What Types of Doctors are Involved in Workers Compensation Cases?

Posted on Tuesday, September 26th, 2017 at 8:46 am    

Employees can be treated by many different types of doctors depending on how the accident occurred and they type of injuries suffered. Many workers need to see multiple doctors during the course of their recovery process. Some of the doctors who treat injured workers are:

  • Emergency room physician. When an accident occurs, most employees are taken to the hospital emergency room. The ER doctor should be trained in making the initial diagnosis of the workers medical condition and trained to help immediately stabilize the patient’s condition and direct the patient to other doctors when needed. The ER doctor also is the physician who decides if the patient should be admitted to the hospital and whether to pull in consults with numerous other specialties such as orthopedic trauma doctors, or neurosurgeons.  ER doctors often order blood tests, X-Rays, CT scans, MRIs, and other diagnostic tests to evaluate your condition. They also take an oral history and conduct a physical exam. ER doctors are normally trained in life-saving techniques such as cardiac care support and resuscitation.
  • Orthopedic surgeon. For probably 90% of the cases we handle, this is the specialty and the physician who becomes the authorized treating doctor. This doctor diagnoses and treats injuries a worker’s bones and joints or disease of the bones and joints. Some orthopedic doctors specialize in a particular part of the body such as the neck, back, spine, shoulders or back. In addition to diagnosing and treating these injuries, orthopedic doctors can perform surgeries to repair bone and joint disorders. Employees who are involved in an auto accident, fall from a great height or have something fall on them, are involved in an explosion, or injured due to some form of violent condition; often require treatment by an orthopedist. Some orthopedic specialties are hand surgery, shoulder surgery, knee surgery, joint reconstruction, foot and ankle surgery, and spinal surgery.
  • Physiatrist or Osteopathic Physicians. This doctor may work with patients who have had surgery and need rehabilitation, or someone who is trying to avoid surgery by engaging in more conservative treatment first. Physiatrists are not surgeons themselves, although some do perform surgeries.  Physiatrists are also known as physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM & R) specialists. These doctors may do are muscle manipulation, epidural injections, alternative medicine such as acupuncture, and ultrasound-guided procedures. Physiatrists and osteopaths often fill the role of and are often found practicing as pain management physicians. Others care for patients such as quadriplegics or amputees on a long-term basis to assist them with increasing function and coping with their severe, lifelong injuries.
  • Pain management. These physicians typically treat people with chronic pain. They are often anesthesiologists or physiatrists by training, although some are orthopedic surgeons as well. Treatments can include steroid injections, radiofrequency neurotomy (also known as ablation therapy) , nerve blocks, subcutaneous stimulator implants,  and other remedies that can help minimize the pain. Most pain management doctors also prescribe pain medications including opioids. Their role has probably gotten more critical lately. This has come about as surgical physicians seek to transfer care of chronic pain patients out of their practices, out of fear of failure to comply with more stringent regulations and laws passed in Virginia and elsewhere in response to the nationwide epidemic of death from opioid overdose.
  • Neurosurgeon. These physicians diagnose and treat neurological problems of the brain, neck, head, and back. Much of what they do tends to overlap that of the orthopedic physician, with regard to spine surgery. Neurosurgeons often perform spine surgeries, which frequently include multilevel fusions of the spine, using plates and screws, as well as brain surgeries to alleviate subdural hematomas.
  • Neurologist. This doctor treats injuries to the nerves and diseases of the nerves, which may often involve chronic headaches, dizziness, or cognitive deficits, such as memory loss,  after a head injury. He/she does not perform surgeries. Some of the tests a neurologist performs are EEGs, lumbar punctures, CT scans, and MRIs.  He or she may also refer the patient out for neuropsychological testing to gauge a patient’s level of cognitive performance after a brain injury.
  • Psychiatrist. This doctor diagnoses and treats patients with emotional and mental health problems. Treatment usually involves extensive counseling sessions to help identify the source of the patient’s difficulties. Psychiatrists are M.D.’s and therefore can also prescribe medications. Workers treat with psychiatrists to manage the emotional side of dealing with an injury and an inability to return to work, which often includes Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Psychiatrists may sometimes use brain images such as CT scans, MRIs, and PET scans to help determine the cause of a worker’s behavioral and emotional difficulties. Some of the types of specialties psychiatrists have are addiction psychiatry, sleep medicine, geriatric, and clinical neuropsychology. Some psychiatrists see patients infrequently for medication updates, and delegate the psychotherapy role to psychologists or licensed therapists.
  • Psychologists or licensed counselors. This type of doctor treats workers who have behavioral problems such as depression and emotional problems related to their injury. They are also trained in giving the patient mental health tests. Psychologists do not prescribe medications and are not M.D.’s. Some of the categories of psychologists are clinical psychologists, counseling psychologists, and educational psychologists and neuropsychologists. There are also counselors and licensed clinical social workers. Most, but not all psychologists have a PhD, so it is still appropriate to call them “Doctor.” Usually, psychologists use therapy/talk therapy. These sessions are usually hour- long sessions on a regular basis that can last weeks, months, or years. Workers usually get individual therapy. Some psychologists are trained to perform hypnosis.
    Neuropsychologists may administer a battery of tests designed to gauge a worker’s level of cognitive dysfunction after an injury. The evaluation is usually ordered by a neurologist or neurosurgeon which physician is treating the patient for a brain injury.
  • General surgeon. This physician performs many types of surgeries including those that an orthopedist or neurosurgeon would not normally perform, such as to repair damage to internal organs after an injury.
  • Ophthalmologist. This is an eye doctor who can diagnose and medically treat patients who have visual injuries. An ophthalmologist can perform eye surgery such as cataract surgery.
  • Audiologist. An audiologist is a doctor who treats works who lose some or all their hearing in one or both ears. These physicians are also trained to help workers with balance problems and workers who have tinnitus.
  • Pulmonary Physician. these physicians are often seen in the context of asbestos, silicosis, or other work-related lung diseases. Most of the pulmonary doctors who do this are qualified to give something called a “B Reading.”  A “B Reading” is an important standard gauge of lung damage caused by asbestos or silicosis which is recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor. An attorney who is familiar with B-readings can often translate the level of damage into potential recovery for the worker, in accordance with statutory law. In Virginia, this is broken down into First Stage, Second Stage, and Third Stage.
    Occasionally, a pulmonary physician may be utilized for acute exposures to hazardous chemicals to gauge the effects on the lungs via a pulmonary function test.
  • Cardiologist. This is a heart doctor who diagnoses heart disease and risks for heart attacks and heart strokes. He/she prescribes medications such as statins and performs surgeries such as implanting stents and bypass surgery. Some of the tests a cardiologist performs are an echocardiogram which is a soundwave image of the heart’s structure, an ambulatory echocardiogram which is a test to look or abnormal heart rhythms, a stress test to examine a worker’s limitation, and a cardiac catheterization which takes pictures of the heart and helps relieve blockages of the heart.
  • Chiropractor. Some injured employees see chiropractors for diagnosis and treatment of soft-tissue injuries and injuries to the spine. Coverage is limited and not all workers compensation insurance companies will pay for treatment with chiropractors. They are not licensed to perform surgeries or prescribe medicine. They do manipulate and perform adjustments of the spine.  They also treat nerve functions. Workers who treat with chiropractors normally see the chiropractor multiple times.  If warranted, a referral to an orthopedic surgeon may be made by the chiropractor.
  • Independent medical examiners. (IME’s) Often, during the course of treatment, the employer’s insurance company will demand that the worker see an “independent” doctor. This doctor really isn’t neutral. He/she is usually chosen by the employer to try to show that the worker is able to return to work, and/or that the injuries and treatment recommended by the worker’s physicians are not related to the work accident. The good news is that the opinion of the authorized treating doctor is usually followed, not that of the defense IME physician. Your Virginia or North Carolina worker’s compensation lawyer will explain when independent medical examiners can conduct an exam of the employee and what the worker should know about the exam such as what tests and questions the IME doctor is likely to perform or ask and how the worker should best conduct him or herself.

