Typical Types of North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Injuries

Posted on Monday, July 18th, 2016 at 2:00 pm    

Workplace accidents and illnesses happen for many reasons. It is important to work with an experienced North Carolina work injury attorney who knows the common kinds of claim types. It isn’t necessary to prove fault on the part of the employer because fault is not an element of workers’ compensation law. But the type of accident usually indicates the type and extent of injuries. This is important because many employers will try to get the employer to return to work before the worker is ready. Experienced work injury lawyers work with doctors so they know how long injuries should really last and what complications may arise.

Skilled workers’ compensation lawyers also understand when injuries may be permanent, when they might result in the need for vocational retraining, and what disability injury ratings may apply. Attorney Joe Miller has this essential knowledge. For over a quarter century, he has helped thousands of injured workers in North Carolina and Virginia get Strong Justice SM – full compensation for all kinds of work injuries. Some of his work injury knowledge is based on his experience and knowledge of the laws and rules surrounding Workers Compensation in North Carolina.

Here’s a sampling of the more common injury types.

1) Overexertion

Many physical labor jobs such as construction work, industrial job, and health care work require constant pushing, pulling, lifting, and carrying. The constant wear and tear can cause damage to muscles and joints. For many workers, there is the one extra push or pull, lift or carry, that wrenches their back, strains their neck or causes acute physical pain, or a heart attack. Overexertion injuries are very common workplace accidents.

2) Slip, fall or Trip and Fall Accidents

Falls around the workplace are very common. They can happen for many reasons such as loose tiles, wet surfaces, poor lighting, wires, or torn carpets. Inventory or equipment that isn’t properly stored or put away can cause slip and fall accidents too. Workers are especially susceptible to slips and falls or trips and falls because their focus is on their immediate task and not looking down at the floor. Slips and falls can happen in almost any work environment including restaurants, medical facilities, construction sites, retail stores, and industrial warehouses.

3) Serious Falls on flat surfaces or from Heights.

In typical slips and falls, the worker falls on a ground or floor-based surface due to some slippery substance such as ice, water, oil or grease. Some falls take place at heights, causing much more serious injuries and even death. Examples of these serious falls are falls from a ladder, a scaffold, or a roof during construction or during an inspection. Falls down stairs can happen in almost any work environment. The farther the fall, the more serious the injuries will normally be.

4) Being Struck by an Object

Without warning, a piece of retail inventory or a piece of heavy equipment can fall on a worker causing broken bones, nerve damage, bruises, amputations, and other medical complications. Falling objects are common in any place with inventory and in construction sites. Falling objects are so common at construction sites, that most construction workers are required to wear helmets. Even so, helmets cannot protect when a heavy piece of lumber or metal falls from a high height.

5) Vehicle Accidents

Many workers need to operate a vehicle to perform their job. Many truck drivers suffer serious injuries because trucks rollover or jackknife. Workers who use cars for work also suffer many accidents for many reasons – such as failure of other drivers to follow traffic laws, driver fatigue, texting while driving, faulty truck equipment, and for other reasons. The reason really isn’t important as long as it can be shown that the use of the vehicle was being operated on company time.

6) Equipment Accidents

Machinery and tools can crush, electrocute, or harm a worker in many different ways. Workers at construction sites are especially prone to injury from forklifts, power tools that don’t work, and for other reasons. Some employers fail to provide necessary safety equipment for their workers. Other employers may fail to comply with state, federal and local guidelines. Equipment is not always chosen with the safety of the worker in mind. Workers should be properly trained on how to use the equipment. All equipment should be routinely inspected for defects and signs of wear and tear.

7) Repetitive Motion

Repetitive stress injuries are a common workplace occurrence. They can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, pain in the spine, and other complications. The problem with repetitive workplace injuries is that one can typically not recover for repetitive stress injuries. If there is a potential recovery for something such as carpal tunnel syndrome caused by repetitive use, it may be covered as an occupational disease, if certain strict criteria of proof can be met. There must be clear evidence that the type of work performed over time caused the carpal tunnel syndrome and that the public is not equally exposed to this type of work.

8) Violence at work.

Some workers are hurt because of fights with coworkers. Others can be injured or killed because a disgruntled former employee, someone with a mental illness, or just a plain no-good criminal commits a crime on the workplace such as a killing or a robbery. Workers who are injured are usually entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if someone else committed a violent or criminal act. Co-worker violence is only compensable if the violence relates something having to do with the job. Violence brought on by a personal grievance is not compensable.

9) Occupational Diseases.

In addition to accidents, there can be compensation for occupational diseases. Some are well-recognized and listed in the statute book such as asbestosis, silicosis, manganese poisoning and loss of hearing caused by harmful noise in the workplace. Other types of injuries and conditions not listed specifically in the statute can be shown to be an occupational disease if

  1. It can be shown that the disease is due to the characteristics of the particular job the worker was engaged in and
  2. It is not something to which the public is equally exposed.

So for instance, if you were claiming you got a bad case of the flu because of your work environment—and you worked construction—that would not be something you could prove because the public is equally exposed.

But if you worked in a lab that handled flu viruses and you came down with several cases a year of the particular strain that only you handled—likely you would win.

Another example—you claim carpal tunnel syndrome, but your job is driving a car. Everyone drives. Not likely going to win. But if you are a machinist and you work with hand tools all day long—and you are right-handed and the carpal tunnel is in your right hand–that is something else.

In some of these cases, if someone other than the employer caused the accident – the injured worker may also have the right to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the responsible third party.

