Will I Get Money At My Worker’s Compensation Hearing?

Posted on Friday, June 23rd, 2017 at 11:15 am    

This is a commonly asked question, and even if it’s not explicitly asked, it is certainly a perception that I think that some folks have.  I think it’s important to make sure injured workers and their loved ones do not have this perception. And that is, if you show up at a hearing, you are thinking “I will have a decision the day of my hearing”, and second, “if the Judge rules in my favor, I get to walk out of that hearing with my check. That is all true, right?”

Unfortunately, the answer to that is a big “No.”

With a Jury trial and things like that, when you have personal injury cases, you have a jury, you’ve heard that thing on TV shows like Law and Order when you have the Judge banging that gavel after the jury comes back from deliberations. And the Judge will say, “Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, do you have a verdict?” And the bailiff will take the piece of paper from the jury foreman and read it out loud in the Courtroom: “We, the Jury find in favor of the Plaintiff, and fix his damages at Five Hundred Thousand Dollars.”

Well, it’s unfortunately not like that with workers comp.   The Deputy Commissioner hears all the evidence at the hearing. You put in your evidence and the other side puts in their evidence. The Deputy Commissioner goes back to wherever they go to their office, and everyone goes home.  And we they get to it, they will have an opinion.

It may be weeks from then, it may even be months after the hearing date. It will come down to an opinion and the decision really is not a monetary award. It’s a thumbs up or thumbs down: Either you have a compensable claim or you do not have a compensable claim. And that’s the decisiand thethe defense has a right to Appeal that decision, even if it’s in your favor.

So not only will you not leave the hearing with your check, you will not even receive a decision that day.

And even when you do receive a decision, it will not be for an amount of lump sum money like in a Civil Jury Trial.  The only time you may end up receiving a portion of lump sum money more than your weekly check is if you are owed a lot of back benefits. But all future benefits the Deputy Commission rules you are owed will be payable on an ongoing basis, one check at a time, one week at a time.

At Joe Miller Injury Law, we do everything we can to first win your case, and then help you get the compensation you deserve as soon as possible. Call (757) 455-8889 to get started on your case.

Virginia Workers Compensation: Truck or Car Accidents that Occur Due to You Passing Out or Some other Medical Condition

Posted on Monday, June 5th, 2017 at 3:27 pm    

            It seems to be common sense that if you are on the job and injured in a car or truck wreck that happens because you passed out, blacked out, had a heart attack, brain aneurysm, seizure, or some other unknown condition, it would not be the employer’s fault and they would not be responsible for your injuries at all.

This article is here to tell you that this assumption would be wrong. In Virginia, if your job requires you to drive a car or a truck, and for some medical reason, you pass out, black out or otherwise lose control of the vehicle and your loss of consciousness causes the wreck, this is something that the employer is responsible for and you would be entitled to benefits under Virginia Workers Compensation. The reason is that if you had passed out or blacked out at home, it is quite likely that the result may have been simply a bump on the head, or a trip to the emergency room; however, because your job required you to drive down the road at high speeds in a multi-ton vehicle, and exposes you to much more serious injury, this puts you at an increased risk of much more severe injury if you do, in fact pass out, black out, etc.

Accordingly, if an accident happens while you are driving a truck or car for your employer, and you pass out, suffer a seizure, or have a heart attack or any other medical condition which causes you to lose consciousness and as a result lose control of the vehicle, and you are in an accident, you have a good case.

The one thing to watch out for: Your doctor must support the notion that whatever happened to you or caused you to pass out, this condition caused you to temporarily lose consciousness and therefore lose control of the vehicle and get in the wreck. It cannot be a “possibly caused.” It has to be a “probably caused.” If you do not have the doctor’s statement, you will not have a good case.

You should be aware that at first glance, this is not something that makes sense to most people, and that the workers compensation adjuster may not be familiar with the law on this subject. He or she may try to tell you that you do not have a claim. We want you to know that this statement is wrong, and if you are told this, it is either being done out of deception or ignorance.

If you have suffered a work injury because you blacked out while driving a car or a truck, please do not hesitate to call us toll-free at 888-694-1671 or fill out the online form. Attorney Joe Miller at the Work Injury Center has been representing injured workers in Virginia for over 27 years, and stands ready to assist you with your workers compensation claim. Please give us a call!

Restaurant Workers and N.C. Workers’ Compensation

Posted on Friday, May 19th, 2017 at 12:59 pm    

Restaurant workers often suffer work-related injuries for a variety of reasons. Many service establishments are understaffed The work hours are irregular causing many workers to be tired. There’s constant commotion between the dining center and the kitchen. The quarters are typically quite tight. For many cooks and servers, getting hurt is almost a prerequisite for the job. Minor injuries can often become major injuries. Some injuries can be permanent and prevent the worker from ever working again.

It doesn’t matter if a worker works full-time or part-time as long as they are an employee. My office represents chefs, cooks, servers, bussers, dishwashers, hostesses and maitre’ d’s, delivery drivers, and anyone who works in any type of restaurant.

