Overexertion a leading cause of workplace injury

According to a recent summary of data related to workplace safety, the leading issue causing injury or illness on the job for 2013 was overexertion. North Carolina workers who are employed in physically demanding jobs might be the most at risk for such injuries, but a worker in any job could deal with physical problems because of an action such as lifting too much or reaching too far. Records from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that the number of musculoskeletal disorders improved slightly from 2013 to 2014, which provides employers and employees with an important focus for safety strategies and improvements in future years.

The cost of disabling workplace injuries as a whole for 2013 was $61.88 billion, and approximately one-fourth of these costs were used to deal with overexertion injuries. The top five types of injuries represented about 65 percent of the total spent on work-related health issues. These included falls on a single level, falls from one level to another, and individuals being struck by materials on the job. Other leading issues included vehicle incidents on the road, slips and trips, and equipment accidents.

Laborers and movers were among those most prone to musculoskeletal disorders in 2014, which may be related to the need to handle heavy materials in these professions. Additionally, nursing assistants led in MSDs, which may be a result of the physical challenges of moving patients and handling heavy furnishings and devices. An individual dealing with muscle strain or other physical problems because of work-related activity should report such issues and seek proper treatment to alleviate higher costs that could occur by ignoring the problem.

An individual who has a legitimate strain or other work injury and who faces problems from an employer related to reporting the issue might find that legal representation is needed to advance a claim. A lawyer might also help in dealing with a work injury situation if an employer is found to lack proper workers’ compensation insurance.

 

At the Law Offices of Lyndon R. Helton, PLLC, each of their attorneys brings nearly 20 years of legal experience to people throughout Western North Carolina.  They focus their representation on the needs of people with problems involving Personal Injury, Workers’ Compensation Claims, Social Security Disability, Criminal Defense, Traffic Violations and Family Law matters.  For more information, visit www.heltonlaw.com.   

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Concussions in North Carolina – What You Need to Know

Will Smith’s movie, Concussion, debut[ed late last year] among widespread talk about the real dangers of concussions to sports players. It has been a longstanding practice in the sports industry that a concussed player just “got his bell rung” and should get back in the game and shake it off.

Concussions are more than getting your bell rung, they are traumatic brain injuries (TBI) suffered by someone who has been hit violently.  Concussions are physiological injuries to brain cells…, and can happen with one good hit. After many years of ignoring the problem, major sports institutions such as the NFL, NHL, NCAA, and others like them are finally being held responsible for TBI’s. Until recently they preferred to protect their bottom line rather than accept the responsibility for ignoring the dangers of concussions and the resulting long-term effects of brain injuries such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

All but one state in the United States has a form of “When in Doubt, Sit Them Out” law. North Carolina law, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C-112 (23), and State Board of Education policy require concussion education for coaches, players, parents and other personnel, and have strict guidelines before middle and high school athletes may return to practice or play.  Some of the highlights include:

  1. If a person is in any way affiliated with the interscholastic athletic activity (coach, school nurse, athletic director, first responder, volunteer, student participating in the athletic activity, and parents of those students), they are to be provided a concussion and head injury information sheet and will be required to sign the sheet and return it to the coach where they will be maintained (see #4).
  2. If a participating student in an interscholastic athletic activity exhibits signs or symptoms consistent with concussion, the student must be removed from the activity at that time and will not be allowed to return to play that day. Further, before the student can return to play, he must be evaluated and received written clearance from either 1) a licensed physician with training in concussion management, 2) a licensed neuropsychologist with training in concussion management and working in consultation with a licensed physician, 3) an athletic trainer, 4) a physician assistant under the supervision of a licensed physician, or 5) a nurse practitioner under the supervision of a licensed physician.
  3. Each school must develop a specific action plan to deal with serious injuries in which the conditions of the patient may deteriorate rapidly. Details of the plan must be in writing, reviewed by an athletic trainer licensed in North Carolina, approved by the school principal, distributed to all affiliated personnel, posted conspicuously at all venues, and reviewed and rehearsed annually by all interscholastic athletic activity personnel.
  4. Each school is required to maintain complete and accurate records of their compliance with this statute.

