Workers Compensation and Opioid Abuse

pile of various opened medications that are covered in blood

One of the large problems facing much of the country right now is prescription drug abuse. Whether obtained through the doctor or not, the excess use of prescribed medication has become an epidemic throughout the entirety of America. This is true no matter where you go, and it is a sad fact that many people are unable or unwilling to seek help for the addiction which has gripped so many. Whether someone had been prescribed medication for an injury or if they found it another way, the truth is that the addiction can harm many and regrettably has taken the lives of many.

This is true of those who have been harmed while on the job as well. Many people who have been hurt while at work are prescribed medication to help deal with the pain of their injuries and may become dependent upon the drugs. While naturally everything is done to prevent this from occurring, sometimes people end up falling to addiction no matter what precautions are taken. Addiction is not a weakness, but rather something that anyone may become a victim of. Unfortunately, secondary mental health issues are often not covered under the treatment of workers’ compensation claims. This means that most people who become addicted to prescription pain medications due to their worker’s compensation injury are often left without many if any, options.

This is why, on April 6th, 2017, the North Carolina Industrial Commission held its first meeting of the opioid task force. This was held in Raleigh and was meant to cover possible solutions to the rising problem of drug abuse in regards to workers’ compensation claims. Due to the fact that this is a brand new force, there has been very little progress within the past month. However, we are extremely excited about this new work into helping to keep all of our workers safe. We know that drug addiction is a horrible situation for anyone to find themselves in and will happily report all that we can about any new progress that is made by North Carolina’s new opioid task force. Until then, be sure to use all resources available to you and be sure to get help if you think it is needed.

Can I Be Fired For Submitting A Workers’ Comp Claim?

man wearing blue suit and striped tie points forward

One question that we hear a lot from those who are debating submitting a worker’s compensation claim is whether or not they can be fired for doing so. We understand how concerning it can be to be injured on the job, however, we want you to know your rights so that you can feel good about whatever decision you make. While we always suggest filing a worker’s compensation claim if you have been hurt on the job, we also understand that your situation is not always so clear-cut. For this reason, we want to explain the laws that protect you in North Carolina in regards to filing a claim.

In North Carolina, you cannot legally be fired for filing a worker’s compensation claim. You also cannot legally be demoted, suspended, or relocated for the same reason. In fact, the law protects you from being fired for many different reasons in this state. These reasons include work-related injuries, wages, salary, work hours, workplace health and safety, pesticide exposure, the juvenile justice system, domestic abuse restraining orders, national guard, genetic testing, hemoglobin, and more. This is all part of the North Carolina Retaliatory Discharge Act, or REDA.

Unfortunately, this isn’t as cut and dry as it may seem. North Carolina does allow employers to fire their employees for almost any reason or no reason at all. This is especially true if they cannot continue to do the work. If, however, you believe that you have been punished due to filing a worker’s compensation claim, you should file a claim to the North Carolina Department of Labor within 180 days of the event. The claim will be investigated and may be able to allow you to proceed to court. In court, you may be able to win lost wages, benefits, and other things such as attorney fees at your former employer’s expense.

If you believe that you have been treated unfairly, demoted, or even fired for submitting a workers compensation claim, then do not hesitate in calling Collier for your free consultation. Our goal is to help you get any monetary compensation that you deserve despite whatever roadblocks may be placed in your path. We are dedicated to helping you get healthy again and back to work, so give us a call and see what we can do for you!

Women and Worker Deaths – Charlotte Workers’ Comp Lawyer

A recent report was just published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics which shows the drastic difference between men and women when it comes to workers compensation. The numbers truly are shocking when you see the difference between how many injuries and deaths are reported in regards to gender each year. Even more shocking, perhaps, is the cause of these injuries and how preventable most of them are. This is especially true when we see the leading causes of death and injury to women while they are in the workplace.

In 2015, 4,836 men were killed while on the job. That is a truly sad number and our hearts go out to the friends and family of all those who ended up passing away. When you read that the number of women who were killed on the job during the same year was 344, there is the automatic habit to think “wow, that’s great that so few women died in comparison”. While it is true that there is a vast difference between the two numbers, they don’t end there. In fact, just about the only similarity between the two is the fact that the number one cause of death to both genders is transportation accidents.

