March 2013

How to Fix the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation System — Surfacing Hidden Dangers at Our Workplaces, Part 2

March 19, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

One of the cheapest and most humane ways to lighten the burden on the North Carolina workers’ compensation system is to suss out hidden dangers at our workplaces. In a recent blog post, we discussed two surprising but potentially very effective ways to create safer workplaces.

1. Reduce the availability of sugary, refined junk food snacks and replace them with healthier alternatives.

2. Create better information sharing platforms so that safety conscious workers and employers can better disseminate their useful insights.

Today, we’re going to look at one more insight from the world of business process improvement.

If you’re not a business owner, you may not be that familiar with the concept of Systems.

Basically, a system transforms input into output and thus provides value to clients. Top management thinkers often use business process improvement thinking to identify gaps in service or quality. Then they make incremental improvement (via process improvement) and/or major change-ups (via reengineering) to get better results and continually improve.

Most business thinkers — at least the successful entrepreneurs — engage in systematic thinking, planning, refinement, improvement, etc.

But although the North Carolina workers’ compensation system is, in fact, a System, very few thought leaders apply this business process improvement “kaizen-type” thinking to the dilemmas we all face.

That all sounds a bit abstract. So let’s break it down a bit.

The workers’ compensation system has thousands of stakeholders, including insurance companies, employers, state bureaucrats, attorneys, taxpayers, and of course workers.

The many moving parts of this system are dynamic. But the purpose of the system is well defined — to provide a financial help for hurt and injured workers and to resolve disputes that arise during the compensation process.

When problems arise in this system, the conventional approach is to blame stakeholders:

•    “The insurance company didn’t play fair”
•    “The sick/injured worker wasn’t really that sick and/or trumped up his damages”
•    “The employer was bad because he didn’t have insurance”
•    “The bureaucrats took way too long with the case.”
•    “The legislators are in the pockets of the corporations.”
•    Etc.

We’re obviously not saying that these judgments aren’t important. If you’ve personally suffered because of an insurance company’s cruelty or employer’s narcissism, you know how damaging this kind of passing-of-the-buck can be.

But in addition to calling out lame stakeholders, we also could benefit from finding/repairing problems with the system itself — instead of just blaming people or companies or whole classes of stakeholders.

Of course, if you’ve personally been hurt, the last thing you care about is fixing this system as a whole. You want specific, actionable advice about your case. Call the DeMayo Law team today for a free consultation to help you maximize your results — 1.877.529.1222.

Solving the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Crisis by Eliminating Hidden Dangers at Work (Part One)

March 14, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Ever since the Charlotte News & Observer blew the lid off the North Carolina workers’ compensation insurance scandal last spring, our blog and many other thought leaders in the North Carolina community have wrestled with how to refine our system to improve worker care and reduce burdens on insurance companies and employers at the same time.

It’s a tricky puzzle.

Obviously, no single entity can solve everything. But we might benefit, collectively, from surfacing and eliminating certain hidden dangers that lurk at many North Carolina workplaces.

For instance, anyone who studies North Carolina workers’ compensation issues readily acknowledges that chronic diseases, such as type II diabetes, obesity, cancer, and dementia, exact a horrific toll not only on the lives of the people in our state but also on our infrastructure.

The origins and treatments for so called metabolic syndrome (the cluster of diseases associated with obesity and diabetes) is surprisingly ambiguous. But many health authorities are beginning to rethink certain common dietary paradigms. For instance, according to the official USDA statistics, we are consuming less fat today (during this obesity epidemic) than we did during the 1960s (when there was no diabetes/obesity epidemic).

Conversely, we consume a LOT more sugar and refined carbohydrate.

In light of these and other observations, many health authorities have been recommending that people worry less about fat consumption and more about sugar/refined carb consumption. If these authorities are right, one way we could make our workplaces healthier is by eliminating or reducing worker access to sugary sweet junk food.

Obviously, workers need to eat. But perhaps instead of vending machines stuffed with processed junk food and sodas, we should have more healthy snacks available, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, hard boiled eggs, and the like.

We can also benefit from better information sharing. Odds are that numerous workers and employers have developed ad-hoc systems to reduce dangers at their workplaces. These systems just happen to work really well. Maybe a Raleigh construction team has developed particularly nifty way of preventing scaffolding accidents. If that solution could be shared broadly, it could help the entire scaffolding industry eliminate or at least reduce certain types of accidents.

Thanks to the Internet and mobile technologies, we now have a lot of ways to share information better. If we can somehow collectively collaborate to exchange workplace safety lessons — in real time and across industries — we can almost certainly drive down rates of injury and thus, indirectly, relieve some burden on the North Carolina workers’ compensation system.

We’re going to talk more about this issue in a follow-up blog post. But if you or someone you know needs help with your Charlotte workman’s’ comp case, get in touch with the DeMayo Law team now at 1.877.529.1222 for a free case consultation.

There Is No Magic Way to Shortcut Your Way to a Successful North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Claim

March 12, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you fell off a ladder at a Raleigh construction site and broke your ankle in several places; or you developed a wicked case of thoracic outlet syndrome after working in a very stressful bank job in Charlotte, you want someone to help you.

