September 2011

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation: Unsupportive Spouses – What to Do?

September 28, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina workers’ compensation beneficiaries often fight battles on multiple fronts.

You fight with insurance companies to make sure they make good on benefits and pay you on time. You fight with employers – or even your employer’s parent company – to get fair and just treatment. You fight with your doctors and medical staff to ensure that you get adequate care, answers to your questions, and the right medication and rehabilitation. You may even fight with random strangers on the street, who sadly and inaccurately believe that North Carolina workers’ compensation is only for people who want to “leech off the system.” You also fight with your own body, to try to heal it as quickly as possible.

At the end of all that fighting, you are likely exhausted. The last thing you want to do is fight with friends and allies – particularly your spouse or partner.

Unfortunately, when you are hurt or injured, your entire family may become stressed. First of all, you may temporarily lose an income stream. Second, you may need significant medical care. Third, you may need logistical support. Fourth, your partner or spouse may lose out on a critical ally to help with child care. Fifth, any big change – good, bad, positive, or neutral – temporarily increases stress. Think about the last time you moved offices, started a new job, etc.

All those stresses would challenge even the most perfect relationship. And most of us do not have perfect relationships. So the stresses will likely push on the fault lines in your relationship that have already been giving you trouble.

So how do you break the cycle? How do you find peace, protect your spouse’s needs and also protect your own needs in your relationship?

There is no quick, snappy answer here. But taking small but certain steps toward resolving some of your uncertainty, frustration, and stress will relieve the burdens on your family and could possibly benefit your relationship. As the old saying goes, “a rising tide lifts all ships.”

So how do you “raise the tide” and make your life less stressful, fretful, and uncertain?

Here are five solutions:

1. Connect with a reputable North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm to get answers to burning questions about your situation.

2. Practice 15 minutes of mindfulness meditation (focusing on “just the breath”) every day.

3. Write down “best-case scenario” outcomes for your workers’ comp case and read them aloud at least twice a day.

4. Regularly re-read the serenity prayer.

5. Improve your diet to reduce stress and medical problems by limiting your consumption of sugar – particularly liquid sugar.

More web resources:

The serenity prayer

A rising tide lifts all ships

4 Rules of Thumb to Keep Track of North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Communications

September 26, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

As regular readers of this blog know, the quest for a successful resolution to a North Carolina workers’ compensation issue can take months, require significant mental and logistical energy, and lead to profound challenges as well as surprising opportunities. To make the best progress, you should keep a clean, coherent, private, and ideally “backed up” record of your experience in the North Carolina workers’ compensation system.

To that end, here are several “rules of thumb” to maintain order in your records, safeguard critical information, protect evidence, and take action to spend less time fretting over your workers’ comp case and more time rebuilding your body, life, and vocational skills.

1. Collect anything that might be relevant to your North Carolina workers’ compensation case.

This “anything” could include medical assessments, transcripts of conversations you’ve had with insurance companies, a journal of thoughts and feelings about your injuries, receipts for medical care, and records of your conversations with friends, associates, and colleagues. Basically, if there is even a slim chance this information might be useful or relevant, write it down.

2. Collect everything in one place.

Create a folder to store all requisite documents, transcripts, etc. Don’t let materials get scattered all over the place in various piles around your office, desk, etc.

3. Make backups and secure potentially sensitive materials.

Use electronic data backup solutions, third-party data security management technologies, etc. Consider keeping certain documents, data, recordings, computer files, etc., stashed in a safe or lock box. Make copies of important information that might get lost.

4. Keep a running list of all your “active” workers’ compensation projects, along with the “next actions” associated with each project.

Productivity guru David Allen considers a “project” anything that needs to get done that takes more than one step to do. According to Allen’s methodology, ideally, you want to have a running list of all your projects – with an ideal outcome associated with each one of them. You also want to create a separate list of specific, concrete options associated with your projects. So, if one of your projects is “retain the services of a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm,” the next action associated with that item might be “R&D firms online and talk to friends and colleagues for their recommendations.”

More web resources:

David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” System

Tools, Tricks and Traps of Organizing

A Master Key to Solving Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Problems

September 20, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Brace yourself. You are about to discover a powerful tool to tackle challenges with your North Carolina workers’ compensation issues… and many other issues you confront in your life, relationships, finances, you name it.

Drum roll please … the solution is: You need to write down your problems and what you want to do about them, and then review what you have written repeatedly, every day, every night, and keep this up for months.

That’s it.

