September 2012

Why Is It So Hard to Follow Great Advice about North Carolina Workers’ Compensation?

September 27, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

You’re kicking yourself. Perhaps you’ve been denied workers’ compensation in North Carolina, and you’re searching desperately on the web for some resource or idea to help you “right your ship.” Or maybe you’re just beginning to investigate your options, and you’ve gotten overloaded by pamphlets, printouts, and advice from half a dozen authority sources on the subject.

Some of the stuff that you’ve read is common sense. Other “stuff” is important to know/do, but you just lack the willpower/time/energy to get around to doing it. Maybe you’ve even been scouring the DeMayo North Carolina workers’ compensation blog archive for a few hours — reading the helpful tips and ideas and counterintuitive concepts that we’ve discussed — but you’re still too “fried” or overwhelmed to take action.

What gives?

With all this great advice – online and elsewhere – how come it’s so hard to commit to the most basic tasks you need to solve your benefits dilemma?

The Myth of the “One Big Push”

In North Carolina, and elsewhere in the United States, we’re entranced by the notion of the hero’s journey. We are taught to believe that single heroic acts can make “the difference.” Our TV shows and films and other cultural artifacts all celebrate this concept. And, indeed, there is some truth to it. There are certain critical moments in your life story, where the decisions that you make can have profound consequences. In retrospect, these pivot points may be obvious. But the reality is that there is an imbalance in your life – some moments do “count” more than others do.

Unfortunately, if you spend all of your time looking to make these moments happen, you can make yourself crazy… and also fail to achieve what you want to achieve. The biggest pivot points in our lives only really become “obvious” pivot points in retrospect.

Think about your own life. What are the big moments in your life? Did you anticipate them? Did you “make them happen” in one big push? Odds are: you didn’t. Odds are: you either had been working hard towards a goal and then you crossed a threshold at an unknown time during your disciplined march towards that goal — or the big moment was just thrust upon you by random.

The point is, if you want to exercise control over your life – and, more specifically, over the destiny of your North Carolina workers’ competition benefits – you need to focus less on a big push and more on disciplined, incremental progress towards a positive outcome.

That’s how Olympic athletes do it. That’s how highly successive businesspeople do it. That’s how great performers in every domain do it. They’re not trying to win the metaphorical lottery. They’re trying to make concise, highly directed, little steps in a direction governed by a dream and a vision.

You can always course correct. You can always change direction. But the difference between success and failure is not necessarily the difference between going in one direction and not another – it’s the difference between going in A direction as opposed to not going anywhere.

You must take action. You must get in the game. Once you’re in motion, you can change your direction. But if you stagnate, you’ll get overwhelmed, and you’re never going to make the progress that you want to make.

Preparing for a Life without North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Benefits (a Paradoxical Success Tool!)

September 25, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

You might fail in your quest to obtain Charlotte workers’ compensation benefits.

And that’s scary.

After all, you’re likely in desperate financial need, and you also have a burning sense of justice about your situation: you believe that your employer and/or an insurance company should provide at least some remuneration for your therapies, medical treatments, lost wages, et cetera.

You may, indeed, have a case; and if you think you might, then definitely connect with the tested and aggressive legal team here at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo.

All that said, when you operate from the mentality that you “have to” get benefits or else your life will be a wreck, you lose some control over your life and destiny. And that loss of control can actually harm not only your spirit, but also your quest for benefits.

It’s a paradoxical situation. The more psychologically dependent you become on a “good” outcome, the less in control you feel over your situation, and the more difficult it might be for you to take the steps needed to get a successful resolution. It’s a bit like how a suitor’s desperation can make him unappealing to the object of his desire.

So how can you inoculate yourself against the desperation? After all, you really do have needs that must be met, and you might not have any a Plan B if the benefits don’t work out. You don’t want to live in fantasyland and ignore real dangers.

It is possible to embrace this paradox: to see the reality of your unmet needs AND simultaneously strive to retain control over your destiny as much as possible.

Here’s how to shore up your situation.

1. “Game out” your worst case scenarios.

What “bad stuff” might happen to you, if you fail to collect North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits?

For instance, say the proceedings get delayed for months or years beyond what you’d like. What would happen to you? Write down your fears. Write down what you might do. How might you cope? Whom might you turn to for help?

