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Workers' Compensation Blogs

What Disability Benefits am I Entitled to? - Part 1

Getting hurt is never a good time. It is naturally going to be painful, sometimes mentally as well as physically. The worry that you feel about how you will be able to support yourself and your family is overwhelming when you cannot get to work. This is especially true if you have no real time frame for recovery from your doctors. This worry can be made even worse if you don’t know anything about worker’s compensation. We want to help ease your concerns, so here is what you can expect from a worker’s compensation claim.

Each state has different laws in regards to worker’s compensation. For this article, we will be focusing on North Carolina laws. In North Carolina, the benefits primarily cover economic losses instead of things like pain and suffering like some other areas provide. If you do have an injury that you can claim for worker’s compensation, you can expect certain things to be provided for you or for you to be reimbursed for any payments you needed to make in the course of medical treatment.

In North Carolina, either your employer or their insurance company is required to pay for medical treatment that will heal the injury, relieve your pain, or lessen your disability. The good thing is that there is no co pay, no deductible, and no law stating you must miss work for at least certain worker’s compensation to be awarded to you. You are also entitled to a second opinion if you do not agree with the first consultation with a medical professional.

If a doctor has written you out of work for more than a week, you are completely entitled to Temporary Disability Benefits. These can last for up to 500 weeks. If you are written out of work for three weeks past the first one, then you will also get compensation for the first week as well. This is generally paid at two thirds your normal weekly salary. If you are able to return to some work, then you are entitled to two thirds the difference in your wages for the time of recovery, also for up to 500 weeks. If you are a law enforcement officer or teacher, however, you may be eligible for full salary.

There are other benefits to which you are entitled. Read the next blog to see what else Collier will fight to get you.

Challenging the Wording of Workers Compensation Laws - Part Two

Previously, we gave you an overview of a case from a few years ago which went to the Supreme Court. This case, known as Sandifer v U.S. Steel, was about the compensation that the steel workers believed they deserved payment for time spent changing into their personal protective equipment. The main obstacle was that a labor law stated employers did not need to compensate for time spent changing clothes. The workers believed this to be outdated for many different reasons. What do you think?

Sandifer argued for compensation on the grounds that the wording of the original labor laws was ambiguous. The phrase “changing clothes” may be interpreted in different ways depending upon the definition of clothing that one adheres to. Two different dictionaries were brought into the courtroom which gave different meanings to the word. One defined clothes as “covering for the human body” while the other defined it as items “worn for decency or comfort”. Due to the competing explanations of this seemingly simple word, Sandifer was able to bring an entire case which many people thought would be open and shut all the way to the Supreme Court.

U.S. Steel argued that the lower courts were mistakenly focusing on the individual words instead of the phrase of “changing clothes”. According to these courts, this phrase meant adding an item to what was already worn. By defining clothing as anything that covered the human body, this meant that any particle which was on top of the body was then clothing. This would include things like jewelry, medical braces, hair accessories, glasses, and the like. If glasses were to be identified as clothing, then this would mean that every time someone takes off their reading glasses, they are “changing clothes”. Naturally, this wouldn’t be something a native English speaker would think to say of someone simply removing a pair of glasses.

In the end, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of U.S. Steel that the workers should not receive compensation for time spent putting on their personal protective equipment. This is based off of the Fair Labor Standards Act section 203(o) which was interpreted to cover any type of change or addition of clothing. Do you agree with this ruling? Workers compensation covers many different areas, but thanks to this ruling we have at least one more answer of what to expect in regards to payment.

Challenging the Wording of Workers Compensation Laws - Part One

In 2003, an interesting case was brought before the Supreme Court. This case can be researched at depth online, but we will offer you a summary because we feel it is important to bring law interpretations to the general public. This case, Clifton Sandifer v. United States Steel Corporation, brought into light the interesting point of how times change yet laws sometimes do not. Sandifer et al believed certain laws should be changed to reflect how expectations in the workforce change with time and improvements in the industry. Let’s see what you think about this case.

