March 2012

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation System: Not Perfect, But Better Than the Middle Ages

March 30, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Let’s be frank: The North Carolina workers’ compensation system has a lot of problems, despite legislators’ attempts last year to tweak the laws, make them more equitable for businesses and employees, and streamline some aspects of the bureaucracy.

At the end of the day, legitimately hurt would-be beneficiaries still get mistreated by insurance companies, harassed by employers, and forced to jump through hoops to get money that, by all rights, should be theirs without any question. Likewise, unscrupulous people still take advantage of the system by committing North Carolina workers’ compensation fraud.

When you look at any of the interested parties involved – employees, employers, insurance companies, rating agencies, the state, etc – you can probably find ways for us all to improve how we approach the problem of workers’ comp.

On the other hand, we’ve come a pretty long way in terms of worker’s rights, especially when you look at the past several centuries of human history.

Back in Medieval Europe, for instance, serfs labored under ghastly condition to scrape out a living. You can be sure that a serf who got whatever the equivalent of “carpal tunnel syndrome” was — after spending too much time threshing wheat (or whatever) — did not have a grievance system that was anything close to the North Carolina legal system.

Does our progress mean that we can or should excuse the inefficiencies in our current system? Absolutely not. But it’s at least useful to start looking at our problems in historical context. Not only because it will make us feel better – at least we are not serfs, and we have some control and power over our legal destinies – but also because it can make us hopeful for the future. Who knows? In 30 or 50 or 100 years, we may look back on the current way workers’ comp works in horror. Our descendants will wonder: how could we have let so many inequalities and inefficiencies linger for so long?

If someone you care about needs help with a tricky insurance company situation or an unpleasant employer, connect immediately with a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

More Web Resources:

How serfs were treated in the middle ages

The art of getting better over time

The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Downward Spiral

March 24, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

A hurt worker who gets on North Carolina workers’ compensation can inadvertently wind up on a rapid treadmill to disaster.

It has been said that those who are not moving towards success are moving towards failure. There is no such thing as “standing still” in your life. If you are not making progress towards a goal – towards a better life, or more fulfilling life, a healthier body, etc., then you are in effect moving the other way. This may be a hard pill to swallow. But it’s a subtle idea. Moving towards bigger goals in life – healing from a North Carolina workers’ compensation accident, for instance, does not mean that every step along the way must be positive. You can (and will) experience setbacks. But a setback is different from a wrong direction.

Think about hiking from the North Carolina coast to the mountains. Sure, there might be ups and downs along the way in either direction. But in one case, you are methodically headed towards a higher point, and in the other case you are methodically headed towards a lower point. The trouble is that, if you just look at where you are now — or where you are going in the immediate future or where you’ve come from in the immediate past — you might be mistaken about your overall trajectory. It might look like you are headed towards the proverbial mountains when you are actually headed towards the ocean but just going over a bump. And vice versa.

So how do you know which trajectory you are on? How do you know whether you are moving towards recovering from your injury, stabilizing yourself financially and emotionally, rebuilding your career… or doing the opposite?

The short answer is: “your perspective is limited, so you cannot ever really know for sure.”

But this doesn’t mean you can’t do intelligence gathering and find more objective perspectives. A North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm, for instance, can keep you on a positive trajectory as far as your compensation quest goes and can also connect you with other resources to deal with the other problems in your life, such as financial planning for your family, coping with the emotional ramifications of the injury or the loss of your productivity, and so forth.

Get on and stay on a positive trajectory.

One key is to simply acknowledge the reality that we are either moving towards success or moving towards failure in every area of our lives. Just that epiphany – held in the mind – alone is often enough to kick start people towards adopting behaviors and habits — and connect with resources they need — to halt the downward spiral and get their lives back on track.

More Web Resources:

You are Either Moving towards Success or Failure

The Difference between Short-Term Pain and Long-Term Gain

Identifying Best Practices – Help For North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Clients (Or Would Be Clients)

March 21, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

How can you make your experience on North Carolina workers’ compensation as successful, stress-free, and – dare we say enjoyable – as you can?

