August 2011

When North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Is Just Not Enough

August 31, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

The fight to qualify for, collect, and utilize North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits to pay for your post accident/injury expenses can be dreary, annoying, drawn out, and full of ups and downs.

This holds true even if you have a high-caliber North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm on your side, fighting to protect your rights. But what if, after your case seems resolved, you still don’t have enough money – even after the workers’ comp is incorporated into your budget – to pay for the bare necessities? What options do you have?

Obviously, you might want to talk to your law firm about getting more benefits, extending your existing benefits, or searching for other social service programs to fill the gaps. But you also should consider other strategies and tactics to either lower your expenses or pump in new income in a way that doesn’t violate the terms of your North Carolina workers’ compensation arrangement.

You can find gazillions of articles online about how to penny pinch, coupon clip, and otherwise tighten the belt on your home budget. So we won’t ramble on about that.

But you might be surprised by the different ways you can reboot your productivity by tapping into latent talents, skills, and passions. For instance, say you spent 22 years working a difficult welding job outside of Raleigh. One day, a piece of equipment malfunctioned and gave you severe burns, lacerations, and few broken bones. In short, now you can’t – or you won’t – go back to your old welding job. So now what?

Well, let’s think. Maybe you’ve always had a passion for NASCAR. You’ve been a huge NASCAR fan, you know all the great drivers’ names and stats, you obsess over events, take your family hundreds of miles to see the big races, etcetera. If so, you might explore how to turn that passion – and your deep knowledge of the sport – into a money-making venture that could yield a second or third income stream for your family.

Of course, if you do enter into a business venture, be sure that it’s allowed by your workers’ comp arrangement. Otherwise, you can get into trouble for workers’ comp fraud – and that can lead to a revocation of benefits and other punishments, like jail time.

But assuming you do this correctly, you might be surprised at how many of your secret passions, hobbies, and skills you can leverage to rebuild not just your sense of excitement and joy about the world, but also your financial possibilities. We will talk more about the nuts and bolts of how to do this in our next workers’ comp post…

More Web Resources:

Tighten Your Budget

Rediscover Your Passions

Beyond North Carolina Workers’ Compensation: Tapping into Hidden Strengths to Reboot Your Business and Financial Life

August 29, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

As a North Carolina workers’ compensation beneficiary (or someone who wants to become a beneficiary), you’re likely in a lot of pain right now.

Not only are you suffering from – hopefully recovering from – a serious workplace injury or illness, but you also face imminent financial challenges. Since so much bad news has come your way recently, you might be focused on what you lack in your life as opposed to what you can gain from this experience. This blog post will attempt to begin the process of turning around your perspective on the whole situation – to see that your whole North Carolina workers’ compensation situation not just as a stop gap for pain, but as an opportunity for change.

For instance, your injury or illness might mean that you cannot go back to the work you used to do and love. Now, you might be able to recover with the right therapy, medical help, and other resources, and return to your old job. But you might alternatively think about novel ways to utilize your knowledge, skills, and passions to change your career path within your industry or change industries altogether.

For instance, if you were hurt in a welding accident, you might not be able to go back to doing what you did before. But you might start your own welding company – or work in the front office of someone else’s welding company – earning more money, working fewer hours, and utilizing your experience in the field to help up-and-comers.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

Alternatively, you can go on a journey of self exploration, rediscover old skills, tools, and passions you used to have, and exploit those to earn money. In other words, what might have been a disability in one industry — such as your loss of your ability to bend your knees — might be completely irrelevant in another industry or in another part of your current industry.

Of course, identifying these opportunities is often easier in theory than it is in practice, especially if you are in a down mood or if you have never gone through career retraining.

But hopefully, just by recognizing that these options may be possible for you – as the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining – you might feel more hopeful.

There is no need to go through this struggle on your own. A North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can help you deal with the practical issues, nuts and bolts logistics, and legal questions to keep you focused on healing, regenerating your career, rebuilding your finances, and restoring hope and confidence.

More Web Resources:

Universe is Abundant?

Reboot Your Career

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Fraud Blotter: Gym-owner Hammered by Fraud Charges – Gets 5 Months in Jail and Must Pay over $100,000 in Restitution

August 23, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

On August 26, 48-year-old Nicki Lee Buxmann of Sacramento was sentenced to jail for federal workers’ comp fraud. Our North Carolina workers’ compensation analysts react…

According to an article in the Sacramento Bee, Buxmann allegedly suffered injuries while working the United States Postal Service and obtained workers’ comp benefits from the Department of Labor.