In addition to treating with doctors, injured workers will also treat with the following types of health-care professionals

  • Nurses and Nurse Practitioners (NP’s)
  • Physicians’ Assistants (PA’s)
  • Occupational therapists
  • Speech therapists
  • Vocational counselors
  • Physical therapists

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

Work injury attorney Joe Miller understands which types of doctors injured workers see. He often recommends doctors when the employer recommended doctors aren’t helping. He works with the doctors to determine the full extent of your injuries and to verify your long-term health needs and work restrictions. To speak with an experienced work injury lawyer who has been fighting for employees for more than 25 years, please call attorney Miller Esq. at (888) 694-1671 or use his contact form to schedule an appointment.

A Few Exceptions to Standard North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Issues

Posted on Wednesday, June 28th, 2017 at 11:39 am    

Many workers work a 40-hour shift at just one location. Most get a paycheck based on their hours of work. There are many exceptions though that an experienced work injury lawyer can help you with. Attorney Joe Miller, Esq. has been helping North Carolina employees for over 25 years. He’s handled almost every type of unusual situation that can arise. Here are a few unique work situations:

Commuting to work or traveling for work

As a general rule, employees are not eligible for worker’s compensation if they are hurt on the way to work or on the way home. This is often referred to as the “Coming and Going” rule. Employees are normally only eligible for worker’s compensation while they at the job site. Employees who leave the job site during the day will be judged by whether they were running company errands or were doing personal chores.

