home from an after-school baseball game may have a claim if an accident occurs on the way home.

Speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer today

Attorney Joe Miller Esq., has helped thousands of injured employees get justice. He’s been a strong advocate for injured workers for more than 25 years. He understands your legal rights and works with your medical doctors, and independent doctors, so you aren’t forced back to work until you’re able to work. For help now and answers to your questions, please call (888) 694-1671 or complete my contact form.

Three Doctor Panels in Virginia Workers Compensation

Posted on Wednesday, September 5th, 2018 at 2:47 pm    

Virginia Workers Compensation Attorney Joe Miller explains when you may be entitled to a three-doctor panel of doctors to choose from for your ongoing medical care for your work injury:

What if I’m hurt on the job in Virginia and my employer has failed to maintain workers compensation insurance?

Posted on Thursday, August 23rd, 2018 at 9:33 am    

What if you’re hurt on the job in Virginia and your employer has failed to maintain workers compensation insurance? Attorney Joe Miller explains in his latest video:

What if I’m Fired During My Comp Case?

Posted on Tuesday, August 21st, 2018 at 8:30 am    

What do you do if you’re fired during your workers’ compensation case? Attorney Joe Miller answers the question:

How the Changing Workforce is Affecting Workers’ Compensation Claims

Posted on Tuesday, August 7th, 2018 at 8:33 am    

According to the Claims Journal, more and more older workers are continuing to work well past retirement age. While older workers bring a lot of skills and experience to their jobs, old age is a factor in people becoming injured. The Journal story cites data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2017 which shows that the 65 and older work category is likely to grow faster than any other age group through 2024.

Another Claims Journal article cited that senior employment (65 and older) increased 101 % between 1997 and 2007. Employment of seniors 75 and older grew by 172% during this time. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020 25%of Americans will be older than 55.

Workers between 25 and 54 are not expected to grow as much as older workers in part due to declining birth rates.

Why seniors are still working

Some of the reasons seniors are working longer are seniors are living longer because of better medical care, financial need, and the lack of good workers. Another factor is the desire of older workers to be productive.

A major concern about older workers isn’t so much that their get hurt more – it’s that their injuries tend to me more severely injured when they do have an accident. Many older workers who suffer a workplace accident do die. As an example, nearly 3,200 workers 55 or older were killed in vehicle accidents between 1992 and 2002. 22% of these accidents were work-related. Falls are another cause of fatal accidents for the elderly.

Older workers, according to Department of Labor statistics, are more likely to develop disabilities. Seniors are at increased risk for diabetes and obesity. While these conditions don’t automatically qualify a worker for work benefits, if another cause (such as a fall) causes injury – these conditions can make the recovery time much longer. Other pre-existing conditions can also extend the recovery time.

Older workers are also more likely to experience sprains and strains if they do manual labor work. The Claims Journal stories also indicate that older workers can have more mental challenges processing information which can lead to more accidents.

Practical suggestions

The Department of Labor recommends that employers consider these programs to help reduce injuries to older workers:

  • Wellness programs
  • Ergonomic and workplace design changes
  • Other adjustments to help keep older workers functioning at their peak

The NIOSH (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) recently started the National Center for Productive Aging and Work. This a “virtual center,” specifically created to help understand how to make older workers productive. The Center’s Director, John Howard, M.D., said that the Center hopes to continue its research to create a safe environment for aging workers.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) also suggests that employers consider the following workplace changes:

  • There needs to be more flexibility. Flexibility includes making adjustments in schedules, assigned tasks, and work locations.
  • Work environments should include some movement. It’s generally not good for workers including older workers to sit all day. Work areas should include work stations where the employee can sit and stand. Work assignments should encourage some physical movement
  • Protections should be in place to minimize the risk of slips, trips, and falls. Railings should be installed. Floors should be examined for broken tiles and carpet tears. Aisles should be cleared of equipment and merchandise. Even though there is no need to prove fault in a North Carolina workers’ compensation case, employees should use some of the fall protection safeguards that property owners use to protect their customers.
  • Teams should be used to solve workplace problems and help workers coordinate tasks with other workers
  • Health lifestyles should be promoted. Simple things like providing better nutrition at the workplace should be encouraged. Workers should be encouraged, not discouraged, to treat with their doctors and specialists.