Here is a simple exercise you can do in 5 minutes that should offer you profound insights into the unspoken values and principles governing your quest for North Carolina workers’ comp.

Values and Purpose

There are oodles of books, websites, blogs, and other materials that emphasize the importance of defining values and purpose. Our values and purposes change based on different circumstances and different problems. For instance, ask yourself “why” you are reading this article. Your purpose will be different from “why” you got onto the internet in the first place. The frame of the problem changes the purpose and principles. That’s why it’s so important to be specific when it comes to exercises like the one we are about to do.

Having gone through that preamble, let’s begin the exercise.

Step 1: Grab a piece of paper or open up a word document, and take time to answer this question:

Why do you want to go on North Carolina workers’ compensation?

Really take some time here. Don’t just write “to get money” or some snarky answer like that. Really spend some time to probe the root purpose of your quest. For instance, you might need to ask “why” multiple times to hit “pay dirt.” For instance, if you first wrote down the answer “get money,” you would need to ask “WHY do I want to get money?” and so on and so forth until you reach a more fundamental purpose — ideally one that resonates with you emotionally.

For instance, after some drilling down, you might come up with the root answer “because I have a fundamental need to support my family and children.”

Step 2: Identify your values.

One of the best ways to come up with the values that will govern a project (including your quest for workers’ comp) is to imagine “outsourcing” it to somebody else. Say you could hand over the task applying for, collecting and spending your workers’ comp to somebody else. What would tell that person NOT to do? You can then derive your values by taking the negative of that statement. Example:

•    I would forbid the outsourcer from committing fraud or any other unethical behavior. (Value extracted: I will not commit or tolerate fraud or any unethical behavior)
•    I would not allow the outsourcer to tackle a job by himself or herself. (Value extracted: I want to use and trust my case to a competent authority, such as a trusted North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm).
•    I would not allow the outsourcer to work without keeping my spouse in the loop as well. (Value extracted: I must keep my spouse in the loop about what’s going on with the workers’ comp stuff.)

More Web Resources:

Drilling Down to Find Purpose and Principles

Change Must Be Purpose and Values Driven

 

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation: Introduction to the Alexander Technique

March 19, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you or a loved one want workman’s comp in North Carolina, you are likely trying to figure out what to do about a chronic injury or discomfort. Maybe you hurt your back lifting a big package. Or maybe you suffered whiplash during a delivery. Maybe your shoulders and upper back and chest got extremely sore and numb and tingly due to overwork at an office job in Raleigh.

In any case, you’re now struggling to figure out what therapies and tools might help you get better and get back to work ASAP. Obviously, a North Carolina workers’ compensation law blog is not the appropriate place for medical advice – that’s what your physician and rehab specialists are for. But you might be interested to research an intriguing modality called the Alexander technique. Follow the links at the bottom of the page to learn more about the basics of this therapy.

This philosophy of healing tries to bring together the mind and the body – to make chronically hurt individuals aware of the tension in their bodies. AT leverages the power of the mind to release chronic bad postural habits accrued over years. One of the most popular Alexander Technique “exercises” is something called active rest or active lie down. Essentially, you lie flat on your back for about 15 or 20 minutes a day with your head propped up on a hard book. The reason you do this is that you want firm support (hence you don’t use a pillow) but you also want to elevate your head slightly so that your vertebrae are all basically in a row.

Anyway, so you get into this lie down posture (knees bent, hands on your tummy) and you spend about 15 minutes just meditating and becoming aware of the sensations and tensions in your body. You are not trying to change them necessarily — you are just trying to become aware of them. The awareness itself, according to AT, can provide a kind of healing tonic. It’s a very counterintuitive philosophy. But some studies seem to suggest that the Alexander technique might be useful for people who are suffering from all types of chronic pain.

In any event, it may be worth it to investigate this modality and talk to your physician or rehab specialist to see if it could help you on your journey to healing from the injury that led you to need North Carolina’s workers’ compensation.

More Resources:

Basic Information about the Alexander Technique

Video on Alexander Technique Active Rest

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Ideas – the Healing Power of the Sun?