There are a few exceptions though:

  • Workers who are expected to be on the road should be able to recover work injury benefits. This includes salespeople, nurses, and others who travel to see customers and clients at their homes and businesses.
  • Employees who are on-call are expected to be ready to come to work on a moment’s notice. They may be eligible for worker’s compensation from the moment they get the call.
  • Employees who are at a trade show or conducting business away from the standard work are helping their employer. It only seems fair they should be protected if they are hurt while helping their employer. They may be eligible even if they aren’t doing work activities such as shopping or enjoying a social activity.
  • If the employee is running a work-related errand on the way to work or on the way home, they may be eligible for work benefits.
  • If the worker has to drive through a construction site or dangerous site to get to work, getting work injury benefits may be possible.
  • If the employee is using the company car and the company is paying for the gas and mileage, then if the employee is hurt coming or going, he/she may be entitled to work injury benefits.

Some of the questions and answers that we will review for our clients are:

  • Was the accident during a typical commute or did the employee go off-course for some reason?
  • Did the accident happen while the employee was running personal errands, business errands, or a combination of both?
  • Who paid for the commute?
  • Was the employee travelling from one work site to another work site?
  • Did the accident happen in a company parking lot or a private parking lot?
  • Did the employer benefit from the trip in any way?

Part-time, Temporary, and Seasonal employees

Many employers hire workers only when they need them. For example, retailers often hire employees during the winter holidays and construction companies hire crews when the weather is warmer. Non-full time workers are classified as follows:

  • Part time employees. As a general rule, full-time employees work 40 hours while part-time employees work 35 hours or less. Employees who work 35-40 hours are in a grey hour. Another rule of thumb is that full-time employees are more likely to paid a weekly salary while part-time employees work on an hourly rate. Part-time workers usually receive no or little benefits especially health benefits – which makes getting work injury benefits all the more important because worker’s compensation pays for necessary medical bills.
  • Temporary employees. Temporary workers are normally hired for just a few days or a few weeks to fill in for someone who is on maternity leave or vacation or to fill a short-term need in the company. Temps may work for a temp agency or for the company where they are doing the work. Temporary employees may work full-time meaning they are paid a salary.
  • Seasonal Employees. Most seasonal workers are hired during Christmas seasons or during the summer months. Some industries like the hotel industry may add workers during the summer when there is a lot more travel. Seasonal workers may also be full-time employees for the time they work.

Whether these workers qualify for workers’ compensation depends on whether the worker is classified as an employee or an independent contractor. That distinction, in turn, is based on a variety of factors. Injured workers shouldn’t automatically assume that just because they don’t get a weekly paycheck and health benefits that they are an independent contractor. The main criteria that North Carolina will use in deciding if you are an employee or not is how much control over the worker’s duties the company had. If the employer decided what hours you worked, where your worked, what job tasks you did at work, who provided the tools that used; then you may be eligible for worker’s compensation because you’re an employee, even if the company claims that you are not.

Working for Tips

Workers such as waitresses who work for tips need to make sure they are getting the correct weekly income. Employees who are injured on the job get 2/3rds of their lost wages until they can return to work or for up to 500 weeks for more serious injuries. For waitresses, the starting point is their weekly pay which for many isn’t much more than the state minimum wage. The amount of the employees tips should also be determined. Most workers who have a work history know (and their employers know) how much extra they are getting in tips. Tips should be reported as income on the waitresses’ tax returns. If returns are reported then it should be straightforward that the waitress is entitled to 2/3rds of the tips and the wages added together. If tips were not reported, then getting 2/3rds of the tips paid for a work injury can be more difficult.

Make the call to an experienced work injury lawyer today.

Attorney Joe Miller Esq. has helped thousands of injured workers get the full workers’ compensation benefits they’ve earned. In many cases, he had to argue the exceptional or unique case. To see if you’re eligible and to get the best recovery the law allows, please call us at (888) 694-1671 or complete the contact form.

 

Must Your Virginia Accident be Work- Related in order to Collect Worker’s Compensation Payments?

In any work injury case, it is necessary to prove the following in order to be paid your benefits:

  • The injury or illness must be work-related
  • You must be an employee
  • The injury must be what is preventing you from working

Each of these elements can be complicated. The good news is that injured and ill workers do not need to prove the employer was negligent or reckless. Fault is not an issue in work injury cases. Your doctors or independent physicians can usually confirm that your injuries are what is preventing you from doing your job.