Common restaurant- related injuries

Restaurant workers can suffer the following types of injuries:

  • Lifting injuries. Workers often have to lift large bags or items because food is often delivered to the restaurant in large quantities. Any worker who is hurt lifting, carrying, or pushing these large containers has the right to bring a North Carolina work injury claim based on the theory that the injury was due to a work-related accident.
  • Burn injuries. Any contact with a stove, oil, hot grease, scalding hot coffee, or any hot item can cause first, second, or third-degree burns which can require multiple skin grafts. Burns often cause disfigurement.
  • Back and neck injuries. It’s easy to wrench your back or twist your neck while preparing and serving food or lifting heavy pots, pans, or other food items. Most restaurant workers are on their feet all day long except for breaks. Back and neck injuries can cause chronic pain. Sometimes, injections can help. Often, workers have to take time off to manage the pain.
  • Cuts and lacerations. Anyone using a knife or chopping items to prepare feet, cut meat, trim, slice vegetables, or otherwise cut and dice food can suffer a cut or laceration. Cuts can lead to infections. If not treated properly and timely, an infection can require that an arm or hand be amputated.

Common causes of restaurant injuries

While there are many ways restaurant accidents can occur, these are some of the more typical causes and injuries.

  • Slips and falls. Floors at restaurants always need constant mopping because beverages or food falls to the floor and of course, grease. Servers often bang into other service workers or slip on greasy floors that are overdue to be mopped.
  • Mopping, snow, and ice removal. Floors must be continually cleaned of debris. The outside parking lots and entrances have to be shoveled and cleared so customers don’t slip and fall. This type of clean-up can cause back injuries or a slip and fall.
  • Criminal attacks. Because restaurant workers, especially cashiers, work with money, these workers can be the target of criminal attacks and muggings. Any violent crime which occurs while working is compensable in North Carolina, so long as it is not the result of a personal argument or situation.
  • Upset customers. Sometimes, a customer does worse than fail to leave a tip. An angry customer strikes a worker, that worker is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if the strike causes injuries and is related to the work performed.
  • Explosions and product defects. Heaters, boilers, dishwashers, and other appliances that don’t work can cause explosions, electrical burns, and other serious injuries.

Chemicals used in the restaurant profession can also cause injuries. Loud noises can cause hearing loss or damage.

Repetitive stress injuries

Servers, food preparers, and busboys are constantly lifting and carrying plates and dishes filled to the brim with food. The constant movements can cause lifting injuries and repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. The argument that experienced North Carolina workers compensation lawyers use in repetitive stress injuries is that the repetition is covered as an occupational disease.

To be sure, these types of injuries are much more difficult to prove than a traumatic injury.  That being said, North Carolina work injury lawyers can often successfully argue that a catch-all provision of the state’s workers compensation law applies. That provision holds that a worker can obtain benefits if he/she can show:

  • That the work environment exposed the employee to a greater risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome than for members of the general public and
  • That the work environment was a leading reason for the carpal tunnel syndrome.

These two conditions generally apply in restaurant work. Members of the general public may clean their dishes three times a day. They don’t carry plates filled with seven servings and they don’t carry and clear items hundreds of times a day. Doctors can usually verify that the repetitive stress injury was due to the restaurant work.

Injuries outside the restaurant.

Restaurants often employ delivery staff to transport meals to offices, homes, and venues where parties or celebrations are being held. Delivery personnel who get into a vehicle accident while traveling to these locations can suffer a full range of injuries such as broken bones, traumatic brain injury, and spinal damage. Drivers can also be killed. Any restaurant delivery worker who is hurt while making a delivery would be entitled to North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits.

Make the call to an experienced North Carolina restaurant injury lawyer today

If you are suffering minor aches or a major injury due to work at a fast-food restaurant, local diner, hotel restaurant, five-star attraction, or any type of food service establishment; you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Benefits include 2/3rds of your average weekly wage loss and payment for your medical bills. If you are permanently injured, you may be entitled to additional benefits.

North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer Joe Miller Esq. has been fighting for the rights of injured workers for over 25 years. You may have a strong recovery coming your way. Please phone attorney Miller at (888) 694-1671 to schedule an appointment with a respected work injury lawyers.

Vision Loss in North Carolina Workers Compensation

Posted on Friday, May 19th, 2017 at 12:39 pm    

Some work injuries are much worse than others. Many injuries such as broken bones do heal over time. Some injuries may slow the worker down but don’t prevent the worker from working entirely. Unfortunately, there are some workplace injuries that tragically alter an employee’s life forever. Loss of vision is one of those catastrophic injuries.

Because vision loss is so life-changing, North Carolina treats these workplace or occupational illnesses differently than standard injuries.