This case began when workers at the United States Steel Corporation brought a class action lawsuit up against their company. Their claim was based off the clause in the Fair Labor Standards Act which states that “the period of time during which a covered employee must be paid begins when the worker engages in a principal activity”. They had argued that the safety gear which they had to put on was part of a principal activity. This is because often, these workers would have to change their entire outfits to be correctly protected during the job. These safety regulations were required by work and therefore are a critical part of their day. The issue arose, however, that section 203(o) states that “an employer need not compensate a worker for time spent in ‘changing clothes’”. This brought about the question that came to the Supreme Court: What exactly is the definition of “changing clothes”?

One of the main arguments which the workers brought forth was the amount of time it took to change into their personal protective equipment, or PPE. Workers stated they were kept track of by a time card at the entry to the plant. The workers would be expected to arrive anywhere from twelve to twenty minutes early in order to don the correct outer wear and would be marked late and have their pay docked if this was not the case. The issue, however, was they were only paid for the eight hours they stood at their post and not from the time they clocked in. If overtime is paid correctly at one and one half times the regular rate, this would obviously add up to quite a bit over each pay period.

Do you think Sandifer makes a valid point or do you believe that U.S. Steel Corp. is in the right by not compensating them by the wording of the law? Read on to part two and see if the Supreme Court agrees with you or not.

Why Do You Need an Attorney?

Why Do You Need an Attorney?

All of us are aware that lawyers are expensive. This is a fact that has stopped many people from confidently going into a courtroom and has stopped many people from winning their case. While it may seem like a good idea to represent yourself in court and save the lawyer fees that so many people are afraid of, it can actually end up costing you more in the long run. Litigation of any kind is extremely complicated and intricate, and this is especially true of something like workers compensation. Even something that seems open and shut can have obstacles which prevent you from receiving the payment that you deserve. This is what we here at Collier want to avoid.

The American Bar Association is supportive of settling a case with the use of other professionals such as religious heads and doctors. However, they do have a list of specific cases when you should consult with a lawyer. Most people agree that a lawyer is beneficial when dealing with any large change of life. This includes a “serious accident causing personal injury”, as per their website. While you may think that this is excessive, just think of the lawyer(s) that your employer may have on their side for the compensation hearing.

Some people will always suggest that you represent yourself to help save money while you are hurt and out of work. While we are sure that they mean the best for you, this is possibly some of the worst advice to give someone who has a current workers compensation case pending. Lawyers spend their lives studying to help those who have been brought into situations like these, and many of us have specialties. Here at Collier, our is workers compensation which means that we have intimate knowledge of the laws and nuances which can help you receive full payment.

While we are sure that you could make your case, the fact of the matter is that we have years of experience doing this. We know all of the ways in which to help you and will put each and every one of them to use. If you are wondering if you need an attorney, then the answer is most definitely yes. We will fight for you. Contact us today and get a free consultation on your case.

The History of Workers' Compensation

The History of Workers' Compensation

While workers compensation seems to be a system which is mostly ironed out by now, this has been due to dedicated professionals more than time. In the course of human history, most things that we relate to work are relatively new and the idea of workers compensation is certainly one of the more recent developments. Although we may think of workers being protected from harm today as common sense, it certainly was not always a priority of employers to keep their employees safe. Tragedies like the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911, which killed 145 people and injured over seventy more pioneered reform of work conditions and helped to change the situations regarding compensation for those injured at work in America.

The first time we see modern recorded history of an employee requesting compensation for injuries sustained while working come to us from England in 1837. The employee, reportedly a 19 year old male, was making a delivery when the company van malfunctioned and he was “thrown with violence to the ground, and his thigh was thereby fractured”. It has also been reported that his shoulder was dislocated in the chaos. While the courts originally ruled in his favor, this was appealed and overturned in the same year. This case, Priestley v Fowler, is widely regarded as the first workers compensation case ever recorded.

Another sixty years would pass before the “Workmen’s Compensation Act” would be introduced in Great Britain. This is the first time we see a set of laws that regard injuries that occur on the job as “no fault”, meaning that compensation is to be paid out regardless of who is at fault if an accident occurs. Unfortunately, America was slower to adopt such laws. Although some states had been attempting to push regulations through as early as 1898, the first real instance of workers compensation in the US was revealed in 1908 by President Taft for those working on the interstate. It took until 1948 for every state to pass their own laws for workers compensation.

While we now have a fairly rigid set of laws which we follow in regards to work injuries, it hasn’t always been this way. By understanding how the system has changed over the years, we are better able to help you receive all of the help you deserve. Give us a call and see how we can serve you.