It is the work-related issue that can often lead to litigation. An experienced Virginia work injury lawyer like Joe Miller can help you convince an insurance company or the worker’s compensation hearing officer that your accident was indeed work-related. Some common work-related issues that often arise in Virginia are:

  • Lunch breaks. Whether an employee who is injured while they are on a lunch break is entitled to benefits depends on several factors. If you had lunch in the company cafeteria, that’s a stronger argument for collecting Virginia work injury benefits than if you were hurt away from the office. Likewise, if you were getting lunch for your employer or even other workers, that’s a better case than if you had lunch on your own. If you were meeting a customer or client, that’s good for business and you should be covered. Lunch while at a trade show on company time is similarly a better case than if you were just having lunch with personal friends or your family.

 

  • Employer events. Many businesses hold events to foster better social relations among office workers. If you hurt playing softball while you were representing the company team against other community businesses, you may be entitled to work injury benefits because that’s good marketing for the business. If the event was a class or some training activity, that also is helping your employer and you’d have a strong argument that you should be compensated.

 

  • Company travel. This topic is covered in the companion blog about the ‘going and coming’ rule.  The more you can show that the employer was directly benefited by your commute or travel activities, the stronger case for benefits you will have if you get into a car accident while traveling.

 

  • Your own negligence or misconduct. Just as you do not have to show an employer was negligent in order to collect Virginia worker’s compensation rule, the employer generally can’t argue that you were negligent to deprive you of you worker’s compensation benefits. If you were careless, failed to watch where you were going, used the wrong tool, or made an error in judgment; you still should be able to collect worker’s compensation.

 

The case gets tougher if you deliberately violated a safety rule or safety law. If you committed a crime at work, and were injured while doing so; then you probably won’t get Virginia worker’s compensation.

 

North Carolina and Virginia law differ significantly as to these concepts. In Virginia, a showing by the employer of a deliberate rule or safety statute violation could completely bar your claim, whereas in North Carolina, such a violation would only decrease your weekly comp checks by 10%.

 

  • Preexisting conditions. If you have a prior injury, then the employer or the employer’s insurance company will likely claim that the prior injury defeats your claim. An experienced Virginia work injury attorney will know what counterarguments to apply. For example, so long as your treating physician (who must be an M.D.) is able to give an opinion that the accident caused a sudden mechanical change in the body part in question, even of the slightest amount, and that this change is at least partially responsible for the current treatment and disability, then it makes no difference whether you had a pre-existing condition or not. The good news is also that there is no reduction in your benefits for the pre-existing condition. The entire claim is compensable if your doctor can support it in Virginia, despite whatever pre-existing conditions you may have had in the same injured body part.  

 

  • Hearing loss. Just because you work in a noisy environment, doesn’t mean you should be denied benefits. As long as it can be shown the hearing loss was work-related, you should be entitled to worker’s compensation, although the benefits for the hearing loss alone are very limited. Unless the hearing loss is so severe that it prevents you from working, the maximum you can recover for hearing loss is 50 weeks of compensation for each ear.  How much of the 50 weeks you will get is determined by the severity of your hearing loss and there is a hearing loss table that sets forth the decibel reduction with the corresponding percentage of hearing loss.

 

  • Occupational illnesses. You also are entitled to benefits if you suffer a disease or illness from work. Examples can include black lung disease or asbestosis. In order to qualify, the worker must be able to prove that the illness was not an ordinary disease that the community at large would suffer – and that the disease was characteristic of conditions found in a specific type of profession. The job must increase the odds of getting the illness.

 

Other example diseases include hepatitis suffered by a lab technician or a contagious disease suffered by a healthcare worker at a hospital. The employee does need to also show that the work conditions were what directly caused the disease.

 

There is one key difference between an occupational illness and a work injury caused by a fall or a specific workplace accident. An occupational illness can accumulate over time – that is the worker doesn’t have to prove any specific incident triggered the illness or disease.

 

  • Emotional/Psychiatric injuries. You don’t have to suffer a physical injury in order to qualify for benefits. In many cases though, emotional distress, or a psychiatric illness such as PTSD is something that occurs through either experiencing or witnessing an extremely traumatic event. The key in these cases is that the traumatic triggering event must be outside the realm of what the worker would normally encounter in his or her occupation. For instance, a police officer who tries to claim that witnessing a shooting caused him PTSD is going to have a difficult time proving that was outside the normal realm of his occupation. On the other hand, a nurse’s aide who witnesses a patient kill themselves through a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the brain is likely going to recover for her psychiatric injuries, as this is not something that she would normally encounter in her duties as a nurse’s aide.

 

Speak with an experienced Virginia lawyer as soon as possible

Attorney Joe Miller Esq. has helped thousands of injured workers during the past 25 years. He has the skills and experience to handle the tough cases and the exceptions to the rule. He understands what arguments to make to challenge arguments that injuries weren’t work related. For strong advocacy, please call (888) 694-1671 or fill out the contact form.