Concerns about the changing workforce

The Claims Journal raised several other concerns about elder workers:

Experienced workers are being replaced by millennials as well as many less skilled workers. Many baby boomers are retiring when they reach 65. The combination of less skilled workers and senior workers affects how work is done. Less skilled workers require expensive training which many employers can’t afford. More safety designs for older workers can add to employer expenses too. Without the necessary training and safety expenses, more accidents are likely.

Unfortunately, one of the problems is that the health of the average American worker seems to be declining. This is true of older workers too. According to the Claims Journal stories, “When an injured worker has at least one chronic condition, the workers’ compensation claim cost doubles. If they have two or more, the cost of the work comp claim goes up fivefold.”

Another change in the workplace is the increased use of opioids to treat chronic pain, although this, in turn, has been affected by the new regulations with respect to opioids.

This is nothing new to our firm. We have always tended to represent a higher percentage of older workers because frankly, when an older worker is injured, it is less likely that he or she will recover sufficiently to be able to return to pre-injury employment. And this translates into a higher potential settlement.

 

More Hispanic workers

Hispanics also are changing the everyday work forces. According to BLS, about 23 million Hispanic or Latino workers comprised 15% of the country’s workforce in 2011. That number is expected to rise to 19% by 2020.

Because the Latino population is rising, it is important to hire workers who understand Spanish and English and workers who understand other languages. We have seen this create problems, particularly in the area of construction. Workers who cannot understand each other while working at heights is a recipe for disaster and serious injury.

Learning each other’s language also helps workers culturally connect. It also helps employers who want to develop relationships with foreign businesses. Even insurance companies understand the need to hire insurance adjusters and nurse case managers who are speak Spanish. Insurance companies that establish language lines also helps employees who are injured.

Talk with an Experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney today

Workers’ compensation attorney Joe Miller Esq., represents injured workers of any age, although more often than not, our clients tend to be over 50.  He fights for workers who work in construction, manufacturing, shipping, healthcare, telecommunications, firefighting, law enforcement, and any type of job. He understands the injuries that are unique to your  profession and the ones that are common to many professions. He’ll fight to get you all the wage compensation loss you deserve plus all the medical payments you need to get better. For help from a highly respected lawyer, please phone Joe Miller Law at the Work Injury Center at (888) 694-1671 or fill out my contact form to schedule an appointment.

Do Not Quit Your Job

Posted on Thursday, August 2nd, 2018 at 12:30 pm    

Lately, we have been coming across cases where we haven’t been able to help an injured worker because they have quit their job after being hurt.

We understand how frustrating it is when an employer or insurance company will not cooperate, or you are sent to a company doctor who will not listen to you. You are hurt and the doctor is sending you back to work when you know you are really in severe pain and you have no business working. So in frustration, you just quit your job and hope for the best.

But injured workers need to understand that just because they are hearing the job numbers in the U.S. are up and there is low unemployment, that does not mean the worker can “have his cake and eat it too,” by simply quitting his job after a serious injury. When the injured worker quits, he does irreparable damage to his chances of obtaining a fair recovery for his workers compensation claim.

You simply cannot quit the job you were hurt on and then expect to have a decent workers compensation claim.

In this video, workers compensation attorney Joe Miller explains why you should NEVER quit your job after an on-the-job injury.

If you or a loved one were hurt on the job in either Virginia or North Carolina, please call us at 888-694-1671 or use our online form.

