Topic: Legal Issues

April Showers Bring … North Carolina Construction Accidents?

May 23, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

April showers don’t just nourish the sweet smelling flowers of May — they also can precipitate serious North Carolina construction injuries.

That sounds perhaps somewhat cynical, but it’s true. When inclement weather strikes, accident rates at workplaces often go up. Why? When it rains or snows or blows, the wooly weather creates extra hazards at construction sites. Even though professionals are trained to deal with wet and furious weather, when you aggregate these hazards, bad weather impacts accident rates.

Does this mean that you shouldn’t go to work when it rains?

No. Wild weather also causes more auto accidents. But that doesn’t mean that you should only drive when it’s sunny out. In fact, ironically, if you only worked (or drove, or did anything) during good weather, your ability to deal with bad weather would likely degrade.

For instance, let’s say you only decide to work on sunny days because you want to minimize your accident risks. But then you get caught out on a surprisingly wet day. Your ability to work safely during would be diminished because of your dearth of experience in those conditions.

The key to managing life’s dangers — and the dangers on construction sites — is to manage them systematically. You need to get educated and to understand your risks and options to protect yourself. You also need to develop habits and behaviors that are safety-focused.

Even more fundamentally, you want to make sure that you are working with a group of men (and/or women) who take safety seriously. Your construction company’s work culture, perhaps more than any other factor, will help you manage risk — or leave you exposed to excess risk.

What if you already got hurt in a scaffolding accident, ladder fall, burn, etc? The team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo has an extensive, highly successful record of helping workers’ compensation beneficiaries quality for benefits after construction accidents.

Please give us a call now at (877) 529-1222 for a thorough and free evaluation of your matter.

You do not need to fight your own case or work through intricacies of your legal situation on your own. In fact, right now, you should be concentrating 100% on your medical recovery, on taking care of your family, and on managing your own chores and errands and psychology.

Leave the legal work — the accident reconstruction, identifying liable parties, etc. — up to a solid, professional legal team. Call DeMayo law now at (877) 529-1222 to find out more.

Your Complex North Carolina Construction Accident: who should be held responsible?

May 20, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you fell off a ladder or sliced open your leg or suffered a burn at a North Carolina construction site, your gruesome injury may take months to heal, and you are still haunted by vivid recollections about the fateful afternoon when it all happened.

Unfortunately, your case seems complicated. Maybe you were working for a subcontractor on a bigger site, and some other subcontractor’s signage error precipitated an engineering miscalculation, which resulted in your falling off scaffolding.

Or maybe some wild concatenation of factors — a mislabeled bucket, surface slicked by rain, an inaccurate step by you –conspired to cause your injury. Perhaps multiple people got hurt in different ways. Given all the money at stake, many different parties that could be liable (e.g. subcontractor, the general contractor, the landlord, the municipality, any of these parties’ insurance companies, investors, on and on and on).

Untangling complex construction accidents is both an art and science.

Even in relatively simple cases (or seemingly simple cases) there is often more to accidents than meets the eye. For instance, maybe you stepped into a bucket that shouldn’t have been in your way, and as a result, slipped and plummeted 20 feet to the ground where you broke your legs.

Why was that bucket there? Short answer: a naïve subcontractor’s helper left it on your scaffolding by mistake. Your intuition might be to sue the subcontractor for hiring an inept worker. But perhaps different and/or larger elements played into the injury. For instance, perhaps the general contractor erred in hiring a subcontractor with a shoddy record for
screening his people. As a result, maybe the general contractor should be sued for liability as well.

You also need to anticipate how the various defendants might respond. For instance, maybe you were working on only four hours of sleep and made an error that contributed to the disaster.

In some cases, companies can protect themselves by filing for bankruptcy or engaging in legal defer and delay tactics. This is further complicated by the fact that personal injury law in North Carolina is constantly changing.

Is there a solution to the madness?

As complicated as these matters can seem — and your matter maybe astonishing complex, even if you think it’s already pretty scrambled — you can relax for two reasons:

You do not have to think through these contingencies and solve these problems yourself.

If you find the right North Carolina construction accident law firm, you can effectively detach from thinking about your case and focus instead just on healing, helping your family, and dealing with your financial and emotional stresses effectively.

DeMayo Law is an experienced North Carolina construction accident law firm. Please reach out to us at (877) 529-1222 for a free evaluation of your matter.

Keeping Strong and Motivated While on Charlotte Workers’ Compensation

May 18, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

How can you stay focused and ready while out on North Carolina workers’ compensation?

More specifically, how can you avoid “getting soft” and growing dependent on this
income? How can you maintain a sense of autonomy and feeling of usefulness? How
can you keep your job skills sharp? What common “traps” do Charlotte workers’
compensation beneficiaries fall into during their idle time?

If you even begun to have questions along those lines, first of all, congratulations.

Many beneficiaries (or would be beneficiaries) never take the time to consider the
potential downside to winning a workers’ compensation case. That’s dangerous because there are always downsides to achieving any objective. If you fail to surface those potential problems, you could subconsciously hold yourself back.

In other words, it’s good that you are already thinking along these lines. However, you now have a practical challenge. How DO you stay on course, once you have “won” fair benefits?

Here are some ideas:

Figure out what jobs skills you want to protect and keep in good shape, and then work with your spouse or friends–or outside counselors–to keep those skills in shipshape.

For instance, maybe you are an accountant, and you broke your leg falling down the stairs outside a Raleigh Bank. Your body may hurt, but your mind is still pretty sharp. So you might want to spend some time everyday playing word and number games to keep your brain functioning at a high level. If you are too hurt/fatigued to practice physical skills, you can try to do them in your head.

For instance, maybe you are a construction worker who needs to stay in bed for the next three months because of a back injury. Very well. You can still imagine doing your work. That may sound silly. But if you spend 15 minutes a day or so visualizing successfully implementing tasks at work or moving your body, your mental circuitry will remain intact, and you will find it easier to return to the job force.

With respect to the motivation issue … you absolutely must strive to meet your needs for autonomy and productivity.

Even if you are confined to your bed or so sick that you only really have two or three hours of “productive time” a day, you need to find some way to make use of that time in a way that you will find gratifying and, ideally, financially remunerative. (Be sure your pursuit does not violate terms of your North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits!)

Again, planning, visualizing, and goal setting can help. But recognize that the motivation needs to be intrinsic–in other words, don’t do an activity in hopes that you will be rewarded at the end. Instead, do something that you find rewarding “in the doing.”

For help with your workers’ compensation case, look to the DeMayo Law team today for a free consultation.

Winning Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Case: A Top Priority?

May 17, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Life is full of imbalances and unexpected (and often unpleasant) surprises. As someone who was recently hurt in a North Carolina work accident, you understand, firsthand, how quirky life can be.

No one goes into work expecting to suffer a massive injury that sends him to the hospital and creates permanent life changes. But that’s what happened to you. Some days are more fraught and fateful than other days. Life is full of imbalances.

When it comes to your recovery — medical recovery, financial recovery, and spiritual recovery — imbalances also exist. To the extent that you can identify useful imbalances and leverage them is to the extent that you can speed up, cheapen and soften the whole recovery process.

What does that all mean?

It means that certain activities or projects that you do now can give you tremendous leverage — leverage that the vast majority of other activities or projects will not afford you.

For instance — and this is a bad example to illustrate the point — but let’s say that you wrenched your knee. Your knee got thrown out of its socket. As a result of all that pain, you are feeling lethargic and nauseous. You are unable to walk. You are unable to work.
You can do a lot of “medical stuff” to treat your various symptoms. You can take Advil to relieve some of the pain. You can take a nap to sleep off fatigue. Etc. But your biggest point of medical leverage is obviously to treat the knee effectively — to get it back in the socket.
The big point of leverage is the “knee surgery/repair stuff” — all the other medical treatments will only glancingly deal with the problem.

Likewise, when it comes to your personal financial situation, only a small handful of projects will yield the best results for you. Your challenge is to identify what those projects are and to focus your limited attention/stamina/resources on those problems.

In all likelihood, one of those projects involves your quest for North Carolina workers’ compensation. If you can get workers’ comp benefits quickly, you can staunch your cash flow problems and buy yourself some time/sanity to recover and figure out your next steps.

So what’s a great “point of leverage” to deal with your workers’ comp problems?
Instead of trying to manage the situation by yourself — assuming that you’re not an expert in NC workers’ comp law or in how to make recalcitrant employers and insurance companies work for you — consider getting in touch with the team here at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo for a free consultation.

Call us at (877) 529-1222, or find out more about our services and success rates online. Do the small, important things that are necessary to heal your body and heal your finances, and you’ll likely enjoy better odds of long-term success.

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

May 5, 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 insurances”

     “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)

May 4, 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 andemployers 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.

Keeping Strong and Motivated While on Charlotte Workers’ Compensation

May 2, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

How can you stay focused and ready while out on North Carolina workers’ compensation?

More specifically, how can you avoid “getting soft” and growing dependent on this income? How can you maintain a sense of autonomy and feeling of usefulness? How can you keep your job skills sharp? What common “traps” do Charlotte workers’ compensation beneficiaries fall into during their idle time?

If you even begun to have questions along those lines, first of all, congratulations.

Many beneficiaries (or would be beneficiaries) never take the time to consider the potential downside to winning a workers’ compensation case. That’s dangerous because there are always downsides to achieving any objective. If you fail to surface those potential problems, you could subconsciously hold yourself back.

In other words, it’s good that you are already thinking along these lines. However, you now have a practical challenge. How DO you stay on course, once you have “won” fair benefits?

Here are some ideas:

Figure out what jobs skills you want to protect and keep in good shape, and then work with your spouse or friends–or outside counselors–to keep those skills in shipshape.

For instance, maybe you are an accountant, and you broke your leg falling down the stairs outside a Raleigh Bank. Your body may hurt, but your mind is still pretty sharp. So you might want to spend some time everyday playing word and number games to keep your brain functioning at a high level. If you are too hurt/fatigued to practice physical skills, you can try to do them in your head. For instance, maybe you are a construction worker who needs to stay in bed for the next three months because of a back injury. Very well. You can still imagine doing your work. That may sound silly. But if you spend 15 minutes a day or so visualizing successfully implementing tasks at work or moving your body, your mental circuitry will remain intact, and you will find it easier to return to the job force.

With respect to he motivation issue … you absolutely must strive to meet your needs for autonomy and productivity.

Even if you are confined to your bed or so sick that you only really have two or three hours of “productive time” a day, you need to find some way to make use of that time in a way that you will find gratifying and, ideally, financially remunerative. (Be sure your pursuit does not violate terms of your North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits!)

 Again, planning, visualizing, and goal setting can help. But recognize that the motivation needs to be intrinsic–in other words, don’t do an activity in hopes that you will be rewarded at the end. Instead, do something that you find rewarding “in the doing.”

 For help with your workers’ compensation case, look to the DeMayo Law team today for a free consultation.

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.

Could Your Whiplash, Headaches and Other Charlotte Workplace Injury-Induced Problems Be Caused (Or Even Worsened) By Anger?

February 7, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you fell off a scaffold at a Raleigh construction site, hurt your legs and spine in a delivery vehicle accident, or developed crippling thoracic outlet syndrome while working an office job at the Duke University campus, you likely believe that your physical problems are tied to physical causes.

And they just might be!

Physical insults to your body, such as serious falls or car crashes, obviously can have physical consequences. An alternative theory, however, suggests that many chronic musculoskeletal injuries are at least partially perpetuated by (and potentially even caused by) repressed emotions, especially anger.

This alternative theory is controversial and, there is not too much science to refute or confirm it. However, research suggests that many muscular-skeletal problems — at least the chronic ones — may be caused/worsened by knots of overworked muscle tissue known as trigger points. Treatment of these trigger points can relieve symptoms that appear only indirectly related to a problem area. For instance, if you experience numbness and tingling in your hands, perhaps you have a problem in your hands themselves. Alternatively, trigger points in your chest area, shoulders, and upper-back could be constraining your musculoskeletal system and thus making your hands feel numb and tingly and uncomfortable.

The science of trigger points is relatively unexplored and poorly understood. But at least some anecdotal evidence indicates that repressed emotions, diet, as well as the more obvious physical “stuff” can all impact the formation of and resolution of these trigger points.

Perhaps, one day, researchers will understand the mind-body connection better, and physicians can treat workplace injury victims on a more holistic level — help them develop a catalogue of physical therapies, dietary changes, and psychological insight to deal more effectively with their chronic musculoskeletal problems.

The moral here is that, if you’ve been struggling to recover from a seemingly minor workplace injury, appreciate that the human body is incredibly complex and dynamic. Be compassionate and maintain faith while you and your medical team work through your specific medical puzzle.

Of course, while you’re engaging in rehabilitation, consider getting the ball rolling on your North Carolina workers’ compensation case. The team here at DeMayo Law can help identify a powerful way forward with your claim. Call us now for a consultation at (877) 529-1222.

A North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Success Story

January 22, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

In a recent piece on the state of the North Carolina workers’ compensation system, we reviewed the story of Raleigh resident John Ashworth, who suffered career ending injuries to his feet in 2008, when he fell off a roof. Ever since, he’s been battling his ex-employer to collect $70,000 in lost wages. His old boss, Robert House, didn’t have workers’ comp insurance; to date, he’s only paid Ashworth $75.

House claims that he is broke and out of business. Not an uncommon situation.

Last April, the Raleigh News & Observer revealed, in a shocking expose, the 30,000+ state employers lacked adequate workers’ comp coverage.

Critics say that the North Carolina Industrial Commission has been anemic — unable to punish and wrangle employers effectively. Our state lacks a systematic way to deal with these kinds of cases fairly and quickly.

Silver linings do exist, however.

Consider the happier story of Frank E. Boykin, who suffered a brain injury four years ago and lost muscle function, short term memory, and other medical problems. Boykin fell behind on his child support and even landed in jail once because he lacked money to provide his teenage child.

Boykin’s old boss, Andy Salvatore of Smithfield Auto Center, had refused to pay the $120,000+ he owed to the injured man. Eventually, after much heel-dragging, the NCIC acted, and officials arrested Salvatore for failing to appear at an NCIC hearing. The legal action prompted Salvatore to settle Boykin’s claim and provide him $1,000 a month as well as $100,000 in medical bills.

In a conciliatory spirit, an NC Deputy Attorney General told the boss that he would be spared $100,000+ in penalties (for not carrying North Carolina workers’ compensation insurance) if he made good on his arrangement with Boykin.

Meanwhile, advocates for hurt/injured workers in the Old North State want more systematic approach to cases like Boykin’s and Ashworth’s. Perhaps we need to follow the lead of South Carolina, which has a far more robust set of mechanisms for punishing employers who don’t pay claims and also draws on a special state fund that collects $18 million a year for people like Ashworth and Boykin.

Do you need help understanding your rights and potential remedies under North Carolina law? The DeMayo Law team can help. Talk to one of our friendly associates today, and set up a free consultation with us to explore what you might be able to do.

What If You Obtain Some Workers’ Compensation Benefits… But Less Than You Want?

January 1, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

The quest for North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits is often sold as a binary proposition. Either you WILL get benefits, or you won’t.

Either you will obtain zero money to pay for your medical bills, surgery, and time off work; or you will obtain more than enough to meet those needs and then some.

Reality check: many Charlotte workers’ compensation cases wind up in compromise.

You might win some benefits — some money from the insurance company, e.g. — but not get everything you want or need.

On one hand, “half a loaf is better than none.” If you win only $300 a week in workers’ comp benefits, that’s still $300 a week more than $0 a week. You can still leverage the money to pay key bills and stay financially afloat.

On the other hand, a “half a loaf” resolution can feel like a Pyrrhic victory. You could

Framing the results of your North Carolina workers’ compensation case:

Pay attention! The following concept can give you critical leverage, whether you emerge from your workers’ comp quest empty handed, full-pursed or somewhere in between.

Will you be a “Larry David” about the results and see the glass as “ half empty”?

Or will you be an optimist and see the glass as “half full”?

The way you FRAME your results can have a profound, lasting effect on your degree of satisfaction. The good news is that you can control how you think about the situation. The bad news is that learning how to access that control is neither intuitive, nor simple. If it were simple to be an optimist, then the world would house far fewer cynics.

Becoming an optimistic does not mean ignoring reality; closing your eyes to real problems; and gambling despite dire odds.

If you commit to “being more sunshine minded,” you won’t change your attitude in days or weeks. Only slow, purposeful progress, when diligently pursued, will transform your pessimism.

Incremental progress adds up. If you drove 50 mph up a barely perceptible 6% incline on a theoretical highway that just climbed and climbed, within two hours, you’d be at an elevation equivalent to the top of Mount Everest!

Small differences in your attitude, when aggregated and persistently pursued, can change the way you think about your North Carolina benefits and leave you feeling more satisfied and in control of your life.

So start thinking positively, and get 2013 off to a great start. Connect with the DeMayo Law team now for a free consultation about your workers’ comp case.

Envisioning Success with your Workers’ Comp Claim: A Key Mistake So Many People Make…

December 25, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

We all know that the images that we hold in our head of success — regarding a North Carolina workers’ compensation claim or anything else — can powerfully influence our behaviors, thoughts, and actions. When you think about the color yellow, for instance, all of a sudden “yellow objects” seem to burst into your field of view – you see daisies, dandelions, yellow cars, yellow houses, et cetera. So the focus that we hold in some sense determines the nature of our conscious experience and directs our subconscious thinking as well.

Countless “success gurus” talk about this reality of human cognition. They encourage people to write down their goals, “think positive,” and develop emotionally vivid and specific pictures of final outcomes. You certainly might consider following some of this advice – getting specific about your goals, conceptualizing success, and focusing on the “good stuff” in your life as opposed to the annoying frustrations, which also certainly likely abound.

But there is a subtle road bump you might hit!

If you focus on “escaping from a bad situation” as your positive outcome, you can accidentally short circuit the process. The brain’s teleological focusing mechanism doesn’t seem to understand the word “not.” For instance, if you focus on “not smoking,” your brain will become deaf to the word “not” and just think about smoking. It’s akin to the “don’t think about a purple elephant” problem. There: you just thought about a purple elephant!

If you’re experiencing issues with respect to your workers’ compensation problem – a lack of money, a lack of clarity, a lack of health – avoid focusing on “relieving that lack” and instead focus on what you want to be true, when all is said and done. You may be tempted to focus on the day you leave the doctor’s office without your crutches — or tossing your crutches into the trash can. But that visualization keeps you focused on being ill. Instead, perhaps imagine yourself walking on healthy legs in the park with your grandchildren. Conjure up a vision of life as you want it to be, ideally, long after the sturm und drang of your health issues and your employment issues have been dealt with.