Burn Injuries and Worker’s Compensation

Posted on Monday, June 26th, 2017 at 11:34 am    

Many North Carolina and Virginia workers suffer serious burn injuries at work. While employers are required to follow a variety of federal, state, and industry standard guidelines – employees in both states are entitled to workers compensation benefits regardless of employer fault. In serious burn injury cases, the employer’s insurance company or self-insurance is required to pay for all the reasonable surgeries, doctor visits, and medications the employee needs to be able to manage the pain and be able to maximize the chances of recovery. If multiple skin grafts are needed and the burns are deep and extensive, the cost for the medical care can become quite expensive.

There are three basic types of workplace burns:

  • Thermal burns. These can be from a stove, steam, hot liquids, industrial equipment, or other causes
  • Electrical burns. These usually occur from some sort of electrical current or spark
  • Chemical burns. These can be caused by an product the worker uses that has caustic or toxic components such as cleansers.

Whenever a worker suffers any type of burn injury, it is crucial to get medical help as soon as possible. The burn victim should immediately contact the supervisor and then get emergency help.

Thermal burn injuries

If a person’s clothing catches fire, the first priority is to be able to put out the flames. The person should be helped to stop, drop, and roll. All burned clothing should be removed from the worker. The worker should then be given something to wrap their body in such as a jacket or blanket. All burn victims who catch fire will need emotional help as well as physical help.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), any jewelry, belts, and rings should be removed immediately because burned areas often swell.

There are three types of burns – first, second, and third degree

  • First-degree burns. These burns involve the skin’s top layer. Sunburn is a classic example. Signs include redness, sensitivity to touch, and mild swelling. Treatments include wet cool compresses or immersing the skin in fresh, cool water until the pain ebbs. The burn should be covered with a sterile non-adhesive bandage or sterile gauze. Ointments should be avoided because they can cause infection which can lead to serious complications. Some over-the counter medications may be used to help reduce the swelling and ease the pain. Most first-degree burns heal with time though if the first-degree burn covers a large portion of the body or the employee is elderly, emergency treatment should be sought.
  • Second-degree burns. These burns penetrate into the second layer of the skin. Deep skin reddening, blisters, leaking fluid, pain, and possible skin loss are likely symptoms. The skin should be immersed in fresh water for 10-15 minutes. The blisters should not be broken and ointments should be avoided because, again, they can cause infections. Burned arms and legs should be elevated. Steps should be taken to help avoid shock. This includes laying the burn victim flat and elevating the feet and covering the victim with a blanket. If a head, neck, back, or leg injury is suspected – then the shock position should be avoided. The best course of action for second-degree burns is to get immediate emergency medical assistance.
  • Third-degree burns. These burns penetrate the skin completely and can damage underlying tissue also. The skin can appear leathery and dry, charred, or have discolored patches. Breathing issues can be a real problem. Emergency help is mandatory.

Electrical burn victims

Electrical jolts, shocks, or burns often aren’t visible like thermal burns – though the damage is often deep underneath the skin. The electrical burn can cause heart problems and even cardiac arrest. Many electrical burn victims suffer breathing problems and loss of consciousness in addition to heart problems.

The best treatment is to seek immediate medical help. In addition, care should be taken to remove the burn victim from any electrical source by using an object that doesn’t’ conduct electricity. The source of the electricity that caused the burn should be cut off. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) may be required.

Chemical burns

Mining and other industries are especially prone to cause serious chemical burns

According to the Mayo Clinic,, strong acids, lyes, paint thinners, and gasoline are among some of the causes of chemical burns. If an employee has a chemical burn:

  • The chemical that is causing the burn should be removed.
  • Dry chemicals can be brushed.
  • Wet chemicals need to be treated more carefully. The person removing the chemical should wear gloves and take other precautionary steps so they don’t get burned as well.
  • Any contaminated clothing or jewelry should be removed.
  • A stream of cool tap water should be run over the burn.
  • Loose fitting bandages or gauze should be applied.
  • Some over-the-counter pain relievers may help.
  • Your doctor may give you a tetanus shot.

If the employee is in shock (is pale, fainted, or has difficulty breathing), the chemical burn is deep (penetrating the first layer of the skin), or the burn involves the eyes, hands, feet, face, buttocks, groins, or a major joint – then emergency medical help should be called for.

Recovery for Scarring and Disfigurement from Burns

Often, there are terrible scars or disfigurement left on the skin as a result of severe burns. Unfortunately, under the laws in North Carolina and Virginia, separate recovery for scarring or disfigurement is extremely limited, unless the scarring is so severe that it interferes with one’s ability to work, such as restriction in the range of motion or limited use of the disfigured area that prevents you from returning to work. In that regard, such cases are treated just like a regular comp case.  