Why Car Accidents and Injuries to Workers in North Carolina and Virginia Construction Zones Are So Common

Posted on Thursday, August 2nd, 2018 at 10:58 am    

According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), there were close to 100,000 vehicle accidents across the United States in construction work areas in 2015. This represents a 7.8% increase from the year before. North Carolina has had its own issues with construction workers getting injured on the job. The FHWA data showed that the accidents broke down as follows:

  • Fatal crashes. 642
  • One person or more injured:  25, 485
  • Some property damage:  70, 499

These numbers are similar to crashes in non-work zone areas.

According to the Fatal Analysis Reporting System (FARS), 590 people died in construction zone areas in 2011, 617 died in 2012, 579 more in 2013, and 669 in 2014.

Some of the leading factors for work zone deaths are:

  • Not using a seatbelt
  • A driver was under the influence of alcohol
  • 65% of crashes happened during the daytime
  • Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays were the worst days for fatal construction zone accident
  • The summer was the worst season of the year for construction zone accidents
  • Urban interstates accounted for 23% of fatal work zone accidents
  • Urban arterials accounted for 20%
  • Urban areas accounted for 43% of fatal construction zone deaths even though they account for just five percent of the roadway network
  • 41% of the fatal accidents were rear-end accidents which indicates the driver was likely going very fast

North Carolina has 17 Interstate Highways including I-26, I-40, I-85 and I-95. Other main roads include State Highways & Routes 1, 13, 17, 21, 168, 158, 301, 321, 401, and many other roads. There are numerous highways and roads throughout the state that are in constant need of repair and maintenance. Virginia has similar highways, many of which continue from Virginia into North Carolina, particularly the North -South I-85, I-95 corridor. Once upon a time, State Routes 17 and 301 were the primary North-South ways to drive the east coast, before the Federal System.

Construction is done for many reasons:

  • To build new roads
  • To increase the lanes of travel
  • To improve safety
  • To repair existing roads
  • To widen roads
  • To allow for access to new buildings and communities

A great example of road improvement is Route 17 between Chesapeake, VA and Elizabeth City. Many folks remember when it was just one lane in each direction, especially on the Virginia side. It was the sight of many fatal motor vehicle accidents, particularly where the road abuts the dismal swamp canal and it was particularly dark at night.

Now the road is four lanes all the way down, the road was moved east to open farm land, away from the dismal swamp, and there is a new high rise 4 lane toll bridge on the Chesapeake side. The road is now much safer and provides a faster route between the two cities.

Similar to this are the massive improvements made to Route 168, now a toll road in Virginia known as the Chesapeake Expressway. As locals know, this road continues south of the Virginia Border to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Once a pitifully difficult one-lane-each-way trip to the Outer Banks, improvements on both sides have now substantially lessened travel time, even though the road remains bumper-to-bumper on the weekends in the summer. Once can now travel from Moyock, N.C. to downtown Norfolk, VA, in about 30 minutes, making Moyock a bedroom community for many who work in Norfolk.

Why construction accident accidents happen

Some of the common reasons accidents happen at construction zones are:

  • The lanes of traffic weren’t correctly marked. There wasn’t clarity as to which lanes could be used and which ones couldn’t.
  • It wasn’t clear when and where cars should merge if the lanes of traffic were reduced
  • Drivers didn’t have advance warning through overhead signs, other signs, or roadway staff – that they were getting close to a construction site work zone
  • The speed limits weren’t reduced at the area approaching the work zone
  • There weren’t appropriate indicators that road surfaces were uneven, that the surfaces were being stripped, or that the surface of the road had changed from asphalt to some other material
  • There weren’t road crews telling drivers to slow down or to stop. Road crews should also be able to indicate what detour routes are available.
  • The altered lanes appeared to create a safe area for a driver to stop, when in fact it is not safe at all.
  • Cranes, bulldozers, large trucks, and other vehicles were blocking the driver’s views
  • Road debris such as limbs from trees, loose gravel, and other hazards weren’t cleared away
  • Traffic cones weren’t used or weren’t properly used

Who is responsible for car accidents at North Carolina construction sites?