Often, our fears are most debilitating when they lurk inside us. When we surface them – write them down – they become more tractable. We can figure out solutions around them. We can nullify their psychological effect by thinking them through.

2. Exercise what business guru Jim Collins calls “Leading Above the Death Line”

In his landmark analysis of businesses that thrive in chaotic environments, Jim Collins documents a concept called “leading above the death line.” If you went bankrupt, that would be a major setback. But at least you could ultimately reboot your finances, all things being equal. If you lost your life, however, there is no “reboot.” So try to identify the “lines in the sand” that you think that cannot be crossed, and then use judicious “pre-thinking” to figure out how to stay as far away from that “death line” as possible.

What If Your Employer Lacks Adequate (Or Any) North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

September 20, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

The Charlotte News & Observer’s summer blockbuster expose of the state of North Carolina workers’ compensation insurance caused an uproar in our community. The news pieces even inspired state lawmakers and Gov. Beverly Perdue to “do something” about the disastrously low rate of compliance among Tar Heel employers with workers’ comp insurance requirements.

In a recent blog post, we talked about how workers can best approach potentially recalcitrant employers about their workers’ comp coverage… without risk of losing face or making your employer feel unduly uncomfortable.

What can workers who are operating in a “gray zone” do to protect themselves — in other words, if you don’t know whether your employer has insurance coverage, what do you do? Obviously, if you’ve already been hurt or made sick, step one is (after seeing your physician) should be to get in touch with a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm, like DeMayo Law.

But there are also steps you can take to protect yourself from injuries/accidents at work, so you don’t wind up “in the system,” having to fight tooth and nail for compensation.

For instance:

1. Improve your diet by reducing how much sugar you eat.

Powerful new research suggests that North Carolinians’ love affair with sucrose may be at the heart of our state’s (and our nation’s) obesity problem, at least if researchers like Dr. Robert Lustig are to be believed. Reducing how much sugar you eat is not necessarily easy, but it might increase your health, help your immune system, and give you more stamina and alertness, which can in turn limit your vulnerability at the workplace.

2. Get stronger.

Other new research suggests that increasing your muscular strength using slow, safe, high intensity resistance training can reduce the otherwise inevitable bone loss and loss of lean tissue that coincides with getting older. If you’re stronger, you’ll likely be less at risk for lifting injuries and other problems at your workplace.

3. Reduce stress.

Powerful research from multiple disciplines suggests that stress can impede the body’s immune system, warp our decision making capabilities, and do lots of other nasty stuff to our brains and bodies. Find ways to limit/reduce stress in your life to reduce injury.

If you’ve already been hurt, get in touch with the team here at DeMayo Law to discuss what you can do to make your situation better and potentially get compensated for your damages.

Talking to Your Employer about Why He Or She Doesn’t Have North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Insurance

September 18, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

The big story this summer, as far as North Carolina workers’ compensation is concerned, has obviously been Charlotte News & Observer’s expose of the Tar Heel State’s employers’ woeful lack of workers’ comp insurance.

A series of News & Observer articles inspired the legislature and Governor Perdue to enact changes to the law to encourage employers to do the right thing… and to punish businesses that fail to comply.

Very interesting stuff.

But how is it potentially relevant/useful for you, if you work in Charlotte, and you want to protect yourself and your family?

It’s a delicate subject. Your employer may not want to discuss whether he or she has workers’ comp coverage, and that creates something of conundrum. If your employer lacks insurance, and you get hurt, you could be in serious trouble. You might even need to jump through many hoops to get appropriately remunerated, if that’s even possible.

On the other hand, you don’t want to “bother” your employer or create a confrontational atmosphere. Here are some tips for how to gingerly approach the subject.

1. Wait for the right time.

Think of this like a negotiation. You want to set the stage. You want to think things through. You want to rehearse it in your mind – or even playact it with your spouse or a friend. Make sure that you get the timing right. You want to ask the question in a way that’s respectful and that also ensures that you’ll get a discrete response. You can check out the book “Getting to Yes” for insights to how to approach negotiation – the section on the “Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement” (BATNA) is particularly intriguing and useful.