In Virginia, if you are able to return to work, you are only entitled to a maximum of 60 weeks of temporary total disability payments for scarring and disfigurement.

In North Carolina, if the disfigurement is on the head or face, the maximum payment is $20,000.00. Elsewhere on the body, it’s only $10,000.00.

Also, as with all workers compensation cases, there are no payments for pain and suffering. All payments are determined by statute.  

Speak with an experienced North Carolina and Virginia Worker’s Compensation Lawyer Today

Burn injuries can require long-term medical care. Employees may not be able to return to work for months, years, or, in severe cases, never. North Carolina and Virginia attorney Joe Miller Esq. has been helping injured workers get their benefits and legal recoveries for over 26 years. He has helped thousands of employees get their full workers’ compensation benefits. For help now, please phone us at (888) 694-1671 or complete our contact form.

Head Injuries, Concussions, and Workers’ Compensation

Head trauma of all types is a very common workplace injury. An employee can suffer a head injury due to a slip and fall, an automobile or truck accident, a piece of equipment that doesn’t work, or an object that falls from above. Head injuries can happen to:

  • Construction workers
  • Manufacturer employees
  • Police officers
  • Firefighters
  • Truck drivers
  • Anyone who uses a car for their job
  • And any worker anywhere

Common head trauma tests

The brain is made of soft tissue which can be easily damaged. Inside the skull is a cerebrospinal fluid layer that helps protect the brain from the skull. A concussion happens when a blow to the head causes the brain to pass through the fluid and strike the skull.

If a head injury, concussion, or brain trauma is suspected; your physician will conduct several types of tests:

  • The doctor will take an oral history to determine what caused the blow to the head
  • The doctor will conduct a variety of physical tests to determine the loss of any physical or cognitive function
  • The physician will likely order several imaging tests including:

 

      • A CT scan. This test will help determine if you have any hemorrhaging or a skull fracture
      • An MRI (Magnetic Resolution Imaging). This test is use to evaluate the function of the brain.

 

  • An EEG test (Electroencephalography)-electrodes are placed on the head and measure electrical activity in the brain over time.

 

    • Brain PET Scan- (positron emission tomography)-this can give the physician real-time visuals of metabolic processes taking place in the brain.

Head trauma victims will often be seen by several doctors such as a neurosurgeon, a neurologist, and a psychiatrist , psychologist, or a neuropsychologist. Other professional help can include social workers, speech and language pathologists, recreational therapists, and a traumatic brain injury nurse specialist.

Some milder head injuries can heal within days, weeks, or months. In serious cases, the first thing an emergency team will examine is that the employee/patient has an adequate supply of oxygen and blood. They will also work to make sure the patient’s blood pressure is monitored.

Some serious traumatic brain injuries which can last a lifetime. Symptoms can include:

  • Pain
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Loss of bodily functions
  • Loss of memory
  • Poor concentration
  • An inability to make decisions
  • Impulsiveness
  • Inability to communicate or speak
  • Inability to understand what is being said when you are spoken to

According to the Mayo Clinic, medications can include:

  • Diuretics which reduce the amount of fluid in tissues and, if given intravenously, can help reduce pressure inside the brain
  • Anti-seizure medications to he help avoid any additional brain damage
  • In some severe cases, drugs that actually induce a coma may be used to reduce swelling and pressure on the brain case.

Surgeries can include:

  • Removing blood clots (subdural hematomas)
  • Repairing a fracture to the skull
  • Draining cerebral brain fluid
  • Creating a window in the skull

Head trauma victims may need the following types of treatments:

  • Physical therapy. This will address the ability of the patient to perform physical tasks such as walking, feeding oneself, sleeping, personal grooming, bowel and bladder functions, and other daily functions. The physical therapist will also help with any pain issues, strength, posture, and balance.
  • Occupational therapy. This therapy will address the ability of the worker to do his former job. It can include the ability to lift and carry objects, perform repetitive tasks, bend, stretch, and manual dexterity. The occupational therapist will also help with the ability to bank and handle budgets.
  • Psychological therapy. Many head trauma patients need help coping with their physical difficulties, depressions, and anxiety. Their family situations are often put under tremendous strain as they often say they no longer recognize the behavior of the brain injury victim.

What to do after a head injury

Head injury symptoms often don’t show themselves right away. If an employee suffers any blow to the head for any reason, the best course of action is to see a physician right away. The sooner the condition is treated, the better the chances for a recovery will be. Also, delay in treatment can be taken as a sign or proof that the injury happened outside of work. Employers and insurance companies will look for any excuse to say your injuries are not work-related.

