Topic: Medical 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.

Don’t Wait for Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Benefits to Roll in to Start Living Your Life!

February 26, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you’re still reeling from a North Carolina construction accident, or you’re on day 40 of a grueling rehab and you’re still not sure whether your employer will accept liability for what happened to you, you feel anxious and a bit depressed. Your life feels “on hold.” You need clarity about when you will get North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits, how much you will get, how long the income stream will last, and so forth.

The benefits questions constitute the tip of the iceberg. You’re also struggling with your rehab, relationships, career goals, and emotions.

Way too many beneficiaries (or hopeful beneficiaries) live their lives essentially imprisoned by this limbo state. To that end, if you have yet to connect with a workers’ compensation law firm in North Carolina (like DeMayo Law), then you are likely pointlessly constraining your resources and possibly even damaging your case.

Beyond that, understand that the “limbo feeling” is in many respects self-created.

Avoid the victim mentality! Yes, you may feel a bit helpless because outside forces have imposed certain dynamics on your life — they’ve constrained what you can and can’t physically do, how much money you can obtain, what therapies you can get, and so forth.

Avoid victim mentality, nevertheless. Find places where you CAN exert control and autonomy, and do so, and you will feel less in limbo.

Escaping this mentality does not mean ignoring reality or dismissing your needs. Quite to the contrast! You need to meet your needs and avoid fooling yourself — i.e. trying to pretend that your situation isn’t that serious.

You might be surprised that how much freedom you still have, in spite of all the constraints.

Keep living your life — doing stuff that’s fun. For instance, maybe you were planning a trip with the kids to Disney World, but you hurt your leg badly, and now you can’t drive — or you don’t feel comfortable taking a long road trip.

Instead, perhaps you could opt for a lower scale, lower cost jaunt to Myrtle Beach for the weekend. Yeah, you might not get to see Mickey Mouse and Goofy and Epcot Center. But you can still enjoy yourself and your family.

Get creative. Find creative ways of meeting your needs and living your life in spite of all the uncertainties and pressures imposed by your workplace injury.

You Don’t Have to Win Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Case All At Once

February 12, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

As you confront the enormousness that is your North Carolina workers’ compensation case — or potential case — you feel daunted and a bit out of your element. This feeling is common, so try to relax. Remember the old joke: “What’s the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time!”

That advice may sound a cheeky or overly glib if you’re struggling to even understand what’s wrong with you — while simultaneously dealing with a boss or a manager who’s been, to put it charitably, less than cooperative with your claim.

It’s hard to stop dwelling on your case and easy to become obsessional. Your psyche won’t just let you “forget” what you need to do, so unless and until you determine all the projects related to your workers’ compensation journey and put appropriate placeholders for those projects into a productivity system that you can trust, you will operate at a disadvantage.

So how can you break down your case into bite-size pieces — to eat the metaphorical elephant one bite at a time?

First of all, if you haven’t yet retained a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm, you should probably do so ASAP, if only to avoid the “reinvent the wheel” problem that so many claimants encounter.

Finding a really good lawyer can help you at least begin to get some pressing projects off your plate. We invite you to call on our team at (877) 529-1222 for a free case evaluation.

In addition, strive to articulate the different “to dos” associated with your case — both the small stuff and the big stuff — in written form, so that you can deal with them in a structured way.

Give yourself permission to write down all possible projects related to the injury, and then go through the list, item-by-item, and figure out what you need to do next for each one.

Figure out two things:

1. If your best case outcome happened, what would that mean and look like?

2. What is the very next thing you need to do to get this project moving forward? You don’t need to move forward on it right now, but you want to have a placeholder for what you could do if you wanted to take action on it immediately.

For instance, one of your projects might read “retain a qualified North Carolina workers’ comp law firm.” Your next step could be “call DeMayo at (877) 529-1222 for a free consultation.”

Once you’ve broken up all the projects on your list in this fashion, organize and review the list regularly (at least once a week) to keep it current, and you will feel far less stressed about the journey ahead.