While North Carolina’s statute is a good start to educating and preventing traumatic brain injuries, it can be better. Other states have adopted rules that further protect the players, including:

  1. Requiring TBI training for coaches,
  2. Requiring athletes to be educated on the symptoms and protocol for concussions and other TBI,
  3. Requiring parents to be notified of a suspected or diagnosed TBI.

To learn more about how the civil justice system has helped play an important role in furthering the education and cause of legal justice for concussion and traumatic brain injuries, please visit http://concussion.justice.org/.

If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury, please contact one of our experienced attorneys to discuss your legal options by calling us at 704-376-1911 or toll-free at 800-977-3077, click on the chat button, or use our contact form to get started right away.

The lawyers of Charles G. Monnett III & Associates have more than 50 combined years of experience representing plaintiffs in state and federal courts throughout North Carolina and much of the Southeast in matters involving brain and spinal cord injuries, auto and truck crashes, wrongful death, medical malpractice, defective products and workplace injuries.   Visit www.carolinalaw.com for more information.

What Insurance Protection Do Uber and Taxi Passengers Have If There’s a Crash?

Uber – a popular ridesharing service – and traditional taxi services are alternatives for those who do not wish to get behind the wheel themselves.  But being a passenger in a taxi or riding with another driver using Uber is no protection against car accidents. Accidents involving Uber vehicles and taxi accidents happen in both North Carolina and South Carolina. Injured passengers of both taxis and ridesharing vehicles often have the same question following a taxi accident or Uber accident: “Who pays”?

Who Pays If I Get Hurt While Riding in an Uber or Other Ridesharing Vehicle?

If you are a passenger in a vehicle and you are injured in a ridesharing accident, the ridesharing service (Uber, Lyft, or other similar service) or its insurance company should cover your injuries. This assumes, however, that the driver met all of the requirements to be covered by the ridesharing company’s insurance policy.

You should not expect that the rideshare driver’s personal auto policy will pay for your injuries, as many personal policies exclude any injuries or damage caused while the driver is engaged in ridesharing or livery services.

How Does Insurance for Uber Riders Differ from Typical Taxi Passengers?

For a taxicab driver, insurance is relatively simple. If he or she is an employee of the taxicab company, the taxicab company’s commercial insurance policy covers any accidents, damage, and/or injuries the cab driver causes while he or she is on duty and about his or her job – even if the cab driver does not have a passenger.

While Uber claims its insurance policies have limits similar to those of taxicab and livery services, its insurance may not cover all losses. For example, a recent report in Forbes indicated that Uber’s insurance may not cover collision damage to the driver’s car in all circumstances.

How Can My Own Uninsured Motorist/Underinsured Motorist Coverage Help If I’m Hurt in a Taxi or Uber Accident?

In a case where it is not clear who is at fault, or where the at-fault driver (either your own driver or a third-party driver) is either underinsured or not insured at all, your own uninsured motorist insurance (UM) / underinsured motorist insurance (UIM) coverage may prove to be valuable, as described by the North Carolina Department of Insurance Consumer’s Guide to Automobiles.

UM and UIM coverage step in when you are injured in an accident but the at-fault party either does not have insurance or his or her insurance coverage is not sufficient to cover your losses.

Grimes Teich Anderson LLP is your North Carolina and South Carolina rideshare and taxi accident law firm. If you are injured in an accident in Asheville, Waynesville, Franklin, Greenville, Spartanburg, or surrounding areas, we are available to assist you. We are committed to helping victims injured in a ridesharing accident or taxi accident recover the compensation they need, whether that is from Uber insurance, the taxi company’s insurance, or some other individual or entity. Contact us for assistance by calling one of our office locations, or contact us through our website.