For help getting started on the path to success, get in touch with the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo for free, insightful, and confidential input on your possible North Carolina workman’s comp case.

Learning to View the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Process as a Process (Not as a Single Event)

December 13, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

In today’s post, we’re going to try to shift your mindset about workmen’s compensation in North Carolina.

Most injured workers and their families picture the quest to get adequate, ongoing benefits as the equivalent of a quest to hike Mount Kilimanjaro or swim across the English Channel – a challenging project which can be conquered with enough vim, perseverance and luck.

That type of metaphor misleads – big time!

There is a reason why we call the North Carolina workers’ compensation system a “system.” A system is a repeatable process, something that gets done over and over again. A “project” is a one-time event, akin to climbing a big mountain or swimming across the sea.

This difference may seem fuzzy to you right now, but try to appreciate the distinction.

The way you optimize a process is very different from the way you optimize a project. Since you only “do” a project once, for instance, you just want to figure out the fastest, most efficient solution. If that means “burning your bridges,” so be it. Not so when it comes to tweaking a process! If you plan to cycle through a system again and again, you must avoid “burning your bridges” and also document what you do in detail. It’s not about crossing the river or reaching the peak – it’s about creating a sustainable, comfortable, repeatable method.

Switching from the project-based to the process-based mindset is not easy or intuitive. But it’s crucial. For instance, a setback on a project might be devastating. A setback during a process can actually HELP you because it gives you insight into how that obstacle can be met next time. Those who are stuck in the “project mentality” may view their workers’ comp obstacles in a purely negative light. Those who make the leap into the “system mentality” will see obstacles as learning opportunities to be leveraged to improve future passes through the process.

Of course, doing this all on your own – especially if you’re sick, tired, financially overwhelmed, and unfamiliar with even these basic paradigms for understanding North Carolina workers’ compensation – is kind of a recipe for disaster.

The team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo has an established track record for helping people exactly like you discover what works, avoid what doesn’t work, and generate results and clarity. Get in touch with us now for a free consultation.

Drop Your Expectations That Other People Will Understand What It’s Like to Be on North Carolina Workers’ Compensation

December 11, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

As a recently injured employee, you want to find the simplest and most certain path for collecting North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits. You also have a deeper need to be understood. You want your boss, your co-workers, your spouse, your friends and family – and indeed all of society – to appreciate your position, avoid judging you, and offer support.

You’re in a vulnerable position right now, and you need this empathy to get through your challenges.

Unfortunately, that empathy may not be easily forthcoming.

You may see cable news pieces or read editorials that disparage North Carolina workers’ compensation beneficiaries as lazy or indulgent. Your boss and/or co-workers may turn on you or try to discredit your testimony to protect the company. Even friends and family members may prove to be less than empathetic and may demand that you “get it together” and get back to work — bring more money, be more productive.

Just understanding that you may encounter this kind of “empathy gap” can be helpful.

If you do experience this isolation, know that you’re not alone. It happens to all too many claimants or would-be claimants. It’s really a terrible tragedy. Part of the problem is that people get trapped in their own paradigms of viewing the world and thinking about problems. If you have never been sick and injured and off of work, you can’t really know what that feels like.

Finding Empathy in Oneself and in Other Trustworthy Sources

If you’ve been running an empathy deficit, you may be discouraged and may fear that you will never get the listening that you so crave. Don’t give up hope so easily. First of all, you can find empathy within yourself. This may sound challenging, but it can be done. Secondly, you can tap into other sources, such as the team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo. Our attorneys and associates deeply understand the diversity of perils that would-be beneficiaries face, and we can help you solve your problems in an organized, simple, and compassionate way that will leave you feeling clearheaded and more hopeful than you’ve been in a long time. Get in touch with us today to find out more.

You Got Hurt While Driving Home in the Snow: Are You Still Eligible for North Carolina Workers’ Compensation?

December 6, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Perhaps you got hurt at work by wrenching your back lifting boxes into an office supply closet. If so, no one would doubt that you were actually “at work” when the injury occurred or that you were engaged in a work-related project.

So your case might be pretty simple.

Not all cases are so cut and dry. When “grey” situations arise with respect to your claim, your quest to collect benefits may turn surprisingly frustrating and contentious. Here’s a good example a legally ambiguous situation.

Imagine you’re a consultant for a large firm assigned to attend a sales conference in Western NC. Business wraps up. So you hop on the freeway and head for home. But you encounter a snowstorm. While chatting with a work friend on your car, your car skids on the icy/snowy freeway, and you crash. The fender bender leaves you with whiplash that requires treatment to the tune of $40,000.

Can you collect workers’ compensation to offset the expenses of the treatment?

The situation may be cut and dry one way or the other. Or it may not be, depending on the nature of your work, the nature of the accident, and even the substance of the conversation you had been having with the friend/co-worker!

These kinds of legal ambiguous situations have occurred thousands of times throughout the history of workman’s comp. If you’re caught in a similar kind of ambiguous situation, the choices you make (or fail to make) can literally make or break your case.

Key pivotal choices include:

•    The quality of your Charlotte workman’s compensation law firm;
•    The speed and alacrity with which you investigate the claim;
•    The agility with which you respond to questions from insurance company, an employer or other interested party.

Begin to stack the deck in your favor by connecting with a solid, highly reputable law firm, like DeMayo Law, for a free consultation, so you can understand what you might be up against.

Don’t Let Setbacks in Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Case Put You on the Defensive

November 29, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether your boss of 20 years is suddenly refusing to compensate you for a workplace injury in Charlotte; or you’re getting terrifying communications from an insurance company to the effect that the insurer is plans to give you far less money than a fair amount for your injuries, you may be tempted to abandon “forward progress” in your life and work only on protecting ‘what you have left.’

This is an understandable sentiment.

Whether you twisted your back in a construction accident, hurt your ribs and shoulders in a work delivery car accident, or developed painful chronic joint problems in your hands after working as a bank clerk at a Research Triangle area bank, your injury has crippled you. You can no longer generate income, engage in fun recreational activities, participate fully in relationships, and so forth.

The indirect effects of your workplace accident may be even more horrific – and costly – than the direct effects. When you cannot work, for instance, you may start to feel helpless and angry, which may encourage you to engage in destructive behaviors, which can in turn have their own indirect consequences. And so on and so forth. And then when you layer on the stress and agita caused by a non-cooperative employer or coworker and/or a surprisingly vicious insurance company  well, one can understand how the quest to get compensation can feel demoralizing.

You must move forward in life to make progress

Part of what separates successful people from unsuccessful people – perhaps more than anything else – is resiliency. How fast can you rebound from setbacks in your life and surprising challenges? Compelling scientific research suggests that resiliency is necessary, especially when you are facing big, multi-pronged, potentially life-altering challenges.

One key to resiliency is maintaining a positive, highly specific vision for your future. It’s not enough, for instance, to want to ‘get better.’ Visualizing yourself healthier, ambulatory, back working and doing things you love, etc. can be helpful, of course. But ideally you don’t want simply to reclaim the status quo – get back to where you were in your life before the accident. Ideally, you would like to transcend not just your injury and all its consequences but also any limitations that you faced before the accident or event.

No ones suggesting that you be a Pollyanna: you must pay attention to the realities of your situation. If you shattered your legs and ripped up your joints and ligaments, odds are that your professional ice skating days are over. You don’t want to fool yourself about that! But you also want to look deeper. Think more expansively about what your life could become – not just what it could have been.

For help managing all aspects of your North Carolina workers’ compensation claim, get in touch with the DeMayo Law team.

What Oklahoma Congressman’s Workers Comp Success Story Says About Your Chances For Collecting Workers’ Compensation in Charlotte

November 22, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Mike Christian, an Oklahoma Congressman who was injured in a car crash in 2009 while driving to the state capital, was recently awarded over $51,000 in workers’ compensation.

This ‘under the radar’ story could have interesting lessons for you, if you’re struggling to figure out whether you’ll be able to collect workers’ comp to pay for your injuries.

According to the story in AP, the Oklahoma City Republican hit a truck on February 26, 2009, while he was driving to work. The accident led to back and neck injuries. Representative Christian was driving in his personal car, but he was commuting to work. Legislators in Oklahoma can get reimbursed for one day of driving every week. As a result of that little subtle fact, the trial judge ruled in his favor, and the liable insurance company elected to pay the check instead of appeal.

Even without diving deeper into the case — or into the travails that Representative Christian had to endure during his quest — we can still extract very useful lessons here:

1. Just because you are a powerful figure – e.g. a famous person, political representative, or a wealthy CEO – does not mean that your journey to collect workers’ compensation in North Carolina (or elsewhere) will be easy.

Here was a state legislator – someone who was literally running the government – who had to fight tooth-and-nail to collect money from an insurance company. If you’re having difficulty navigating the system — figuring out what to do and how to do it — hopefully this tale can give you some emotional relief and help you be less hard on yourself. Getting compensated can be tough!

2. Extremely minor details can have massive impacts on your chances to collect a claim.

Imagine if Representative Christian had not been officially reimbursed for driving once a week to his job. He might still have prevailed, but his road to victory would have been more challenging. What are the small distinctions about your case that will make it harder (or easier) for you to prevail?

3. We all need help sometime, and there’s no shame in asking for assistance when you need it.

Representative Christian is a Republican legislator in one of the most conservative-leaning states in the union. Yet he availed himself of a critical resource — i.e. workers’ compensation.

The point is that asking for help – or for even government assistance – does not mean that you lack industry, persistence, or self-starter-ship. If you have reservations about seeking government assistance based on political ideology, let go of them. Instead, focus on what’s best for you and your family.

The team at the law office of Michael A. DeMayo can help you make smart, sound, and strategic decisions about your workers’ comp case. Get in touch with us now for a free evaluation of your claim.

What’s Thwarting Your Quest for Workmen’s Compensation in North Carolina? [Not What You Think!]

November 20, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

You’ve been struggling to collect workmen’s compensation benefits in North Carolina for a while. You feel agitated and practically ready to scream in frustration.

Why you are having such a hard time?

You may not have asked yourself this question before. Or maybe you have asked it, and you answered it by claiming to be helpless. For instance:

•    ”My employer just turned on me for no reason, and he’s not supporting my claim”;
•    ”The North Carolina workers’ compensation bureaucracy is too complicated, and I get a headache every time I try to understand even my basic rights”;
•    ”The insurance company is screwing me over”;
•    ”The accident made me too sick/depressed to take effective action.”

There is a strong likelihood that you have been struck by unfortunate circumstances. Perhaps you have had the displeasure of discovering that your boss is not the kind of boss that thought he or she was.  Perhaps a seemingly trustworthy insurer has turned out to be anything but. And those things may all be true. Nevertheless, in your rush to figure your situation out, you may have misdiagnosed your problem – or at least failed to address certain key aspects of your frustrations.

What seems to be holding you back may be a phantom constraint.

So what’s the real problem? How can you find out?

Here’s a really neat, fun, and insightful exercise. Pick one aspect of your workmen’s compensation problem. For instance, maybe you’re feeling pain in your wrist after a typing injury. Ask yourself why it happened. Your answer might be ‘because I worked myself to the bone and never really took breaks.’ Now, ask yourself what’s the root cause of that problem — why did you work so hard? You might come back with an answer along the lines of ‘I wanted to do a really good job to impress my superior and earn more money.’

Then drill down yet again! Ask yourself why it was so important to show off to your superiors and make money. You might then realize that you did so because you felt a strong sense of duty to provide for your family. Why? Because your family is incredibly important to you.

Your passion and desire to support your family sparked your “overwork,” which sparked your injury.

With that insight in your pocket, you can think about how you might be able to meet your needs  to support your family without struggling so much or putting yourself at risk.

It’s very difficult for us to understand the subtle, often subconscious forces that motivate us to take actions (or fail to take actions). It can be tremendously useful to work with an experienced person – or a team of good people – to make progress.

Get in touch with the team at the Law Offices of Michael DeMayo for assistance with your claim now.

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation and the Quest for Perfection

October 25, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Contrary to the stereotype of the typical North Carolina workers’ compensation beneficiary, most out-of-work injured employees are both desperate to get back to work and also passionate about reclaiming control over their own lives. While it’s true that a certain very small segment of the workers’ comp population does want to “take it easy” – and there will always be people who will abuse benefits programs – odds are enormous that you belong to the first category.

Perfectionism – the big, hidden enemy of so many hurt/injured employees

Critics of the Charlotte workers’ compensation system will disagree with the first paragraph of this blog entry. They will cite statistics and anecdotal evidence suggesting that hurt/injured workers tend to get mired by their disability. Far too many people blow off their rehab/therapies, waste time surfing the web and watching TV, and otherwise avoid the tough but critical work needed for success.

But this problem of “slackerdom” is really often a reaction to inner perfectionism. It’s almost like many think: “if I can’t succeed totally with my life, why bother trying at all?” If you believe that the system is stacked against you – that your employer, an insurance company, or some other party will almost assuredly “win” any legal battle with you – you might figure “what’s the point in fighting hard for my rights?”

Imagine playing high stakes blackjack against the house, knowing that the deck was literally stacked against you. What would be the point in investing time, energy, and focus into making your blackjack game better, when you already know the outcome already? It’s easier to “tune out.”

So when the critics look at the facts on the ground – see hurt and injured workers “slacking off” and not pursuing rehab best practices – they may just be seeing the residue of a broken system.

Who wants to play a game when you don’t know the rules and you don’t believe you can win?

Obviously, your workplace injury and fraught financial situation are not “games.” However, there are aspects of your situation that are “game-like,” in that you’re striving to reach certain metrics (e.g. dollars per week in benefits). But you probably don’t know the rules that well, and you probably feel like you are playing against a “better opponent.”

Evening the playing field is possible, even if you are in a weakened state, physically, emotionally, and financially. The team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo can help you understand what steps to take, what processes to follow, and what else to do, legally speaking, to set yourself up for better results.

$31.8 Million Settlement from GlaxoSmithKline: Implications for North Carolina Workers’ Compensation

October 18, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

GlaxoSmithKline recently earned the dubious achievement of being on the losing end of the biggest healthcare fraud settlement in the history of the United States. As part of that settlement, the behemoth drug maker will pay North Carolina $31.8 million. These funds will be disbursed to various programs, including Medicaid and our public school system, which will receive nearly $4 million. If you have been waylaid with a workplace injury or illness, and you need North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits, what should you make of this story? How will it affect you, personally, if at all?

There are lessons to be learned here, but they are subtle:

1. The wheels of justice can take time to turn, but they can work.

State and federal investigators spent a tremendous amount of time, money, and energy to bring GlaxoSmithKline to heel, legally speaking. Surely, the job wasn’t easy. But at the end of the day, the drug manufacturer did have to pay for making untrue statements about the efficacy and safety of certain drugs, providing kickback to physicians, and failing to fully pay rebates to Medicaid and similar benefits programs. If you currently feel like you are up against ìinsurmountable oddsî – e.g. a big insurance company refuses to pay you – you may have more options at your disposal than you realize.

2. Elements of the system are just fundamentally unfair.

In an ideal world, patients could trust drug companies to provide effective safety warnings, equitable reimbursement, etc. They could rely on honest physicians to guide them, too. But alas, in the real world, our situations can get more fraught and complex. Fortunately, you can turn to respected advocates, like the DeMayo Law team, to even things up.

3. You are not in this alone.

If you feel alone, isolated, and overwhelmed due to your workplace injury or illness – isolated even from friends and family who want to help – you can easily spiral into a mentality of “no one knows what this is like.” But the GSK story illustrates that the problems that we all face with respect to workers’ compensation are, in some sense, universal.

That’s tragic, in a sense. But it’s also a relief; we can see our own story in context and thereby blunt the isolation effect. The team at DeMayo Law has helped many people in very similar situations to yours; we can help you, too.

Setting Expectations After a Workplace Injury in Charlotte

October 11, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

A workplace injury in Charlotte has completely upset your financial and life plans.

Whether you and your spouse have been planning to start a family; or whether you have been dealing with crushing credit card debt or a burdensome mortgage, you were barely holding it together even before you got hurt. Now, you must reevaluate in light of new and unpleasant realities, such as:

•    You have no idea how serious the injury might be;
•    You don’t know when you can go back to work;
•    You don’t know whether you will be able to quality for North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits or, if so, how and when you will get those benefits;
•    You may have critical bills to pay or creditors to deal with, and you are not sure how to handle the avalanche of financial obligations and other commitments;
•    You may have obligations to take care of other people, including small children, a spouse, an elderly parent, etc.;
•    You are worried about your own mental health and stress level.

There is obviously no silver bullet that’s going to relieve all of these stresses in one fell swoop. But the team here at the Law Offices of Michael DeMayo can help you at least begin to understand how to make life after your Charlotte workplace injury more manageable.

The process begins by completing two critical steps. The first step is to acknowledge where you are now in rich, honest detail. Forget about your past. Forget about what your plans were. Your reality has shifted. Your ability to respond effectively will depend in large part on how honest you can be with yourself about what you face, what resources you retain, and what potential real challenges you face.

The second step – equally critical – is to define what an ideal outcome would look like, given your honest assessment of the present circumstances. To make this cognitive leap, however, you do need to “let go” (in some sense) of your present reality and just imagine things in an ideal state. In other words, if you had no constraints, what would your life look like? How would you act? What would you be doing? The more specifically you can answer the questions like this, the easier it will be for you to find strategies and resources to help you navigate from your present reality to your preferred future.

Let the team here at DeMayo Law help you get a handle on your challenges. We can provide a free and fair evaluation of your legal options.

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation: A Brilliant New News & Observer Piece Takes Us Beyond Superficial Numbers

October 9, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

You might be surprised by how many people talk and think about North Carolina workers’ compensation issues knowing little more than ìboilerplateî statistics and tired talking points.

It’s fine to have an opinion – even an ill-informed one – about what ìshould be doneî to repair the system, make it more equitable, and ensure that beneficiaries access the care they need. But it’s also trickier to sort truth from fiction, since most popular articles and websites on the subject miss the mark.