Types of accidents that can loss of vision

Workers may suffer the loss of one or both eyes or retinal detachment for the following reasons:

  • Being hit with some type of projectile object such as wood splinters, glass shards, and other tiny items that cause a scratched cornea or cause irritation. The danger of projectiles is one reason many workers wear goggles.
  • Exposures to minute items of sawdust, silica or sparks;
  • Radiation due to ultraviolet or other radiation. Fluorescent lights, lasers and even natural light often have much more light than is needed to do the job. The excess light can result in a loss of vision. Of course that would be more of an occupational disease claim and harder to prove.
  • A slip and fall to the head cause traumatic brain injury and loss of vision
  • Some other type of head trauma. Slips and falls, vehicle crashes, assaults by other workers are just a few reasons head trauma can occur.
  • An explosion due to a faulty appliance or piece of equipment
  • Chemical burns caused by splashes can cause blindness or serious injury
  • Excessive exposure to bright light such as in welding.
  • Tools including nails, wires, saws, and staples, can enter the eye causing damage. Blunt force trauma
  • Computer usage. Some workers rely on the backlight of computers to see instead of proper overhead light. In addition, constantly looking at computer screens without taking necessary breaks can cause eye problems and other problems such as migraines and nausea. But again, anything that occurs over time would be more in the nature of an occupational disease claim and far more difficult to prove than a trauma.

Benefits for vision loss

All North Carolina workers are entitled to compensation for any medical surgeries or doctor visits that are reasonably necessary to help improve an injured employee’s health. There may be surgical procedures that can help a person who suffers loss of vision. A lens transplant, for example, may be a possible way to improve eyesight. An experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney such as Joe Miller will work with your eye doctors to determine your diagnosis and whether any treatment is possible. If the eye injury is compensable, he will argue that any surgery that might reasonably improve the worker’s eyesight should be paid for by the employer’s insurance company.

All workers are entitled to 2/3rds of their lost wages until they return to work or until a maximum period of 500 weeks has elapsed.

If an injured worker returns to work, he or she may still be entitled to additional compensation of 2/3rds of their average weekly wages for an additional period if their vision loss is permanent. For eye loss, the schedule is as follows:

Loss of one eye. Maximum (other than pay for being out of work):  120 weeks. If the use of the eye is total or the loss of vision is total, the injured worker is considered to have a loss of an eye and is thus eligible for the 120 weeks of compensation. Partial eye loss is handled somewhat differently. For partial loss, the employee seeks a review by an ophthalmologist who, after a full examination, places a percentage of eye loss or vision loss on the injury. For example, the eye doctor can say the eye loss is 10%, 50%, 70%, 85%, or 95%. If the percentage is 85% or higher, loss is treated as a full loss and the employee gets the full 120 weeks’ compensation. Otherwise the percentage of benefits will correspond to the percentage of loss. For example, a 10% loss means the worker gets 10% of 120 weeks or 12 weeks for the eye. A 50% loss means ½ of 120 weeks or 60 weeks.

Loss of both eyes. If there is vision loss in both eyes, that may be considered a total and permanent disability, which means the claim is not limited to the 500 week maximum. Rather, the injured employee may be entitled to lifetime compensation benefits at 2/3rds of the average weekly wage. In such case, the 120 week scheduled benefit becomes irrelevant. It would be up to the Industrial Commission to determine if the employee qualifies.

If the employer can show that the employee is capable of return to suitable employment, despite the loss of vision in both eyes, then the employee would not be entitled to lifetime compensation.

Disfigurement

Sometimes, tragically, the loss of the eye is accompanied by severe disfigurement. If the workers’ face or head is disfigured along with the loss of vision, then the worker may be entitled up to an additional sum not to be more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00). For example if there is extremely noticeable scarring elsewhere on the face, that would be something the Industrial Commission would consider awarding an additional sum of $10,000.00 for.

Vocational rehabilitation

In addition to medical, wage loss, eye loss and disfigurement compensation; an injured worker who becomes blind or loses vision may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation so they can learn a new job skill. There are schools for the blind and those with vision loss to enable the worker to communicate and use his/her skills. This right to vocational rehabilitation is more likely to apply for educated workers, office workers, and others who didn’t rely on their eyes to do manual labor.

Today, computer technology can also help the worker who suffers vision loss. The employer’s insurance carrier may also be required to pay for this new technology. The carrier may also need to pay for seeing eye dogs, transportation, and other services or tools that help the worker get to work and do his/her job.

Speak with a skilled North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible

If anyone you know suffers from vision loss due to a workplace accident, they may have a strong recovery coming to them. Attorney Joe Miller Esq. has helped thousands of North Carolina and Virginia workers get their full workers’ compensation benefits. He has been helping injured workers for over a quarter of a century. Vision loss can often be traced to a workplace accident. For answers to your questions and caring counsel, please call lawyer Joe Miller at (888) 694-1671 to schedule an appointment.

 

Restaurant Workers and N.C. Workers’ Compensation

Restaurant workers often suffer work-related injuries for a variety of reasons. Many service establishments are understaffed The work hours are irregular causing many workers to be tired. There’s constant commotion between the dining center and the kitchen. The quarters are typically quite tight. For many cooks and servers, getting hurt is almost a prerequisite for the job. Minor injuries can often become major injuries. Some injuries can be permanent and prevent the worker from ever working again.