That might sound overly simplistic. Possibly you’ve tried keeping journals, writing down affirmations, etc., in the past, and you weren’t particularly impressed by the experience. But research in diverse fields shows that repeated visualization and affirmations can powerfully change the way people think. When you read self-help books, productivity guides, and scientific research on productivity, you repeatedly encounter this advice: Your thoughts affect the dynamics of your life and your potential for success or failure.

Thus, if you make a purposeful, committed, repeated effort to alter how you think, the issues that you have with North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits or other problems may resolve themselves.

There is no magic involved. Rather, when you prime your subconscious and unconscious with repeated affirmations about a certain goal that you want to achieve or mental state you want to feel, your subconscious/unconscious takes the hint.

This may sound like hokum. But if you’ve never tried doing visualization, consider giving it a shot. Think of the most frustrating, annoying, scary problem you have right now regarding your workers’ compensation. Write it down on a piece of paper – be as specific as possible. For instance, maybe you’re stressed out about how your employer has treated you. You are angry and annoyed. You expected more after all of your years of service.

Now, write down how you would like this circumstance to be resolved in an ideal world. Maybe you might write something like: “I have made peace with my employer, settled on compassionate, fair terms, and moved on with my life in a way that’s untainted and unscarred by what happened to me.”

Next thing to do is to look at that “ideal outcome statement” every morning and every night and to do that for several weeks or several months. Obviously, doing this won’t necessarily change anything. But it might change how you approach resources, challenges, and opportunities.

Of course, having said all that, there is no replacement for a powerful, skilled, and strategic North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm to help you get the results you need.

More web resources:

The Importance of Writing Things Down

Outcome Visualization

Predictions about the Far Far Future of North Carolina Workers’ Compensation

September 19, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

What will the North Carolina workers’ compensation system look like 50, 100, 200, 500 years from now?

This isn’t just an absurd exercise in speculation. It is an important visualization. If the North Carolina workers’ compensation community is collectively going to make progress, break through obstacles, help people achieve better care, help businesses and insurers get a squarer deal, and so forth, then we must collectively have a conversation about the long-term future.

In a recent blog post, we discussed some of the boundaries and principles of this kind of prognostication exercise.

Now we are going to have some fun and speculate:

• Radical changes in dietary policy coupled possibly with pharmaceutical breakthroughs will help North Carolinians and the rest of the American populous defeat or at least make substantial progress against the so-called diseases of Western civilization, including obesity, diabetes, cancer, and dementia. The resulting transformation will ease our healthcare burdens substantially, but also introduce new problems.

• Amazing new technologies will make certain kinds of common workplace injuries either completely uncommon, or at least not as dangerous as they once were.

• Data sharing technology, pattern recognition software, and complex systems analyses will allow us to recognize certain dangerous activities that cause or exacerbate workplace illness and injuries – and allow us to create far more targeted approaches to wellness.

• Certain core problems based on evolutionarily limits of the human body will confound even the most futuristic technologies – at least for a long, long, long time. For instance, repetitive stress damage to the musculoskeletal system (e.g. repetitive stress syndrome, thoracic outlet syndrome) may persist and even get worse and contribute to more and more North Carolina workers’ compensation problems.

• In retrospect, the technologies, solutions, and transformation of workers’ comp will seem “obvious” to our children, grandchildren, and beyond. Just like we now think of the internet and television as “obvious” and easy to use, so too will our successors think of today’s and tomorrow’s innovations as “obvious.”

Speculation can be fun and interesting and ultimately generate powerful insights, but speculation doesn’t replace the common sense and knowledgeable insight you can get from a compassionate and proven North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

More Web Resources:

Futurism

Limits to Futurism

The Far Far Future of North Carolina Workers’ Compensation?

September 15, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

The doomsdayers and cynics fret that the North Carolina workers’ compensation system is in sad shape, and it’s only going to get sadder and scarier as the baby boomer generation ages and the state and national economies stagnate or contract. And we may very well face tough times in the years – and even decades – ahead.

But what about the really long term? What’s going to happen to the North Carolina and the U.S. workers’ compensation systems in 50, 100, 200 years from now?

Speculation about the future is riddled with artifacts from present day bias. No matter how farsighted we may think we are, we are inevitably trapped in the present moment – culturally, intellectually, and otherwise. So we tend to see the future through the lens of the present, and that colors our vision of what might be possible and what might be impossible.

For instance, if you look at old science fiction made in the 1950s and 1960s, you will see references to technologies that are still way, way, way out of our reach, such as sentient robots, flying cars, etc. You’ll also see references to technologies that are, by our modern standards, totally outdated. For instance, very few thinkers back then could even conceive of something like the world wide web, and these fictional worlds are often laughably “backwards” because of their lack of incorporation of something like the web.