Worst Case Scenario North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Case: Man Whose Feet Were Smashed in a Roofing Accident Gets Only $75 out of $70,000 Owed!

January 29, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

This is one of those North Carolina workers’ compensation cases that boils your blood and makes you want to stop whatever you’re doing and rededicate your life to reforming the system.

The case concerns the fate of a man named John Ashworth, who worked for Statewide Roofing in Franklin County. In 2008, Ashworth fell off a roof and shattered both feet. His boss, Robert Wayne House, lacked North Carolina workers’ compensation insurance — a sadly not uncommon turn of events these days. As the Charlotte News & Observer exposed last year, tens of thousands of businesses in North Carolina have been (and still are) failing to meet their workers’ comp insurance obligations.

In any event, House owes Ashworth over $70,000 in lost wages. He also owes another hurt worker over $100,000.

The North Carolina Industrial Commission has pressured House to pay off his debts. But, so far, he has paid just $75 to Ashworth. The 53-year-old calls that pittance payment “not even worth my time” and says he spent nearly a third of that money ($25) just on parking and gas while traveling to his hearings out in Raleigh.

For now, the injured roofer gets by on Medicaid, Social Security Disability payments and food stamps. But Ashworth and others fume about the lack of safety net for hurt workers whose employers lack insurance.

The North Carolina Industrial Commission is well aware of the problem.

Over the past few years, the NCIC has heard from around 500 hurt workers (annually!) whose situations “rhyme” with Ashworth’s. The NCIC can award payments. But ensuring that those compulsory payments actually get paid can be an onerous, if not impossible, chore.

When the News & Observer broke the big story last year — that 30,000 plus employers lacked workers’ comp insurance — the NCIC did act, somewhat. It threatened several employers with prison time and massive penalties if they failed to remunerate injured workers. This prompted some employers to pay, but some analysts believe that this process is akin to trying to get blood from a stone.

Many employers, including House, Ashworth’s old boss, are broke themselves. They have no means to provide the funds. That means that Ashworth and others must rely on complicated and frustratingly inconsistent strategies to pay bills and simply survive.

If you or someone you care about has been hurt in a North Carolina workplace, maybe you’re missing out on surprising strategies and legal options that you can leverage to get better results. Call or email the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo right now to schedule a free case evaluation.

Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing: Reading Real Life North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Success Stories

January 3, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

On this North Carolina workers’ compensation blog, we speak a lot in the abstract about tactics and techniques potential beneficiaries can use to succeed: to bring back a sense of order; to compel insurance companies and recalcitrant bosses to play fairly; to develop better behaviors to handle the diverse problems caused by injury/illness.

However, you may wish to supplement this information with “lessons from the real world.”

What have other workers’ comp beneficiaries in North Carolina done to identify their hurdles, overcome their obstacles, and gain financial stability and clarity? You don’t need to guess at these answers! You can find loads of success stories for free on the Internet.

You will be stimulated by the “blow-by-blow” stories of those who have overcome similar challenges, but you do need to be careful. Not all the stories you’ll read will be “legit.” Moreover, what works for one person in a similar situation might not work for you. Intangible factors about your case or injury could create new issues… and even new opportunities.

Reading success stories can help you motivate to get out of a slump, enjoy empathy (only a very few who’ve never been through the workers’ comp rigmarole understand what the process feels like), and find curious resources to help with various aspects of the journey.

Nevertheless, you really need to take great care. Following bad or inept advice can make your situation infinitely worse and potentially destroy and otherwise sound case. The “medical guidance” of a random yahoo should never substitute for the advice of an experienced, licensed physician. Likewise, you can’t “substitute around” what a focused workers’ compensation law firm, like DeMayo Law, can do for you, even if your case seems simple right now.

The bottom line: too many hurt workers find themselves isolated, alone, and bereft of critical empathy. Even though your family members and colleagues may nominally offer support, they may not be able to appreciate what you’re going through. So dedicate some time to connect with others who have successfully emerged from similar crises.

For help understanding your legal rights and potential tools, get in touch with the DeMayo Law team now for a consultation.