One of the best sources for ìcutting through the clutterî about North Carolina workers’ compensation is the investigative team at Charlotte’s News & Observer – available online and in print. One recent article by Michael L. Walden highlights why. Walden analyzed why North Carolina economic forecasts tend to be shortsighted and based on overly simplistic interpretations of economic indicators. For instance: the total number of jobs in North Carolina has essentially stayed static between 2000 and 2011. Many economy gurus use this statistic and ones like it to ìdemonstrateî that our state’s economy is sinking or stagnating.

But, as Walden points out, North Carolina has a generally ìbouncyî economy – at least when you compare our state with the other 49 – due in part to our reliance on manufacturing jobs. We tend to lose more jobs during downtimes and gain more jobs during uptimes. As Walden points out, ìaggregate production in North Carolina is now 2% higher than prior to the recession (in 2007) versus no improvement to the nation.î

The moral here is: When you read editorials, you may not be getting the full story.

These insights may all be well and good, at least from an intellectual ìlet’s debate how to fix the systemî perspective. But what if you or someone is hurt and sick? What if you are a spouse or caregiver of someone who’s hurt and sick? What might these news stories imply for your quest for ìbest practicesî?

The curious reality is: not much!

In other words, if you’re dealing with a specific benefits question, you can essentially tune out the news, especially if you’re working with a creditable, highly qualified North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm, like the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo. Our team can help guide you and give you the necessary strategic advice to make better decisions and maximize your quest for benefits.

What Are the 3 Most Important Tasks to Get North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Benefits ASAP?

August 30, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Here’s a cool exercise for you. Ask yourself this question every morning, right after you get up, and every evening, before you retire: “What are the three most important projects I need to do to maximize my North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits?”

If you asked yourself that question every night and every day for 30 days — and you journaled the answers and reviewed them as appropriate – can you even imagine how much progress you would make?

Unfortunately, hurt and injured workers are rarely encouraged to think through their problems and develop inner resourcefulness. Yes, it’s often crucial for people who are struggling with a less than compassionate boss or difficult insurance company to leverage outside resources, like the Charlotte workers’ compensation firm of DeMayo Law.

But even the best legal team is not going to be able to right every wrong in your life or solve every indirect issue pertaining to your workers’ comp quest.

To learn how to think more resourcefully, you need to adopt smarter, success oriented habits.

One of those habits is learning to focus on what’s important as opposed to what’s urgent.

In other words, you likely have a basket of projects and challenges associated with your workers’ comp situation. In addition to locking down your benefits, you also need to figure out what to do next with respect to employer, your rehab schedule, what to do with the kids while you’re recovering, etc, etc. Some of these projects are both important and urgent. For instance, if you rent an apartment, paying the rent every month is an important and urgent task. It comes with a built-in timer.

On the other hand, we can all too easily get sucked into busy work — the unimportant but urgent stuff, such as a frantic e-mail from your cousin about her “baby mama drama” — at the expense of the important but not so urgent stuff, such as questions about how to rejigger your retirement plan now that you’ve been knocked off of work for several months or possibly several years.

Using the rule of identifying and working on your three most important tasks per day is a great way to keep your focus on the important/non-urgent tasks.

How Could They Do This to Me? Dealing with Betrayal during Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Struggle

August 23, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

It’s not like you ever wanted to have to rely on North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits to feed your family, pay medical bills, and live your life.

But a workplace injury or occupational disease has rendered you incapable of earning a living at your former job, and you just want your employer and your coworkers to behave compassionately and treat you with understanding and respect.

While some employers do reach out to hurt workers — and strive to treat them well and ensure that they get good care — not every employer is thrilled to open up his or her pocket book.

What’s worse: some employers “make it personal.” A once supportive boss may, for instance, attack your character by asserting that you were bad at your job, lied, came in late, etc. Even more upsetting can be the betrayal of coworkers. Some North Carolina workers’ comp cases evolve into bitter “he said, she said” type arguments. Once supportive coworkers — who might have even offered to provide favorable witness testimony for you — may “switch sides” and abandon you in favor of your employer.

These betrayals would hurt, no matter what. But when you are down and out and sick, they bring a whole new level of sadness, frustration and hopelessness to the situation.

Understand that you do not have to fight your battle alone!

You do not have to let an immoral employer or cowardly ex-co-workers intimidate you into giving up your claim or into settling for less than you deserve. The experienced team at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo, for instance, can take effective action on your behalf and ensure that your employer, the liable insurance company, and other parties treat you appropriately and fairly… and that our state’s laws are leveraged powerfully and effectively on your behalf.

Using Your Charlotte Workers’ Compensation “Time Off” to Reevaluate Your Bigger Picture Goals

August 17, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

On one level, your Charlotte workers’ compensation situation is a tragedy and terrible waste of your time/energy.

Assuming that you enjoyed the work that you were doing, you’re frustrated, because you can no longer do that work. Even if you didn’t particularly love your job, you definitely enjoyed getting a pay check and enjoying financial freedom and all the indirect perks that come with that. Now that you can no longer work – and you’re compelled to deal with physical pain, emotional stress and urgent new financial problems – you’re probably feeling somewhat helter-skelter.

Turning a catastrophe into a potentially positive, life-altering moment

Everyone in life goes through challenges – even the richest king, the most beautiful person, and the most “lucky” amongst us goes through challenges. Everyone feels down and out from time to time. Research into success suggests that life’s challenges are not necessarily the things that defeat us. Rather, it’s our attitude and approach to life’s challenges that ultimately tell our fate.

That might sound glib or overly simple. But understand that many people can overcome horrific setbacks – massive medical problems, bankruptcy, horrors perpetuated on them by others – and live long, productive, happy lives. “Bouncing back” is easier said than done, but it is possible, provided that you follow through on a few basic essential skills.

1. Acknowledge your reality.

It’s no good to live in fantasy land. If you deny that you are hurt — or deny that you are not going to be able to go back to your old job — you’re going to make your problems harder and set yourself up for heartbreak. Be honest with yourself about where you are now.

2. Retain a burning faith that you will triumph no matter what, even if you can’t see the “finish line” from here.

You must not give up! You need to persist in your foundational belief that you can overcome your hurdles.

Those two seemingly paradoxical points of view – fully accepting reality and embracing faith in ultimate success – constitute what business author Jim Collins once described as “The Stockdale Paradox.” Collins derived this term after he interviewed Admiral Stockdale, who had been held captive during the Vietnam War and tortured. He asked Stockdale how he survived. Stockdale replied that he survived because he never gave up faith that he would get out of there.

Collins then asked him: what happened to the people who didn’t make it? Stockdale replied that people who didn’t make it were the optimists.

Collins was confused – wasn’t the idea of retaining a burning faith in ultimate freedom an act of optimism? Stockdale replied with the essence of this paradigm, you need to simultaneously be BOTH tenacious and realistic. Those two points of view are not necessarily in contradiction, even though most people assume that they must be.

So cultivate this “The Stockdale Paradox” paradigm in your life, and you’ll likely enjoy better results over the long-term.

For practical, on the ground “nuts and bolt help” with your North Carolina workers’ compensation issues, look to the team at DeMayo law.

“Ready, Fire, Aim” to Blast Your Way to North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Success

August 14, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

You want to succeed with your North Carolina workers’ compensation journey. Badly.

But winning a North Carolina workers’ compensation case can be extremely difficult: life is full of setbacks. You want to make progress, but you’re not sure how to proceed. You’d like help, but you’re not sure how to recruit the right help. Maybe a tested and trusted North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm, like the Law Offices of Michael DeMayo, could give you leverage. But you have diverse problems in your life – financial, emotional, physical, relationship issues, et cetera.

Fortunately, there is a pretty well trusted two-step process that can help you move forward with your diverse problems.

The Yin and Yang of Strategy Planning and Action

Here’s how it goes:

1: Strategically plan, based on an ideal vision.

What exactly are you hoping to achieve with your workers’ comp journey? What would success look and feel like in the real world – be as a specific and granular as possible.

2: Take action based on your plan; then reflect and get feedback on what’s happened.

The best plan in the world isn’t worth a hill of beans until it’s been proven by contact with the real world.

Once you do take action, however, you then extract usable information about what worked and what didn’t work. Then, based on these actual real world lessons, you go back to step one to refine/redefine you find your strategy. Then you process through the model again.

If you keep going from strategy to action back to strategy back to action, eventually, you will build momentum towards success with respect to your problem. This model is often called the “ready, fire, aim” model. It’s more counterintuitive than what we are taught in school — “ready, aim, fire” — but on a practical level, it makes a lot of sense. It allows us to accommodate for the real world “stuff” that often turns our grand plans upside down. It also builds in control mechanisms to keep us focused on the big picture, while we’re hacking through the “trees” with a proverbial machete.

Putting theory into practice with a Charlotte workers’ compensation example

Let’s say that you really want to improve the mobility of your leg after a serious accident in the shipping area of your workplace. Your first step should be to make a strategic plan for recovery – obviously in conjunction with your doctor. This plan might involve medication, surgery, rehabilitation, et cetera.

Once you’ve locked that plan, you then need to get into action. You need to take your medication, do the rehab exercises, et cetera. If you don’t want to go blindly forward, you need to reflect on your success (or lack thereof) and build off the successes and eliminate stuff that’s not working.

So maybe after a week, you realize that the drugs you’re taking are giving you strange side effects, and you don’t want to take them anymore. So based on this feedback, you and your physician revise your strategic plan by eliminating the drugs from the plan. Then you move forward based on your new plan. As you iterate this process, you get closer and closer to an ideal way of solving your North Carolina workers’ compensation problems.

5 Critical Reminders about Your Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Rights and Responsibilities

August 9, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you’re considering filing a Charlotte workers’ compensation claim, you might want to print out and save the following article for reference. Here are five “must know” facts for claimants.

1. Even if you caused the accident or workplace injury, you can still file and win a claim.

The whole point of the workers’ comp system is to create a “no fault” environment to resolve claims. Even if your employer did nothing wrong – and you did – you can still win benefits.

2. Chronic injuries and diseases caused by your work are compensable!

Even if you didn’t break your arm in a forklift accident or inhale toxins at an industrial facility and suffer acute breathing spasms, you can still collect Charlotte workers’ compensation. Chronic injuries, like repetitive strain injuries (RSI) that you got at a secretarial job, for instance, are compensable.

3. Don’t forget Form 18!

You have two years to alert the North Carolina Industrial Commission about your injury or accident. To do this, you need to file something called a Form 18. You also need to alert your employer about what happened – ideally in writing. Keep copies of all notifications, and do this in writing please – don’t just do it with a phone call or in person chat.

4. Don’t just accept the first options the insurance company suggests!

After you have achieved your maximum medical improvement from the injury/illness, you maybe left with a permanent disability. How much you get depends in part on your negotiation skills. The liable insurer will almost certainly try to get you to agree with the easiest/least expensive option… for the insurance company! Do your due diligence and get the facts on all the choices potentially available to you.

5. You can reopen your case – within two years, but no more than that!

If you are not satisfied with the settlement arrangement, or if your injury/disease worsens, you can strive to get more benefits and/or additional rehab or medical/surgical help. But you need to file with the NCIC within two years, or risk losing your rights to additional compensation.

For help navigating the labyrinth of our state’s benefit system and to ensure powerful results, turn to the seasoned team here at the law offices of Michael DeMayo.

What Happens If You File for North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Before You’re Even Hired? A Look at Fatta v. M&M Properties Management

August 7, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

An interesting new North Carolina workers’ compensation case passed through the State’s Court of Appeals.

The case, Fatta v. M&M Properties Management, involved a key piece of legislation called the North Carolina Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA), which prevents employers from firing workers for filing a claim – or for even telling an employer that he/she is going to file a claim.

The Fatta case concerns a manager in training at a property company. While in his early tenure — he had only been working with the company for three weeks — the man hurt himself cleaning a hotel room. He reported what happened to his employer and indicated that he was thinking about filing a workers’ comp claim. While this was happening, the company gave him a bad performance review, citing the fact that he took long breaks, struggled to provide good customer care, and in general proved to be a less than adequate match.

In any event, he was shortly fired.

The claimant not only moved forward with his North Carolina workers’ compensation claim but also sued his employer per the REDA. M&M Properties said that he couldn’t sue because he hadn’t even filed his claim before the termination period. But the court said nope, the action was allowed under REDA.

Fatta’s claim was ultimately denied, however, because the company proved that the firing had nothing to do with the threat to file the claim – it had to do with well documented evidence that the manager wasn’t cutting the mustard with his work responsibilities.

Understanding the subtleties your claim

What’s interesting about this case is that the claimant “won the battle but lost the war” – that is, he was able to beat the company on a point of law, but ultimately he was not able to collect benefits.

The implications of this are interesting, if you’re researching a North Carolina workers’ compensation firm, like DeMayo Law. You want to make sure that anyone who represents you has experience not only dealing with potentially complex employee/employer litigation but also has the resources and connections to answer your questions and get you additional help if you need it.

Enjoying a More Productive Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Experience: A.K.A “Turn Off CNN!”

July 26, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

You never expected to be injured at work, waylaid by significant illness, or suddenly “far behind” your plotted career trajectory. But life happened, and now you need North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits to tide you over as you recover and try to rebuild your career.

The challenge for you is pretty straight forward: how can you be productive and maximize the minimal amount of energy you have to build your career and get things done? It’s a simple question with a complex answer.

When we are healthy, and we have a lot of free time in our hands, we tend to be relatively lax about what commitments we allow to enter our world. We take time to answer emails to old friends. We take long leisurely lunches. We sleep in. Etcetera. As any North Carolina workers’ compensation beneficiary – or new parent – understands, when your energy/time gets reduced, you need to be far more choosy about your commitments.

One easy way to “lop off” unnecessary commitments is to apply something called the 80:20 rule – a.k.a the Pareto Principle. Take a look at all the “stuff” that you committed to doing right now, and rank those activities in terms of how important they are for your happiness. Now take the bottom 20% of the activities that leads to your happiness, well being and productivity (e.g. watching CNN) and lop them off. They are gone. You are not going to do those anymore.

Similarly, find the 20% of activities that give you the most joy and monetary return, and figure out how you can spend more of your time and energy doing those things.

Another cool concept is to apply something called zero based thinking – a concept developed by productivity guru Brian Tracy. The idea is simple. Take a scan of every commitment in your life right now. Ask yourself a basic question: if you had to start over with the commitment – that is, if you had no obligation to do it – would you?

The beauty of exercises like the Pareto Principle and “zero based thinking” is that they compel you to make choices about your commitments that you might otherwise delay or defer making. And part of being a more productive North Carolina workers’ compensation beneficiary is changing your habits and behaviors.

Final note: If you need help managing your various commitments and struggles, the team at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo is on your side and here to help. Connect with us for a complementary and thorough consultation regarding your case.

How Clear Are You on Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Goals?

July 12, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you’re struggling to collect North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits, or you’re in the beginning stages of researching your options after an injury or illness, odds are you are suffering from a significant clarity problem – and you may not even realize it.

Many people act without a thorough and highly specific ideal outcome in mind. To the extent we do so is the extent to which we set ourselves up for frustration, lag time, and failure.

Getting clear about a desired outcome is actually a lot harder than many people realize. The skills required to attain this high level of clarity, consistently, are typically not taught in school; and they require diligence and practice to perfect.

Here’s one sure-fire way to gain at least a little clarity during an ambiguous situation. The idea is going to sound simple, but don’t dismiss it!

Here it is: Measure.

That’s all? Measure?

That’s all. According to Peter Drucker, one of the greatest management thinkers of all time, “what gets measured gets managed.” In other words, if can come up with a metric for the result that you want, you are far more likely to manage your way to get better results with it.

The key is to pick an appropriate metric for your situation. Ideally, you want to choose one or two numbers that you can track over the next weeks or months to ensure that you are moving slowly, tangibly, in an appropriate direction.

For instance, you can choose a metric to grade your physical recovery. Say you have a serious knee injury, and you are going through a rehab. You might grade your knee pain daily or even twice daily on a 1 to 10 scale; then work on getting that pain number down over time. In terms of your financial situation, maybe you can grade the degree of ambiguity over your budget on a 1 to 10 scale – or use whatever metric is appropriate – and then work on making that number more favorable.

The key point is, by grasping onto some benchmark you can work against, you can not only move yourself incrementally towards a desired end state, but you can also regain a sense of control that you might have lost since the injury/illness.

For help with your case, connect with the team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo.

Big North Carolina Workers’ Compensation News as Governor Perdue Signs HB 237

July 3, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Unless you’ve been living under a rock – and/or you’re not that concerned about North Carolina workers’ compensation – you have probably been reading a lot about Republican Nelson Dollar’s sponsored bill, HB 237 – a measure designed to compel lax employers to get appropriate North Carolina workers’ compensation insurance coverage or risk the opprobrium of the North Carolina Industrial Commission. Governor Beverly Perdue signed HB 237 into law last week…but not everyone is happy about her decision!

In fact, both the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters and the North Carolina Press Association – as well as state editorial boards – asked Perdue to veto the bill.

Why are so many people so unhappy with it?

Before we get into that question, let’s step back to the source of the drama. The News & Observer (a paper based in Raleigh) broke a pretty amazing story last month – revealing that potentially tens of thousands of employers lack appropriate workers’ comp coverage.

Why is this a problem? It’s a problem because, if/when workers get hurt on the job, and their bosses lack coverage, the cost of care gets passed down to the taxpayer and/or the worker does not get full and fair treatment or reimbursement.

It’s a big deal.

Indeed, the News & Observer piece is probably the reason why lawmakers acted in such haste to deal with the issue. The problem is that HB 237 comes with a provision designed to keep certain information private – that is, information passed from the NC Rate Bureau to the NCIC. This could be problematic because if the Rate Bureau chooses, it can bar injured workers, for instance, from learning whether or not an employer has workers’ comp coverage.

Groups opposed to the bill argued that HB 237 will reduce the transparency of the North Carolina workers’ compensation system; supporters countered that half a loaf is better than none – that the law will help hurt workers get proper repayment for lost wages and medical bills.

What will happen because of HB 237?

•    Will the new law encourage employers to play more by the book?
•    Will the media groups ultimately be convinced that the provision is relatively innocuous?
•    Will hurt and injured workers (and their families) ultimately get better treatment?

These questions may have profound implications if you or someone you love needs good care – and reimbursement for any harm suffered. Connect with the team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo for a free and fair consultation.

Commissioner Hall Cracks Down on North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Insurance Violations

June 28, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Employers who violate the North Carolina workers’ compensation laws may one day find themselves standing before Deputy Commissioner, George R. Hall III, and other officials at the North Carolina Industrial Commission, pleading for mercy – that is, for the privilege to pay massive fines in lieu of jail time.