This isn’t to say that the future of the North Carolina workers’ compensation system is forever out of the grasp of present-day minds. Indeed, it’s probably worth it to at least take a few educated guesses. Even if these guesses are wrong, this kind of visualization can powerfully guide our thinking.

Here are a few rules of thumb:

• “Correct” future predictions will almost certainly be confounded or complicated by “incorrect” assumptions or predictions. In other words, even the most astute futurists only get some of the stuff right, some of the time.

• Certain fundamental truths about human behavior and about our relationship with technology can help guide us and shape our vision;

• Problems that seem intractable today may disappear or even be made irrelevant due to the technologies or insights of tomorrow;

• Similarly, there is a good chance that the grand visions of today will be rendered less relevant in the future due to the same kinds of disruptive innovations and insights.

A subsequent blog post will tackle specific prognostications. But if you have actionable, present-day question about workers’ comp issues, connect with a reputable, strategic North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm to work through your issues and achieve success.

More Web Resources:

Being right and wrong at the same time

The future is fundamentally opaque

Police Officer Theft Charge Stimulates Discussion among North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Analysts

September 13, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Policy wonks and ethicists in the North Carolina workers’ compensation community have been riveted by a case unfolding in nearby Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. Allegedly, a local police officer there stole over $22,000 workers’ comp checks over an eight-month period (from September 7, 2009 to May 3, 2010). The officer, Derrick Lange, hurt himself in an August 2009 foot pursuit and had to see a hand specialist for ongoing pain in his hand and wrist. After a specialist advised him to stay off of work after surgery, Lange began collecting workers’ comp payouts. But Lange later made an agreement that allowed him to collect his regular salary as long as he turned over the worker comp checks that he had collected.

Apparently, the 31-year-old officer ignored the terms of arrangement and actually deposited the checks into his bank account. Eventually, the insurance company that represents the Waynesboro Municipality caught on and alerted local authorities, who arrested Lange on Tuesday, September 7th and held him on a $15,000 bail. A September 21st preliminary hearing has been scheduled. Lange faces charges of theft by failure to deposit the funds that he received.

As this case illustrates nicely, abuses of the North Carolina workers’ compensation system can take many forms and can be years in the making. Individuals who defraud the system or cheat insurance companies or lie about their injuries can not only suffer grievous legal consequences – including having money stripped away from them and having to serve jail time (in some cases) – but they also endanger the efficacy of the entire system. For instance, an act of fraud has a “ricochet effect” throughout the system: insurers tend to trust claimants less and so they subject them to more bureaucracy and more invasive follow up. When money gets siphoned out of the system, employers and insurers try to make up those costs by doing things like cutting benefits, jacking up rates, and scrimping on service to save.

All this is to say that, if you or someone you care about wants to pursue a claim, make sure that you “dot all the Is and cross all the Ts” and that you stay away from anything even vaguely resembling illicit or unethical action. All that said, just because you play fair doesn’t mean that your employer or a responsible insurance company will play fair with you. To that end, if you are having trouble with any aspect of your claim, connect with a competent and battle proven North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm to develop a strategy to get the compensation due to you efficiently and quickly.

More Web Resources:

The saga of Derrick Lange

Waynesboro police officer Derek Lange arrested for theft after allegedly stealing more than $22,000 in worker’s compensation checks

Don’t Get Sicker! – Possibly the Most Important Lesson a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Beneficiary Can Learn

September 12, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Doctors have their Hippocratic Oath: “First, do no harm.” North Carolina workers’ compensation beneficiaries should also have an oath along those lines: “First, don’t make your medical situation worse.”

This advice should probably go without saying. Obviously, no one wants to get sick. And once we are sick, we generally want to do everything we can to get better – and quickly.

But there is a big gulf between believing that good care should be applied and living a healthy lifestyle, even if you’re injured or sick.

In a twisted version of the idea “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer,” often, the “sick get sicker.” In other words, once you already have an illness or injury, you become vulnerable to all sorts of medical and physical problems that you were previously invulnerable to.

For instance, say you broke your leg in an industrial plant, after your foot caught in an unmarked rut. Now, not only must you deal with the broken leg and all the complications the injury has created, but you also must protect yourself from favoring the other leg too much and causing wear and tear on the other leg. Your immune system could also be compromised by an injury/illness, making you susceptible to things like the flu or infections. And so on.

Once you get sicker and sicker, the situation becomes a vicious cycle. Hurt and sick workers often develop a mindset that “I am never going to get better,” which perpetuates/exacerbates the cycle. At some point, you need to break the cycle and start building toward “healthier and healthier.”