Your work status and benefits

You should be paid for all of your medical bills until you reach a state of Maximum Medical Improvement. This means that your hospital, therapy, and other bills will be paid until it is clear than additional medical treatment will not help you get any better.

The amount of income you receive will depend on the extent of your recover

  • If you are able to return to your normal job, you will receive 2/3rds of your lost wages up to the time that you are able to return to work
  • If you can return to a different type of work that is less strenuous, because you have a permanent partial disability, you will receive
    • 2/3rds of your lost wages until you can return to work
    • An additional allocation to reflect that you cannot earn the same income as before the blow to your head because you need to work at a less strenuous job (Temporary Partial Disability)
  • If you cannot return to work at all, you will receive 2/3rds of the average weekly wages up to the maximum amount of weeks that North Carolina or Virginia law allows, which, in the most severe cases of brain injury, could mean permanent and total disability , or lifetime compensation.

You may also be entitled to vocational rehabilitation. Many serious brain injury victims need occupational therapy or behavioral therapy to be able to return to their original job. In some cases, the worker can be retrained to do another job. For example, a construction worker who suffers a brain injury when a piece of equipment falls on his head from several stories up, may never be able to do physical labor again. A lot will depend on what the testing reveals are the extent of any permanent cognitive impairments you may have as a result of your brain injury.

Contact a trusted Virginia and North Carolina work injury lawyer now

Lawyer Joe Miller Esq. has helped thousands of employees get the workers’ compensation benefits they deserve. In some cases, he helps workers obtain a long-term settlement of your claim. He works with your medical providers to understand each and every treatment, test, and surgery that will be required and each type of therapy that help you improve your life. He cares about your recovery and your ability to pay for your medical bills and getting paid a regular income. For experienced help, please call (888) 694-1671 or fill out the contact form.

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.

Workers Compensation and Construction Injuries

Posted on Friday, January 20th, 2017 at 5:12 pm    

Construction work leads to many types of accidents and work injuries that can cause an employee to be out of work for weeks, months, or even be permanently disabled from construction work. Some workers suffer permanent injuries that prevent them from ever working again. Sadly, some workers also die because of a construction accident.

Construction workers can be injured for many reasons. It does not matter that the construction site or supervisors were negligent or failed to comply with the laws, except that in North Carolina if a clear statutory violation caused your injury, you may be entitled to a 10% increase in comp benefits.

That being said, there is generally no need, on the part of the worker, to prove that a product was defective or that someone was at fault in order to get worker’s compensation. Injured construction site workers may have third party remedies against manufacturers. But to get workers’ compensation in North Carolina or Virginia, the worker just needs to prove that he/she was an employee, that he/she suffered a workplace accident, and that the accident caused injuries which prevent the employee from working temporarily or permanently.

Common types of workplace accidents at construction sites:

Typical workplace accidents for construction workers include:

  • Contact by almost any piece of equipment can cause a fall. Additionally, construction workers are prone to falls while working on roofs or scaffolding, being near a crane, climbing or descending a ladder, tripping over an object on the ground, slipping on a wet surface, or for many other reasons. Falls can cause broken bones, smashed and cracked ribs, severe bruising, nerve damage, lacerations – all of which mean a trip to the emergency room or doctor, surgery, attentive care, and mostly time for the injuries to heal.
  • Falling objects. Even with construction helmets or hard hats, construction workers are at constant risk of an object such as a tool, a building component, or a piece of equipment falling directly onto the worker. Heavy objects have been known to fall from cranes and cause severe injuries and death to workers. Even a dumpster that falls over can cause serious injuries. Falling objects can cause broken bones, injuries to the spine, traumatic brain injuries, and other complications.
  • Equipment Accidents. Any piece of equipment that fails to work properly can injure the operator of the equipment piece and any worker around the apparatus. Common construction site equipment that can fail includes forklifts, electrical equipment, electric saws, nail guns, back hoes, ladders, chains, and scaffolding.
  • Crushing injuries. Construction workers can suffer crushing injuries when equipment forces them to be pinned between the equipment and the ground or the equipment and a wall. Many construction workers get crushed by trucks that constantly run in, out, and through the work site.
  • Slips and trips. Construction workers are usually so focused on their work that they fail to see water or liquids on the ground, holes in the floor, loose boards, or other dangers that could cause them to slip or trip and then fall. A slip or fall can cause a worker to lose significant time from work until the injuries heal – if they heal.
  • Explosions and fires. Many construction sites contain flammable materials and hazardous materials such as fuels or sealants. If there are leaks anywhere, combined with flame, chemicals can cause a fire which can cause severe burns or even death. Electrical wiring and products may be faulty. One spark or one failure can create a deadly or catastrophic explosion.
  • Roof, trench, or structural damage. At most construction sites, the underlying structural work is normally not secure nor safe until the work is finished. If a building or a portion of a building collapses, if a roof doesn’t hold a worker, or if any support system fails – the construction worker can suffer broken bones, nerve damage, spinal cord damage, traumatic brain injury, or other serious consequences including death.
  • Repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. Construction workers often do the same motions over and over. Whether it’s laying tiles, working on a roof, hammering and putting in nails, using a jackhammer, or just using a computer – repetitive stress injuries can cause nerve damage, muscle and joint harm, and constant pain. The big question with repetitive stress injuries is whether they can be related to the worker’s longstanding work duties by clear and convincing evidence. If an injury is not accident-related but occurs over time, it would be more classed as an occupational disease and be much more difficult to recover worker’s compensation benefits. A skilled lawyer like Joe Miller Esq. can explain when workers can recover from a repetitive stress.
  • Overexertion injuries such as fatigue, heart attack, and heat stroke. Sometimes workers push too hard. Other time, the supervisor or employer pushes too hard. Workers who are stressed can suffer a fatal incident or serious harm and this can be a compensable accident under the right circumstances. The medical records must reflect that the work conditions were the main cause of the event.
  • Hypothermia and frostbite from working outdoors or falling into cold water can cause a worker to lose his/her toes, fingers, or suffer skin and facial damage.
  • Lung damage and respiratory problems. These injuries can be caused by high levels of exposure to lead, smoke, asbestos, or chemical toxins. Lung and respiratory diseases including pneumonia, asbestosis, coal workers’ black lung, and silicosis. Many of these are specifically set forth in the workers’ comp statutory schemes and easily proven with the right doctor overseeing the worker’s care.