Could the times really be a changin’?

In two recent blog posts, we explored the fallout of a Charlotte News & Observer story that found that a ridiculous number (up to 30,000) of state businesses may lack adequate workers’ compensation insurance. Governor Beverly Perdue (among others), apparently found the statistics disgraceful – even terrifying – and put pressure on the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) to step up to the plate.

The Industrial Commission appears to have gotten the message.

Recently, for instance, the Commission fined the owners of a trucking company in Beaufort County over $100,000 – extracting assets that the owners had actually deeded to their children in order to pay the workers’ compensation claims of two widows who lost their husbands in crashes while working for the company.

Back in 2004, Gregory and Joyce Nixon dropped their workers’ comp coverage to streamline costs. Ironically and tragically, less than two weeks later, one of their drivers, David Murray, died in a truck crash. Three year passed – and Murray’s wife still had not gotten workers’ comp coverage – when a second driver, Richard Maynard, lost his life in a truck crash.

Murray and Maynard’s widows ultimately had to bring suit to get their workers’ comp money.

Although the NCIC brought the hammer down on the Nixons, the Commission has shown sympathy for other business owners, who’ve come up with every excuse under the sun to explain why they lacked proper coverage. Explanations cited included:

•    Economic problems
•    Bankruptcy
•    Unemployment
•    Foreclosure
•    And beyond

It’s important to recognize: some of these explanations are not only legitimate excuses but also deeply tragic in their own right. Even though the team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo often needs to go to battle against recalcitrant employers and insurance companies — those who block our clients from getting fair recoveries for their medical bills and other needs — we recognize that it is unfair and unproductive to paint people on the other side as villains.

We’re ALL struggling to come to terms with difficult financial and medical issues. We all need a little more empathy and understanding as we try to meet our various needs.

If you need help dealing with your workers’ comp benefits, connect today with our team for a free and confidential consultation.

A Compassionate Look: The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Insurance Problem: Part 1 – Employees

June 21, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Research conducted by the Charlotte News & Observer has found that up to 25,000 businesses (or so) in North Carolina may not have adequate (or any) workers’ compensation insurance, in violation of state laws.

In general, if a company conducts business in the state — and employs four plus people — that company must either carry insurance or have assets to self-insure to provide for the medical care and other costs of injured workers.

The North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) has authority to punish businesses that do not comply with these North Carolina workers’ compensation insurance rules. But in reality, the NCIC is not exactly a stern taskmaster. This means that many businesses skate by with less than adequate coverage, and that leaves the entire system vulnerable to problems.

Say someone who works at an underinsured business gets injured and needs care. The costs of that care will get passed on to us all, ultimately, in the form of higher taxes. There is another subtle and indirect – but possibly even more dangerous – consequence of the “underinsurance” problem. Namely: when hurt workers lack guarantees of reimbursement, they may delay or defer care that they need. As a result of deferring care, then may take far longer to heal… and their injuries can costs thousands more than they should have.

Hurt workers are not without recourse, however. They can sue their companies or try to get the NCIC to mediate an agreement. But it can be a mess.

If you haven’t been hurt, but you suspect your employer is underinsured or uninsured…

Ask questions, now, before someone DOES get hurt. Document all conversations about the subject, and time and date stamp them. If your employer lacks insurance, urge him or her to investigate the proper coverage right away. Often, business owners fail to get insurance simply because they don’t know they need it… or because they’re “too busy” dealing with other aspects of running the company. Owners need to know that this is not a matter that can be deferred – in certain cases, employers can even risk jail time.

If you’re already been injured

The team at the experienced Charlotte workers’ compensation law firm, DeMayo Law, can talk to you about your situation and help you plan your next steps. We can help you stay grounded, in control, and strategically focused on getting the right benefits, connecting with quality resources, and pursuing all avenues to get fair treatment.

Progress in Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Case – Incremental Improvement

June 7, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

As someone who has been struggling with a Charlotte workplace accident — someone who needs workers’ compensation and potentially other help to manage your life — you are a bit lost and confused right now.

You are vaguely aware that there is a gap between your current reality and what you would like to achieve with respect to your benefits, your healing, your future employment situation, and your financial plans. But you haven’t identified any concrete, methodologically rigorous plans for what to do, when to do it, how to do it, and who might be able to help you with it.

The power of continuous improvement

There is an old joke that’s beautiful in its simplicity and its visual power. It goes like this:

Q: “How do you eat an elephant?”

A: “One bite at a time.”

This soft hearted joke holds a powerful lesson. It suggests that, when life dumps massive and diverse problems on our shoulders, we do not need to shrug all the problems off all at once. We all probably intuitively accept this. But when we get in the thick of dealing with a disaster, we tend to lose perspective. As a result, we then wind up stressing over the “gap” between what we want and what we can achieve.

In other words, we recognize that we are not where want to be, and we can’t get there soon enough, so this dissonance creates mental stress!

How do we deal with this stress?

If you read self-help books or talk to productivity experts, there’s a common response to questions like this: just get into gear. Start moving towards your goals.

In other words, even if you don’t have a solid plan, GO. You will develop a plan as you go along. If you just sit on the sidelines, and you try to “plan everything to death,” you are liable to organize yourself into a feeling of non-control. That sounds paradoxical. But what you essentially end up doing is creating a bureaucracy for yourself that impedes your progress.

You need to free up how you maneuver.

So whether your first step is to call your aunt to get a referral for an orthopedist, so that you can check out your injured leg; or your first step is to connect with the team here at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo to talk about your North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits; or your first step is to simply have a bowl of soup and take a nap so that you can think better, get into some kind of positive action.

Just remember this one idea: keep moving towards your goal, and don’t worry, because you will be able to redefine what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it as you go.

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Momentum – Punctuated Evolution

June 5, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

In a recent post on how to deal with the mountain of problems associated with your North Carolina workers’ compensation claim – what we metaphorically describe as kind of a “big elephant” that you want to shrug off your shoulders – we talked about how you need to get into action and seek continuous improvement towards a positive end state.

Whether you want to get your finances in order, straighten out your employment situation, deal with your health issues, or simply understand your potential legal rights and responsibilities with respect to North Carolina workers’ compensation, taking action is critical.

That said, there is another myth about how cases typically progress. A more subtle one!

While most people know that they need to “take action” to get things to happen in their lives, they don’t understand this second point too well. And that point is that progress does not happen linearly! It’s not like, day by day, your body will heal and heal and your financial circumstances will get better and better. On some days, you might see progress. But on other other days, you might feel like you are going in reverse.

Imagine you’re walking towards the Appalachians from Charlotte. You won’t just slope gently up and up and up until you get to the top of a mountain somewhere in West Virginia. Sometimes you will be going up, sometimes you will be going down. But as long as you keep heading in approximately the right direction, you will eventually reach the mountains. You will eventually get to the top. That is, if you continue to reset your perspective, reevaluate your progress, check your map, etcetera.

What does this all mean, specifically, for your workers’ comp case?

It means that, if you find yourself suddenly concerned about your medical situation or your legal battle, the answer is not necessarily to panic. The answer might be to panic! But not necessarily so. Because progress towards a worthy goal always has its ups and downs.

Of course, you also need to know whether you’re marching towards the proverbial mountains or heading towards a cliff. And you can’t really do that if your perspective is overly limited. That’s why it’s so helpful for beneficiaries or would-be beneficiaries to work with an experienced law firm, like the team at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo. Since we have gone through the process of getting clients the resources they need many, many times, we know the common hurdles that they face and how to bypass those obstacles or make them irrelevant.

How Not to Commit North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Fraud

May 2, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

The crime of North Carolina workers’ compensation fraud often leads to curious news stories.

“Bad apples” sometimes try to game the system by feigning illness or by pretending that certain injuries are much worse than they actually are (and moonlighting at another job while illegally collecting benefits!).

A case out of Los Angeles last week illustrates the absurdity of workers’ comp fraud. According to the LA Times, Raphael “Noodle” Davis has been charged with four counts of insurance fraud (all felony counts), and he faces up to five years behind bars because he collected $30,000 in workers’ comp… all while participating in mixed martial arts fights!

Investigators discovered the ex-firefighter’s scheme when they found videos of Davis on YouTube fighting in these athletically demanding competitions. To Davis’s credit, he did pretty well in the bouts, racking up a 6-1 record. That being said, his workers’ compensation fraud charges could be a knock out punch.

Pretty amazing stuff, all told. Of course, not all cases of North Carolina workers’ compensation fraud are as cut and dry. In fact, many people who have very legitimate work-related complaints can find themselves hounded by insurance companies, investigators, and others – their credibility questioned, their privacy intruded upon.

Other beneficiaries may not fully understand the rules of conduct – what they can do and cannot do. These folks can accidentally get into trouble for violating certain aspects of their benefits arrangements. This kind of issue is far more common than stories like Davis’. After all, even generous workers’ comp benefits may not compare favorably to the salary that you had made before you got hurt. And we all have a drive to continue to produce valuable products and services and get rewarded for our efforts. So it’s tempting to “push yourself,” even if pushing yourself means potentially violating the rules or spirit of the law.

To develop the most effective, strategic, and appropriate path towards getting benefits, sustaining those benefits, and rehabilitating your life, career, and finances, you may need help. You may find it hugely useful to connect with Michael A Demayo’s North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm for a free consultation about how to meet your needs, given your financial stresses and other concerns.

More Web Resources:

Los Angeles firefighter charged with workers’ comp fraud

Davis’s mixed martial arts fights on YouTube.

Employers and North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Insurance Cost: Part 2 – Possible Solutions

April 12, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

In a blog post earlier this week, we discussed a piece in the Charlotte Observer about employer related struggles regarding North Carolina workers’ compensation insurance.

Although state law requires most companies to purchase workers’ comp insurance or at least certify that their businesses are flush enough to self insure, 30,000+ companies lack insurance, according to an analysis done by News & Observer.

This “underinsurance” problem creates a crisis for the entire North Carolina workers’ compensation system. Employers who break this law may get hit with a Class H felony charge, which can lead to jail time. Hurt workers, meanwhile, may wind up without recourse to pay for lost wages, time off of work, medical care, and beyond. And the underinsurance problem creates stresses on the entire system – upping the workload for the North Carolina Industrial Commission, causing insurance related headaches, and on and on.

It would be great if we could all sit down and try to figure out some solutions. To that end, here are some speculative ideas:

#1. Make it easier, less stressful, and less expensive for companies to purchase workers’ comp coverage.

Employers often claim that they simply lack the money or resources or time to shop and buy policies. If we can lower the bar for them (we can experiment with various mechanisms for doing so), then we can likely reduce some of the underinsurance problem.

#2. Improve employer education.

Most employers do not like to contemplate worst case scenarios: a worker getting sick at the shop or on the industrial floor, for instance. But employers need to understand not only the risks for themselves and for their businesses but also the risks to their employees.

#3. Employees need to investigate and speak up.

If you’re an employee, you want to be able to trust that your employer is doing the right thing and following proper procedures. And while legally, your employer is responsible, employers are human beings too, and they can make mistakes. As the old Cold War saying goes: trust, but verify. If you’re a new employee at a construction job, for instance, and your new boss tells you that he is bonded and insured and licensed and everything, why not go ahead and ask to see proof? The more informed you are about your own welfare, the more protected you will be, and the less likely you will need the services of a qualified North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

More Web Resources:

Charlotte Observer’s Piece on the Consequences of When Employers Dodge Workers’ Comp Costs

Speaking up for yourself as an employee

North Carolina Workers Compensation: A Powerful Tool, But Only One Asset in Your Arsenal

April 5, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether your husband dislocated his knee working a construction job in Raleigh, your son broke his back in a fork lift accident, or you got exposed to hazardous chemicals at an industrial job site, you need North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits to pay for your treatment, time off, rehab, and other costs. And, certainly, workers’ comp benefits can go a long way towards helping you and your family meet expenses and keep your budget in the black.

However, hurt workers – and their families – need to think about their benefits in the context of the larger financial picture. Yes, it would be great if your employer and/or insurance company co-operated fully with you and compensated you fairly and immediately. And yes, it will be a tragedy if you have to struggle for months or years to get treated fairly by the system. But your benefits – even in a best case scenario – only constitute one thread in the tapestry of your financial life.

Being financially prudent can mean two things: penny pinching and expanding your assets.

Penny pinching and income boosting, in and of themselves, are less useful alone than they are together. To that end, here are a few ideas to help you boost your revenue stream and cut costs to stay in the black, no matter what happens with your North Carolina workers’ compensation case.

•    Ask your spouse to create more of an income stream;

•    Cut out extravagant entertainment options, such as pricy TV packages and cell phone/video streaming packages;

•    Go over your budget with a fine toothed comb for a month to see where you and your family are spending “too much” – the more granular your audit, the more you can see ultra specifically where you are spending (and potentially wasting) your money.

•    Consider downsizing. Instead of driving down to Florida for spring break, consider creating a fun stay at home “staycation.” If your mortgage payments are getting out of control, consider moving to a smaller home or even an apartment, while your family gets its financial balance.

•    Avoid racking up too much credit card debt by limiting impulse purchases. Some families even find it useful to make purchases only in cash (to avoid getting into credit card trouble), although that kind of system creates its own accounting headaches and also leaves you more vulnerable to problems like theft, etc.

•    Get help immediately with any benefits questions by connecting with an experienced and client trusted North Carolina workers compensation law firm.

More Web Resources:

How to increase your revenue stream

How to clip your home budget

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Fraud Alert: 18 People Busted for Major Scam in NY

February 21, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Let there be no doubt: if you are charged with and convicted of North Carolina workers’ compensation fraud (or grand larceny, false statements, conspiracy, etc), you might face massive jail time, astronomical fines, and other penalties.

A disturbing case of New York workers’ comp fraud has been circulating in the blogosphere. 18 people in 13 counties across New York were arrested in a state-wide crack down. One of the accused, John Czechowski, allegedly took $12,000 from a New York state insurance fund. He suffered a back injury while doing roofing work. Investigators found that he was working off the books for a different company while continuing to collect workers’ comp for the back injury.

Commenting on the case, a spokesperson for the New York State Department of Financial Services blamed fraud artists for victimizing both companies and taxpayers. He emphasized that the state will end fraud to reduce the cost of insurance for workers’ compensation.

Case in Context

It’s easy to understand why fraud poses such a problem – not just for individuals who need money to pay for time off of work and medical costs, but also for employers and even insurance companies. When scam artists drain money from the system, those costs must be compensated. It’s not as if North Carolina can just print more money and call it a day. That money gone becomes money taken out of everyone’s pocket.

There is also a more subtle danger: fraud degrades trust.

Insurance companies who have been ripped off will institute more strict investigative rules to check up on future claimants. Legitimate claimants will then find themselves put through the gauntlet and often interrogated at length. This can be a stressful experience, if you’re in the middle of recovering from an injury.

As the network of trust unravels due to fraud, everyone pays in ways that transcend purely financial repercussions.

Given that you are not in a position to stamp out fraud yourself – you just want to make sure that you get fairly and justly treated by the system – what should your next steps be?

An experienced and a reputable North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can help you come up with the most appropriate plan and protect your assets and rights.

More Web Resources:

New York state workers’ compensation fraud dragnet sweeps up 18 suspects

How fraud damages trust in the system

Unleashing the Massive Potential of the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation System

February 11, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

The North Carolina workers’ compensation system, like any large, bureaucratic institution, contains significant slack… as well as lots of potential.

In spite of last year’s legislative overhaul of the system, most lawyers, insurers, employers, and other interested parties agree that the system still contains a lot of “slack” – a lot of places where it could be reformed and improved. Likewise, the system also contains significant potential. For instance, with better diagnostic procedures, improved communications between insurers, hospitals and doctors; more equitable rules for employers and workplace safety instructions, who knows how much more “horse power” we could get out of the system than we currently get?

The million dollar question is: how do we extract more value from the resources that we already have in place?

The answer is: there are a thousand and one ways we could unlock the potential.

To find “win-win” outcomes, however, we’re going to need a little creativity and coordination. We need to encourage “what if” thinking and collaborative brainstorming among interested parties. Imagine, for instance, what might happen if we got insurance company representatives, business owners, and labor leaders together to “blue sky” solutions to their problems.

Unfortunately, our system is highly politicized. We tend to see counterparts as adversaries instead of as partners. There is a significant trust deficit, in other words, that’s probably preventing interested parties from talking through their needs and problems. Thus, a key challenge for anyone interested in North Carolina workers’ compensation reform (or reform of any aspect of North Carolina governance, for that matter) is the challenge of how to develop and nurture trust. What can we do to break out of our old ways of interacting, judging and blaming and manipulating one another?

Obviously, this single blog post cannot begin to tackle these monumental, existential questions. But we need to ask these questions, again and again, until we get better answers.

The point is: we have so much latent potential. Insurance companies, business owners, employees, North Carolina workers’ compensation law firms, and other interested parties can all achieve so much more. Our challenge is really a challenge of empathy. How can we start to listen to one another and work towards mutual goals – “win-win” solutions? What can we do to move beyond seeing one another as enemies or antagonists and begin to see one another as allies, fighting a noble cause together?

More Web Resources:

All it Takes is 10%

An Empathy Revolution?

All the Noise About North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Is Making Your Head Hurt

January 18, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Perhaps you are seeking workmen’s compensation in North Carolina because you burned your arms and hands during a factory explosion or fire. Or maybe you suffered a more mundane sickness or injury, such as broken bones and lacerations during a delivery truck accident.

Irrespective of how you got hurt and where you are in the North Carolina workers’ compensation process, you’re almost certainly suffering from information overload.

Truth be told, the web offers more information about how workers’ comp works, what you should and shouldn’t do as a potential claimant, etc., than you could possibly read in a month. During your research, you may stumble on free e-books about workmen’s compensation, free advice to the effect of “12 things you must do,” or “seven massive mistakes that can ruin your workers’ comp,” and other loud, garish, attention-grabbing headlines.

It’s all very confusing and very difficult to filter.

Marketers are getting better at adapting their persuasive techniques to the Internet. This, it’s becoming more and more difficult to discriminate between materials created by a reputable North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm and materials created by a slick marketer who doesn’t understand the relevant laws or processes.

Why is this a problem?

It’s a problem because hurt and sick workers may put their trust in firms or people who lack the expertise necessary to get the powerful results they need. Unfortunately, there is no easy rule of thumb you can use to filter out irrelevant information and filter in important information.

