Workers' Compensation Blogs

Whistleblowers and Workers Compensation

Although it would be nice, not every employer has the best interests of their employees at heart. While none of us like to think about the possibility of intentional cruelty, it does sadly happen more often than we hear. This is especially true if someone has come to be known as a whistleblower. One thing that you need to know, however, is that as a whistleblower you do have rights. It is still extremely important to remember to keep yourself safe. We certainly do not want to hear about another case like the one that occurred with Kerr-McGee.

In 2011, a case came to light that had to deal with a multitude of workers compensation related claims. The trouble began in 2009 when a worker for the North Carolina Railroad was injured on the job. While taking out a spike on the rail line, he was hurt however out of fear for his job he did not report the injury. A few months later, he was injured again and this time was given the advice from management to see a doctor. He did so, however when he returned to work he was suspended and eventually fired under the claim that he falsely filed an injury report.

After sending in notice to OSHA, an investigation was launched into the company and it was found that they had successfully intimidated their workers into not filing injury reports. This allowed the company to have a 22 year streak of safety awards. This is expressly illegal and we can only guess at how many people were not given the appropriate care due to this practice. Thankfully someone finally had the courage to expose this activity and hopefully prevent it from happening again.

If you are interested to know other whistleblower rights, you can find them on OSHA’s website. If you have been injured, please know that no matter what your employer may say you certainly should file a claim and see if you qualify for workers compensation. If you have been pressured to do otherwise, this is all the more reason to let us know. If this has happened to you, call Collier Law Firm today for a free consultation so we can help to put an end to this practice. We hate to see anyone hurt and will do all we can to get you and others the help they deserve.

Should I Settle My Workers Compensation Claim?

This is a question we are asked on an almost daily basis. Whether or not you should settle your workers compensation case is never an easy one to answer, however it is the one that comes up most often. Many employers and their insurance companies want to settle to make sure that they pay out as little money as possible, which always is a concern when it comes to you and your health. Other times, however, settling is best for your situation due to timing and the amount offered. Let’s go over some of the pros and cons to settling.

Settling in North Carolina workers compensation claims is often called “clinching”. This is when you accept an agreement for a certain amount of money due to your work related injury. Often, companies will offer you a large sum of money either in a structured settlement or a lump sum to cover all of your medical bills that you may receive for treatment. This means that you have the money you need and don’t need to worry about making sure you get that check every week from your claim.

While this may seem like a good idea, there are a few things that you need to think about. First of all, what happens if you happen to have a worse injury than you thought? If you have settled, you cannot submit another claim which means anything you did not receive money for will now have to be paid through your own insurance and out of pocket. Also, settling means that you cannot seek further compensation through another source such as Social Security or Medicare. The more severe the injury was, the worse a bad settlement will affect you.

Before you make a decision on settling your workers compensation claim, you should call into Collier Law Firm for your free consultation. It is almost inevitable that your employer and their insurance company will be conferring with their lawyer on how to best deal with your injury for their benefit, and you should certainly be doing the same. Being hurt at work is scary and stressful, so it would be better for you to have someone in your corner. Call Trey Collier today and see how much he can help.

Ways To Protect Yourself and Your Workers Compensation Claim

Creating a workers compensation claim is a long and complicated process. There are many different steps that you should take in regards to these claims and not all of them are obvious. Here are a few things that you can do to protect yourself in the event of any kind of workers compensation claim.

The first thing you should always do in the event of an injury on the job is to create a claim. This is true of any type of injury, small or large. Many different medical issues begin as something small with the more severe symptoms developing with time. You should report any injury within thirty days to your employer, and always make sure there is a paper trail to follow. If you simply tell someone that you hurt yourself, they may forget or even deny it if you attempt to make a claim at a later date. If you file for workers compensation, you must submit a File 18 to the North Carolina Industrial Commission within two years of the injury date. You should make at least two copies of this and send one to your employer while keeping one for yourself.