It doesn’t matter if a worker works full-time or part-time as long as they are an employee. My office represents chefs, cooks, servers, bussers, dishwashers, hostesses and maitre’ d’s, delivery drivers, and anyone who works in any type of restaurant.

Common restaurant- related injuries

Restaurant workers can suffer the following types of injuries:

  • Lifting injuries. Workers often have to lift large bags or items because food is often delivered to the restaurant in large quantities. Any worker who is hurt lifting, carrying, or pushing these large containers has the right to bring a North Carolina work injury claim based on the theory that the injury was due to a work-related accident.
  • Burn injuries. Any contact with a stove, oil, hot grease, scalding hot coffee, or any hot item can cause first, second, or third-degree burns which can require multiple skin grafts. Burns often cause disfigurement.
  • Back and neck injuries. It’s easy to wrench your back or twist your neck while preparing and serving food or lifting heavy pots, pans, or other food items. Most restaurant workers are on their feet all day long except for breaks. Back and neck injuries can cause chronic pain. Sometimes, injections can help. Often, workers have to take time off to manage the pain.
  • Cuts and lacerations. Anyone using a knife or chopping items to prepare feet, cut meat, trim, slice vegetables, or otherwise cut and dice food can suffer a cut or laceration. Cuts can lead to infections. If not treated properly and timely, an infection can require that an arm or hand be amputated.

Common causes of restaurant injuries

While there are many ways restaurant accidents can occur, these are some of the more typical causes and injuries.

  • Slips and falls. Floors at restaurants always need constant mopping because beverages or food falls to the floor and of course, grease. Servers often bang into other service workers or slip on greasy floors that are overdue to be mopped.
  • Mopping, snow, and ice removal. Floors must be continually cleaned of debris. The outside parking lots and entrances have to be shoveled and cleared so customers don’t slip and fall. This type of clean-up can cause back injuries or a slip and fall.
  • Criminal attacks. Because restaurant workers, especially cashiers, work with money, these workers can be the target of criminal attacks and muggings. Any violent crime which occurs while working is compensable in North Carolina, so long as it is not the result of a personal argument or situation.
  • Upset customers. Sometimes, a customer does worse than fail to leave a tip. An angry customer strikes a worker, that worker is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if the strike causes injuries and is related to the work performed.
  • Explosions and product defects. Heaters, boilers, dishwashers, and other appliances that don’t work can cause explosions, electrical burns, and other serious injuries.

Chemicals used in the restaurant profession can also cause injuries. Loud noises can cause hearing loss or damage.

Repetitive stress injuries

Servers, food preparers, and busboys are constantly lifting and carrying plates and dishes filled to the brim with food. The constant movements can cause lifting injuries and repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. The argument that experienced North Carolina workers compensation lawyers use in repetitive stress injuries is that the repetition is covered as an occupational disease.

To be sure, these types of injuries are much more difficult to prove than a traumatic injury.  That being said, North Carolina work injury lawyers can often successfully argue that a catch-all provision of the state’s workers compensation law applies. That provision holds that a worker can obtain benefits if he/she can show:

  • That the work environment exposed the employee to a greater risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome than for members of the general public and
  • That the work environment was a leading reason for the carpal tunnel syndrome.

These two conditions generally apply in restaurant work. Members of the general public may clean their dishes three times a day. They don’t carry plates filled with seven servings and they don’t carry and clear items hundreds of times a day. Doctors can usually verify that the repetitive stress injury was due to the restaurant work.

Injuries outside the restaurant.

Restaurants often employ delivery staff to transport meals to offices, homes, and venues where parties or celebrations are being held. Delivery personnel who get into a vehicle accident while traveling to these locations can suffer a full range of injuries such as broken bones, traumatic brain injury, and spinal damage. Drivers can also be killed. Any restaurant delivery worker who is hurt while making a delivery would be entitled to North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits.

Make the call to an experienced North Carolina restaurant injury lawyer today

If you are suffering minor aches or a major injury due to work at a fast-food restaurant, local diner, hotel restaurant, five-star attraction, or any type of food service establishment; you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Benefits include 2/3rds of your average weekly wage loss and payment for your medical bills. If you are permanently injured, you may be entitled to additional benefits.

North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer Joe Miller Esq. has been fighting for the rights of injured workers for over 25 years. You may have a strong recovery coming your way. Please phone attorney Miller at (888) 694-1671 to schedule an appointment with a respected work injury lawyers.

Heavy Lifting and North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Claims

Posted on Friday, May 19th, 2017 at 12:34 pm    

Lifting heavy objects is one of the principal causes of shoulder, back and spine pain. For most every job  in construction, manufacturing, warehouse work, agriculture labor, the trucking industry, or any manual labor job – heavy lifting is part of the job requirement. Lifting can include boxes, inventory, materials, equipment, furniture, and any item that helps create or sell products.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over a third of workplace injuries that required that the employee miss time from work were due to back or shoulder injuries. Lifting injuries generally occur due to overexertion and cumulative trauma. Lifting injuries can also include elbow and wrist injuries, muscle pulls and strains, and spinal cord damage,

There are many factors that increase the likelihood of lifting injuries. Employers should have practices and procedures in place to minimize these factors and help the workers.