2. Divorce observations from emotions.

When you talk to your employer, do your best to separate your feelings from observations of the facts on the ground. For instance, instead of saying something along the lines of “I am scared that your lack of coverage is putting me in danger,” say something more along the lines of “I notice that you’ve never told me whether or not you have workers’ comp coverage. After reading this article in the Charlotte News & Observer, I’m worried that you might lack coverage. I’d like some reassurance that you are complying with the law.”

In other words, avoid accusing. Stick to the facts. And try to be empathetic, if possible, to your employer’s position. If your employer lacks the appropriate insurance, odds are that he or she is scared and concerned and may need some understanding from you.

3. If the situation is truly problematic, it may behoove you to get in touch with an experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

Protect your rights, and come up with a strategy to protect yourself and potentially collect damages, if you’ve already been hurt or injured at work. Talk to the DeMayo Law team today.

Businesses Look Out: Governor Perdue Creates North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Scofflaw Task Force

September 13, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Two weeks ago, Governor Beverly Perdue shook up the world of North Carolina workers’ compensation when she created a “Scofflaw Task Force” to punish state employers who misclassify workers for the purpose of avoiding expenses and gaining competitive advantage.

Wayne Goodwyn, the NC Insurance Commissioner, will head up the force, which will help workers report employers who violate NC workers’ compensation rules and also promote legislation to try to compel businesses to come into line. Governor Perdue’s orders follow on the heels of powerful series of articles reported by the Raleigh News & Observer. The series exposed how many state trucking, healthcare, and construction companies have bent or broken workers’ comp rules. Shockingly, 30,000 + companies in the state that should carry workers’ comp insurance have none – or have inadequate insurance, according to the News & Observer. Some companies also use so-called “ghost policies” to try to get around regulations. Unfortunately, when hurt employees try to activate these ghost policies, they cannot get money to pay for time off of work, lost wages, and so forth.

Goodwyn’s task force will aim to rally various agencies and helps violators voluntarily come into compliance. The team must report its progress twice a year and suggest reforms, propose legislation, and surface roadblocks that might impede progress.

Don’t expect fast action from the Scofflaw Task Force – the first report is not due until next year, just around the time when Governor Perdue is set to leave office. But many workers’ comp advocates are at least tentatively hopeful that the state government is taking steps in the right direction. We’re fortunate to have independent media organs, like the News & Observer, to point out the inefficiencies of the system and to spur real reform in Raleigh.

“Big picture” news notwithstanding, if you or someone you care about has a worker’s comp issue – for instance, you just found out that your employer does not have enough (or any) insurance – the team at the Law Offices of Michael DeMayo can give you powerful, effective guidance to collect benefits and regain control over your situation.

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Denied to Dancer Shot at Strip Club

September 11, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

It’s a rather heartbreaking North and South Carolina workers’ compensation case.

LeAndra Lewis, a 19-year-old exotic dancer, was hit by stray gunfire during a gun battle at Two Notch Road strip club on June 23, 2008. The bullets injured a number of her internal organs, forcing her to have a kidney removed, and permanently damaging her uterus so badly that doctors no long believe she can have children. In addition, the gunfire scarring has made it impossible for her to get work as an exotic dancer.

At the age of 19, she was earning over $80,000 a year, dancing 5 or 6 nights every week. Lewis filed a workers’ compensation claim against the strip club, but both an appellate panel and a commissioner denied her claim because she was not technically an employee. Her appeal was also denied, because the club never paid her money (she only earned money from tips). Plus, she was not told how to dance. In short, she was considered to be an independent contractor, not an employee, and thus she could not collect per the Workers’ Compensation Act.

Lewis’ experience sadly “rhymes” with the experiences of many people who seek workers’ compensation in North Carolina, South Carolina, and elsewhere. The line between employee and independent contractor can be hard to discern, in certain cases. You might have been under the impression that you were an employee – and protected as one – when in fact you lacked such protection. Or your employer might deny responsibility to get out of paying workers’ compensation, when in fact you should by law be entitled to benefits.

Unpacking your rights and responsibilities under the law is not something you should try to do by yourself! The experienced workers’ compensation law professionals at DeMayo Law can walk you through your options and help you understand what you might be able to do to collect benefits. They can also help you make smarter decisions going forward with respect to your medical care, finances, and career options.

You’ve been through the ringer. Now, you need straight talk and a strategic, customized plan to get to where you want to be, efficiently, and with as little drama as possible.