Take heart in knowing that the info overload problem affects every person in every station of life – not just hurt and sick workers in North Carolina. Everyone online has a microphone – a blog, a YouTube channel, a website, etc. – so the web has gotten almost deafeningly loud.

So, while there may not be a quick fix, if you just simply recognize that you are operating in this chaotic, noisy environment, you might begin to take notice of the chaos and develop your own systems and processes to filter information.

Chances are you already have these systems in place, but you probably have yet to name them. For instance, perhaps you always trust one friend with great restaurant recommendations. Or perhaps you trust another friend with awesome book recommendations. The key is to develop your network and your ability – your “spidey sense,” if you will – to navigate the massive information hive that is the 2012 web.

With enhanced screening abilities, you will make better, more accurate use of information about workmen’s comp in North Carolina.

More Web Resources:

The State of the Web: 2012

Info Overload Solutions

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lessons: Getting over the Fear of Asking for Help

January 14, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you are crippled by a welding injury, hurt in a car accident, or tormented by a chronic musculoskeletal problem, you’ve come to recognize you need North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits to pay for your care and time off of work.

On the other hand, you detest the idea of becoming dependent on the North Carolina workers’ compensation system. You’re proud of your ability to provide for your family and for yourself. And you suddenly vowed to do whatever it takes to beat this injury or illness and get back to earning a living ASAP.

This is an admirable goal. However, you might want to reconsider your attitude toward asking for and getting help. So many North Carolinians are trained to believe that they need to fix their own problems. This attitude, in many ways, is of American culture. Individualism is one of the founding ideals of our nation. Many workers actually hurt themselves because they are so focused on being the best – and providing standout contributions – that they pushed themselves over the edge and into injury or illness.

Obviously, the fighting spirit has its place. But it’s a double-edge sword. And there are times when team work is essential, where support is vital, and where “going it alone” is the metaphorical equivalent of walking off a cliff.

Of course, the question of whether to get help (or how to get help) is not an either/or proposition. It’s not as if you have to choose between “helping yourself” and getting help from others. Indeed, the most effective people seem to be those who do both simultaneously – who demonstrate a tremendous amount of self-reliance and initiative, but also look to a trusted advisor for help and insight.

There is another lesson here: You want to be choosy about your advisors, and you want to be purposeful about how you leverage their input. For instance, if you are sick with a rare musculoskeletal disorder, you want to find a physician who has excellent experience – and a demonstrable track record – of treating that particular type of injury. Likewise, if you were hurt in an accident or made sick at work, you may find it extraordinarily useful to talk to a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm about what options you might be able to leverage, what resources are out there for you, and what your ultimate outcome may look like.

The bottom line: If you’re in pain, or if you’re confused, understand that you don’t have to struggle alone with these complicated, emotionally difficult issues. Dedicate yourself to finding and utilizing reputable, trusted resources to get you to your goals and help you solve your problems.

More Web Resources:

Why Is It Difficult for Some People to Ask for Help?

The Power of Mentorship

Lessons in North Carolina Workers’ Compensation: What Can We Learn from Jay-Z’s $18,000 Fiasco?

January 6, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Most serious North Carolina workers’ compensation cases are far below the radar of the average citizen. This makes sense. Unless you are somehow keyed into the North Carolina workers’ compensation system – a would-be or current beneficiary, an insurance company representative, an employer, an entrepreneur, a lawyer, or a worker in the NC government bureaucracy – the issues are arcane and complex. Even if there is some important North Carolina workers’ compensation news that you’d like to pay attention to, you’re likely distracted by your iPod, your iPad, your TV, your Twitter feed, your Facebook friends, etc. But there are important lessons to be learned, particularly if you are a beneficiary who is confused about your rights.

So let’s tie things into a breaking celebrity story involving workers’ compensation – musical artist Jay-Z’s recent encounter with the Workers’ Compensation Board of New York. According to a report from tmz.com, the government agency sued the rapper for $18,000 pursuant to his failure to have proper workers’ comp insurance for domestic employees (e.g. “cooks, maids, drivers…that sort of thing”). The story is not particularly scandalous. Apparently, the $18,000 lapse all stemmed from a clerical error that his manager made back in 2009 – and the problem was corrected relatively quickly. Jay-Z’s situation highlights a reality that many less famous employers face: Often, employers do not have adequate workers’ comp insurance to fill legal obligations. What happens then?

The answer obviously depends on the circumstances of the case, the severity of worker’s injury, the flagrancy of the violation, the intentionality of the violation, etc.

If you need help with your case – perhaps assistance compelling a recalcitrant or obstinate employer to make good on payments to you – connect with a reputable North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

More Web Resources:

Jay-Z Faces $18,000 Bill in Workers’ Comp Case

Workers’ Compensation Board of New York

More Lessons in North Carolina Workers’ Compensation: Senator’s Company Shut Down for Lack of Insurance

January 3, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you are an employee, you expect your boss to carry North Carolina workers’ compensation insurance. This coverage helps pay for damages and disability costs if/when you (or your co-workers) get hurt on the job. State law compels most employers to carry this coverage. So you would expect that most business owners would comply.

However, that’s often not the case!

As we saw in a recent blog post about Jay-Z’s fracas with the Workers’ Compensation Board of New York (the rapper was hit with an $18,000 bill for failing to have workers’ comp for his domestic employees over a two-month period in 2009), even the most wealthy and well-educated business owners often do not understand their obligations under North Carolina workers’ compensation law.

You might be tempted to give Jay-Z a pass on this. After all, he is a rapper and musician – not a lawyer. But you might be shocked to know that even lawmakers themselves often violate the laws they create.

Consider, for instance, Vermont State Senator Bobby Starr, whose company, E. Starr Trucking, was shut down on December 20 pursuant to its failure to acquire adequate workers’ compensation insurance. Judge Robert Bent granted a permanent injunction against the firm, sparking much chatter among citizens and state labor officials. On paper, the situation is not particularly huge, especially when you consider it in light of some of the more flagrant North Carolina workers’ compensation fraud cases that we’ve talked about in this blog.

On the other hand, quotes like this from the Burlington Free Press are kind of disturbing: “Starr said he didn’t know whether he and his son would get the insurance or ‘just switch everything to the other company’ that carries the insurance.”

Obviously, business owners must make complicated decisions in a fluid environment. Hurt and injured workers should be mindful of the complexities that entrepreneurs face. On the other hand, if you’re a lawmaker, shouldn’t you have a grasp of your company’s legal obligations? Shouldn’t you be able to prevent problems like this from occurring? A permanent injunction against your business is, by most accounts, a black eye.

Of course, lawmakers, like all of us, are often all too human. This system is complicated. Opportunities for error abound. This is why it is so critical for hurt and injured workers to team up with a reputable North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm to identify best practices and protect their rights using every tool and strategy the law allows.

More Web Resources:

Permanent Injunction against Starr’s United, Inc.

E. Starr Trucking Website

What Can Chaotic Fraud Charges out of West VA Teach Us about North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Fraud?

November 30, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina workers’ compensation fraud is a profound and seemingly indelible problem that saps much needed resources, degrades trust in the system, and leads to hardship and chaos for dependants. Why, then, do so many people continue to perpetrate this crime?

For example, let’s look just over the border to West Virginia, where last week, owners of an Apple Dumplin in Oak Glen, West VA, Keith McBride and Lois Ventura, got hit with three charges of workers’ comp fraud. Investigators with the workers’ compensation fraud prosecution unit tracked the couple since July. Here’s the scoop. The 51-year-old Ventura was hurt last August at her former job at Big Cheese Pizza. She collected workers’ comp benefits as a result of that claim. All good. But then, in violation of the benefits arrangement, she started running an Apple Dumplin with her boyfriend, Mr. McBride, and continued to “receive cash and medical benefits through the workers’ compensation program.”

When questioned about his girlfriend’s allegedly fraudulent activities, McBride “reportedly misrepresented the facts of the case by stating that he was the sole owner of the business and had no knowledge of the workers’ compensation benefits Ventura was receiving.” Not a good move. Now both Ventura and her boyfriend face counts. On November 3, at their arraignment, they both pled not guilty. A court date has been set for January 10.

Obviously, based simply on news reports, you should avoid leaping to judgment. Unless you probe the back story, evidence, and other relevant details, it’s probably wise to withhold “convicting people in your mind,” if only to hone your ability to see life objectively.

For the sake of a discussion, let’s assume the charges are correct. What lessons can we extract?

First of all, the story suggests that a significant number of North Carolina workers’ compensation fraud cases probably result from unplanned errors and inappropriate innovations. In other words, while some people plan workers’ comp fraud far in advance, many people simply “stumble into it” because fraud is easier and faster than operating ethically.

Often, people who are simply trying to “scrape by” come to believe that somehow they have been wronged by the system and that they “deserve” to break the rules.

The story also suggests that many workers’ comp beneficiaries do not receive enough training to understand the limits of what they can and cannot do. People might know that violating workers’ comp rules is somehow “wrong” in the abstract, but they may not know the specific punishments that are likely to meet them if they commit a crime.

For excellent guidance, no matter what your situation, connect immediately with a qualified and compassionate North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

More Web Resources:


Apple Dumplin couple hit with workers’ comp fraud charges.

A North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Case that will get you Sitting Up Straight in your Chair

November 28, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Often, North Carolina workers’ compensation cases discussed on the blogosphere and elsewhere revolve around relatively “dry” issues, such as the minute, discrete meanings of definitions or jurisdictions. A hot-button case out of Las Vegas, however, will almost definitely have you sitting up in your chair:

Here is the scoop, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

Last week, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled in the case of Gary Mogg, an employee for Fitzgeralds Casino Hotel assigned to monitor over three dozen television screens, acting in the capacity of “eye in the sky.” One day, in January 2008, Mogg made the seemingly innocuous decision to put his feet up on his desk. Lo and behold, he lost his balance and tipped over and severely hurt himself. Mogg claimed that the chair was defective and that he should be entitled to workers’ comp. The Casino, however, suggested that there was “implied prohibition” that prevented him from doing things like putting his feet up on his desk.

The courts have gone back and forth over whether this implied prohibition existed or not. Last week, the Nevada Supreme Court actually weighed in on the matter, ruling that “there was insufficient evidence for Gary Mogg…to qualify for industrial insurance payments.”

Reaction from the blogosphere was a bit sarcastic. One commenter, writing under the handle of BChap, wrote: “I am not of the opinion that this man should be compensated for this accident. However, if the resort is going to allow this individual to return to work, the employer should be sensitive to his medical needs and workplace safety. Maybe one of those apparatus’ that women utilize at the doctor’s office where the patient puts her feet up in the stirrups [should be installed for him.]”

If you or someone you care about has recently been hurt or made ill at work, you likely worry about having to endure this kind of sarcasm at your expense. To protect yourself and to ensure that you are treated justly not only by your employer and insurance companies but also by the system as a whole, connect immediately with a qualified North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

More Resources:

Nevada Supreme Court rules in “feet up on the desk” case

The Possible Cause of Many North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Disasters: Part 1: Identifying the Problem

November 25, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you’re a prospective North Carolina workers’ compensation beneficiary, or the relative or friend of someone who was recently hurt or injured at work (e.g. hurt while doing construction outside of Raleigh or sickened by repetitive stress syndrome contracted while working at a bank in the Research Triangle), you want help with getting fair compensation, holding wrongdoers accountable, and making sure insurers play fair.

Tackling all of these issues is of paramount importance. However, you may also want to analyze the broader context and think about why workplace accidents and injuries happen every year in North Carolina and beyond.

Are workers simply careless and negligent? Are employers careless or negligent? Is the system structured in a way that creates opportunities for injury/illness?

Perhaps. Perhaps. And perhaps.

However, there may be a “hidden cause” lurking underneath many workers’ comp cases. It’s a cause that doesn’t place blame employees or employers or even the system. The problem is a fundamentally human one. It’s the problem of creeping complacency.

Let’s analyze this.

When a new employee finds a job, he or she tends to enter the arena cautiously. New employees are more likely to listen to a supervisor’s instructions, handle complex machinery with care, and avoid overly ambitious or dangerous working conditions, such as working while fatigued, working without supervision, ignoring the company’s safety policies, etc. Likewise, employers tent to “dote on” new employees, putting them through rigorous reviews, following them through intra-company educational processes, and firing workers who violate company norms.

Dial forward several years (or, in some cases, several months), and that caution vanishes, or at least diminishes. Lassitude develops. Workers are allowed – or even encouraged – to push their limits, to “bend or break the rules” to get more done in less time and for less money. For instance, a construction worker, who in his first three months of working on a job would never use a sophisticated and dangerous piece of equipment without help, might, by month eight on the job, use that piece of equipment by himself, late at night, and without paying attention.

Which worker is going to be safer: The attentive rookie or the over-confident veteran?

Of course, “the complacency problem” is not the only fundamental cause of workplace injuries or illnesses, but it is one that is not discussed enough.

For specific help with a benefits question, connect with a time-tested and trusted North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

More Web Resources:

The cost of complacency

How we become careless

Overcoming the “complacency problem”: How to Prevent North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Cases

November 23, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

In Part 1 of our series on how complacency at work impacts the North Carolina workers’ compensation system, we discussed how both workers and employers alike often act far more cautiously during the first few weeks and months of tenure.

After a certain amount of time, both the worker and the boss become comfortable with the processes and procedures, and a certain amount of slack sets in. This “slack” can be benign, neutral, or harmful. It can be benign when workers do their jobs in a more natural, fluid, resourceful way. It can be neutral when it has no impact. And it can be malignant when it creates the conditions for laziness, inaccuracy, and recklessness.

How can we prevent this third category – the malignant situations – from wreaking havoc and creating needless North Carolina workers’ compensation cases?

The “knee-jerk” response to this question might be: “The answer depends on the circumstances and specifics of the line of work.” And there is some truth to this response. An industrial worker who works with potentially dangerous equipment, like lathes or bulldozers, might require incremental training “refreshers” to stay sharp and focused and avoid malignant complacency. An office worker, on the other hand, at risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome due to bad postural and typing habits, might require a very different kind of intervention. For instance, he or she might benefit from periodic massage or physical therapy, or even from changing around the office furniture every two months or so.

Businesses in general could do more to reduce worker/employer complacency. So could the government: state or even federal regulations could require certain businesses to retrain and resystematize their processes at regular intervals, for instance, to prevent malignant over-complacency. Of course, there are dangers with inherent over regulating, as well. So the policy problem is certainly a tough nut to crack. However, we should not give up on the dream of forging global-scale solutions to the complacency problem.

All this theory aside, however, you and your loved ones need help with a case. Connect with an experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm to get insight into your problems right now.

More Web Resources:

The dangers of complacency


Beating Complacency

North Carolina Worker’s Compensation: Dealing with Scary Setbacks

November 18, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

After a serious workplace injury or illness, you worked extremely hard to obtain North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits and stabilize your medical condition.

Unfortunately, your quest to heal has been anything but linear. Perhaps you initially suffered some kind of insult to your musculoskeletal system – severe carpal tunnel syndrome, for instance, brought on by working a desk job somewhere in the Research Triangle – but your diagnosis got complicated, after you noticed that the numbness and tingling sensations extended beyond the afflicted area. Alternatively, perhaps you suffered spinal damage during a car crash while on a work delivery, and the extent of the nerve damage has only recently manifested, leaving both you and your doctors relatively depressed about your prognosis.

Setbacks with your North Carolina workers’ compensation recovery are not exclusively medical.

You might experience psychological setbacks, such as depression, anxiety, frustration, and loss of self-confidence. You might simultaneously feel financial setbacks, as you are compelled to pay for complicated, extensive treatment and rehab – all while making do with a reduced income stream. What’s worse, the various workers’ comp injury/illness-related stresses in your life can play off of one another, provoking a kind of a downward spiral. For instance, in your more agitated, anxious state, you may hold your body tighter and experience higher cortisol levels, which can in turn exacerbate the musculoskeletal damage you suffered at work.

Repairing physical, psychological, and financial damage is no small task, even for the well prepared. While hurt and injured workers can make significant progress by working with a reputable North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm, you still could face some pretty profound hurdles to long-term wellness.

It’s tempting to try to “deal with” all these setbacks at once, but this approach can also be discouraging. Instead, make an attempt to incorporate small, positive changes in your life, behaviors, and perspective. Just getting your e-mail under control, for instance, can restore a modicum of control and help you manage your setbacks in a more thoughtful, less reactive way.

Also, remember that even though your injury or illness might have taken just a second or even a fraction of a second to develop, doesn’t mean that you can solve the situation in a lightning-quick fashion. Instead, keep your eye on the “long road of recovery,” accept your reality for what it is, and begin to make progress, step-by-step, to move beyond the setbacks you encountered and rebuild your life, career, health, and future.

More Web Resources:

Small Positive Changes Really Add Up

Setbacks are More Common than You Think

Small Changes That Can Make a Big Difference to Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Journey

November 16, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

In a recent blog post, we discussed how many beneficiaries (or would-be beneficiaries) on North Carolina workers’ compensation struggle with setbacks in multiple arenas, including medical, financial, emotional, logistical, and social.

To manage these setbacks, you might find it helpful to adopt proven strategies and tactics to keep yourself better organized, more in control of your life, more relaxed, and more resilient.

This blog post cannot cover every positive behavior or beneficial scheduling strategy. However, it hopefully can encourage you to take the process of self improvement more seriously. Here are a few small but effective “good habits” to inculcate to relieve the stress of your North Carolina workers’ compensation journey.

• Get into the habit of keeping your e-mail inbox “at zero” – try out productivity guru David Allen’s GTD system for controlling e-mail (see link at the bottom of the page).

• Spend more time and energy thinking through your problems instead of acting impulsively to solve them. Do the mental work of clarifying an ideal outcome, assessing your “on the ground reality,” and brainstorming ideas to move from your present reality to your idealized future in an effective, sure-fire, cheap, and easy way. In other words, seek to break out of the habit of “acting before thinking.”

• Seek help and outside input. It’s often very difficult for victims of workplace injuries or accidents to ask for help, because victims already feel like their pride and autonomy have been compromised. Consciously break through that barrier and get help from friends, colleagues, family members, and outside resources, like a competent North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

• Test “catastrophic thinking.” When we get hurt or injured – when our welfare, health, social status, etc., are threatened by events or by other people – we have a tendency to imagine worst-case, catastrophic outcomes. This is a normal, human thinking, and it’s not necessarily deleterious. In fact, it can be helpful to be vigilant, depending on the situation. However, we always want to test the reality of our thoughts – especially thoughts that agitate us, keep us from sleeping, or scare us into spending hours on the Internet searching for a description and diagnosis of our symptoms.