March 12, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Being off work and on North Carolina workers’ compensation is not only no fun – it’s also potentially a recipe for vitamin D deficiency. Some studies – and a whole lot of anecdotal evidence and chatter on the web – suggest that Americans are suffering from significant vitamin D deficiency. According to authors like Dr. Mike Eades (Protein Power Lifeplan), our fear of the sun might be to blame.

Everyone agrees that exposure that too much sunlight can lead to skin cancer and other skin problems. And certainly if you’re sitting outside on a North Carolina beach roasting in the sun everyday until your skin blisters, that’s probably not a brilliant idea. On the other hand, if people like Dr. Eades are correct, our fear of getting sunburned has led us to overcompensate the other way. We are collectively not getting nearly the amount of natural sunlight that our body needs on a day-to-day basis, and this lack of appropriate sunlight has translated into problems like vitamin D deficiency among other theorized ailments.

Obviously, you will need to do your own research and talk to your physician about whether getting more sun and/or taking vitamin D supplementation is correct for you. But you might benefit from this research, especially if you plan to spend months or even years off of work, partially immobile, and thus unable to easily get outside to get your standard dose of “vitamin sun.”

On a broader point, it might also behoove you to think carefully about what other changes you could make while on bed rest or on leave that could help you recover not only physically but also emotionally, financially, and logistically from the injury that knocked you out of the game. For instance, now might be the time to talk to your physician about reengineering your diet to remove excess sugar and get on a safe and controlled weight lifting plan to increase your muscular strength. In other words, just because you’ve been idled by the injury or illness does not mean that you should stay idle. Use this time as an opportunity to build yourself up, explore passions and hobbies that you previously did not have time for, and so forth. At the same time, you should also consider aggressively pursuing your claim by connecting with a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

More Web Resources:

Dr. Michael Eades on Vitamin D and the Sun

Vitamin D Deficiency Epidemic?

Modeling What Works: How to Find the (Right) Help While on North Carolina Workers’ Compensation

March 11, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

A tragic number of North Carolina workers’ compensation cases end badly. Why?

Often, it’s because beneficiaries (or would be beneficiaries) or their family members took bad advice. Or they took the right advice from the wrong person. Or they took the right advice from the right person at the wrong time.

Getting everything to “sync up” is more difficult than you might imagine. Likewise, it’s nearly impossible for amateurs – people without ample experience dealing with North Carolina workers’ compensation cases – to make all the right decisions. We intuitively know this. But we insist (or at least many of us do) on “reinventing the wheel” when it comes to figuring out our benefits situation.

Think about it. It makes zero sense:

•    You’ve never had experience dealing with an insurance company….
•    You’ve never had to face down a contemptuous or uncooperative employer…
•    You’ve never had to go through rehab or physical therapy…

So why would you assume that you would be able to “intuit” best practices?

It’s silly.

Unfortunately, we are programmed by habit and by our cultural beliefs to “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps.” Self reliance can be wonderful tool. And we all fundamentally need autonomy. But there is a difference between being self reliant and being foolishly self-absorbed.

Indeed, the most self reliant and successful entrepreneurs, thinkers, inventors, artisans, etc all stand on the backs of giants, metaphorically, to succeed.

The point here is that your preoccupation with trying to “solve your own problems” from scratch is almost certainly costing you time, money, and energy – not to mention subjecting you to profound amounts of psychological stress and long-term uncertainty.

A North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm – at least a good one, that has a terrific reputation, lots of experience serving clients with similar needs, and robust systems and processes to help clients through their difficult challenges – can be a terrific ally. We all need great mentors. Often, the most difficult part of our challenge is accepting that we deserve the best mentors out there to help us through our problems.

More Web Resources:

Modeling What Works

The Power of the “Right” Mentor

Proposal: A Simple Solution for What Ails the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation System

March 9, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

In recent blog posts, we have been talking about the roots of North Carolina workers’ compensation problems. On both an individual level and a societal level, we have examined how simple problems (such as dietary choices, exercise choices, ergonomics, etc) can cause profound problems for workers and for the system as a whole. We have also looked at how complex problems can often “give way” to relatively simple solutions. Both of these ideas are relatively counterintuitive. But both find support from emerging research in respected disciplines like complexity theory.