The second most common reason for death among men in the work place is fairly innocuous. Slipping and falling was named the second leading cause of death for men. While this should be at least somewhat preventable, the shock for most comes when they read that the second leading cause of death for women on the job is violence or injuries by others. Sadly, many women I know were not surprised at this and unhappily accept it as part of their daily lives. Domestic violence that occurs at their place of work is the second leading cause of death to women in the workplace. Let that sink in for a moment and realize just how preventable a good number of those 344 deaths in 2015 probably were.

If someone you love was killed while on the job, call Collier Law Firm for your free consultation to see if their family may be eligible for workers compensation death benefits. End of life expenses can add up quickly and you may be able to get enough money to give them the memorial they deserve.


black and white x-ray of ribcage from a workers compensation injury

Over the past couple of years, there has been a lot of awareness brought to us about something called mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is more than just a word in a commercial. It is actually a severe form of cancer for which treatments are available but as of now, a cure is not known. Unfortunately, many people have been exposed to factors which can cause mesothelioma. Although there are other factors such as genetic and other health issues, the main known cause of mesothelioma is an exposure to asbestos.
    Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used for decades to create everything from flooring boards to roofing shingles. It was commonly used in insulation for many years and as such many people have been exposed to it. People who used to work in construction, mines, shipyards, and even those who worked in buildings that had asbestos in the materials used to make them are at a much higher risk of developing mesothelioma. However, it is also worth mentioning that mesothelioma can be a genetic disorder, so if you are diagnosed with it you may not have been exposed to large levels of asbestos. Different people develop mesothelioma after being exposed to varying levels of asbestos, so there are other factors at play that you need to discuss with your doctor first.
    There are many different symptoms to mesothelioma due to the fact that there are different forms of the cancer. Some of the symptoms include shortness of breath, painful coughing, pain under the rib cage, abdominal swelling, unusual lumps of tissue under the skin on your chest or stomach, unexplained weight loss, and more. It is always important to report any concerning symptoms to your doctor right away, especially if you believe you may have been exposed to asbestos. Remember that it can take decades for mesothelioma to develop after your exposure, so there may always be a chance that your disease was work related.
    If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma and you believe it may be due to a job, then call Collier today for your free consultation. No one should have to go through a diagnosis like this alone and we know how financially catastrophic the treatment can be. Get in contact with us and we will do everything possible to help you through every step of your possible workers compensation.

Permanent Total Disability Due To Workers Compensation

disabled man sits in wheelchair in front of a body of water

Every state in our country has different laws in regards to workers compensation and what is considered an injury or disability. For example, in North Carolina permanent total disability is rarely given out as the criteria is rather strict. This is because it entitles an injured worker to a lifetime of benefits which is expensive for both insurance companies and the state. In North Carolina, a worker needs to prove that their injury is a result of a work related injury and have at least one of the following conditions:

  1. A loss of both hands, arms, legs, feet, eyes, or any combination of two listed parts.
  2. A spinal injury which results in paralysis of both legs, both arms, or the trunk.
  3. Severe closed head or brain injuries.
  4. Second or Third degree burns on at least thirty three percent of your body.

    This may seem strict, but many states have similar laws. Ones that don’t are becoming increasingly strict. A large issue with these laws lay in deciding what a direct result of a work injury was. Even if one of these criteria are met, it needs to be shown that nothing was pre-existing. The pre-existing conditions that you may or may not have definitely make a difference when you are attempting to claim permanent total disability.
    In Idaho recently, there was a case seen which showed that pre-existing conditions may cause people to have their permanent total disability denied. A worker had tripped over another co-worker’s dog (which was allowed on premises) and fractured a cerebral vertebrae and required surgery. Eventually her doctor suggested sedentary work, which the office said there was no available position. While she applied for permanent total disability, she had suffered multiple injuries prior to this, including a shoulder injury and two other spinal fractures, one of which required surgery. She was also diagnosed with a degenerative spinal disorder. With these conditions taken into account which were not work related, she was denied the permanent total disability through workers compensation.
    If you have been hurt at work but have prior injuries, call Collier Law Firm for your free consultation. You deserve to have someone in your corner who will fight for you, and for that you can count on Collier!