• Thinking realistically is different from being a pollyanna. You don’t want to ignore dangerous symptoms, be they indicators of medical, financial, or psychological problems. On the other hand, we also want to detach our emotions and fears from our thoughts and seek to see them with a clear, objective lens.

• How do you cultivate this kind of clear-headed thinking? Some experts recommend engaging in daily meditative practice, such as mindful mediation, concentrated prayer, or some other exercise that enhances focus and helps you avoid getting sucked up into catastrophic thinking.

More Web Resources:

The Perils of Catastrophic Thinking

David Allen’s System for Controlling E-mail

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation – Internet Info Overload Problem (Part 1)

November 11, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Maybe you’ve been searching for reliable information on the North Carolina workers’ compensation system for just a few minutes – or maybe you’ve spent the better part of a day or even a week analyzing tips, tricks, do’s, don’ts, and resources online. Unless you have very clear and specific goals in mind, you are likely to encounter a certain degree of stress because the internet is so overstuffed with potentially useful information.

What can you do about this problem?

The problem transcends North Carolina workers’ compensation issues and affects everyone who uses the web. Unless you engage with the web in a very specific, predetermined way, your searching may expand beyond your expectations, eat up a lot of time and energy, and, worst of all, leave you feeling more stressed and less sure than you were before the search began.

For instance, let’s say that you really hurt your wrist after engaging in some kind of chronic office work in the Raleigh area. You think you might have “carpal tunnel syndrome,” but you are not sure what the real problem is.

You also think your employer should be held responsible to pay for your time off and therapy, but you are not sure exactly how to go about making that happen, and you are certainly not clear on the applicable laws and paperwork that might pertain to your situation.

By dipping your toe in the internet to search for solutions, you will certainly get a lot of information. But you will also get way more information than you need — not all of it reliable. Do you really need to read the fine print of your employer’s workers’ comp insurance policy? Even if you could get this information, how would you interpret it and put it into context? Can you self-diagnose your pain using seemingly smart-sounding information you find online? Possibly. Or possibly not. The introduction of all these uncertainties creates tremendous stress, which you might not be aware of until someone points it out to you.

The solution?

There is no single solution. But the more you can “outsource” your tasks to reliable entities, the better. For instance, a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can help you take care of the paperwork and ensure that employers and insurance companies play fair.

More Web Resources:

Information overload – it’s getting worse

Is the web the cause of our ADD epidemic?

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation – Internet Info Overload (Part II)

November 9, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

In Part I of our series on how internet-based “info overload” can make the quest for North Carolina workers’ compensation more stressful, we defined an underlying problem that leads to frustration and anger. Specifically, we discussed how researching North Carolina workers’ compensation related topics online can make even the most organized, purpose-driven researcher slightly mad. And we also talked about how the solution to the problem often involves outsourcing your researching activities to a better-equipped partner, such as a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

In this post, we are going to go bit deeper. We are going to ask the question: Why does all the researching make us nuts?

The answer is partly related to the “uncertainty factor.” In other words, when you research a lot online, you may actually learn quite a bit of useful information. Theoretically, this information should make your journey toward financial recovery and physical healing faster, safer, and more certain. But in practice, we often leave our research feeling more overwhelmed than ever.

The reason is not that we’ve learned too little – or even that our information is “bad” – instead we’ve learned too much!

You can see this phenomenon at work in medical students. When a young, would-be doctor is trained, he or she often learns about all sorts of different ways the human body can go wrong. Theoretically, this powerful medical knowledge should empower people. In practice, however, often the new knowledge makes med students anxious and despairing. Why? Because the med students come to fear they have all the different diseases they study. So they have gone from a state of blissful ignorance to a state of increased knowledge and increased anxiety.

This is probably going on with web searchers looking for answers about workers’ compensation. At first, you’re blissfully unaware of the potential problems – and also what you “should” be doing about them. By the time you finish researching, you realize just how “far behind” you are. This isn’t to say that ignorance will remain bliss forever. But it reinforces the earlier lesson that the key to digging out of this rabbit hole is to connect with reputable, experienced partners, who can answer your questions and help make the system work for you.

More Web Resources:

Med students think they have every disease

Increased knowledge leads to increased anxiety

Tragic North Carolina Car Accident Claims Life of a Child on Go-Kart

November 6, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Last Tuesday, 6-year-old boy from Duplin County was killed in a horrific North Carolina car accident on NC-111 in Chinquapin. The AP reports that the fatal North Carolina car accident occurred around 4 PM. According to the news report: “authorities’ said the boy was riding beside his older brother, who was driving a four-wheeler…the boy apparently didn’t see the oncoming vehicle and pulled out into the road.” http://www.northcarolinainjurylawyerblog.com/cgi-bin/mt.cgi?__mode=view&_type=entry&id=119145&blog_id=423

According to a local station, WITN, the 6-year-old, who attended Chinquapin Elementary School, was hit by the secretary of his school.

This horrendous tragedy strikes an emotional chord in anyone who has cared for young children. In many ways, this is every parent’s worst fear come true, and we can only hope that the family of the boy receives compassion, empathetic attention, and good healing.

Can the North Carolina car accident prevention community draw any lessons from this sad case?

Without probing into the details of what happened, it’s difficult to extrapolate. However, the report does highlight, once again, how tragedies can happen even under close adult scrutiny. Young children are constantly testing the limits of their physical environment, and they may not be fully aware of the risks inherent in their activities until too late.

While caretakers can (and probably should) do more to monitor children’s behavior and erect safe, protective areas for kids to play (without serious consequences), there are only so many strategies and tactics you can deploy to protect yourself against the chaos of life.

All that said, if you or someone your care about has been hurt in a North Carolina car accident, you may be able to avail yourself of powerful resources to get compensation for injuries, medical care, and more. A respectable and experienced North Carolina car crash law firm can help you understand your rights and what to do next.

More Web Resources:

6-year-old boy dies in a go-kart crash

Go-kart tragedy in Chinquapin

Fraud is Not Okay in OK: Midwest Lessons for Would-Be North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Fraud Perpetrators

November 4, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

As this North Carolina workers’ compensation blog has opined numerous times, when individuals or institutions perpetrate workers’ comp fraud – or any other kind of fraud – “downstream” effects on workers, employers, insurers, and governmental institutions can be profoundly damaging. Indeed, the North Carolina workers’ compensation system works, when it does, because various parties trust one another to act fairly and in good faith.

That’s why it’s so disturbing to read stories like a recent account from Tulsa, Oklahoma, where a local attorney pled guilty last week to embezzling more than $1 million from his clients and conspiring to commit workers’ comp fraud.

According to the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office, 61-year old Fred Schraeder will receive a “five-year deferred sentence and will pay more than $36,000 in restitution, $500 in fines and a $100 victim’s compensation assessment… Schraeder must surrender his law license and isn’t eligible to reapply while on probation.”

Schraeder did not act alone. He apparently had an accomplice, William Anton, who was sentenced in August to pay over $700,000 in restitution and serve “four consecutive sentences totaling 35-years, with 25-years suspended.”

The Attorney General’s Office claims that Schraeder and Anton embezzled money from clients between 2004 and 2009. They stole from their “personal injury benefits, insurance settlements and workers’ compensation benefits.” Over 49 victims were identified by the Attorney General’s office.

This disturbing story highlights how important it is for sick and injured people to work with trustworthy North Carolina workers’ compensation law firms. Just because an attorney or a law firm boasts a pretty website and ostensibly credible qualifications does not mean that the team will be a “best fit” for you. Before you select your law firm, ask many questions, really research your prospective firms, and make sure you choose a firm that has a reputation for ethical behavior as well as for getting good results in complex cases similar to yours.

More Web Resources:

Oklahoma attorney embezzles over $1 million dollars from clients

Charges filed against Schraeder and Anton

Business Leaders Sure Love North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Reforms…But Do the Rest of Us?

November 2, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

An October 20 AP article reports that entrepreneurs, corporations, and other free enterprise groups are considerably satisfied with the 2011 North Carolina workers’ compensation reforms.

What about the rest of us?

Before we delve into the point/counterpoint, let’s quickly review the findings of a North Carolina Free Enterprise Foundation Survey. The group found that “66% of [NC] senate members consistently support [pro-business] viewpoints, compared to 42% two years ago. In the house, it grew from 49% to 61%.”

The legislature has had a busy 2011. In addition to changing the North Carolina workers’ compensation rules, lawmakers altered medical liability litigation processes and also changed the rules by which local governments can provide high-speed internet.

That the General Assembly has become more “business friendly” should not surprise anyone; Republicans took control of the body in the 2010 elections, and Republicans, in general, tend to side with free enterprise advocates.

Notwithstanding, obviously, many lawmakers seem pretty excited with the changes and pleased with themselves for passing them. But are these changes really creating fairness in the system, saving money, and fixing the long-term structural problems which have bedeviled the workers’ comp system and other similar institutions?

Part of the problem with assessing the changes is that the North Carolina workers’ compensation reforms did not occur in a vacuum. They occurred amidst a period of tumultuous change, both in the state and on the national stage. Thus, if, in the wake of the reforms, the state witnesses business growth, favorable changes to employee health, etcetera, one cannot conclude that the changes in the law caused or even contributed to the positive effects.

Of course, likewise, if what follows during the next several years is less than ideal, for businesses, employees, and insurance companies, and one should hesitate before pinning blame on the workers’ comp reforms.

The law is, in many ways, a subset of a larger, much more complicated dynamic system. From a strictly scientific perspective, it may be nearly impossible to effectively “suss out” how small reforms to various laws ultimately redound to affect things like the regional business climate or the relative health and well being of workers.

But that’s all a little heady, especially if you are a hurt or injured worker who needs guidance through the system. A North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can help you understand your rights and responsibilities and advocate for yourself successfully.

More Web Resources:

North Carolina free enterprise foundation

NC general assembly is more business friendly?

Florida Workers’ Comp Rates to Raise: North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Analysts Evaluate Regional Fallout

October 29, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Last week, per the St. Petersburg Times, Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty announced that the Sunshine state’s workers’ comp rates will be jacked up by nearly 9%, effective January 1, 2012. It’s a move that has many experts, analysts, and small business owners in the North Carolina workers’ compensation community mulling over the ramifications.

McCarty’s office rejected a proposal by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI), stating that the methodology the NCCI used was faulty. He defended the fact that Florida will still have “the lowest workers’ comp rates among large states and the lowest rates in the southeast.” Prior to the changes in FLs workers’ comp laws back in 2003, the Sunshine state “consistently had one of the country’s highest workers’ compensation rates.”

Not surprisingly, Florida’s Director of the National Federation of Independent Business was less than pleased, calling the 8.9% hike “a very substantial increase in the cost of labor over the course of two very difficult years for small employers.”

So what can we make of this rate hike, especially in light of this year’s reforms to North Carolina workers’ compensation laws? Do they indicate a regional trend? Will the subtle changes in Florida and North Carolina rules and regulations impact the flow of business across the region? If so, how? How can one accurately measure this impact, if it exists at all?

These questions are obviously theoretical, but answering them is vital if we want to ensure fairness for hurt and injured workers and help small businesses in the region position themselves for growth, flexibility, and opportunity.

Finding the “perfect rate” for workers’ compensation is a balancing act that never ends.

The sheer diversity and number of variables involved would blow the circuits of even the world’s biggest super computer. That’s why it’s important to test and reassess how changes like the ones in North Carolina and Florida impact businesses, insurance companies and even the relative “joie de vivre” of the workers’ themselves.

For more specific, grounded help with a workers’ comp question, connect with an experienced, highly respected North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm for a free consultation.

More Web Resources:

Florida workers’ comp rates to rise 8.9%

The National Federation of Independent Business official website

“It’s Weird to be Back”: Returning to the Office after North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Leave

October 27, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

In the struggle to obtain North Carolina workers’ compensation, hurt and injured workers often think only one or two steps ahead.

So let’s think four or five steps ahead today.

What will happen once you recover from your injury or illness and return to work? What might the environment be like at work? What challenges might you face in terms of re-acclimating? What should you do if and when co-workers or superiors want to discuss your time off or even challenge whether or not you needed or deserved workers’ comp benefits in the first place?

These questions are all quite complicated to answer. But it is worth discussing strategies for how to avoid “weirdness” after you return to the office. Here are some suggestions:

• Prepare a spiel in advance to answer basic questions about why you went on workers’ comp, what it was like, and how you recovered and got back to work. This might sound silly, but you may want to actually practice this spiel at home with a spouse or a friend. This way, you will have a quick, snappy answer that will ward off unwanted questions and staunch nosey gossip.

• Don’t expect to “normalize” everything on day one. Expect that there will be an adjustment period. Even if you did not go on an extensive North Carolina workers’ compensation leave, and you never had to fight with your employer over your treatment, it’s totally normal to feel disoriented and a bit out of sorts during your first days and weeks back on the job. So provide yourself a break.

• Understand what you can and cannot say about your workers’ compensation agreement. This is critical. Depending on the terms of the settlement, you may not want to disclose certain aspects of your care or talk about the terms with co-workers or superiors. Consult with your North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm before returning to your job to make sure you understand the do’s and don’ts.

• If it’s too weird for you to stay at your job, even after you’ve spent some time and energy and resources trying to re-acclimate, consider switching companies or even changing careers. Understand your skill set, needs, and utility, and recognize that you are never “stuck” at your job. You can always harness new ways of thinking, outside resources, and vocational training to “begin again” or make lateral career moves.

More Web Resources:

Returning to work after a long absence

How to tell if your co-workers are jealous

Should Your Pet be Entitled to North Carolinas Workers’ Compensation?

October 19, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Current law allows only human workers to collect benefits through the North Carolina workers’ compensation system. And perhaps that is fair and just. After all, although our nation’s cats, dogs, hamsters and fish take a fair amount of abuse – especially from curious toddlers – most of these furry friends (or scaly friends or feathered friends or what have you) do not get hurt while actively engaged productive labor.

However, there are exceptions. For instance:

• Firehouse dogs.

What happens to an adorable spotted Dalmatian who tags along with his fire crew and then one day gets caught in a ladder during a rescue operation and loses the ability to wag that adorable little tail forever more?

• Bomb and drug sniffing dogs.

These highly trained pooches spend their time identifying booby traps, drug mules, nefarious packages, and the like. They can easily find themselves in work-related situations that lead to injury. For instance, one can only speculate on the fate of a bomb sniffing dog who identifies a ticking piece of luggage “too late” to do anything about the “ticking.”

• Show tigers.

Most Americans are familiar with the horrific big cat attack that ended the long renowned Vegas act of Siegfried and Roy. While most news analyses of the Siegfried and Roy disaster focused on the agony the trainer endured, one can imagine that the big cat also suffered in the incident. If so, should the cat be entitled to compensation for the injuries and trauma he suffered on the job?

Of course, this post is meant to be facetious. It is not meant to belittle the cause of North Carolina Workers’ Compensation. And animals hurt “in the line of duty” often do have terrific care options at their disposal, including money for bills and the like.

On the flip side, hurt workers are often treated in “less than humane” ways by employers, insurance companies, and the workers’ comp bureaucracy.

Workers’ comp, philosophically at least, is about much more than dry issues like monetary compensation and regulations. It’s about fundamental human rights.

For help with a specific legal question, connect with a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

More Web Resources:

What happens to a firedog injured on the job?

The Siegfried and Roy Disaster

When the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Money Runs Out…

October 17, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Maybe you’ve been on North Carolina Workers’ Compensation for months or years as you work feverishly to heal your life, your finances, your body, and your stamina. Or maybe you are only exploring workers’ comp options. At some point, most likely, you will have to face the “end of the line” as far as your benefits are concerned.

Whether you consider this “fair” or not – whether you have legal means to fight the end of your benefits or not – you need to make adjustments to your lifestyle, budgeting, and possibly career path to accommodate the transition. Make no mistake: the transition can be quite difficult. You’ve gotten used to a certain way of living, a certain way of thinking about your income, and certain habits and expectations. Even if you’ve known that the “dry up” was coming for months or years, you can only prepare so much in the abstract.

When the reality hits – when you stop getting checks — you must make due with far less money. You may panic and potentially even make bad or dangerous decisions that can imperil your body, your recovery, or worse. Indeed, financial panic often drives uninformed, desperate people to commit crimes like North Carolina Workers’ Compensation fraud – crimes that can be prosecuted as felonies and lead to substantial prison time as well as the catastrophic destruction of your professional life.

The process of weaning yourself off benefits does not have to be agonizing, however. The more planning you can do, the better. And don’t simply focus on “planning your finances.” Focus on the psychological preparation. Understand that you will need some time to adjust to your new reality and to accommodate for the stresses of the transition. Maybe set aside some “special treats” for yourself during the transition. For instance, plan an inexpensive vacation (e.g. camping trips in the woods or meditation retreat) or spend some time with your family or close friends – a so-called “staycation.” Or give yourself permission to indulge in a treat, like a fun meal out, or fancy new gadgets from Apple or your other favorite tech product purveyor. (Obviously, don’t spend beyond your means when you get these “treats”.)

All that said, the doom and gloom you are feeling maybe a bit premature. Investigate your resources by connecting with a compassionate, skilled and thorough North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

More Web Resources:

After Your Benefits “Dry Up”

Transitioning to Life with a Reduced Income Stream

Curious Case Out of Virginia May Have Bearing for North Carolina Workers’ Compensation

October 12, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

The Washington Times has reported on a relatively minor workers’ comp case in Virginia that may ultimately have bearing – perhaps substantial bearing – on North Carolina workers’ compensation law.

Why would a struggle over a mere $4,000 workers’ comp award have national implications?

Simply put, because the case pertains to whether professionals injured in cell phone related automobile accidents should be reimbursed by workers’ comp. The debate is controversial, emotionally charged, and interesting. Before we examine the broader implications, let’s take a look at the specifics of this case.

Donna Turpin was a hospice nurse on call late one night in November 2009, when she received a call on her cell phone, which was tucked into her uniform. Distracted by the call, Ms. Turpin drove off the road and hit an embankment. She suffered some injuries and damage to her vehicle, but it was otherwise a minor incident.

Should Ms. Turpin be entitled to workers’ comp, since her employer knew to contact her via her cell phone if the employer-provided pager did not work? According to testimony, she had responded to 12 pages or calls earlier that same day. Ms. Turpin testified that she was “programmed” to tune into her beeper and cell phone to answer medical or hospice emergencies. Did it matter whether the message was work related or not? The judge decided that, in this case, it did not.