Always seek medical treatment for any injury you have sustained. Ask your doctor for copies of any paperwork for your own files. The more documentation, the better. Be sure to explain exactly what happened in the same way you described it in your initial claim. Again, ask for copies so that your claim will be backed up by consistency. If your doctor suggests anything or prescribes any medication at all, be sure to follow their advice to the letter. Not only will it generally make you feel better, but it will also help your workers compensation case if you have done all you can to recover in the quickest amount of time.

Although sometimes employers make it difficult for someone after they have submitted a workers compensation claim, do not quit your job. Keep records of anything they do or other employees do which make you uncomfortable in regards to your injury. Present all of these documents to your attorney. If you call Trey Collier today, you will receive a free consultation and all of the help we can offer. Let us know how we can help you!

Help Me, I’ve Fallen At Work And Now I’m Hurt!

Although we normally think of falling during the winter due to ice and snow, anyone can slip and fall or trip over something at any time of the year. In fact, this accounted for around twenty seven percent of all workplace injuries in 2014, resulting in over 316,000 days missed from work. With falls being so incredibly common in North Carolina works areas, it is always good to know when these cases are covered under workers compensation laws and when they are not.

The general rule of North Carolina workers compensation is whether or not the injury was sustained during the “course and scope” of employment. Well, if you are currently asking yourself what the course and scope of your employment is, you certainly are not the only one. Often, this is what will make or break a claim. Some people submit workers compensation forms for an injury that they believe took place while on the job only to find out that it didn’t. For example, driving to or from work, or walking to and from work, does not count as part of the course and scope of employment. Any dangers that you are exposed to during travel back and forth is considered a public concern and therefore not the fault of your employer.

Naturally, there are exceptions to even this rule. If your employer either provides transportation for you such as a company car or gives you a vehicle with which you commute, then you may be covered by workers compensation. This is also true if you are reimbursed for gas or mileage traveling to and from work. Also, if you were running an errand for your employer outside of your normal job description, such as picking up their favorite bagel upon their request, you may be covered. This is true even if you benefited from the trip as well, such as grabbing yourself a cherry Danish while at the bakery.

As with any other workers compensation claim that you are unsure about, you should call Collier if you have fallen or tripped and been injured at work. Let us help you get what you deserve with the help of your free consultation. No one likes to fall without any help getting back up.

Mediation in North Carolina Workers Compensation Claims

Much like you may have had during school, lawyers can also use mediators in North Carolina for workers compensation claims. This often occurs when neither party wants a case to go to court regarding a disagreement. A mediation gives both the plaintiff and the defendant a place to informally speak their grievances and attempt to settle the case without having to pay the court costs which are almost always extremely high and inconvenient. This is not to say that a mediation is free, of course. Generally, both parties will share the cost of a mediation equally unless otherwise agreed upon. If the case is not settled at mediation, the defendant will pay the share that the injured party would otherwise be responsible for which gives them incentive for settling fairly.
    A mediator is generally a lawyer which is either agreed upon by both parties or is appointed by the Industrial Commission. If the mediator is not a lawyer, they still have special training in helping others to settle their differences. It is imperative that the mediator is an independent party to the other two and has no personal interest in the outcome of the meeting. Their only role is to schedule and control the mediation, they are not to pass a ruling or make any other decisions in the case. If the mediation does not work and the case continues onto court, it should also be known that statements that are made during the mediation are not to be used during the court trial. A mediation may be ordered if a disputed issue is filed through the Industrial Commission or if both parties request it, regardless of whether or not a hearing is scheduled or expected in regards to a claim.
    Due to the fact that most mediations end in a “clincher”, it is always a good idea to have a lawyer of your own there to advise you. Call Collier today for your free consultation and let us be at your side in the event of a mediation. We will always make sure that you get the best outcome possible, so if you have to go up against another lawyer, be sure to call us in to help protect your rights.