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.

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.

Taking Opioids for Your North Carolina Workplace Injury? Follow the Guidelines!

November 8, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you or someone in your family has been prescribed opioid medications to deal with the pain stemming from a Charlotte workplace injury, please be sure to follow your doctor and pharmacist’s guidelines. A worrying new report put out by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI), entitled Longer-Term Use of Opioids, examined patient behavior in over 21 states (including North Carolina) and found a shocking degree of non-compliance among patients.

For instance, one out of every 12 workers who was prescribed opioids for a workplace injury remained on the drugs three to six months after they were supposed to stop taking them. Similarly worryingly: many patients failed to follow-up with the treatment and psychological evaluations.

The WCRI study looked at over 300,000 cases and over 1.1 million prescriptions – that’s a lot of data. The trend was pretty clear – and distributing.

This is a big deal. According to a National Council on Compensation Insurance study from 2009, one out of every four workers’ comp dollars goes to prescription costs.

When hurt workers fail to adhere rigorously to their rehabilitation plans and medical treatment, their recalcitrance stresses the entire system.

1.    First of all, workers on average may need to take more time off work.
2.    Secondly, patients may be spending more money on prescription medications than they “ought to” – this also creates waste in the system.
3.    Third, some people might be not getting the treatment that they really need.

According to new theories about addiction, we may engage in addictive, compulsive behaviors as a response to helplessness in our lives. Unless those fundamental feelings of helplessness are addressed, we may continue to take drugs – including physically addicting opioids. If we simply try to eliminate the physical addiction – break-off the opioid intake – we may not eliminate the root cause of the addiction (e.g. helplessness stemming from the fact that you can no longer support your family or enjoy the career that you once did). Compelling evidence for this alternative frame comes from studies on Vietnam vets, who got hooked on heroin during the Vietnam War but who easily and completely kicked their heroin habit upon return to the homeland. This evidence suggests that the psychological stresses of war in and of themselves provoked a compulsion to seek relief through opioids – i.e. the heroin was simply a substrate. Once the vets returned to a peaceful environment, many felt more in control — and thus less in need of meds.

In any event, the moral is that, if someone you love has been struggling with a workplace injury in North Carolina or elsewhere, good, strategic, continuous help can relieve the psychological stressors and also ensure that you get treated fairly by your employer and your insurance company. Connect with the DeMayo law team today to schedule your free consultation.

Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation End Game: How Carefully Have You Thought It Out?

October 30, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you just got sick or injured at work in Charlotte, and you’re still disoriented and unsure of how/whether you’ll be able to obtain benefits; or you are already months into the process, and you’re prepping for a hearing, you may be making a big mistake. It’s a mistake all too many North Carolina workers’ compensation beneficiaries (or would be beneficiaries) make.

You are failing to articulate an “end game.”

What does that mean?

It means that you’ve likely become so entangled in the minutiae of your workers’ comp case that you’ve given scant, if any, time to considering what you would like your life to look like, after everything has been successfully resolved. Don’t beat yourself up – this is a common problem. It’s not like you have nothing on your plate – you undoubtedly have a tremendous amount of work to do, and you’re likely facing numerous simultaneous stresses, medical, physical, emotional, and otherwise.

But without a positive vision anchoring your quest, you’re likely going to have trouble allocating your resources and sustaining necessary attention.

How do you go about solidifying such a vision?

You do it in multiple stages.

Stage 1: Brainstorming “good stuff” about your future.

Take 10 to 15 minutes – after you finish reading this blog post – to brainstorm positive “stuff” you’d like to see on your future. For instance, you might want your medical condition resolve. You might want to eliminate your financial problems. You might want to feel better about a certain relationship. You might want to be back at work – or at least back at a career that you find fulfilling. Don’t worry about making sense of these positive thoughts. Don’t censor yourself. Just get these thoughts down.