While she collected those benefits, Buxmann owned and operated the TNT Takeover/MMA Boxing gym in Roseville, California. This was in violation of her sworn statements that she was not working and earning no income. When news of Buxmann’s alleged workers’ comp violations reached federal overseers, the inspector general of the USPS launched an investigation. According to the Sacramento Bee, “An undercover agent caught Buxmann teaching defensive tactics techniques, replacing light bulbs, cleaning windows, and sweeping exercise mats.” U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell, Jr., sentenced her to five months in prison, 36 months of supervised release, and restitution of nearly $105,000.

When someone like Buxmann defrauds the North Carolina workers’ compensation system, everyone in the system loses. Workers’ comp works only when all the players involved – including government entities, insurers, employers, and employees – trust that the system is fair and equitable. Plus, when $105,000 “disappears” from workers’ comp coffers, that money must be compensated for. Typically, the money lost through fraud is replenished by increased taxes, higher insurance premiums, and so on.

Of course, individuals who are hurt often want to get back to work quickly. The question is: Will taking another form of income replacement violate the terms of your workers’ comp? There is no way to answer that in the abstract. That’s why it’s so important to get good legal advice. A North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm will help you understand all you can (and cannot) do to supplement your income, get back to work quickly, and generally augment your career, your injury/illness notwithstanding.

More Web Resources:

Nicki Lee Buxmann fraud

Surviving the Heat Wave: A North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Primer

August 18, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina – and the rest of the United States – is caught in a vicious heat wave that has some North Carolina workers’ compensation analysts concerned. During extreme weather, vulnerable workers – such as the elderly or those with physically demanding industrial jobs – can be subject to fainting spells, dehydration, delirium, and general fatigue. If you fail to monitor yourself, your coworkers, and your employees – the dog days of August can cause, or contribute to, a disaster or illness that can dog you long after the dog days have had their last bark.

Here are some examples of how hot weather can precipitate accident/injuries.

Example Number One: House Painters Use Red

A house painter in Greensboro forgets to pack his typical iced drinks and sodas. Instead of going back to get them, he figures, why not log a few hours first? So he climbs a ladder and begins painting. He gets so wrapped up in his work that he doesn’t feel that he is overheating in the hot sun. Sweat drips onto his ladder, creating a slippery surface. He misses a rung, slips, and falls 15 feet into the bushes below, where he breaks his leg, severs a tendon, and gets scratched up. Thanks to the dog days, he is forced to miss 15 weeks of work.

Example Number Two: Too Hot in the Office

An elderly woman who works as a receptionist at a small business just outside the Research Triangle feels faint. Her boss had failed to fix the air-conditioning, so she brought in a small fan. But today, the fan is not enough. While typing a report, she passes out from the heat and has to be hospitalized due to dehydration.

Example Number Three: Air Conditioner Repair Disaster

After the elderly worker’s unfortunate dehydration incident, her boss decides that it is time to fix the air conditioner. She goes out back and tries to do it herself, but, since she lacks the training and tools to do the job right, the air conditioner condenser explodes. The wind is knocked out of her, and she receives lacerations, sending her, too, to the hospital with injuries.

Moral: The dog days present a surprising number of risks for workers. If you, or someone you know, has recently been hurt or made ill during the dog days (or at any other time), a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can help you understand how to get compensation, how to protect your rights, and how to deal with insurance companies.

More Web Resources:

Dog Days of August in Carolina

heat waves and elderly

Budgeting Right: How to Maximize Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Benefits

August 16, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Perhaps you’ve received North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits after a long, hard fight. Or you may be just beginning the process, researching your options, interviewing attorneys at various North Carolina workers’ compensation law firms to figure out who can help you deal with a bad faith insurance company or a boss who refuses to understand your predicament. In any case, you face a long-term challenge with your recovery – one that many people fail to recognize even exists. The challenge is this: When you subsist on a fixed income, you must “make room” in your budget for surprising, variable costs.

Fixed cost is something that you pay every month at a regular interval. For instance, your rent, your insurance premium, the parking permit for your condominium complex, etc. Variable costs change over the time. You can’t predict them exactly. For instance, your grocery bill varies from month to month, as well the amount you spend on gifts or on fun accessories, like electronics or gadgets for dad.

We are all told – we all know – that we need to budget for variable expenses carefully – to make sure that we have enough money to deal with these strange costs.

But if you apply the thinking of Nassim Taleb, author of the Black Swan, you will quickly recognize that small allotments for variable expenses may not be sufficient.

To put that in plain language: If you are on workers’ comp, and you and your spouse are only bringing in a certain amount of money a month, and you’ve “conservatively” budgeted to spend Y amount of money (where Y is less than X), then you may not be as safe as the math says you will be.

Taleb’s big insight is that shocking, unexpected events – so called “Black Swan” events – can radically throw off your financial plans.