However, the judge’s ruling had some nuance: “the mere possibility that a call on a cell phone might originate from an employer does not make any injury that occurs while the employee attempts to respond to the call, or received call, one that arises out of employment.”

So what are the broader implications? The Washington Times report suggests that the unpublished opinion “could contribute to debates in cases involving doctors, reporters, food delivery drivers, and others whose work is tied to urgent cell phone calls.”

No doubt, in the following years, we will see a spate of circumstances similar to Ms. Turpin’s. In this case, the costs were low. Ms. Turpin only asked for $4,000 to treat her whiplash and pay for an ambulance and an emergency room visit. Fortunately, she returned to work that very weekend. But what might happen if and when a worker stops to answer a cell phone or pager and causes a catastrophic accident – perhaps one with fatalities – and seeks damages on the order of six or seven figures? We will likely see bigger headlines then, and the implications could stir up even more debate in the blogosphere.

The takeaway is that hurt workers need to examine and understand their legal rights. A North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can help you make sense of what happened to you and determine how and whether to pursue a case against an insurer or other entity.

More Web Resources:

Workers’ Comp Case Upheld in Cell Phone Related Crash

Nurse Injured While Glancing at Cell Phone Due Workers’ Comp

Felony Charges for Stealing Less Than $4,000 – A Cautionary Tale for North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Beneficiaries

October 10, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Few people dream of committing North Carolina workers’ compensation fraud. But the temptation to “cheat” on your paperwork and collect a little more than you might be legally entitled to can lead to life-changing disasters.

Witness the fate of 31-year-old Patrick Rosenzweig, a New Yorker charged on October 6 with attempting to defraud The New York State Insurance Fund out of $3,973.24. According to a report in a local newspaper, The Wayne Post, “[Rosenzweig] was charged with workers’ compensation fraud, making a fraudulent statement in workers’ compensation insurance applications, offering a false instrument for filing the paperwork and grand larceny.”

Rosenzweig now faces a smattering of felony charges. If convicted of any of them, he could face over a year in jail… all for trying to obtain workers’ comp while he was still working.

What can the Rosenzweig ordeal teach us? First of all, note the cost benefit analysis. Assuming he had gotten away with this alleged scam, he would have collected an extra $4,000. But he didn’t, and he now faces huge fines and possibly significant time behind bars. Assuming he ordinarily made something along the lines of $60,000 a year, and he gets three years of jail for the felonies, he will be out close to $200,000 for committing a crime that would have only netted him around $4,000.

All this is to say that North Carolina workers’ compensation fraud does not pay off.

That being said, one can still be sympathetic and compassionate here. Hurt workers often lack the job training, skills, and resources to make ends meet. If you are a mother of two who got hurt at work – not badly enough to receive workers’ comp, but badly enough to struggle with day-to-day activities – you might be tempted to break the law and lie on your paperwork. The impulse comes from a place of wanting good help. Instead of making reckless, illegal decisions, however, make responsible choices.

For instance, connect with a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm to review your options for getting more compensation or to find other resources to make ends meet.

More Web Resources:

Canandaigua Man Charged with Workers’ Comp Fraud

Making the Most Out of Your Reduced Income

Small Scale Crime Has Implications for North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Fraud Prevention

October 5, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

What can be done to reduce or even eliminate North Carolina workers’ compensation fraud?

To solve this dilemma, we need to look beyond our state’s borders and pick apart relevant news stories, data, analyses, and arguments compiled by experts. It’s all well and good to theorize about different methods to deal with, manage, or punish North Carolina workers’ compensation fraud. It’s another story altogether to operate in the “real world” and get good results.

Even “small scale” cases of fraud can yield surprisingly relevant and far-reaching lessons, if we understand how to appreciate these stories in context. Consider a small bore story about workers’ comp fraud in Des Moines, Iowa. As the AP reported on September 23, the president of DES Staffing, Dinesh Sethi, plead guilty last week to wire fraud: “He acknowledged that he participated in a scheme to defraud Travelers Insurance and Liberty Mutual between 2006 and 2009 by giving the insurers’ false information to calculate the firm’s premiums…he and his Director of Finance shifted payroll from high-premium job classification codes to lower-premium codes such as clerical workers.”

Per the plea arrangement, Sethi’s five other charges have been dropped, and prosecutors will not go after either his company or his family. He will face sentencing at the end of December.

So is it really possible for us to extrapolate from this small case and learn more widely applicable lessons?

Maybe so.

Here are three lessons:

Lesson number one: Outsized punishments can affect criminals who commit even small, technical crimes.

In the grand scheme of things, Sethi’s wrongdoings (or alleged wrongdoings) are relatively tame, if you measure them against other criminal acts, like felony murder, vehicular manslaughter while DUI, and massive multimillion-dollar Medicare schemes. But he could still face jail time and other career-ending punishments for what he did.

Lesson Number Two: Schemes can go on for a while before the authorities step in, but con artists are never safe.

According to the AP article, Dinesh and his finance director perpetrated fraud for approximately four years before getting busted. The long arm of the law, however, finally caught up.

Lesson Number Three: It’s almost always worth the time and effort to ensure you are operating fairly, ethically, and legally.

Many people who commit fraud do so inadvertently, or at least without knowledge of the consequences. A sick mother on workers’ comp leave, for instance, may take a second job to try to earn a little extra money for her family, oblivious to the fact that taking the second job violates her workers’ comp arrangement.

To protect your rights and ensure that you stay within the bounds of the law, always consult with an experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

More web resources:

Des Moines exec pleads guilty to insurance fraud

Ankeny man pleads guilty to insurance fraud

Are Manufacturers Celebrating June Changes to North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Law?

October 3, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

According to a recent article in the Charlotte Business Journal, business leaders throughout the state are still in a state of giddy glee regarding recent changes to North Carolina workers’ compensation law. According to the President of North Carolina’s Chamber of Commerce, Lew Ebert, the reforms – the first such changes to the law in 17 years – have helped make the state more competitive. Ebert and other business leaders long complained that North Carolina had gotten “behind” other states in terms of their workers’ comp laws.

They pointed out that our state’s injury rate is one of the lowest in the United States; whereas the average cost per North Carolina workers’ compensation claim was pretty high at $42,000. According to the Charlotte Business Journal, the changes in the law will also influence insurance premiums for businesses, thus helping them stay competitive. Lat Williams, a marketing vice president based in Charlotte, told the Business Journal: “North Carolina is probably B or C” but thanks to the changes, the state “will probably upgrade to B, and it might even go up to A.”

Manufacturers also see other “wins” including:

• The size of the North Carolina industrial commission has been shrunk;
• The reforms allow certain employers to more easily communicate with employee physicians and give workers temporary, light-duty jobs.

Lawmakers designed the law, ideally, to help both employers and employees. For instance, the Charlotte Business Journal article details one provision that, at least in theory, might help both workers and employers: “Workers on light duty will still earn as much as if they were on workers’ comp, or up to two-thirds of their previous salary. If the new job pays less, workers’ comp makes up the difference.”

So is it all a win-win? Manufacturers and employers win as well as workers?

At this point, it’s too early to tell. From a worker’s perspective, the final compromised bill passed in June was certainly better than the original draft proposed – the earlier drafts were tilted even more towards industry.

But if you need assistance with a claim or a possible claim, you don’t have to deal with your situation in a vacuum. A qualified, competent, experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can help you figure out your next steps.

More web resources:

How changes in workers’ comp will affect NC manufacturers

An overview of the new NC workers’ compensation laws

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

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:

Resilence

Self-reliance

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 InsuranceNewsNet.com, 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 InsuranceJournal.com 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 InsuranceJournal.com 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

Grand Junction Woman Sent to Jail for Fraud: North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Experts Weigh In

July 27, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

On Monday, a woman named Michelle McKee was sentenced to 2 years in prison for defrauding the Colorado workers’ comp system out of $25,000. North Carolina workers’ compensation experts and analysts are closely following the story, as it may have relevance to in-state cases. According to a local news report, McKee had been working as a housekeeper at a hotel, when she hurt her ankle. Although she claimed the injury was work related, an insurance investigation found that McKee had been bragging to friends about cheating the workers’ comp system. She also allegedly admitted to hurting herself not while at work but while out partying (she twisted her ankle after stepping off a curb). The state’s senior assistant Attorney General convinced the court that Ms. McKee had made false statements to collect money – a felony charge. In addition to her 2-year jail sentence, Ms. McKee now faces $25,000 in forced restitution to her old employer, Pinnacol Assurance.

As this blog has often discussed, North Carolina workers’ compensation fraud matters create tensions throughout the system and ultimately harm all major players involved: insurance companies, employers, legislators, and genuinely injured employees. It’s this latter category that is most vulnerable – subsequent to fraud cases like this one, legitimately hurt workers will likely have a harder time in Colorado collecting benefits without hassle. When insurance companies and employers grow suspicious of claimants, they tend to require higher burdens of proof and conduct longer investigations as to the veracity of claims.

If you’ve been the victim of undue harassment, frustration, or non-compliance by your employer or your employer’s insurance company, it may behoove you to seek out the counsel of a North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney to figure out how to resolve your situation adequately, get the benefits you want, and get these issues off your mind so you can focus on recovering and fixing your financial circumstances.

More Web Resources:

Michelle McKee

Colorado workers’ comp system

3 Common North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Delusions You Must Free Yourself of Now

July 26, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Many North Carolina workers’ compensation beneficiaries (or people who want workers’ comp money) labor under a variety of painful and generally destructive delusions. Let’s dig into some of those, rip them apart, and talk about how to approach your struggles more productively.

Delusion #1. Believing that your North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits will “fix” everything.

Obviously, maximizing your compensation gives you more leverage and resources. And if you’re in pain, unable to work, and saddled with serious bills and costs to take care of your family, you want to open up your options. But the resources you have are actually in some ways less important than the resourcefulness you demonstrate.

Learning better problem-solving costs nothing but can redound to a hugely positive effect. In other words, regardless of whether you collect a lot of money or less than you thought, you can leverage that money to better effect if you think more clearly about what you want to achieve with that money. (If that makes sense.)

Delusion #2. The best you can hope for is to “make it back” to where you were before you got hurt or injured.

This delusion is an absolute killer because it de-motivates victims and makes them feel disempowered and unresourceful. In fact, many famous business leaders emerged from bankruptcy to become tycoons. So, too, can many hurt and “down and out” workers emerge to become better, healthier, wealthier, and happier than they were before they got injured. It’s all a matter of frame of reference. If yours is tilted towards the negative, change it, ASAP.

Delusion #3. You injury/illness will permanently make you “less happy.”

If you’ve recently been hurt or made sick at work, you may feel like your life has changed dramatically, for the worse. And it might have, objectively speaking. But in terms of your happiness, don’t jump to conclusions. As researcher Daniel Gilbert notes in his book, Stumbling on Happiness, our levels of happiness do not necessarily correspond with objective circumstances. You can be on top of the world – a multibillionaire – and miserable. Likewise, you can be about to be decapitated at a guillotine and feel wonderful about your life.

The faster you retain good help from a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm, and the sooner you do so, the easier it will be to maximize your recovery and to feel better and secure in your path to healing.

More Web Resources:

Stumbling on Happiness

Life gets better and better…

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Surprises – The Causes (and Possible Cure?!) of Your Problems: They May Not Be What You Think They Are…

July 25, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you’re a worker who needs North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits to pay for a painful carpal tunnel surgery, injury rehab, or even extensive and expensive surgical bills, you’re probably only looking one or two steps down the road.

You’re probably thinking along the lines of…

• How can I maximize my benefits?
• How can I prevent my employer from treating me unfairly?
• How can I compel an insurance company to “play fair?”
• How can I better understand my obligations under North Carolina law? Etc

These are all crucial questions to ask – and obviously a qualified North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can help you figure them out. But deeper issues might be at play. And deeper questions may need to be asked, if you really want to recover completely from your injury or illness, get back into the workforce, and put the painful incident or accident behind you for good.

Let’s say you suffered a terrible typing injury at work. Maybe you worked as a receptionist for some bank located in the Research Triangle in Raleigh, for example. You might casually assume that the cause of your stress was all of the typing you did. And you might be right – but perhaps only partially. It might be that there are some other factors – such as dietary influences (too much sugar, vitamin deficiency of some kind, etc), postural stressors or back alignment issues, etc.

And if you fail to address those fundamental problems, you will never recover full function. And even if you do recover some function and return to work, you will likely continue to stress and hurt yourself — even if you take steps towards reducing the amount of typing you do. In other words, if the primary stimulators of pain and illness remain entrenched, then your solutions won’t work well, or they won’t work for long.

So how do you tap into these bigger and deeper solutions? First off, expand your thinking. Get multiple opinions about your injury and accident – and look at the problem from many different angles. Talk to people who have had similar problems. And experiment – obviously under the direction of your doctor – with various processes and methods and tools to treat your issues and prevent them from coming back.

Educated patients – educated workers’ comp clients – tend to recover faster and easier, even when the odds are stacked against them.

More Web Resources:

too much sugar?

educated patients do better

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Analysts Reflect on Vegas Officer’s Claim Denial

July 19, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

A Nevada Supreme Court ruling on July 15th has rippled across the nation and grabbed the attention of analysts and pundits in the North Carolina workers’ compensation community. The NV Supreme Court ruled that a North Las Vegas correctional officer is not entitled to collect workers’ comp benefits. It’s a relatively “run of the mill” story…at least on the surface.

First, the details.

Jacqueline Phillips hurt herself in 2005 – ostensibly because she lifted heavy boxes at her job. Her claim was denied.

In September 2007, Phillips again filed for workers’ comp, this time because she claimed that she hurt herself pulling an inmate from a squad car into a holding cell. A quote from the Las Vegas Sun article describes what happened to her: “On September 22, 2007, she said she was injured on the job while transferring the inmate. She initially told her doctor this was an aggravation of the injury suffered in 2005. She told a second physician her symptoms began on September 30, or eight days after the reported incident. The city denied her claim. She was then treated by a third doctor whom she told her symptoms began on September 22.”

The court ruled that the doctors who treated Phillips did not link the injury with the event that happened on September 22. In other words, despite Phillips’ word that she had been hurt, neither the doctors nor the courts believed her – or least believed her to the point that they allowed her to start collecting benefits.

So this case might not have been particularly noteworthy, and it’s not like the mainstream media is engaging in a feeding frenzy about it. It’s no Casey Anthony. But it does hold important lessons for potential North Carolina workers’ compensation claimants. Specifically, it suggests that your word alone may not be enough.

In other words, YOU may believe that you got hurt on the job. But it takes more than subjective opinion to win a benefits case. Unfortunately, many claimants make errors of judgment, give inaccurate statements, and wait too long to get help from legal professionals. As a result of flailing and delaying, they may further injure their chances of being able to win a claim.

An experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can help you identify: A, whether or not you have a case against an insurer, employer, or other institution and B, help you figure out a “best path,” strategically speaking, to get the compensation in the shortest, easiest way.

More Web Resources:

Nevada Supreme Court ruling on Phillips

Casey Anthony case

Congress Seeks to Stamp out Workers’ Compensation Fraud in North Carolina and Elsewhere in the U.S.

July 17, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Congress’ investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), wants to clamp down on North Carolina workers’ compensation fraud (and workers’ comp fraud throughout the country). According to the official GAO website, the government is seeking information about beneficiaries secretly working second jobs, overstating claims, or collecting money owed to a deceased worker.

In fiscal year 2009, the U.S. Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs paid more than a quarter of a million workers over $4.1 billion (disbursed through four programs) for workplace injuries and illnesses. Many of these workers resided in North Carolina. (To be more specific, only $2.73 billion was spent on federal workers or their survivors, per the GAO’s report.)

It’s nice to see the government trying to clamp down on North Carolina workers’ compensation fraud, since systemic abuse doesn’t just hurt “faceless” corporate entities and government agencies with big pockets. Fraud “pays forward” throughout the system and creates mistrust, frustration, gridlock, friction, and bureaucracy.

When insurers and employers become more suspicious of beneficiaries’ intentions and actions, they throw up more roadblocks to prevent getting scammed. Inevitably, legitimate claims get held up in the dragnet. What’s the most appropriate response to this kind of abuse? Should scam artists, schemers, and those who aid and abet workers’ comp fraud be punished harshly?

Perhaps a better solution would be to disincentivize fraud through some non-punitive way. A broad and deep analysis of typical workers’ comp fraud crimes, for instance, might reveal certain patterns of behavior and typical perpetrator motivations. Policy analysts could then work towards solving would-be perpetrators’ problems in advance to prevent them from turning to the dark side and seeking to exploit vulnerabilities in the system.

If you or someone you care about needs help with a benefits issue, a reliable, honest, and aggressive North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can help you move forward.

More Web Resources:

Government Accountability Office (GAO)

Fraud “pays forward” throughout the system

Are You Abusing Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Medications?

July 13, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

A new study released by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) has worried many in the North Carolina workers’ compensation community. The report, Interstate Variations in Use of Narcotics, suggests that injured workers often abuse and/or misuse narcotics prescribed to treat workplace injuries. According to a WCRI press release, “In certain states…patients who begin treatment with narcotics are more likely to end up using narcotics on a longer-term bases – California, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Texas.” Louisiana was the worst offender – with a rate of 1 out of 6 injured workers who possibly misuse/abuse narcotics. According to the WCRI, “In a typical state, the figure is 1 out of 20.”

So let’s dig a little deeper here. Why would North Carolina workers’ compensation beneficiaries who need medication for pain fail to follow a doctor’s orders and either take more narcotics than necessary or otherwise abuse prescriptions?

This may seem like a silly and somewhat obvious question to ask. But it’s an important one. Because we need to understand the root causes if we want to figure out how to tackle the problem. A typical answer might be something in effect of “narcotics are addictive.” Or “when everything else is going wrong in your life, narcotics can help make the pain go away.”

But these answers are in many ways unsatisfying.

They suggest that hurt workers are helpless and foolish. They suggest that they don’t understand the implications of abusing or misusing narcotics. These thoughts are insulting to hurt workers. Could there be another explanation that’s somewhat more oblique but also more satisfying. According to a Harvard University psychiatrist, Dr. Lance Dodes, addictions to medications may have psychological origin – as opposed to physiological origin. Dr. Dodes points out that soldiers who fought in Vietnam became addicted to opiates while overseas – physically addicted, that is. They kicked their addictions easily after being removed from the battlefront. This suggests that psychology, as opposed to physiology, should be implicated in at least a certain kind of addiction.