Today, we are going to examine speculative ways to “knock out” many of the seemingly impossible to dislodge problems with the North Carolina workers’ compensation system as a whole. These problems, as this blog and others have enumerated, can include:

•    Exorbitant premiums which exhaust employers and lead to fraud and other kinds of malfeasance;
•    Complicated bureaucracy which intimidates beneficiaries;
•    Suspicious and at times aggressive and malevolent insurance companies, who can make beneficiaries jump through hoops unnecessarily and even deny legitimate claims;
•    North Carolina government bloat – too many worker’ comp cases consume significant government resources;
•    Lost productivity – when workers get sick and injured, they lose capacity to be productive (or as productive). The result? A huge drain on the state’s coffers, productive capacity, and overall spirit and confidence.

Complexity theory tells us that simple solutions (provided that they are the proper ones!) can potentially knock out many of our complex problems.

For instance, let’s continue to roll with our earlier speculation about the efficacy of low carbohydrate diets. As authors like Richard Bernstein, Mike Eades, Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson, Gary Taubes, and others have argued, carbohydrate restriction might be a “magic bullet” when it comes to treating chronic disease, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. If these guys are right, what would happen if North Carolina changed its dietary guidelines to come into line with the “low-carb” perspective?

First of all – and again, this is assuming that they are right about the science – North Carolinians would rapidly be able to reverse the state’s obesity and diabetes epidemics. So we wouldn’t spend nearly as much money or time or energy battling those problems. That would free up money to spend elsewhere. Second of all, we would create a stronger, more robust work force.

Acute events (e.g. slip and falls) as well as long-term stresses (e.g. bad workplace ergonomics) would still be a problem. But even THOSE problems would be significantly helped. A muscularly strong, healthy man with a strong lower back and good immune system is likely to “bounce back” from a fall or from a typing injury than is a compatriot who is significantly obese, diabetic, and weak.

In any event, this is an interesting thought exercise. And, again, the concept that massive, diverse, and seemingly unrelated problems can be solved by “magic bullets” like a well formulated low carbohydrate diet is not science fiction. Indeed, Complexity Theory suggests that “simple solutions to complex problems” almost certainly abound out there.

More Web Resources:

What if “low-carb” really is a magic bullet? What problems could be solved?

Complexity Theory: Simple Solutions to Complex Issues

The Root of All (Or Most) Problems with North Carolina Workers’ Compensation?

March 7, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

In a recent blog post, we discussed how typical chronic injuries (which necessitate North Carolina Workers’ Compensation) can often stem from surprisingly simple causes.

This is counterintuitive. When a patient presents with many different symptoms, including fatigue, strange blood work, dysfunctional musculature, etc, physicians generally assume that “a lot” of things must have gone wrong for that patient. Not necessarily! In some cases, simple stresses or annoyances can have an accumulated effect. The results can be complicated, but the cause may be simple. (Incidentally, this is one of the precepts of an emerging, exciting branch of science called complexity theory).

Simplicity can yield great and surprising complexity. This concept can help us understand and identify broader problems with the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation system. If you ask any expert or specialist in the field, he or she could probably list off dozens if not hundreds of inefficiencies, inequalities, and general problems with the NC workers’ comp system. Fair enough. But, what if many, if not most, of these issues stemmed from one or two “common root causes.”?

A Candidate Root Cause?

The following theory is as counterintuitive as it is grandiose. But it just might be right.

Many people on workers’ comp suffer from chronic conditions, which make their struggles worse. These conditions include muscular weakness, immune problems, diabetes, obesity/overweight, heart disease, hypertension, etc. We typically think that all these different diseases or physical ailments must stem from different conditions. For instance, many people believe that hypertension results from diets high in sodium. The conventional wisdom will also have you believe that diets rich in saturated fat cause heart disease, that diets with “too many calories” cause obesity, that type II diabetics get diabetes because of “genetic predispositions.” And so forth.