In other words, even if you’ve budgeted carefully to save Z amount of dollars every month (where Z=X-Y), and you’ve been careful and accounted for all the variable costs we discussed above, this kind of linear, rational thinking may not save you from big “Black Swan” events. For instance, say you or your spouse develops a catastrophic medical condition or gets into an accident. Or say you have a change of heart one day and realize that your apartment is too small, and that you must, must, must move to a bigger place or your family is going to go completely insane. You take on these extra expenses that completely wreck your budget.

There is no quick and easy answer to defend against “Black Swan” events from messing up your budget. But even just knowing that they exist is a huge help in your planning. This will give you insight into the almost irreducible complexity and uncertainty of planning in the real world.

To make progress, you need different ways of thinking about planning effectively, and you want to connect with the resources that can help you solve your problems as they occur – because they will occur whether you expect them to or not. For instance, a reputable North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can help you navigate surprising and perhaps even shocking obstacles that might get thrown in your path – such as a bad faith insurance company or an employer/boss who, out of the blue, denies that your workplace accident/injury ever took place.

More Web Resources:

Budgeting right

Black Swan

Warning for North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Beneficiaries: The Hidden Dangers of Complacency

August 11, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

You may be in a hard fight right now to win North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits to pay for medical and surgical bills, therapies and medications, and your family’s day-do-day expenses. The fight could be consuming a significant portion of your life, particularly if your employer has refused to cooperate or if your insurance company is giving you a hard time.

But your battle goes well beyond the struggle for North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits. It grades into struggle to rebuild your life after an accident or injury. And that means taking responsibility for your current reality, setting up a strategic course for a better direction for you and your family, and finding helpful resources.

Turning to adept resources, like an experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm, is a good start. There is so much about workers’ comp law that you likely don’t know. Would be beneficiaries often make critical strategic mistakes that reduce their chances for collecting fair and just payments.

However, the battle is internal as well as external. Your struggle is not simply to collect the maximum amount of money. It’s to rebuild your life – ideally, rebuild it better than it was before the accident or illness. To that end, you will need to face down a key boogeyman: complacency. Human beings are creatures of habit. When we get into a groove – or regular routine – that routine becomes comfortable because our brains’ neuro pathways are strengthened by following that routine. In other words, you don’t have to spend time thinking about how to brush your teeth everyday because that pattern or behavior is now been hardwired into your neuropsychiatry. Likewise, when you are on benefits, the experience may seem novel and surprisingly exciting at first, but over time, as more and more benefits checks comes, you will grow somewhat accustomed to receiving your checks and – if you are not careful – you will become dependent on them.

Of course you should fight for all the money that you are owed. However, it’s never healthy to become too dependent on outside forces, particularly when the rules that govern those forces are outside of your control. As we have seen with the recent reforms to the NC workers’ comp laws, even “tried and true” realities about the system can be dismantled and reformed in the blink of any eye, and it’s out of control of any one beneficiary or even the best NC workers’ comp lawyer.

The challenge then is to protect yourself from this kind of complacency. One powerful strategic weapon to battle complacency is creating plan for your life. Spend some time reflecting on your life’s purpose and your vision for a better future. Keeping your focus there – instead of on conserving what you have now or what you might lose – will motivate you and give you the power to find resources and tools that can help you.

More Web Resources:



Reliving Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Accident or Injury? What Do You Do?

August 9, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

A workplace accident – such as an inhalation injury at a chemical/industrial plant or a chronic debilitating myofascial injury from typing too much at your white collar job – has compelled you to seek North Carolina workers’ compensation to pay for damages, lost past and future wages, rehabilitation, and myriad other bills. On this blog, we talk a lot about the logistics – the physical, external forces that influence your ability to collect North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits and maximize utility of those benefits. But we also need to cover the possible psychological traumas that can hurt injured workers. And one of those is fixating on the accident or incident that led to your injury/illness.

You’ve likely relived the painful memory dozens if not hundreds of times, and the memory has an enormously powerful emotional charge associated with it. Perhaps you fell off a ladder while painting a condominium, for instance. Now, at night, you dream about climbing a ladder, or maybe something metaphorically similar, like a mountain, and then losing your grip and falling. Maybe you were in a car accident while delivering goods for your employer, and the tape that accident regularly replace in your mind every time you get behind the wheel.

First of all, acknowledging that trauma exist is a huge part of the battle. You can’t fight what you can’t see or acknowledge. Second of all, recognize that time often heals psychological wounds like this – but not always, and that’s an important caveat. Third, a battery of therapies might be useful for dealing with it, including psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, meditation, cognitive behavioral therapy, and so forth. Educate yourself and connect with a therapist you can trust to help you rebuild your psychological immune system.

