What Is A Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?

gavel and block sits in front of wooden background

Despite shows that depict life in crime labs and courtrooms, we get this question quite often. This is because Hollywood has a great habit to romanticize many professions, and ours is no exception. Don’t get us wrong, there are certainly times that we are able to see why our job is romanticized, but there is much more to being a lawyer than sitting in a room with our client and arguing in a courtroom until a jury is stunned into believing us. There is quite a bit of hard work that goes into what we do and the payoff, although not as glamorous as it can be in movies, is actually extremely worth every minute we spend on your case.

A lawyer, by definition, is a “licensed professional who advises and represents others in legal matters”. Despite many stereotypes, lawyers can be of any age, background, race, gender, etc. In fact, according to the American Bar Association, around one-third of all lawyers in practice today are under the age of thirty-five. Also, almost half of the law students that are working toward their degrees today are women. This means that soon, the ratio of men and women will likely balance out.

Becoming a lawyer certainly isn’t all fun and games. Again, although certain movies may make it seem easy, there is actually a lot of schooling and work that goes into becoming a lawyer. You must receive your bachelor’s degree in college (or an equivalent), complete at least three years at an accredited law school, pass a state bar examination, and a national ethics and responsibility examination. Often, you must also undergo a character review by a board to investigate your character as well before you can take your oath to uphold the law along with the federal and state constitutions. All of this must be accomplished before you can receive your license to practice.

Luckily for you, all of that has already been done by those at Collier Law. In fact, Trey Collier has had experience on both sides of the worker’s compensation table, having worked on the behalf of employers for the beginning of his legal career. Quickly, though, he realized where he really wanted to be. All of this schooling and work has been to fight for your rights and fair compensation. Give us a call and schedule your free consultation today.

Rush Jobs and Why They Are Bad Ideas – The Workers Blogger

Orange steam shovel digging a hole

From childhood, we are taught that it is better to do something slowly but correctly than quickly and with shortcuts. The tale of the tortoise and the hare has been told and retold millions of times over history and has been changed to fit into different formats or characters to appeal to as many people as possible. Unfortunately, this lesson doesn’t always stick with us into adulthood. Sometimes, we try and cut corners in order to make deadlines, save money, or do any other number of things. However, sometimes these shortcuts can be deadly.

I am sure that I don’t have to do much to remind you of that horrible day in September 2001. Our country came to a stop that day as we all watched the horror unfold before us. However, we vowed to rebuild, and rebuilding is exactly what we did. The Freedom Tower stands upon the area of New York City that was demolished that horrible day. Sadly, some of these shortcuts seem to have been used during its building. According to an investigation that was brought forward, over thirty major injuries were sustained during the building of the Freedom Tower which was not reported to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. These included injuries such as head trauma, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and more. This was taken from court documents, medical records, and city reports along with the OSHA reports.

Unfortunately, construction zones are some of the most dangerous areas when it comes to workers. This is even more accurate when the work is meant to be done quickly. Since the site broke ground in 2003, over eighty incidents of dangerous working conditions were reported and between 2010 and 2012, the injury rate at this location was higher than the New York and even national rate for injuries for trade workers. Many of these were due to falls, but others were being crushed by equipment or materials. Even though these workers were supposed to take a ten-hour safety course, it seems like many of these tips were avoided.

If you have been hurt on a job that was done quickly, then call Collier Law Firm for your free consultation. We want to make sure that you get everything you deserve and promise to put the time into each and every claim. After all, slow and steady wins the case.

Whistleblowers and Workers Compensation – The Workers’ Blogger

hand holding metal whistle with an engraving that reads The Acme Thunderer

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 the 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.

North Carolina Workplace Deaths in 2014 – The Workers’ Blog

worn, moss-covered cross tombstone

The worst thing to happen to a worker in regards to on-the-job injuries is if they are tragically killed while at work. This is always a horrible blow to the company, the community, and of course the family. Unfortunately, these situations are more common than anyone wants. Granted, even just one person passing due to job-related injuries would be too many, but the numbers over past years have slowly been climbing which brings about many concerns regarding workplace safety. In fact, from 2013 to 2014, North Carolina saw a 90 percent increase in work-related fatalities.

Forty-four deaths in 2014 in the state of North Carolina were workplace-related deaths. The majority of these were based in construction and saw a seven-person increase to nineteen deaths from the year before. Most of these deaths were within the first ninety days of the employee being on the job. Nine deaths were accounted for in manufacturing, service industry workers saw six deaths, and agriculture, forestry, and fishing saw three. In fact, this last category is the only one listed that saw a decrease in fatalities.