Dr. Dodes proposes that addiction is in essence an empowerment response – when a hurt worker feels frustrated, angry, overwhelmed, or even just irritable about his/her situation, he/she wants to reassert control. Using or abusing medication helps the hurt worker regain a sense of control.

Dr. Dodes’ theory is deep and interesting – it runs counter to the grain of the conventional wisdom about addiction. But it’s an interesting philosophy, and if you or someone you care about has been hurt at work, and you need the help of a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm to figure out what to do, it might also behoove you to examine Dr. Dodes’ thinking.

More Web Resources:

Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI)

Dodes’ research

A Bird’s Eye Look at North Carolina Workers’ Compensation eBilling Reform: Are the Changes Worth It?

July 11, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

The political fracas that accompanied the recent debate (and subsequent passage) of North Carolina workers’ compensation reform drowned out a few curious and intriguing developments. Thanks to the reform – just penned into law by Governor Perdue – and a piece of legislation called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), states like NC (and the nation as a whole) are reassessing their medical billing systems.

North Carolina, for one, adopted new eBilling rules. The state joins Illinois, California, Minnesota, and Texas as part of a select, small group of states that has accepted the new “e-reality” of medical e-billing and moved away from traditional paper bureaucracy.

So what does this all mean? Will eBilling, in and of itself, radically alter the North Carolina workers’ compensation system?

According to many experts, eBilling is inevitable. The internet is altering every facet of our lives. And more and more people feel more and more comfortable paying bills online and even banking at institutions like ING Direct.

But will eBilling eliminate redundant and needless bureaucracy and thus streamline and smooth out hiccups in the system? One would like to think so. If you Google around, you can find countless examples of how eBilling solutions have improved trade, souped up customer service, and even made whole industries workflow processes work better.

On the other hand, eBilling does carry risk. Security, technology, and recordkeeping issues abound. One can easily concoct dozens of “nightmare” scenarios, in which workers’ comp beneficiaries get sucked into a vortex of bureaucracy – or even defrauded out of money or a social security number – due to an eBilling error, technological glitch, or hacking scandal.

Nevertheless, the time has passed for what-iffing. The new eBilling paradigm is upon us.

To make sense of your rights, opportunities, and “best practices,” avoid doing all of the legwork yourself, and turn to a trusted and experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm to help you develop a strategy for the way forward.

More Web Resources:

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)

medical e-billing

Governor Perdue Signs North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Reforms, Vetoes Malpractice Cap

July 4, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

On June 25, North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue signed an historic North Carolina workers’ compensation reform into law…and simultaneously vetoed a Republican proposed cap on medical malpractice awards.

Governor Perdue, a Democrat, called the North Carolina workers’ compensation reforms fair and balanced – she argued that the changes both protected businesses and preserved the rights of injured and sick workers. But she was far less effusive about the proposed cap on punitive damages to be awarded in medical malpractice cases. Republicans wanted the limit to be capped at $500,000. Governor Perdue responded in a written statement: “I commend the legislature for addressing this important issue [medical malpractice reform] but, in its current form, the bill is unbalanced… I urge our legislators to modify the bill when the General Assembly returns in July to protect those who are catastrophically injured.”

The North Carolina Senate passed the “medmal cap” bill by an enormous margin, but the House only passed it by a narrow, non-veto-proof margin of 62 to 44. Advocates of the cap were livid. They did not mince the words. A Republican from Rockingham, Phil Berger, the NC Senate’s leader, said Perdue’s actions dealt “a severe blow to the state’s medical community and every citizen struggling to cope with skyrocketing cost of health care.”

Over 30 states currently have some cap on medical liability damages. It’s pretty clear from interest group statements that this battle over a potential cap is far from over.

On the other hand, the changes in the workers’ comp laws have created a not insignificant amount of confusion and agita among claimants and their families. If you or someone you care about has questions about how the reforms might affect you – or needs help with a benefits question – talk to a qualified North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm about your rights and possible remedies.

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation: Fear of Going Back To Work

June 29, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you’ve been out on North Carolina Workers’ Compensation for years, and you are beginning to think about how and when to return to your old job (or train for a new one); or you just got hurt last week, and you’re thinking about what will become of you now that you’re saddled on the sidelines for months, odds are you have swirling emotions. You might feel scared, excited, overwhelmed, anxious, relieved, overjoyed, and terrified – and these emotions may intermingle, coming and going as you anticipate that day when you finally return to the job.

This kind of composite, pastiche of emotions among North Carolina Workers’ Compensation claimants is actually quite common. And the reasons aren’t that surprising. First of all, chances are one of the last memories you have of work involve the injury or illness that led you to lead the job. Maybe you slipped and fell on a construction site and tore a ligament in your knee. Maybe you spent one afternoon typing a memo and developed a pinched nerve that was later diagnosed to be severe thoracic outlet syndrome. Or maybe you got into an accident while driving a company delivery van. In any case, that last dramatic memory is likely still relatively fresh in your mind’s eye.

Also, making the transition back to your old job means in some ways reflecting on everything that’s happened to you since you’ve left work. Much like holidays like New Year’s Eve in a sense force you to reflect on your life – where you’ve been, how far you’ve come, your shortfalls – so too does the return to work compel you to reassess your life milestones.

Finally, in the event that there has been any bad blood or friction with your employer or with your company over your claim, you might worry about whether there will be drama at work – and, if so, how you should respond. You’ll also spend a lot of time thinking about the relationships that you have or you did have with the people at work and how those relationships have evolved and will evolve once you return. Finally, you will likely spend some time thinking about the fear of re-injury. Will going back to work lead again to a problem? If so, how will you know? What should you do if you see warning signs or develop a subconscious fear that something might be going wrong?

To prepare best for the return, talk to an experienced North Carolina Workers’ Compensation law firm, so you will understand your rights and responsibilities and make the transition back as seamless, stress-free and simple as possible.

More Web Resources:

Overcoming fear

Going back to work after a long absence

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Fraud Case: NC Man Accused of $2.7 million Scam

June 27, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

The Friday before last, a Wake Forest man, Carl Delmas Fuller was charged in a North Carolina workers’ compensation scam. Fuller was arrested in Florida after the Florida Department of Financial Services Division of Insurance Fraud investigated fishy business practices and concluded that Fuller had scammed National Employment Services (NES) out of a whopping $2.7 million in premiums. NES slowly awakened to the duplicity. The company had believed that had bought insurance from an North Carolinian agent named David Walters who had been serving them through a company called Southeast Services Incorporated. But the company investigation realized that the certificates “Walters” provided were useless, that “Walters” in fact did not exist, and that there was no such entity as “Southeast Services Incorporated.” And indeed, all the checks sent to Southeast Services Inc. wound up in a Myrtle Beach mail box owned by Carl Delmas Fuller.

Both the FBI and the United States Attorneys’ Offices assisted the Florida Department of Financial Services in the investigation to North Carolina workers’ compensation fraud. Fuller faces two decades behind bars if he is convicted of all charges.

As this blog has discussed many times, when individuals like Fuller siphon money out of the system and destroy trust among the various parties (insurers, employers, employees, etc.) everyone suffers in an indirect way. At first blush, 20 years behind bars for a white color crime like fraud might seem “over the top” especially when you consider that rapists, murderers, and violent gang leaders often get a fraction of that jail sentence. The consequences of this kind of fraud can be far reaching and devastating. When the money leaves the system like this, beneficiaries who desperately need funds to pay for medical care, rehabilitation, emergency surgeries, etc. may not have access to the funds or may be unfairly challenged by insurance companies who’ve been “once bitten twice shy” when it comes to dealing with the workers’ comp system.

The big moral and philosophical lessons of the story aside, however, if you or someone you care about is struggling with an issue such as a bad faith insurer, an uncaring boss who won’t listen to your concerns, or simply a lot of red tape regarding your benefits, a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can provide tremendous assistance.

More Web Resources:

Carl Fuller


Florida Department of Financial Services

Colorado Fraud Case Piques Interest of North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Community

June 25, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

A workers’ comp case way out in Aurora, Colorado has caught the attention of the North Carolina workers’ compensation community because of the heart breaking realities at the center of it all.

Martin Lobatos and his wife Belen Lobatos were indicted on 18-counts last Friday, after Colorado investigators alleged that the couple collected $140,000 worth of workers’ comp claims from Pinnacol Assurance. Lobatos worked as a roofer until September 8, 2008, when he sustained a terrible fall off of a ladder. He went back to work a month later but started complaining of ongoing vertigo and dizziness from his accident. Six months later, in April 2009, Lobatos’ doctors maintained that he had fully recovered.

Lobatos was fired and later collected a $20,000 settlement from Pinnacol Assurance. In the fall of 2009, however, Lobatos began experiencing more symptoms, such as memory loss, having trouble recognizing his children, dizziness, and a host of other frustrating problems. His doctors agreed. In March 2010, Lobatos claimed to be “fully catatonic.” And he allegedly acted catatonic in medical exams. But witnesses later saw him driving around, shopping, engaging in activities in a decidedly non-catatonic state. This evidence allegedly led to the investigation and ultimately to the allegations and 18 count indictment against Lobatos and his wife. If convicted of the crime, the Lobatoses could face fines of $750,000 each and a dozen years in prison.

Obviously, North Carolina workers’ compensation fraud (and such fraud elsewhere in the country) is an enormous problem, and perpetrators should be held to account. But is it really fair to slap these people with $1.5 million in fines and over 10 years in prison? Many homicide cases don’t get punished that severely. Again, this is not to say fraud shouldn’t be punished appropriately. But the punishment must fit the crime, and the context of the crime should also deeply inform the legal remedies.

What’s frustrating here is that many injuries that ultimately send people to seek the services of a North Carolina workers’ compensation firm don’t manifest immediately after an accident. A fall off of a ladder, for instance, may lead to a temporary concussion that seems to resolve after few weeks or months…only to give way to longer term, chronic, and confusing injuries months or even years after the fact.

Again, it’s impossible to weigh in on the Lobatos’ case without far more information. But victims of workplace accidents or illnesses should understand that they may go through a similar kind of rollercoaster – feeling bad after the accident, then feeling better again for a while, then feeling suddenly worse for no apparent reason. This is why it’s so important to contact professionals, like experienced law firms and good doctors, to build evidence, stay within the bounds of the law, and maximize your chances for getting the money and support you need to get back to work and support your family.

More Web Resources:

Pinnacol Assurance

Martin Lobatos fraud

Solving Problems Blocking your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Recovery

June 21, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you’ve been on North Carolina workers’ compensation for some time, odds are that you are itching to get back to work in some capacity, either by retraining, going back to your old job, or finding some other way to be productive with your time. Unfortunately, without good guidance, you may languish and recover for far longer than you intended – and the consequences can be frustrating not only for your ego but also for your budget. After all, typically you likely can make significantly more money actually working than you can basically staying home and collecting North Carolina workers’ compensation.

To that end, let’s discuss some strategies for how to speed up your recovery.

1. Educate yourself as a patient

Being a proactive patient doesn’t necessarily mean ignoring your doctor’s orders. But it does mean researching your condition, reading books about it, talking to other patients, engaging in good Q&As with your physician, and following up on rehab and home care.

2. Notice when something doesn’t right or when you are stuck on snag or an optical

One of the top reasons why people struggle with chronic injuries, work problems, or other stresses is that they fail to acknowledge the reality. If something bothers you – a nagging pain in your left knee, a sliver of doubt over your diagnosis or doctor’s prescription, for instance – write down your troubles. Keep a journal or a logbook about them. And work through your struggles by surfacing the fundamental problems, talking about them with people who know and support you, and looking for shortcuts around them. For instance, if your knee bothers you every time you shovel your driveway, find someone else to shovel your driveway for you and save yourself the pain.

3. Actively seek out help

No one person or institution – even the most qualified North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm – can help you blast through all of the obstacles that are holding you back from returning to work quickly, getting back on the game, and restoring your career path. But “going it alone” almost always makes a zero sense. One’s perspective is by definition narrow. You may simply be blind by either habit or denial to some fundamental truths which, if acknowledged, could help you shortcut your process to healing enormously. It takes courage to ask for advice and for help. And there are certainly untrustworthy sources out there who might judge you or give you bad advice. So you have to be careful about whom you trust and how you solicit help. But there is no substitute for an alternative fresh perspective when you are stuck with problem in work, life, or health.

More Web Resources:

Educate yourself as a patient

Keeping a journal

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Reform Passes State Senate

June 16, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Last Thursday, a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Reform Bill – also known as HB709 – passed the state senate. The final vote was unanimous: 46 to 0. On June 1, as regular readers will recall, the NC House passed a similar initiative by a lopsided margin of 100 to 3. The North Carolina workers’ compensation reform is the first of its kind in 17 years. Although Republican lawmakers and business groups pushed the bill, the legislation ultimately morphed into more of a compromised reform. The AFL-CIO, Employers Coalition of North Carolina, Chamber of Commerce, and countless business, insurance and workers rights groups as well as trial lawyers all collaborated to create this. For instance, Governor Beverly Perdue, a Democrat, happily reported the legislation.

What the reform will do:

• Temporary total disability benefits will be capped at 500 weeks (approximately 9.5 years)
• Injured workers may be able to petition for extra temporary total disability benefits of another 425 weeks
• Partial disability benefits bump up from 300 weeks to 500 weeks
• Death benefits to family members of workers killed on the job will also bump up from 400 weeks to 500 weeks
• When workers reach a threshold known as “maximum medical improvement,” the definition of what will then constitute “suitable employment” will change. A businessinsurance.com article summarized this new definition nicely: “a job the employee is capable of performing while considering physical limitations, education, experienced and vocational skills.”

What will these reforms mean for you and your potential claim?

In the abstract, it’s impossible to say. An experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can annualize your situation and suggest a best path forward. Even if you feel like your case is pretty cut and dry, you may nevertheless benefit from talking with a repeatable law firm to ensure that you maximize your benefits and minimize your chances of running afoul of bureaucracy, red tape, or other problems.

More Web Resources:

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Reform Bill

Employers Coalition of North Carolina

Is Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Law Firm the Right One for You? 4 Tips to Help You Choose

June 14, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you got hurt in a lifting accident and threw out your back at work; or you came down with fibromyalgia or chronic pain syndrome due to repetitive office work, you believe that you may need North Carolina Workers’ Compensation. Some claimants forge their own way through the system, but many often seek out experts, such as attorneys who specialize in helping applicants to cut through the red tape, compel unfair or faithless insurers to abide by their responsibilities, manage companies or bosses who won’t cooperate, and so forth.

Indeed, most North Carolina Workers’ Compensation claimants can benefit tremendously by speaking to an attorney – for free and at no obligation – simply to get a strategic overview of their opportunities (and potential pitfalls) as well as a list of resources.

But not every North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm is the same. Unfortunately, many firms do not give their clients the requisite customized, personal attention they need to make the most informed decisions about what to do next. Clients might wind up with less than optimal (occasionally lackluster) results in difficult cases – e.g. where an insurance company or employer directly challenges your claim or tries to negate it. Your choice of law firm can prove pivotal. Experienced, results-proven lawyers can compel recalcitrant parties to treat you fairly; whereas inexperienced, overwhelmed, or simply disorganized attorneys may be unable to give you the representation you need to prevail in difficult circumstances.

To protect your interest, hew to the following principles:

1. Interview your attorneys, and prepare for the discussion by listing out questions and concerns in advance.

2. Do due diligence– research law firms online, look at client testimonials, and do objective research re: the firm’s general reputation within the legal community.

3. Listen to your gut. Your intuition often picks up on subtle factors that your conscious mind overlooks. If you get a sense that a firm is right for you (or is not right), pay attention to that sense and use it to help you make your decision.

4. Avoid “analysis paralysis.” In almost any decision in life, “over-researching” can lead to time wasting without improving the quality of the choice. Set a time limit for whom to retain, and force yourself to make a decision by that timeline, so you can move forward with your case and get the help you need urgently.

More Web Resources

Beating “analysis paralysis”

Listen to your gut?

Mass Overhaul to North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Laws Passes the House

June 9, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Last week, the North Carolina house passed significant North Carolina workers’ compensation reforms by a lopsided vote of 110 to 4. This marks the first overhaul of the state’s workers’ comp system in nearly two decades. The charge was led by Republican representative, Dale Folwell, a 52-year old legislator who gained renown after driving over 32,000 miles on his motorcycle in 2006 to raise money for organ donation awareness (Folwell’s son was killed in 1999 by a motorist).

According to The Charlotte Observer, the massive changes to North Carolina workers’ compensation law will now go to the Senate for approval. The house passage ended months of marathon negotiations and years of controversy. Here are some of the big takeaways, summarized by the Charlotte Observer:

• “Caps payment for most disabled workers of 500 weeks, or 9.5 years, bringing North Carolina in line with neighboring states. Now there is no cap. The change would not affect workers currently on worker’s comp.
• Extends temporary partial disability payments from 300 to 500 weeks.
• Increases survivors’ death benefits from 400 to 500 weeks and burial expenses from $3,500 to $10,000.”

Folwell was at the epicenter of many passionate debates over the proposed legislation. According to the Observer, “one meeting lasted almost 13 hours.” Although business interest groups and Republican lawmakers drove the push for reform, Democrats, labor unions, and workers rights advocates claimed victories. As a Democrat from Durham, Representative Paul Leubke, commented “[workers advocates] feel it’s the best bill that could be developed in the context of this general assembly… it’s not as balanced as some might have represented.”

Governor Beverly Perdue lauded lawmakers for coming to the consensus: “working together, we seem to have accomplished that goal [of creating a long lasting fix to the system].”

Now that all the Sturm und Drang has passed (hopefully), workers, employers, business groups, insurance companies, trial lawyers, and other interested parties will get to sit back and watch to see how the changes to NC’s workers’ comp laws actually unfold. Will they save money? Will workers’ rights be unfairly infringed upon? Will the architects of this project objectively measure the results and change course if need be based on the data?

There are so many question marks at this point; it’s difficult to digest all the implications.

If you or a family member is receiving benefits or is seeking benefits, a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can help you unpack your options and develop a strategy that fits the context of this momentous and tumultuous time in the world of the state’s workers’ comp laws.

More Web Resources:

NC house sets up final vote on workers’ comp bill

Representative Paul Leubke

 
 

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