Common medical problems construction workers suffer.

Men and women who do construction work can suffer one or more of the following injuries – each of which can prevent a worker from doing the job and necessitating medical benefits and lost wages while recuperating.

  • Broken bones/fractures
  • Loss of a limb or amputation of a limb
  • First, second, or third-degree burns
  • Cuts and bruises
  • Death
  • Heart attack
  • Nerve damage
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Loss of vision
  • Loss of hearing
  • Strains and sprains

Common issues in relation to Workers Comp Construction Cases

 

  • Lack of Insurance Coverage. Unfortunately, many construction companies are fairly small, “mom and pop” operations and either cannot afford or simply neglect to purchase workers compensation insurance. Do not despair! Especially in Virginia, you may still have options for recovery, even if no one had coverage. A lot depends on how many employees regularly worked for the company you worked for. If it’s more than 3 workers, not including the owner, than that company was obligated to carry workers compensation coverage. In Virginia, that means you could qualify for coverage under the Uninsured Employer’s Fund. (UEF).

Also, while NC does not have a UEF, in both NC and VA, if the contractor who hired your employer has comp insurance, then you may be covered by that insurance.

 

  • Independent Contractors vs. Employees. Many small employers try to get away with calling all of their workers subcontractors. They do this to try and save money on payroll taxes. But it can be illegal if it’s not true. So are you a subcontractor or an employee?

We like to think of it like this. Let’s assume either you or a general contractor hires a painter to paint your house. This painter draws up a contract to be paid a certain amount in advance and a certain amount on completion. He has all his own compressors, ladders, brushes, everything. He may even have a truck with his name on it. He gives you a general idea of when he can start, but he shows up when he wants and quits when he wants. No one has control over when he comes and goes.

That is a subcontractor.

Now we look at a guy who is a painter, let’s call him Bill, who works for Dwayne. Dwayne has a small painting company that employs 4 guys, including Bill. Dwayne employs a supervisor named Rick as well. Dwayne has all his employees sign papers that say they are subcontractors and are each responsible for their own comp insurance. But Dwayne and Rick have the phone numbers of Bill and all is co-workers. Rick routinely calls and yells at them if they are late. Bill and Rick have rules about how they like the work done and they enforce those rules. Everyone must show up at 7 AM and work till when Dwayne or Rick say it’s time to quit—not before. Rick says when it’s time for lunch. Dwayne owns all the compressors and the truck and buys all the supplies for the job. Neither Bill or any of his co-workers engage in paint work for anyone else, except maybe an occasional job on the weekend. Bill and his co-workers are paid every Friday morning at the same time by check.

No matter what the papers are that they signed, Bill and his co-workers are employees and entitled to workers compensation benefits.

Speak with North Carolina and Virginia workers’ compensation construction worker attorney today

Any worker who is injured while doing construction work needs the help of an experienced and trusted work injury lawyer North Carolina and Virginia work accident lawyer has helped thousands of injured workers get just compensation. He helps workers show they were employees and not independent contractors. He helps employees prove how serious their injuries are. Call now at (888) 694-1671 to speak to a reliable workers’ compensation lawyer

 

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