Lastly, psychological trauma can be worsened, or even directly caused by, instability and uncertainty in your life. To that end, take mind your p’s and q’s by connecting with an experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

More Web Resources:

Reliving the accident

myofasical trauma

The Dog Days of August and North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Claims

August 5, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

The dog days of August are upon us, and, according to an analysis of Travelers Insurance Claims Data, North Carolina workers’ compensation claims at small businesses are peaking.

According to a blog post at, travelers found that, from June through September, “workers’ comp claims peak – approximately one-third of all injuries involve workers under 30 years old.” Common claims include “lower back strains and other back-related injuries and injuries from slips, trips and falls.”

This is the 100-year anniversary of the very first workers’ comp insurance policy ever written, according to Travelers, and maybe now is an appropriate time to reflect on how far the entitlement system has come, as well as on the challenges that the North Carolina workers’ compensation community faces.

One way forward is to zero-in on trends like the ones highlighted in the Travelers report. For instance, if we know that small businesses face a spike in claims during the hot summer months, then maybe we can figure out precisely what is going on during those summer months that makes workers vulnerable.

Are the workers getting too hot and thus endangering themselves due to heat stroke, delirium, or dehydration? If so, that might suggest that a policy for helping workers cool off could make a big difference. Or maybe it’s the type of jobs being done during the summer months. Construction, engineering, remodeling, and so forth might spike during the summer months. Thus, the problem may simply be related to the type of work being done as opposed to heat-specific problems causing degradation of worker performance.

This may seem like an insignificant point.

But we need this kind of analytical thinking to make progress with workers’ compensation reform. What are the root causes of waste in the system? What are the root causes of worker injuries and illnesses? The answers may not be obvious. We may not be able to glean them easily from reports, statistical analyses, or even from meta analyses of claims data.

Good science in any field is notoriously hard to conduct. And well-intentioned policies based on bad science can redound to horrific effect. For instance, if we look at the Travelers data and make the assumption that heat was the problem [instead of the proliferation of dangerous jobs (e.g. construction jobs)], then our policy solutions would not address the problem. We might tell workers to take more breaks, drink more fluids, and stay in air-conditioning more. But we would not address the primary cause (too many dangerous jobs being done), and thus wouldn’t make a dent in the numbers.

Philosophizing aside, if you or someone you care about has a specific, serious question regarding your benefits, a fight with an insurance company, or a battle with an employer, a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can help you figure what to do, how to do it, and when to do it.

More Web Resources:

“approximately one-third of all injuries involve workers under 30 years old.”

Correlation vs. Causation

Illinois Reforms Workers’ Comp System – Echoes of North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Reform?

August 3, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

On August 8, the Illinois workers’ compensation system metabolized a minor reform. The changes to IL law come on the heels of the North Carolina workers’ compensation system’s major transformation, which this blog reported about at length earlier in the summer.

According to an article, the new IL law was sparked by a single horrific news story.

If you remember a few months ago, we talked about the case of former Illinois State Trooper Matt Mitchell, who sped at more than 100 miles per hour – while talking on a cell phone, no less! – soared through a median strip, hit another car, and killed two teenage girls. Mitchell was charged with reckless homicide, but he got off with just 30 months of probation thanks to a deal with prosecutors.

That alone galled some Illinois residents. But Mitchell then claimed workers’ comp for his injuries. The arbitrator who later denied Mitchell’s claim concluded that he “took substantial and unjustifiable risk resulting in a gross deviation in the standard of care of his duty as an Illinois State Trooper.” The arbitrator also highlighted the fact that Mitchell was driving at a high speed and might have been writing emails on his car computer as well as taking personal phone calls right before the accident happened.

So the reformation to Illinois workers’ comp law is narrow and is essentially just meant to stop cases like Mitchell’s from ever again even being considered. Here is how summarized the measure: “[the measure] would prevent any state employer hurt at work from being eligible for workers’ compensation if the injury happened during a forcible felony, an aggravated DUI, or reckless homicide, and if any of those crimes killed or injured another person.”

Governor Pat Quinn emphasized that the law would ensure that “workers’ compensation benefits go only to those who deserve them.”

The changes to Illinois system are essentially closing a loophole, whereas the changes to the North Carolina workers’ compensation system are more systemic and designed to control costs and help businesses (and, to a lesser extent, injured workers) get a fair deal.

Securing benefits is complicated enough. If you are hurt or sick, you don’t have time to track all of the North Carolina legislature’s activities. Fortunately, you don’t have to pay attention to the minutia. By turning to a trusted, compassionate, aggressive North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm, you can make smarter decisions, protect your rights, and ensure that you get the benefits you and your family need.

More Web Resources:

former Illinois State Trooper Matt Mitchell – quest for comp

No Workers’ Comp Benefits For People Convicted Of Crime