Sunday, January 15, 2017

Automobile Accidents While on the Job

If you’re involved in an automobile accident while working, the you may have a workers’ compensation claim.  Typically, accidents occurring while driving your personal vehicle to and from work are not covered by workers’ compensation.  However, there are certain instances when an you may be covered.  If your employer agrees to provide transportation to and from work and provides a company van or provides the employee a vehicle and reimburses for gas and mileage, then an accident will usually be covered.  Accidents are also covered by workers’ compensation if the you are on a special errand for your employer at the time of the accident.

For example, if an employee is asked to deliver items to a meeting or making a deposit at a bank and while traveling is in an accident then the employee should be covered under workers compensation insurance.  If an employee travels for work as a sales professional or a truck driver and working at the time of the accident, the employee would also be covered.  Sometimes, an employee may be driving partly to benefit the employer and partly for personal reasons which requires the application of the Dual Purpose Rule.  So long as the employee is doing something that benefits the employer on the trip, the employee is likely to be covered by workers’ compensation.

If you are injured on the job, you should consult an attorney for advice.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Should You Consent to a Drug Test Following a Work Injury?

Is an employee required to take a drug test after being injured on the job in North Carolina and will it affect the Employee’s Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Many companies have a policy in place that require an employee to submit to a drug test following an accident or injury or at other times.  If a company has a consistent and clear policy in effect regarding drug testing that it has been using prior to the injury and the employee refuses to take a drug test, then the employee may be terminated.  However, refusing to take a drug test is not grounds to deny workers’ compensation benefits and the employee should still be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, if otherwise eligible.   However, under North Carolina law, no compensation is paid to an employee for injury or death if under certain circumstances he or she was intoxicated or under the influence of a controlled substance.  Therefore, if an employer can prove the employee was actually impaired benefits may be affected, but a simple drug test is not controlling.

See The North Carolina Statute Section 97-12 below:

§97-12. Use of intoxicant or controlled substance; willful neglect; willful disobedience of statutory duty, safety regulation or rule.

No compensation shall be payable if the injury or death to the employee was proximately caused by:

His intoxication, provided the intoxicant was not supplied by the employer or his agent in a supervisory capacity to the employee; or
His being under the influence of any controlled substance listed in the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act, G.S. §90-86, et seq., where such controlled substance was not by prescription by a practitioner; or
His willful intention to injure or kill himself or another.
When the injury or death is caused by the willful failure of the employer to comply with any statutory requirement or any lawful order of the Commission, compensation shall be increased ten percent (10%). When the injury or death is caused by the willful failure of the employee to use a safety appliance or perform a statutory duty or by the willful breach of any rule or regulation adopted by the employer and approved by the Commission and brought to the knowledge of the employee prior to the injury compensation shall be reduced ten percent (10%).

“Intoxication” and "under the influence" shall mean that the employee shall have consumed a sufficient quantity of intoxicating beverage or controlled substance to cause the employee to lose the normal control of his or her bodily or mental faculties, or both, to such an extent that there was an appreciable impairment of either or both of these faculties at the time of the injury.

A result consistent with “intoxication” or being “under the influence” from a blood or other medical test conducted in a manner generally acceptable to the scientific community and consistent with applicable State and federal law, if any, create a rebuttable presumption of impairment from the use of alcohol or a controlled substance.

The burden of proof shall be upon him who claims an exemption or forfeiture under this section. (1929, c. 120, s. 13; 1975, c. 740; 2005.)

If you're injured on the job and asked to take a drug test, you should consult an attorney for advice before doing so. Call our office at 919.277.0161 for a free consultation.

Friday, October 14, 2016

What's Your Workers Compensation Claim Worth?

What’s Your Workers’ Compensation Case Worth?

This is by far the most common question early in my representation of an injured worker.  While it is impossible to place an exact value on your case for settlement purposes, an experience attorney can evaluate your expected likely benefits under the statutes and provide an estimate of recovery.  One important thing to understand it that calculations of certain benefits are based on the injured worker’s average weekly wage.  So two employees may have the same exact injury, but if one employee was earning $200.00 a week in wages and the other employee was earning $800.00 a week in wages, the employee earning the higher wage rate would receive a higher amount.

See the North Carolina Industrial Commission Website for general information here.

If you have been injured on the job, call my office, I will give you an opinion about the value of your claim based on the available facts.

Does Your Employer Consider You and Independent Contractor?

North Carolina Industrial Commission works to Combat Abuses by Employers who Incorrectly Classify Employees as Independent Contractors.

The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor entered into an agreement with the North Carolina Industrial Commission on August 31, 2016 to help protect employees and lawful businesses from abuses by certain employers in classifying workers’ as independent contractors to avoid paying workers’ compensation benefits.  Governor Pat McCrory’s Executive Order 83 from December 18, 2015 had established an Employee Classification Section within the North Carolina Industrial Commission to help investigate abuses and this agreement follows that effort.

See the following for the news release and full bulletin here.

If you've been injured on the job and denied workers comp benefits because your were wrongfully classified as an independent contractor, you should contact an experienced attorney.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

North Carolina Cracks Down on Employers Lacking in Workers’ Comp Coverage

North Carolina Cracks Down on Employers Lacking in Workers’ Comp Coverage

The commission responsible for enforcing workers’ compensation laws in North Carolina has cracked down in the last year on employers who don’t carry proper insurance, collecting $1 million in civil fines from uninsured companies.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reports that the state Industrial Commission also charged 100 employers with misdemeanors for willingly going without coverage.

Crack Down

Monday, November 9, 2015

Early Advice From an Attorney is Key

 Early Communication with An Attorney is Essential To Protecting Your Rights

Many workers’ compensation attorneys offer a consultation at no charge if you’ve been injured on the job and are unsure of what to do.  Shortly after you’re injured, typically, you’ll be asked to provide a statement to your employer and the insurance company as to how you were injured.  The statement is usually recorded and may be used later against you during the claims or litigation process.  Some insurance adjusters may ask questions that are misleading or confusing which can affect your claim.  Adjusters are professionals trained to minimize the costs to the insurance company, and are not always going to treat you fairly.  It is important to seek advice early in your case to make sure that you are protected, and taking the appropriate steps to ensure you are properly compensated.  It can be much more difficult for an attorney to assist you after a statement has been recorded.  It can also be more difficult for your attorney if you have represented yourself a long period of time and if there were missteps along the way.   It is best to obtain advice early and understand any potential issues in your particular case.

Also see:  Recorded Statements 

If you've been injured on the job, contact an experienced attorney to help.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Reforms to Workers’ Compensation Laws Limit Benefits

In the past several years, many states, including North Carolina, have passed new laws changing and cutting back benefits employees can received under the workers’ compensation laws.   Since 2003, new laws have been passed in 33 states that reduce benefits or make it more difficult for those with certain injuries to qualify for benefits.   Cuts have been so deep in some states that judges and even defense attorneys have found them inhumane.   In North Carolina, significant laws went into effect in 2011 that made significant changes to North Carolina workers’ compensation laws; most of which were bad for injured workers.  The first major change was to place an arbitrary time limit on the number of weeks an injured worker can be paid for being out of work for total disability.  There are some minor exceptions to the law, but the exceptions are fairly restrictive and going forward it is unclear how the laws will be applied.  There are also major changes which affect the control of medical treatment, medical opinions and communication with physicians that favor the insurance companies.

See the following link for more information about injured workers suffering from workers’ compensation reforms in this and other states:

Benefit Reforms

If you have been injured on the job, you should contact an experienced attorney to help.