The Bollinger Law Firm, P.C.

December 2012 Archives

Tips to reduce workplace injuries in medical practices

The one office where North Carolina employees may always be required to move around quickly is a medical office. Staff members are required to move around quickly on an uncarpeted floor in response to a medical crisis. This increases the risk of not just a slip or a fall, but also of a more severe workplace injury, as the fall is on a hard floor.

Study says construction workers fear reporting injuries

It is an unfortunate fact that sometimes, here in North Carolina, workers who are injured on the job are fired after reporting the injury. Injured workers should not have to fear the consequences of reporting a workplace accident or injury, whether it was their own fault or that of someone else. However, because sometimes employers do illegally retaliate against workers who report injuries or file workers' compensation claims, other injured workers are apprehensive about coming forward.

NC Legislature Will Reverse its Decision to Hide Insurance Coverage Information

It looks like the Legislature has reconsidered and will reverse its earlier decision to hide insurance coverage information from the public.  

Underreporting injuries may lead to fatalities in drilling sector

According to the chief of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, the fatality rate in the oil and rig industry is seven times more than that in any other industry. Despite these statistics, North Carolina residents may be surprised to hear that injuries on the job are not similarly high. This may be because there is not a culture of reporting incidents, which leaves relevant parties in the dark about the possibly unsafe work environment.

Reform Issues: Oklahoma and "Opt-Out"

I have linked this post to an enlightening paper by the former Secretary of State of Oklahoma, Bob Burke, explaining why "opt-out" is bad for almost all of the stakeholders in a workers' compensation system.  Mr. Burke explains why small and medium businesses would be hurt by it, doctors and other medical providers would be harmed, and injured workers would be hurt by it as well. 

When Should You Take the "PPD Rating Money?"

I get calls frequently from unrepresented injured workers who have been "rated and released" by their treating physicians.  The term "rated and released" means that the worker has reached "MMI" (maximum medical improvement) and the doctor has provided a "permanent partial disability rating" and released the patient from treatment, either with or without work restrictions.   Under the NC Workers' Compensation Act, and specifically NC General Statute section 97-31, that rating--expressed as a percentage of a body part--translates into a certain amount of money for the patient, based on the body part, percentage assigned, and the compensation rate in the case.  For example, a broken wrist with a healed ORIF may result in a PPD rating of 15%, which would be 15% of the "hand" (the "hand" is everything distal to the elbow, down to the fingers).  The hand is a 200 week body part, so 15% of the hand is worth 200 x .15 = 30 weeks of the compensation rate.  A worker who made $600 per week in gross pay before the injury would have a compensation rate of $400.  Using that comp rate, a 15% to the hand would be worth 30 times $400, which equals $12,000, paid out (after Industrial Commission approval) over the 30 weeks that immediately follow the rating and release date.   The injured worker also has the right to get a second opinion on the percentage amount of the PPD rating.          

Employer investigated in construction worker's death in trench

North Carolina is one of the dozen states whose cave-in related fatalities are lower than the national average. Nationally the number of workers hurt on the job in the excavation industry is high. Therefore, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration usually compels companies in this profession to undergo special training to ensure worker safety.

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