  1. The weight of the objects. Generally, loads that weigh more than 50 pounds should be avoided.

Some objects put more stress on the worker than others. Heavy tools and machinery, large wire spools, and bundles of conduit should be handled with extreme caution.

Some of the practices and procedures employers should use to help with heavy objects are:

  • Use mechanical devices such as fork lifts, transformers, and duct lifts.
  • Pallet jacks and hand trucks should be used when possible
  • Avoid things that roll because they can be hard to stop
  • Suction devices can help to lift boxes and other objects that have a flat surface
  • Machinery can be loaded into vehicles with the use of a ramp
  • Lifting should be done properly. Heavy objects should be positioned at “power zone” level – between the chest and mid-thighs. The spine should be properly aligned when lifting. Bend at the knees and not the wait when lifting.
  • Try ordering supplies in smaller amounts. Ask the vendors to reduce the weight of the objects they supply prior to the delivery.
  • Use mechanical lifts for prefabricated items.
  • Use two or more people if the weight of the object is more than 50 pounds.
  1. Awkward postures. Lifting injuries often happen or are worsened because the lifter is bending incorrectly. Employees who bend while lifting force the back to support both the employee’s upper body weight and the weight of the object they’re lifting. The bending can cause as much pain as the lifting.

 

Bending also shifts the object being loaded away from the employee’s body making leverage more difficult and making the back and lower spine work harder. Reaching puts more strain on the shoulders.

Possible solutions:

  • The area around the load site should be clear so the employee can get the proper leverage to transport the load.
  • Employers should not carry a load on a shoulder, under their arm, or using one hand.
  • Lift with your legs
  • Move the object close to you when lifting.
  • Position the object in the “power zone’ mentioned above before beginning the lift. Lifting outside of the power zone puts stress on the back, legs, and knees if you are lifting from below the mid-thigh. Stress is placed on the shoulders, upper back, and arms when lifting from above the chest.
  • Put items on shelves, tables, or other surfaces so you don’t have to bend or reach when starting the lift.
  • Better to turn the feet than to turn the torso
  • Keep your elbows close to your body to avoid reaching
  • Use aerial lifts when possible to elevate the worker and position the worker closer to the object being lifted
  • Carry small loads in each hand to help balance the load.
  • Use buckets and other objects that have handles to help carry the load
  1. High-Frequency and Long-Duration Lifting. Holding objects for too long a time period, even if the objects don’t weight too much, increases the possibility of back or shoulder injury because muscles may not get the nutrients then need. Repeated exertions, for example if the worker is pulling wire, can tire the muscles because the time to recuperate the muscle is limited.

Possible solutions

  • Use a lightweight template (cardboard for example) to mark the holes where drilling will take place especially when mounting items like junction boxes and service panels. This helps reduce the time the heavy object needs to be held while the worker finds the right level and the right anchor mounts.
  • Use mechanical lifting devices or stands to hold the heavy and awkward objects
  • Rotate the lifting and holding tasks among employees.
  • Work in teams so that one person lifts while the other person does the assembly
  • Take schedule breaks to give the muscles time to rest. Rest breaks increase the quality of work because the employee isn’t working while tired.
  • Try to pre-assemble objects where possible
  1. Inadequate Handholds. If objects are too hard to hold, they are tougher to lift. Workers then need to move away from the load and lower the point where the lift begins. This raises the danger of body stress and also of dropping the object.

Possible Solutions:

  • Use proper handhold such as handles, slots or holes. The handles should be large enough for an employee who is wearing gloves.
  • Ask the vendors to make containers with adequate handholds
  • Move items from containers that don’t have handholds to ones that do have handholds
  • Wear equipment such as gloves to protect the fingers. Solid grips should be provided
  • Use suction devices

Employers should also be aware that excessive cold or excessive heat can make lifting harder. Cold decreases muscle flexibility. Heat can cause dehydration and fatigue. The area where the lifting is taking place should be well lit. Warm clothing should be worn if the weather is cold. Workers should drink a lot of water when it’s hot to avoid dehydration.

Speak with a highly qualified work injury lawyer if pain is preventing you from working

Pain from lifting is a complicated workers’ compensation issues because North Carolina and Virginia work injury claims generally require a showing that an accident caused the injury. The defense lawyer may argue that the pain existed before you started working. For strong advocacy and experienced legal work injury advice, please phone lawyer Joe Miller. He has been getting just recoveries for injured employees in both North Carolina and Virginia for over 25 years. To make an appointment, please call us at (888) 694-1671 or complete the contact form.