Our lawyers work with investigators and witnesses to determine what happened. If we are unable to settle the case, we may have to move into litigation and take depositions and ask written questions to analyze what the defendant’s version of events is. We have worked with traffic safety engineers to review whether industry standards were met. In some circumstances, we may have to show whether federal and North Carolina regulations, construction codes, and laws weren’t followed.  We also need to determine all the parties involved in the construction work, assuming that the layout or other hazards contributed to the collision.  

Many different people, companies, and entities may be liable for a work zone accident. An investigation usually begins with determining who initiated the construction site work. We review whether the roads were federal roads, state roads, county roads, or even private roads. We work to understand why the work was being done. Was fixing the road the primary task? Or was the need to do work related to some other purposes such as clearing trees from electric lines, raising a new building in a city, or any area, or some other reason?

Some of the possible defendants when a car accident in a construction zone causes injury or death are:

  • Government entities. This includes North Carolina, the North Carolina Department of Transportation, cities counties and towns. Government entities are normally responsible for the design, repair, and maintenance of the roads. There are specific conditions for holding them liable that a respected North Carolina car accident lawyer understands:
    • There are notice requirements that must be met
    • There are statute of limitation deadlines
    • There must generally be a showing that the state had notice (actual or constructive) of a problem and that it failed to do something about it. For example, if the North Carolina Department of Transportation knew that numerous deaths had occurred at a specific intersection, the NCDOT should have, at least, conducted an investigation into why so many deaths happened and if so, corrected the issue if possible.
  • The construction business that was retained to do fix the road, building, trees, utility lines, or other public or private improvement
  • All the subcontractors

Architects, civil engineers, and maintenance crews may also be liable for injuries and deaths when North Carolina construction accidents happen.

Time is critical in construction site accidents. It’s important to have investigators and experts go the accident site, take pictures and videos, speak with witnesses, examine the damage to any personal vehicles, and examine the damage to any construction vehicles or equipment. Construction sites change rapidly. The whole idea behind construction work is to complete the work as soon as possible which makes it hard to verify what the conditions were when the accident happened.

Get Justice. Speak with an Experienced North Carolina and Virginia car accident and highway construction injury attorney today

At the North Carolina Law office of Joe Miller Esq., we have the experience and resources to investigate car accidents, including at construction sites. Once we know how the accident happened, we are skilled at bringing personal injury claims against the responsible parties. Of course, we also assist injured highway construction workers, as well as injured drivers who may have been travelling for work purposes, through both the North Carolina and Virginia Workers Compensation Systems. Attorney Joe Miller has been helping personal injury victims for more than 30 years. He understands how to examine the facts and argue the law. He’ll work to prove liability and to show all your pain and suffering. For help , please call (888) 694-1671 or complete my contact form.

Wrongful Death in North Carolina

Car accidents take numerous lives. According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, in 2016:

  • 1,441 people were killed in vehicle accidents
  • 14.20 people died for every 100,000 persons
  • Nearly 1/3 of all highway deaths were related to speeding
  • 15 bicyclists died
  • 151 motorcycle riders died
  • 198 pedestrians were killed
  • 31% of children between 0 and 4 who died weren’t wearing a seatbelt

Wrongful death generally means that the defendant’s negligence caused the fatality. Driver negligence usually includes one or more of the following:

  • Speeding
  • Reckless driving
  • Driving while distracted by a cellphone, GPS system, electronic device, passengers, or other reasons
  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Noncompliance with the state traffic laws
  • Failing to follow reasonable and safe driving practices.

When drivers are liable, the owners of the vehicle (if different than the driver) may also be accountable. Car parts manufacturers, North Carolina governmental agencies or subdivisions, and sellers of alcohol may also be liable. There is no requirement to show there was any criminal conduct on the part of the wrongdoer. Wrongful death cases are civil cases. This is distinguished from a driver being injured while on the job. In workers compensation cases, we do not really care so much about fault, as long as the worker was engaged in the business of the employer at the time of the accident. Still, if the work car accident was someone else’s fault, the deceased driver’s family would be entitled to make two claims: Once against the at-fault driver and another for a death claim under the North Carolina Workers Compensation Act.