You want to fight and win your claim–to compel your former boss to treat you fairly and make the insurance company treat you like a human being.

Our Charlotte North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm is in the business of helping people like you get better outcomes and find new hope after everything seems lost. To that end, many of the articles we publish on this blog intend to galvanize positive, productive thinking — that is, to help would-be beneficiaries take a more positive and productive stance in how they approach their struggles.

Positive thinking is obviously important, as is goal setting, resilience, finding good people, etc.

But beware the “miracle solution” mentality.

No law firm, no matter how brilliant, well-credentialed, and resource rich can win every case. Even if you get a fair settlement amount, you will need to do a lot of work, by yourself, to repair your body, move forward with your career (if that’s even possible anymore), and fix your finances.

The moral here is that you want to embrace a paradoxical mentality.

On the one hand, stoke your faith that you can get through this experience, no matter what happens with the insurance company, your boss, the NCIC, etc.

Simultaneously, accept and even embrace the complicated state of your circumstances. Understand that you will NOT “solve everything at once.”

If you consciously inhabit this paradoxical mindset–accepting your complex fate but pushing relentlessly for positive results–you will likely get a far better outcome.

Make that first step by calling the team here at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo at 1.877.529.1222 now for a free consultation.

Horrorshow Workers’ Compensation Story: A Temp’s First Day on the Job Is His Last Day on Earth…

March 7, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Workers’ compensation cases in North Carolina (and elsewhere) can be gruesome–horrifying, even.

Consider, for instance, the tragic fate that befell Lawrence DaQuan Davis, a 20-year-old temporary worker who got crushed to death at a Jacksonville bottling plant last August. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has gone after Davis’s temporary employer, the Bacardi Bottling Corporation, citing the company with a dozen safety violations. Dr. David Michaels, the Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA, reflected on the tragedy: “a worker’s first day at work should not be his last day on earth…employers are responsible for ensuring the safe conditions of their employees, including those who are temporary.”

Unfortunately, and perhaps unsurprisingly, temps get hurt at work at greater frequency than regular shift workers. The reasons for their increased vulnerability are diverse and dynamic. Here are a few:

•    Temporary workers are less familiar with operating procedures and facilities–they don’t understand how to navigate, use machines, adhere to training procedures, etc;
•    Temp employees don’t know the “regulars” as well–they lack an evolved, developed set of communication processes. Good companies will impose certain processes on temps, so that they quickly get up to speed — so that they can communicate well with regular employees. But great relationships based on trust take a long time to build. There is a reason why police officers, fire and EMT workers, Navy Seals, etc. train so closely together as a corps. Comradery prevents miscommunications and improves responses to emergencies;
•    Temporary workers also lack training needed to use certain instruments or machines — they’re at more risk for making rookie mistakes.

North Carolina workers’ compensation cases can become quite emotional and consequential, particularly if a worker has died or gotten seriously hurt.

According to a report at workerscompensation.com “Davis was cleaning glass from under the hoist of a palletizing machine, when an employee restarted the palletizer.”

If you got hurt as a temp in Charlotte or elsewhere in North Carolina, you may be entitled to substantial compensation for your damages. Call the DeMayo Law team today for a free consultation at 1.877.529.1222.

Facebook Jealousy and the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Beneficiary

March 5, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you got injured at a construction site in Charlotte, or you hurt your wrist typing memos at a bank in Raleigh, you need North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits to meet your financial needs. You also want to square away your situation for social reasons.

That sounds strange, but it’s true.

Human beings are social creatures. As much as we rail against the evils of “Keeping up with the Joneses,” we intuitively, instinctually, and subconsciously measure our own worth by checking out how other similar people are doing. This can be dangerous, especially if you’re a frequent habituator of social networking sites like Facebook or Pinterest. You might find yourself easily swept up by waves of jealousy or longing:

•    ”If only I was fit and healthy like my old friend from high school.”
•    ”If only I had enough money like my ex-girlfriend from college who just had her third kid.”
•    Etc., etc.

This kind of “let me compare myself to other people” thinking almost never leads to good places, even if you’re healthy and doing great in life. When you feel rotten or sick — when you are can’t even deal with the basics — this relentless drive to compare can drive you to depression.

Here’s what’s even worse: when you’re sick and injured, you ALREADY lack for energy and resources. When you fuss over Facebook and get jealous — instead of using your limited energy to find solutions to your problems, get support, take positive action — you’re just basically burning a vital and limited resource.

Don’t take this the wrong way: social media can be useful. If you use Facebook to reach out for support, that’s great. Do that. Just be sensitive to the fact that you might–again, instinctually and without any conscious effort–find yourself making comparisons that put you in a negative light and that lead to emotions like jealousy, depression, and anxiety.

Here is a good alternative to this kind of futile cycling–connect with the North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm of DeMayo Law today for a free consultation. Our team can help you understand your options, create a taut battle plan for taking the right actions, and keep you motivated and supported throughout your quest for benefits and fair treatment.

 
 

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