Why Scissor or Aerial Lifts Can Lead to a North Carolina Workers Compensation Claim

Posted on Friday, May 19th, 2017 at 11:57 am    

Scissor lifts allow workers to do their job high above the ground through the use of scaffolding that is motorized. Scissor lifts are used in construction, manufacturing, and even the entertainment industry. They are most commonly used in warehouses.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has, however, issued warnings about the dangers of scissor lifts. During a one-year period OSHA investigated 10 scissor lift related deaths and 20 serious injuries. The investigation revealed that workplace injuries were happening due to a failure of the employer to monitor the position of the scissor lifts, faulty fall protection strategies, and not stabilizing the lifts. In North Carolina workers’ compensation cases, it is not necessary to prove fault if an accident occurs. Still, the best workplace strategy is to take precautionary steps to prevent the accidents from happening.

OSHA safety suggestion for scissor lifts

OSHA recommends that employers use the following scissor lift safety measures:

  • Train the workers. Only workers who have experience using the scissor lift should be allowed to operate the lift the lift. Proper experience also includes understanding how to maintain the lift if problems. Workers should have and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Workers should wear the correct safety equipment.

 

Workers must be trained by the employer on the dangers of using a scissor lift and how to work safely on or near the lift. Training should also include:

  • Instructions on up and down use of the scissor lift and horizontal movement of the lift.
  • Understanding what weight limits and restrictions apply.
  • Instructions on how to use objects that are on the lift

 

  • Protect workers from falls According to the Code of Federal Regulations, employers scissor lifts are required to have guardrails to prevent workers from failing. Employers should train their employees to look to see if the guardrails are in place before doing any scissor lift work. Workers should only stand on the platform – never on the guardrails. The employees should be able to reach their work easily so they don’t risk falling.
  • Stabilize the lift. Scissor lifts shouldn’t bounce, move or shake. They should be stable so they won’t collapse. The movement of the scissor lift should match the manufacturer’s recommendations on usage. Lifts should move electronically to the right spot – they shouldn’t have to be positioned manually. Forklifts and other machinery should be clear of the scissor lift so the other equipment doesn’t bump into the scissor lift. Work locations should be on flat floors. This means no slopes, debris, obstructions, or hole.

 

If scissor lifts are used outdoors, they should be used when the weather is clear and not too windy. Winds 28 mph and more are considered unsafe.

In one notable case,  a Notre Dame student who was working on scissor lift during the 2010 football season was killed while taking film of the football team’s practice. The student never should have been lifted up nearly 39 feet to film the practice because there were winds gusts of more than 50 mph. The wind gust is what caused the student to die.

  • Properly position the lift. The scissor lift should not be positioned near any safety hazards or loose wires. A real danger with scissor lifts is that they can cause crushing injuries which pin the employee against a wall, a fixed object, or another piece of machinery. Anyone using the scissor lift should not be near:
    • Fixed objects
    • Any moving vehicles
    • A support beam or a door frame
    • Any place where an electrocution or electric spark can occur. This means extra care should be used when using the scissor lift near power lines or utility lines. Electricity can easily jump from a wire or cable to the scissor life killing or severely injuring the worker. Ground guides should be used when the scissor lift is in operation. The best solution is to be 10 feet or more away from any overhead hazard.

 

Employees who operate a scissor lift or who are positioned in a scissor lift should have electrical training.

  • Properly maintain the scissor lift. Employers must routinely inspect their lifts to make sure they are safe to use. Maintenance should following the manufacturer’s instructions. The manufacturer’s manual normally includes instruction on how to:
    • Be sure the guardrails are in working order
    • Verify that the brakes will hold the lift in the right position.

Employers should report equipment defects and maintenance needs and warn the worker that the scissor lift should not be used until the defect has been repaired or the maintenance need has been fixed.

According to OSHA, workers should know they have the following rights:

  • The right to working conditions that don’t endanger the worker or create an unreasonable risk of serious injury
  • The right to get necessary training and information about workplace hazards and the ways to prevent harm – in an understandable language and vocabulary
  • To be informed that OSHA standards apply to their workplace
  • To review any records of work-relate injuries or illnesses
  • To file a complaint requesting that OSHA inspect the workplace if the employee thinks the employer is not complying with OSHA rules and is not putting necessary safety safeguards in place. OSHA should keep this request confidential
  • The right of the worker to exercise his/her rights without fear of retaliation such as job termination. If workers suffer retaliation for disclosing safety violations, there are time limits for bringing a complaint

The worker’s OHSA rights extend to scissor lifts.

Get help with your North Carolina or Virginia workers’ compensation claim now

Attorney Joe Miller Esq. has been fighting for the rights of injured workers for over 25 years. He has helped thousands of employees get compensation for wage loss, medical bills, and other work injury benefits. He understands the many different ways workplace accidents can happen and how to prove accidents were work-related. For immediate help, please phone attorney Joe Miller at (888) 694-1671. You can also reach him through his contact form.

Can my Spouse Who I am Divorcing Receive any of my Workers Compensation Settlement Money in Virginia?

Posted on Wednesday, May 17th, 2017 at 9:28 am    

This is a frequent question we get and our best piece of advice is to seek the advice of an attorney who specializes in Divorce Law in Virginia.