In other words, we don’t see unifying strands. Every piece is seen as different. In order to explain the complex morass of problems that we see in the workers’ comp system, we must hypothesize complex causes. But emerging research powerfully suggests that many of the “chronic diseases” of western civilization (which no doubt cause or contribute to a huge swath of workers’ comps cases in North Carolina) stem from poor dietary choices.

Specifically, we’ve been eating way too many starches and sugars. As a result of this overconsumption of sugar (not salt, not fat, not calories), we’ve seen a spike in all sorts of diseases of western civilization, such as diabetes, immune problems, etc. The idea that certain starches and sugars are toxic is by no means a new idea. Journalists, iconoclastic physicians and activists have been preaching this message for well over a century and a half. Their ranks include: Banting, Pennington, Robert Atkins, Mike Eades, and journalist Gary Taubes.

If these “low carbohydrate” diet activists are correct about their theory, then we must be forced to concede something interesting. The USDA food pyramid guidelines (instituted in the late 1970s – early 80s) – which instructed population to eat less fat and far more carbohydrate – might have actually provoked not only the obesity epidemic but also epidemics of diabetes and metabolic syndrome and who knows what else!

It is an intriguing hypothesis – a kind of grand unified theory of nutrition and diet. But if the hypothesis is right, then maybe many of the seemingly intractable and complicated and unrelated problems that afflict our state (and our state’s workers) all stem from the single common cause: Bad dietary advice.

More Web Resources:

A Grand Unified Theory of Nutrition?

Burden of Obesity and Chronic Disease on Workers’ Compensation System

Simple Causes, Complex Problems (A Guide for North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Applicants)

March 2, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Disaster has struck at your workplace. You now need North Carolina Workman’s Compensation to pay staggeringly high medical bills, supplement your family’s income during your time off (and who knows how long that will last), and generally keep you moving (perhaps limping) towards your long-term financial goals.

How did you end up here?

Two classes of events can lead people to get hurt or sick at work: Acute and chronic.

Acute Workplace Injuries

These are the more “obvious” injuries. They include things like:

•    You fall off a loading dock and break your leg in three places;
•    You inhale aerosolized toxic chemicals while working in a chemical refinery and suffer immediate burning and lung damage;
•    You suffer a massive concussion and blood loss after a careless driver t-bones your delivery truck or rental car while you are en route to a conference;
•    You get into an altercation with a co-worker, and he beans you with a rock or a fist.

Acute accidents/illnesses are relatively easy to trace. In other words, you can identify the cause of the illness/injury pretty easily and with great certainty. The injury also happens across a very short span of time (seconds, minutes).

Chronic Workplace Injuries

Examples might include:

•    You develop carpal tunnel syndrome or another typing injury after working as a secretary for 13 years for a bank in the Research Triangle;
•    You develop fibromyalgia or type II diabetes or some other ailment which degrades your performance at work and, possibly, ultimately, prevents you from doing your job at all;
•    You suffer a lung ailment, skin problem, or some other medical concern after being exposed to environmentally dubious conditions at your workplace.

Chronic ailments are far difficult to “trace.” In other words, it’s harder to put together an argument or a story that connects workplace exposure or conditions with your illness/injury. Chronic problems by definition develop over long swaths of time. As a result, you cannot as easily connect the “causative event” with your injury, since so many different factors might have contributed to your problems.

That being said, many workplace injuries – even chronic, complicated ones – stem from simple causes done repeatedly over time. If someone hit you over the head with a hammer, you would develop a fractured skull, contusion, bleeding, swelling, etc. You could clearly say “the hammer blow caused all these problems.” But if someone taps your head with a hammer softly, repeatedly for a few weeks, and you suffer subtle, long term neuronal damage, now your case is harder. You can no longer say “the cause is still simple. All of my injuries and woe stem from the simple cause of the hammer blow.”

The moral here is: Your problems may seem complicated and not interrelated. But don’t be so sure. Even if you have a host of ailments right now, a single prominent chronic stressor in your life or at work might be responsible for a vast number of them.

A North Carolina Workers’ Compensation law firm can help you drill down to discover the root cause (or causes) of your problems and help you get compensated.

More Web Resources:

Example of a Simple Cause Leading to a Complex Problem.

Chronic Versus Acute Injuries

 
 

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