The majority of deaths at work were caused by the working being hit by an object. The second highest cause of death at the workplace was falling, and there were also seven workers that were tragically crushed to death. The majority of workers killed were men, with only one woman being killed on the job out of the entire number. This information was released by the North Carolina Department of Labor.

In order for workers’ compensation to be provided in the event of an employee’s death, the death must be related to a compensable injury or disease. This injury or disease does not need to be the only cause of death, but it must at least accelerate or aggravate a previously existing condition which then becomes the cause of death. There is also a time frame that the claim must fall into if the death is not instantaneous. If a claim is not filed within two years of the death, it may be barred and should be submitted within thirty days.
If a loved one has been killed on the job, call Collier for your free consultation. We deeply regret your loss and will do everything we can to help you get the compensation your family deserves.

Heavy Machine Injuries and Workers Compensation

construction machinery sits on top of dirt ground

Large machines are always a bit scary when you are working with them. Even if everyone is doing everything in the exact way they should be, something may still go wrong. From the viral video you may have seen of the crane spinning in the high winds due to the recent hurricanes to the incident last year in Fort Mill, you never know when disaster can strike while using large machines and construction equipment.

Last year, a construction worker was rushed to a hospital in Charlotte after he was seriously injured by an excavator while working on the Doby Bridge Road construction site. The thirty-four-year-old had been talking to his superiors about a maintenance issue that the machine had been having when the person controlling the excavator moved it which is when he was struck, knocked over, and ended up being pulled under the machine as it was moving. This investigation was turned over to OSHA as it was not believed to be criminal in any way, just a simple (albeit painful and potentially deadly) accident.

Accidents involving excavators are not abnormal. In fact, between the years of 1992 and 2000, there were nearly 350 deaths relating to excavators and backhoes. This generally involved the victim being struck by a moving part of the machine, or even being hit by the bucket which can unexpectedly disconnect from the excavator’s arm. As we said before, someone can be doing everything perfectly and still have an accident where someone is injured.

The saddest part of this fact is that the majority of these injuries could have been prevented. Most of these cases involve some issue with the setup of the site. These can include power wires being caught and causing electrocution, a steeper grade than the machine is supposed to be operated on, or simply having heavy machines too close to trenches which can cause a loss of control.

If you or a loved one has been hurt while on the job due to some sort of heavy machinery, do not hesitate in calling Collier Law Firm for a free consultation. We will fight for you to make sure that you receive the compensation you deserve from your work-related incident. You have enough to worry about, let us take some of that stress away by working for you.

Workers’ Compensation Claims for Family Members

a male hand grasps a female hand that is holding a baby's hand

Very often, the injuries that workers sustain on the job do not affect just them. Their family must also learn to adapt to certain things that their loved ones can no longer do, even if it is just temporary. While this is normally an inconvenience to some, it is not life-changing. However, there are some ways in which you can bring your work home with you that can cause harm to your family members without you even knowing. Unfortunately, this is a bit more severe than bringing home your work laptop to fill out some extra paperwork that you are behind on.
It has been observed that some workers who deal closely with chemicals and other toxic materials have a possibility to bring these things home to their families. It is something that has been noticed quite a lot recently with the families of those who worked closely with Asbestos and similar materials which cause cancer. Before the regulations we have now, many workers would simply wear the same clothes they worked in home and then would unknowingly expose their families to the small fibers which could be breathed in.

There was a case a few years ago which saw three different North Carolina farmworkers give birth to children with an abnormality consistent with pesticide exposure. Farmworkers already are prone to more injuries than most due to the heat, constant movement, and exposure to chemicals. While they are generally healthier due to high activity and low obesity levels, the risk for injury is quite high. Although pesticides are safe in certain amounts, obviously during child development this can cause many problems. This has also been seen in women who worked in funeral homes to embalm the bodies, as the heavily regulated formaldehyde caused extensive reproductive issues due to the exposure and the height at which the bodies rested during the process.

While we can’t always claim workers’ compensation for the families of those affected, there is always a possibility to claim a third-party liability. Call Collier Law Firm today for a free consolation and see what we may be able to do for you and those you love. It is always heartbreaking to see your family suffer, regardless of the reason. We will do everything we can to make sure you get the compensation you and those you love deserve.

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!

Mesothelioma – Charlotte Workers Compensation Lawyer

black and white x-ray of ribcage

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 – Charlotte Workers Compensation Attorney

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!