Speak with an Experienced North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today

Whether you are a janitor, a health care worker, a construction employee, a teacher, a certified nursing assistant, a truck driver, an office worker, or anyone in most any type of North Carolina job, you have rights. If you were hurt on the job, you have the right to seek medical help, to demand payment for your fair percentage of lost wages. You may also be able to seek vocational retraining.

Attorney Joe Miller has the skill and experience you need. He is a strong and aggressive advocate for injured workers. For help now, call Joe Miller Law at 888-694-1671 or complete his online contact form. You may be entitled to a substantial recovery.

Types of Disability in North Carolina Workers Compensation Cases

Posted on Monday, July 11th, 2016 at 2:00 pm    

Injured workers are entitled to wage loss benefits based on the type of disability they have. Disability is a legal term of art that an experienced North Carolina workers compensation attorney can explain. Worker’s compensation disability determines how long the injured employee gets benefits and what the amount of those benefits are. The correct classification can mean more money and money for a longer period of time.

Workers who have lost limbs, lost an ear, or suffer from severe pain that won’t ever go away should be paid according to their disability – not because the employer or insurance company wants to rush them back to work or wants to save money. North Carolina attorney Joe Miller has been helping injured workers for over a quarter century. He has helped thousands of injured workers get strong recoveries. He has the experience and skills to work with medical doctors and to fight unreasonable classifications.

The four main types of North Carolina work injury disability

Disability in workers’ compensation is different than Social Security Disability and it is different than disability in an insurance contract. Disability, in North Carolina work injury cases, means the employee cannot do the work he/she did before the accident or illness. Workers who can work but with medical restrictions may be entitled to partial benefits, or even full benefits if their employer cannot accommodate them or if they can show that they cannot find work within their physical restrictions.

In order to obtain wage loss benefits, a worker, with the help of an experienced work injury lawyer such as Joe Miller, must show that he/she has one of the following types of disability:

  • Temporary total disability. Many workers are unable to work for a limited period time. When their injuries mend, they are ready to return to work. While they are getting medical attention, these workers are entitled to 2/3rds of their pre-injury wages. When they return to employment, they get their pre-injury salary. Temporary benefits can last for up to 500 weeks if the injury or illness occurred after June 24, 2011.
  • Permanent and total disability. Some workers can never return to work. Their injury or occupational illness is too severe. Workers who reach Maximum Medical Improvement and still cannot work at all may be entitled to additional work loss benefits for life, if, after 425 weeks of receiving temporary total disability, they can show to the Industrial Commission that they are unable to work in any capacity. Workers who have lost the use of both hands, both arms, both legs, both feet, have a severe brain injury , or some combination are generally presumed to be unable to work permanently. There are other presumptions the law offices of Joe Miller Esq. can explain.
  • Temporary partial disability. Here the worker has the ability to do some work, but not the same level of income as before the work injury or occupational illness. The worker gets 2/3rds of the difference between what he/she earned before the disability and what he/she can earn after the disability for up to 500 weeks if the injury or illness occurred after June 24, 2011.

For example, if the worker earned $1000 a week pre-injury and now earns $400 a week, the worker gets 2/3 of $600 ($1,000 minus 400) for a total of $400. Payments are made on a weekly basis until the worker can return to work at full capacity and thus earn his/her full wage.

  • Permanent partial impairment. This is money paid for injuries to specific, ratable body parts. It is calculated on the basis of a percentage of disability to a particular body part which percentage is assigned by the injured worker’s treating physician. These benefits fall under North Carolina General Statutes Section 97-31. This statute includes a schedule of injuries by type and awards the worker benefits according to the schedule. For example, a worker who loses the use of a thumb is entitled to 2/3rds of the average weekly wage for 75 weeks. Another example: If a worker is found to have a 10% disability to the back, that benefit would be 10% of the maximum benefit of 300 weeks for the back, or 30 weeks.

One major caveat: The worker cannot get both the fully weekly benefits for 500 weeks and the scheduled benefit. The worker must elect between the standard weekly disability benefit and the scheduled benefit. The most common cases where the percentage ratings come up are where the injured worker has returned to pre-injury employment. In such cases, the worker’s only additional benefits may be permanent partial impairment.

Employers will often try to encourage doctors to force workers back to work before they are ready. They will also contest the most serious classifications. They will argue that workers have a temporary disability and not a permanent disability. They will assert that a disability is only partial instead of full. They will argue that the injuries are pre-existing and not related to the accident. An experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer such as Joe Miller will work with your doctors and will make strong legal arguments to help convince the Industrial Commission that your classification matches your inability to work.

How disability affects medical benefits

The type of disability a worker has does not affect the payment of medical bills. All workers, regardless of the type of disability they have, are entitled to seek medical attention to help them get healthy – if they have suffered a workplace accident or illness. Workers can continue to get medical help until it is clear that continued medical help will not improve the workers’ condition – that the worker has reached maximum medical improvement.

If a doctor says an employee can work but with medical restrictions – then the employer and insurance company must pay for any medical expenses to meet those restrictions. Workers with partial disabilities may require medical devices such as prosthetics or medications in order to work.

Workers with a temporary or partial disability may require occupational therapy to learn how to adjust their body to old or new work demands. They employer must pay for this type of rehabilitation. Employers may also be obligated to pay for the travel expenses to see the doctors and to get the proper therapy.

Joe Miller thoroughly and aggressively argues for more than just wage loss benefits. He is a strong advocate for his clients and works to get all related medical bills for any type of disability.

For help with workers compensation disability claims, consult North Carolina work injury lawyer Joe Miller

At the Law Office of Joe Miller, our legal team works to make sure work injuries are classified correctly. For help now, please call attorney Joe Miller at 888-694-1671 and ask for Joe Miller, or email Joe at jmiller@joemillerinjurylaw.com.