A Strategy for Consolidating Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Problems – “Putting the Leaves into the Big Pile”

September 6, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

In our previous post on the “consolidation of problems problem” that afflicts nearly every would be North Carolina workers’ compensation beneficiary, we talked about an intriguing metaphor for handling the “open loops” that your workplace injury/illness has created in your life.

Rather than “dive-in” and clean up your problems immediately, you might find it resourceful to simply assess and organize your potential problems first. You need psychic breathing room and clarity. Just like raking leaves into a pile can make the job of cleaning up after a storm easier; so, too, can consolidating your diverse concerns about workers’ comp help you prepare for victory.

A Roadmap For Best Practices

Step #1: Write down all concerns about your North Carolina workers’ compensation situation, even if they seem “out there” or unrelated.

Give yourself time to do this – half an hour or so, at the minimum. Take a fresh sheet of paper, and just start listing out all of the different random, tangential concerns you have about your situation. These might include worries about your family’s financial future, concerns about your health, frustrations about the way a co-worker reacted to the news of your injury/illness, etc. Just get everything down on the paper.

Step #2: Take a break and then “add more to the pile”

Take at least an hour long break away from this exercise, and then come back and do it again for another 10 or 15 minutes. During your hour break, your subconscious will have some time to access the “stuff” lodging your “psychic attc” – the subtle, subconscious stuff that you might find difficult to access during the first part of the brainstorming exercise.

Step #3: Process and organize.

You might find David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” methodology for processing and organizing and reviewing these “open loops” useful. But even if you don’t use Allen’s highly specific process – in which you process first, then organize, then review – just use whatever system makes sense to you (and is easy) to figure out what projects are the most important to you, what “stuff” needs to come before what other “stuff,” and what “stuff” you can defer for a week or longer.

Step #4: Take action and review and reorganize your list as needed.

Again, David Allen has a more complete foundation for dealing with multiple diverse projects. But as long as you keep all of your key issues consolidated in one location, and you regularly review them, and you start taking positive action towards completing them, you’re going to feel a tremendous sense of invigoration. You might be surprised by how quickly you can manage your problems.

The team at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo would be happy to take you further and provide essential legal assistance to help you obtain a recovery. Connect with us today for a free consultation.

Consolidating Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Challenges to Overcome Them

September 4, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

There is one cause of stress for North Carolina workers’ compensation beneficiaries that almost no one talks about: we might call this the “consolidation of problems problem.”

Whether you twisted an ankle and tore a ligament at a construction site, suffered bruises and lacerations when a vicious pit bull jumped you while you were delivering a package for work, or your car got a mangled in a truck accident, you have been floored by both the extent and the intensity of your challenges.

Going on workers’ compensation in North Carolina is nothing like a “vacation” in any sense.

In fact, it’s almost like the opposite. As we’ve talked about at length on this blog in previous posts, your challenges are diverse. They go beyond your obvious short and long-term medical challenges and extend to the emotional, financial, logistical, and relationship realms.

It’s natural to try to work on the most pressing issues first – the easiest ones. But even dealing with your pressing/easy problems won’t necessarily make you feel any better or more complete. This is because these problems are like leaves dumped into your yard after a blowy North Carolina hurricane.

The metaphorical detritus is everywhere on your lawn. Simply eliminating one pile of leaves or removing a big branch from the eaves of your house might feel pretty good, but it’s not going to give you the huge sense of closure and accomplishment that you really want.

But what if, instead, you took some time to consolidate all of your different “problems”? In other words, how would you feel if you raked all of the leaves and detritus into one big pile? So now you have a huge pile of leaves in one area, but the rest of your yard is pristine. You haven’t removed any of the debris from your property – you haven’t solved any of your North Carolina workers’ compensation problems – but you’ve now put them in one place to deal with when you get a chance.

Odds are, this organization will bring you tremendous composure and clarity – along with the energy and optimism you need to tackle the “big pile” at an opportune moment.

Consolidating your problems is also good because you can now bring in outside help more easily. For instance, instead of doing all the work yourself, you can do the metaphorical equivalent of hiring a bunch of kids from the neighborhood to shovel the pile into a pickup truck and cart ur away for you.

In our next post, we will talk more specifically about strategies you can use to consolidate your workers’ comp problems in short order, so you can “clean up your lawn” and gain some much needed green space and clarity.