Obviously, one key to do that is great medical care – a proper, complete diagnosis; effective, compassionate, thorough medical treatment; the right medicines; the right diet; the right kind of exercises, and rehab plan, etc. You also may need to reprogram how you think about your health and make conscious choices to stop engaging in practices that you know are destructive but which you could “get away with” back when you were healthy. Practices like smoking cigarettes or cigarillos, “pushing yourself hard” as a weekend warrior in a volleyball or touch football league, or binging on root beer floats.

When you treat your body and mind with compassion – and with good care – you might be surprised at how quickly you are able to spring back from your injury/illness and take on the world again.

Connect with a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

More web resources:

Breaking Free from Your Cigarette Addiction.

Breaking Free from Your Sugar Addiction.

“Too Much, Too Soon” – A Common Cause of North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Problems

September 8, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Contrary to the stereotypes that some people have about hurt and sick people on North Carolina workers’ compensation – that these people are lazy, indolent, and disinterested in returning to work – most beneficiaries usually fantasize about how and when they can return to complete and productive lives. Very few people want to sit around at home, click around the internet, and work without a plan for getting back to some kind of productive, satisfying work.

Indeed, work is a deep human need.

To that end, many injured workers actually stress themselves too fast and do too much too soon. In a two-part series, we are going to look at why workers do this, what problems result from this “too aggressive” approach to rehab, and talk about solutions that you and your family can deploy to prevent the “too much too soon” problem and still maximize the efficiency of your efforts toward rebuilding your life after a workplace accident.

First, let’s talk a little bit more about what exactly this problem is:

Warning Signs

Are you at risk for “too much too soon”? Whether you are a newly minted North Carolina workers’ compensation beneficiary, or you got hurt or sick on the job years ago, you might be at risk of pushing your mind and/or body too hard if:

• You and your family face urgent financial problems;
• You have a “Type A” personality;
• You love your work and can’t wait to return to it;
• There has been an urgent need for physical labor around the house – e.g. your family desperately wants to repair a room damaged by a branch fallen down during a hurricane;
• You have a history of pushing yourself too hard in other areas of your life, such as at work and in relationships.

Consequences

Pushing yourself too hard can result in aggravation of your injury or illness or reinjury. It can lengthen the time that you are out on leave. It can create new injuries or illnesses. It can result in other accidents. For instance, if you are too weak to paint your house, but you decide to paint it anyways, you probably stand a greater likelihood of getting hurt while doing so – falling off the ladder, suffering heat stroke, etc.

Solutions

In the next blog post, we will talk more about practical, creative, out-of-the-box solutions for the “too much too soon” problem. But for now if you have questions or concerns about your benefits and about how to maximize the law and protect yourself from malevolent insurance companies and bosses who won’t play fair, connect with an astute, experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

More Web Resources:

Too Much, Too Soon

Why we push ourselves

The “Too Much Too Soon” Problem Part 2: What North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Beneficiaries Can Do to Protect Themselves from Overwork

September 5, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

In Part 1 of our series on how “too much too soon” can devastate North Carolina workers’ compensation beneficiaries, we defined this often misunderstood problem. When hurt and sick workers feel an obligation to “get back out there” and return to work early to make ends meet, they can suffer reinjury, other accidents, and psychological setbacks.

In the second part, we are going to talk about what North Carolina workers’ compensation beneficiaries and their family members can do to “outthink” this tendency to want to overwork.

Here are three ideas:

• Set concrete, doable goals for your medical and vocational recovery and work toward them.

As the tired (but still true!) old adage goes: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” As long as the hurt or sick worker feels like he or she is making progress toward a better future, he or she might avoid straining or taking on too much too soon. But success must be clearly defined. Make success as quantifiable as possible, so that working toward it can be more like playing a video game than like running a marathon toward an ever-elusive and receding finish line. For instance, maybe one goal could be to regain the ability to walk without crutches two months faster than your doctor says you will be able to.

• Get help.

You are proud and strong worker, and the thought of having to turn to other people – such as a wife or spouse, family members, or public assistance – may seem less than palatable. But now is not the time for foolish pride. Seek out and utilize other sources of help to take care of the physical tasks that you can’t manage right now.

• Get good legal assistance to reduce uncertainty.

The more “loose ends” in your life, the more you will feel stressed and desperate to “take action” to consolidate and organize the chaos that’s found its way into your life since the injury or accident. Talk to a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm to understand how you can leverage the law and other resources to solve the nagging crises that have been keeping you up at night and stressing your pocket book.

More Web Resources:

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

Importance of quantifying your goals

 
 

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