This is because the law in the area of domestic relations is one that is constantly changing and evolving and more likely than not, even the little bit of information we are providing here is likely to be outdated by the time you read this. (more…)

Vision Loss in North Carolina Workers Compensation

Posted on Monday, April 10th, 2017 at 9:20 pm    

Some work injures are much worse than others. Many injuries such as broken bones do heal over time. Some injuries may slow the worker down but don’t prevent the worker from working entirely. Unfortunately, there are some workplace injuries that tragically alter an employee’s life forever. Loss of vision is one of those catastrophic injuries. (more…)

Independent Contractor versus Employee Status in Workers Compensation Cases

Posted on Friday, March 24th, 2017 at 2:00 pm    

One of the most complex parts of any workers’ compensation case is determining whether the employee is eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. In both North Carolina and Virginia, one key test is whether the worker was an employee or an independent contractor. Generally, workers who are employees can receive workers’ compensation benefits Generally, independent contractors are not eligible for state workers’ compensation benefits.

Workers should understand that the determination of employee status is not one that the employer makes. The decision is made by the Deputy Commissioner of the Workers Compensation Commission or Industrial Commission.

Many employers try to classify their workers as sub-contractors vs. employees to avoid having to provide work injury insurance for them, paying payroll taxes, and/or to avoid having to purchase health insurance under Obamacare for their employees. This is called “misclassification” by the employer is actually a crime.

If you were injured while working, you should definitely consult with an experienced work injury lawyer like Joe Miller Esq. He will review many different factors which affect your real job status. In the right case, he can persuade the Deputy Commissioner that you were really an employee and should get full workers compensation injury benefits. We have been successful in several of these kinds of cases.

Some employers will also settle these kinds of cases to avoid a hearing in order to avoid their “business model” of misclassifying employees as subcontractors from being exposed in a public forum, which might subject them to IRS scrutiny.

The key work status factors

Some of the important workplace factors the determine if a worker is an employee or an independent contractor are:

  • The type of business involved. Many workers are presumed to be employees based on the type of work they do and who the hiring company is. Municipal workers such as police officers and firefighters are normally presumed to be employees and not independent contractors. Public school teachers who teach full time are also generally presumed to be employees. The terms of the collective bargaining agreement often dictate whether there should be a change from employee to independent contractor if the worker works less than full-time.

 

Because the construction industry contains so many trades that are brought in to complete jobs, we often see the most contentious battles of this employee vs. subcontractor issue take place when there is a work injury on a construction site.

 

Workers can be considered employees even if they are day laborers, borrowed employees, or part-time workers.

 

  • The right of the business or organization to control the worker. This is a major factor. If the hiring company has some ability to control the tasks the worker does, when the worker performs those tasks, and how those tasks are done – that indicates the work status is an employee and not an independent contractor. Other control factors can include whether a work permit or operating permit is required to do the job and who has that permit, whether the business provides the equipment necessary to do the job, whether workers are required to wear uniforms, and the manner in which the worker is paid.

 

  • The type of work being done. If the worker is doing the same type of work that that the hiring business does, that may tend to indicate that the worker is an employee. For example, a trucking company that hires on another trucker for a shipping assignment is likely responsible to pay for that trucker’s injuries during the shipment. A retail store that sells clothes and hires an electrical contractor is probably not going to be liable for workers’ compensation benefits if the electrical worker is injured while doing repairs at the retail store.

 

  • How the worker is paid. While the payment method is not determinative, workers who are paid on a regular basis (bimonthly, weekly, by day, or by hour) are normally presumed to be employees. Workers who are paid by the job—i.e. through an invoice— are normally presumed to be independent contractors. Employees typically get employee benefits such as vacation time, sick leave, and health insurance. If the paystub deducts these items or FICA taxes, or unemployment insurance, then the worker will likely be ruled an employee. Workers who get a W-2 vs a 1099 are also presumed to be employees.

 

Any reverse situation (the worker doesn’t get benefits, and doesn’t have pay deductions) may tend to indicate the worker is an independent contractor. But again, this is certainly not determinative. Some employers pay in cash and the folks who work for them can be employees. The key factor is control over the means and methods of the work.
Many employers try to use the payment method to try and convince workers that they are independent contractors – because the employer then doesn’t have to pay for the benefits, pays less taxes, and has less administrative work.

As mentioned previously, though, many times, the employer position is just self-serving, as a means to operate the business on the cheap.

Some employers will even go so far as to have their employees sign “contracts” where the employee declares an understanding that he or she is an independent contractor and not an employee.

You should know that such agreements are usually not worth the paper they are written on.

 

The Virginia Workers Compensation Commission and the NC Industrial Commission will ignore such documents IF there are “facts on the ground” that indicate that the worker is treated as an employee.

 

For instance, are there rules and procedures that are enforced about how, when and where the job is to be performed? Does the employer demand strict adherence to those rules on pain of the “termination of the contract”? If so, that is indicative of an employer/employee relationship and not a subcontractor relationship.