Who are the beneficiaries of wrongful death lawsuits in North Carolina?

The right of family members to bring a wrongful death lawsuit is governed by North Carolina Statutes section 28A-18-2 Generally, the personal representative of the person who dies files the wrongful death claim. The personal representative is normally the executor named in the decedent’s will. If there was no will, then there are rules for who can apply to be the administrator/personal representative of the estate.

There are strict timelines for bringing wrongful death claims an experienced North Carolina car accident lawyer can explain. The key thing to remember is that it is always good to consult with a respected personal injury trial lawyer as soon as possible after a car accident causes someone to die. It’s also important to show that that the deceased did not contribute to the accident in any way. We aggressively fight to show the responsible defendants are fully responsible for the tragedies they caused.

The personal representative brings the wrongful death claim on behalf of the following survivors:

  • A spouse
  • The children of the decedent
  • Anyone entitled to benefits under the intestate succession laws of North Carolina.

The damage award is not part of the Estate though. This means the funds go directly to the beneficiaries and not creditors. If any beneficiary is under 18, then it may be necessary to appoint a guardian for the child or place the funds in a trust. Normally, the co-parent will handle the funds for the child until he/she reaches 18.

The state statute essentially combines the following two claims:

  • The claim for any damages based on the survival of the decedent after the accident. Some victims don’t die immediately. They may die days, weeks, or even months after the accident date. The wrongful death claim includes the victim’s physical pain and emotional suffering between the date of the accident and death. It also includes all medical during this time and any lost wages or income during this difficult time. Medical bills include hospital surgeries, doctor visits, therapy, medical devices, and medications.
  • The claim for damages based on the death of the car accident victim. Damages can be awarded, according to the statute, for the following:
    • Reasonable costs for the funeral and burial
    • Lost income
    • The loss of the care, assistance, protection, and services, the deceased would have provided each beneficiary
    • The loss of the guidance, advise, comfort, companionship, and society each beneficiary would have received had the decedent lived

The North Carolina wrongful death statute also authorizes a punitive damage award if the facts merit it. Punitive damages are generally designed to punish the wrongdoer to deter him/her from similar wrongful conduct. Punitive damage awards are also meant to send a message to others might act “with malice or willful or wanton conduct.” Punitive damages may be awarded, if for example, a driver drove his car while intoxicated or drove a car that he/she knew needed safety-related repairs.

Generally, all awards are adjusted to reflect the current monetary value of the damages. Generally, a respected North Carolina car accident lawyer charges a contingent fee in wrongful death cases. This means the lawyer does not get paid his fee unless the case settles or there is a jury verdict. The lawyer does get a percentage of any recovery plus reimbursement for fees that were advanced.

Experienced personal injury lawyers understand what is required to prove fault for the car accident. They also understand how to prove damages. Some damages are easier to place a dollar amount on than others. In wrongful death cases, we often work with professionals who can assess the value of intangible losses such as loss of guidance and support or loss of care and assistance.

At the end of the day, though, the primary thing that determines the value of a wrongful death claim is going to be insurance coverage. The minimum limits in North Carolina are $30,000.00. The more valuable cases are those involving commercial vehicles, which routinely carry policies of $1Million. With larger companies, there may also be excess coverage.

Get help now! Make the call to a respected North Carolina wrongful death lawyer today

No amount of money will ever replace the loss of a loved one. The aim of wrongful death cases is to hold the drivers and other responsible parties liable for their actions. Families are entitled to be paid every dollar the law does allow, whether it is due to the fault of another or for a workers compensation recovery. Attorney Joe Miller has helped thousands of injured victims get justice. He has the resources and experience to help you get justice for the loss of a loved one. To schedule an appointment, please call (888) 694-1671 or complete my contact form.

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