Since 1979, Grimes Teich Anderson LLP has represented the injured and disabled.  The attorneys at Grimes Teich Anderson are leaders in Western North Carolina and upstate South Carolina in representing clients in personal injury matters, workers compensation claims, Social Security disability claims, and employment law matters and veterans’ law.  Grimes Teich Anderson has an active litigation practice with multiple trial tested attorneys, including Henry Teich, a North Carolina Board Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist.   For more information, visit http://www.gtalaw.net.

Can I be fired for filing a workers’ comp claim?

You got hurt at work and need medical treatment. You are stressed and worried that you are going to be out of work. You need your wages to support yourself and your family.  hen it crosses your mind, “Can my boss fire me for filing a workers’ compensation claim?”

The answer is no. You can’t be fired for making a workers’ comp claim.

North Carolina has a Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA) that makes it illegal to fire someone because you file a claim. If you feel that your employer has fired or demoted you or taken some action against you because of your workers’ comp claim, you can file a claim with the NC Department of Labor within 180 days.

Laws protecting workers can be complicated. Time limits apply if you have been retaliated against because you tried to exercise your rights. Consult us if you have questions. Valerie Johnson and Leto Copeley have experience with fighting discrimination because of workers’ comp claims.

 

Copeley Johnson & Groninger PLLC is a law firm focused on representing individuals and their family members who find themselves in circumstances that they never expected.  Their clients include those who have been injured on the job, on the road, and on the premises of businesses and public facilities.  They also help those whose employers have violated their legal rights.  For more on this firm, visit http://www.cjglawfirm.com.

Your Vehicle is Not a Safe

I would suggest you leave no vehicle documents in your vehicle except for maybe your vehicle registration and proof of safety/emissions inspections. Vehicles are insured for a reason.  They can be stolen or damaged and are quite movable.  For these reasons it always baffles me when I see people use their vehicles as a de facto filing cabinet.  I have seen mail (with Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and other personal information) left in plain view and I have seen important documents and valuable property on virtual display.  And I have seen more than my share of unlocked, unattended vehicles with these important items—a virtual invitation to thiefdom.

Storing important documents and valuable personal property in your vehicle is an exceedingly poor choice if you are still making payments on the loan associated with your vehicle.  What if your vehicle is repossessed and your documents and/or other personal items conveniently disappear?  I have had potential clients call me about vehicle issues only to tell me that they have no documents for me to review because they were left in the vehicle which is no longer in their possession.

Even if your vehicle has a combination passcode for entry it is not the equivalent of a safe.  There are sophisticated means to bypass locking mechanisms for vehicles.  Do not store your service records, purchase/lease documents, Certificate of Title (NEVER DO THIS!), payment records, or other vehicle-related documents in your vehicle.  I would suggest you leave no vehicle documents in your vehicle except for maybe your vehicle registration card, an insurance card, and proof of safety/emissions inspections.

 

John T. O’Neal is a practicing attorney in Greensboro, NC who focuses his practice in Personal Injury/Wrongful Death, Consumer Law (includes Auto Dealer Fraud/Vehicle Issues, Lemon Law, and Debt Collection Defense), and various types of Civil Litigation. A long-time NCAJ member and a two-time Ebbie Award winner, he is a former Chair of the Consumer Areas of Practice Section and the Hispanic/Latino Issues Division.

Another Driver Rear-Ended Me. Do I Need to Get A Lawyer?

Maybe yes, but maybe not.  We get a lot of calls from people who have been in car wrecks, but who don’t necessarily need a lawyer.  What they need is some guidance about what they should do next, how their medical bills should get paid, and how they should go about deciding whether to get a lawyer.  We are all about saving people money.  So if we hear about your case and think it’s something you can handle on your own, we will tell you so and give you advice about how to do it.

Most lawyers who handle accident claims will gladly talk to you for free and help you figure out whether your case is serious enough to spend the money they would charge to represent you. So, go ahead and call a lawyer to get some basic advice and then you decide. You may need to call several times, since at first you may not know how seriously you were injured, or how long you will be out of work.