 

The other listed factors can flip the employer’s decision so that the worker is formally considered an employee.

 

  • Who provides the work tools? If the hiring company provides the equipment, the vehicles, the forklifts, the trucks, the computers, etc. that indicates there is an employee relationship. If the worker uses his/her own tools, that implies the worker is an independent contractor. Who takes any tax deductions for the purchase of the equipment can also be considered. Hiring companies generally reimburse employees for business-related expenses but generally don’t reimburse independent contractors.

 

  • Who can terminate the relationship? In an independent contractor relationship, the worker has just as much right to dictate when the job is done and how it is done as the hiring company. The worker can also decide, in accordance with the contract terms, when to terminate the work relationship. In an employee setting, the hiring company controls the manner of the work, the work performance, and when the work relationship ends.

 

A typical example of an independent contractor is a painter who has all his own ladders, paint and equipment, and is hired by a contractor on a house to come in and paint. The painter comes when he wants and leaves when he wants. The contractor provides zero equipment or supplies. The scope of the painter’s work and the price is determined by a contract drawn up by the painter and signed by the owner or general contractor. The painter controls when he begins the work and is finished when the job is complete.

 

Training. Generally, employers train their employees but they don’t train or educate independent contractors. Just because a worker does his/her job away from the office doesn’t mean the worker is an independent contractor. For example, many employees are allowed to telecommute.

The bottom line for the state workers’ compensation Deputy Commissioner is to look at the entire work relationship, not one specific factor.

Contact a skilled North Carolina or Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer now

Attorney Joe Miller has been fighting for injured workers for over 25 years. He has helped thousands of workers get strong recoveries. For advice on your work-relation status and all other work injury issues please make an appointment with Joe Miller Esq. by phoning him at (888) 694-1671 or using his contact form.

Workers Compensation for Policemen and Security Professionals

Posted on Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017 at 2:00 pm    

Law enforcement officers and other security and safety professionals put their lives and careers at risk every day. These professionals who protect the community deserve to be paid promptly and justly when the suffer an injury while doing their job. North Carolina and Virginia work injury laws protect law enforcement staff by providing that officers and safety personnel who suffer workplace injuries should have their medical bills paid and should receive 2/3rds of their lost wages for the period of time they are out of work, as well as payment of medical bills related to the injury. Security professionals should also be entitled to lost wage benefits if they suffer permanent injuries. When tragedy strikes and a security worker dies, the families of these heroes should be compensated in according with state workers’ compensation laws.

Common security injuries

Police officers and safety staff are at risk for many different types of injuries. When an assault or accident occurs, it is not necessary for the officer/security member to prove fault. If the injuries or death were due to a workplace incident, then benefits should be payable. Some common security injuries are:

  • Physical assaults. Police officers can be shot, stabbed, forced to defend themselves in physical fights, or attacked in a variety of ways.
  • Vehicle accidents. Police officers are often involved in car, motorcycle, and other vehicle accidents in the pursuit of those who commit crimes
  • Many officers and security staff personnel work long hard hours. At the end of the day or the shift, these workers are susceptible to slips and falls and a host of other problems that can result in lost time from work.
  • Many offers burn out or suffer emotional harm as a result of their work. If their depression or anxieties can be related to a specific workplace incident that is far outside the normal realm of what can be expected in the job, their psychological care may be compensable through a workers’ compensation claim.

Some law enforcement and security personnel may also suffer harm due to exposure to narcotics, radiation, and other dangerous job-related problems.

Common security- related injuries

Many officers and security personnel suffer deadly injuries. Survivors often can never return to work again or need to be retrained because they can no longer do police work. Common enforcement injuries include:

  • Death
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Spinal cord damage including paralysis
  • Broken bones
  • Gunshot wounds
  • Respiratory damage
  • Bruises and lacerations
  • Heart attacks
  • Burn injuries

Officers and security personnel who suffer any type of injury need to get a proper medical evaluation to determine if they can ever return to work.

Unfortunately, if you are police officer employed by a City in the Commonwealth of Virginia, it has been our experience—and that of most workers compensation lawyers in Virginia—that for whatever reason, Virginia Cities do not settle workers compensation cases. If an officer is released to light duty, Cities are much more likely to accommodate an officer with alternate employment as opposed to continuing to pay workers compensation benefits.

The reason for this reluctance of cities to settle claims in Virginia is assumed to be due to the lack of budget line-items in City Budgets for settlement reserves.

In North Carolina, we have seen cities and counties that set aside funds in the their annual budgets for potential workers compensation settlements. It all depends on the budgetary restrictions of the particular city or county.

Talk with an experienced security professional or police workplace accident attorney today

Police officers and security professionals deserve to be treated with respect. They should not have to worry about getting work injury benefits for doing their job. If you or a loved one suffered injuries while protecting the public, attorney Joe Miller has the experience to get you justice. He has been fighting for injured workers for over a quarter of a century. To review your case now, please phone Joe Miller at (888) 694-1671 or complete his contact form.

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