For example, John called me a few weeks ago. Another driver had turned in front of him, damaging his truck and injuring his neck.  He did not think he was all that injured at the scene so he drove himself home.   Within two days he was pretty sore and was having a hard time moving around.   He went to his doctor, and was ordered to rest for a week. He was given some muscle relaxers. After that he worked light duty at his regular pay for several more weeks.  He also went to the chiropractor a few times and that made him feel better.

John wasn’t sure if he needed a lawyer, but his friends said he did. We listened to John’s story and thought he would be fine handling his personal injury claim on his own. We told him to pay for his medical bills with his health insurance. We checked over his medical payments insurance coverage and explained how to claim the payment. We checked to make sure his truck was repaired, and explained how he could ask for compensation for his personal injury after he was all healed.

When John is completely healed, he can call us again before presenting his claim to the insurance adjuster and we encouraged him to do that.

Of course not all cases are simple like John’s.  If, for example, your injuries are significant, if your medical bills are high, if you were hit by a drunk driver, or if the insurance company for the driver who caused the wreck refuses to take responsibility, then you likely do need an attorney, and if you call us about that kind of case, we aren’t going to say, go handle it on your own.

So if you are in a wreck, feel free to call a lawyer to consult about it.  You will likely get some helpful advice that will help you make better decisions for yourself and your family.

 

 

Copeley Johnson & Groninger PLLC is a law firm focused on representing individuals and their family members who find themselves in circumstances that they never expected.  Their clients include those who have been injured on the job, on the road, and on the premises of businesses and public facilities.  They also help those whose employers have violated their legal rights.  For more on this firm, visit http://www.cjglawfirm.com.

Private Termination of Parental Rights

There are several situations in which a parent or caregiver may wish to terminate the legal parental rights between a parent and child. This proceeding is called a private termination of parental rights (“TPR”) and may be initiated by a parent, guardian, caregiver of at least two years, or someone who has filed a petition to adopt.  The person who files the proceeding is called the “petitioner” and the parent whose rights are sought to be terminated is called the “respondent.”  The most common grounds for a private TPR include the respondent’s abuse or neglect, failure to provide financial support or consistent care, failure to legitimate a child, inability to provide for proper care and supervision of child and willful abandonment, although there are some other grounds.

After a petition for a TPR is filed, the court is supposed to hear the matter within 90 days.  A special summons is used to serve the petition on the respondent.  If the respondent is indigent, the court will appoint the respondent counsel.  Also, if the respondent is incompetent or a minor, a Guardian Ad Litem should be appointed to him or her.  A Guardian Ad Litem is likewise appointed to the child if the respondent denies any material allegation in the petition (unless the child already has a Guardian Ad Litem).

A TPR hearing is actually two hearings, often held back to back:  (1) the adjudicatory hearing in which the court determines whether the grounds for termination are supported by clear, cogent and convincing evidence; and (2) the disposition hearing in which the court determines whether terminating the rights of the parent is in the best interests of the child.  In determining the best interests of the child the court looks at the child’s age, the likelihood of adoption, the bond between the child and the parent, the quality of the relationship between the child and any proposed adoptive parent or other permanent caregiver and any other relevant consideration.  The court also takes into consideration the testimony of the Guardian Ad Litem.

Courts are usually cautious in terminating parental rights because severing them extinguishes all of the rights and responsibilities of parenthood.  This means that the respondent no longer has custody or visitation rights, and has no say in decisions made in the child’s life.  A TPR also ends the respondent’s financial obligation to support the child.

North Carolina’s statute that governs TPR proceedings may be found at http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/ByArticle/Chapter_7B/Article_11.html.  If you are considering a private TPR, or if one has been filed against you, it is best to consult with a qualified family law attorney.


 Susan L. Evans is a civil law litigator practicing state and federal law in Asheville, North Carolina, and surrounding areas. She has experience in employment, civil rights, business, contract, tort, consumer, real estate, construction and family law litigation.  Her practice also includes appellate work.  For more information, visit http://www.evanslaw-asheville.com/.