Stage 2 – Analyze and edit

At a separate point in time – give yourself at least an hour, preferably a day or longer – return to your brainstorming list, and start to pare it down to formulate a vision. Ultimately, you’re aiming for something along the lines of a paragraph or a page in length. During the editing stage, focus just on forming your brainstorming into something more tangible, specific, and doable.

Stage 3 – Rinse and repeat

Go through this process at least twice, if not more – and you can always revisit it, if you get stuck or cease to be inspired.

Stage 4 – Reflect on your positive vision statement often

Spend time during the morning and the evening reviewing your positive vision statement, and focus on what it will feel like when you’ve actually achieved success.

Of course, succeeding with a difficult workers’ comp case often requires a lot more than just positive thinking and changing your mindset. You also need tools, resources, and people with experience and expertise to help you. Look to the team here at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo for essential assistance with your case.

A More Methodical Approach to Your Most Pressing Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Problem

October 23, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

You live in Charlotte, and you need workers’ compensation because you hurt yourself at your job or while engaging in an employment activity.

In some sense, your quest is pretty simple: you just want your employer or your employer’s insurance company to compensate you, while you heal, go through rehab, and otherwise “right your ship.”

In another sense, your journey is exquisitely complicated and unclear.

Here’s the basic problem. Whether you got hurt in a one-time terrifying event – such as a construction accident mishap or a slip and fall on a factory floor – or you got injured slowly over time (e.g. as a result of working in a less than ergonomic position for 20+ years) – you can pretty clearly identify one or several “things” that went wrong and that need to be fixed ASAP.

For instance, maybe you shattered some vertebrae in your back. You need to repair and heal those vertebrae. Or maybe you developed carpel tunnel syndrome, and you need to fix your wrists and hands. From a certain perspective, it looks like your situation was caused by something simple and should be fixed by something simple.

On the other hand – and this is the subtle part! – simple accidents can lead to complex injures. And even if your injuries are simple, the solution to even a simple injury can be complex.

Consider the theoretical example of the shattered vertebrae. If your back is broken, not only must you deal with your back pain, but you also might need to take medicines, rest in a certain position for long periods of time, and undergo multiple surgeries. Every time you undergo a surgery, you may need to take other medications, some of which may have side effects which may require the use of even more medications, which can in turn change how your body regulates fat storage or change your biochemistry and other complex ways. You also will face logistical, financial, and relationship-based problems. If you have a shattered vertebrae, for instance, you may no longer be able to take care of your children. Thus, you may need to hire full time child support or call in a favor from an estranged brother or sister.

The end result is that your life becomes a lot messier and financially more difficult.

Thus, simple accidents – and even simple injuries stemming from simple accidents – can lead to a lot of complex “stuff” in your life that you need deal with effectively. Most remedies for workers’ comp are overly simplistic, in that fail to address all or even most of these secondary and tertiary issues.

The team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo in Charlotte can help you with the big, important legal issues – compelling an insurance company to treat you with respect, e.g.. But just understand that anyone who promises you overly simplistic, speedy solutions is just not being honest with you.

Getting Over Chronic Injury: Could Managing Repressed Rage Be a Key to Dealing with Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Situation?

October 16, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Like thousands of North Carolinians every year, you sustained a chronic injury at work. Now, you require Charlotte workers’ compensation benefits to help pay for your medical care, lost wages and other costs.

You may simultaneously want to “dial-in” to listen to your emotions.

Whether you work in manufacturing, computing, medical, dental, or any other type of labor, you likely subject your body to repeated and potentially unnatural physical stresses on a daily basis. Many ergonomic professionals believe that these physical strains can, over time, create damage to bones, muscles, tendons, and connective tissue called fascia. And that may be true. Indeed, a substantial part of your recovery might involve physical therapy – working on the damaged muscles, joints, bones, tendons, ligaments, etc. to rehabilitate them.

At the same time, ample evidence suggest that stress and repressed emotions – specifically, anger – may exacerbate or even cause some of the pain and debilitation.

An alternative hypothesis about why back pain often persists — even among people who show few, if any, signs of structural damage — suggests that stress/anger/and other hard to express negative emotions can lead us to physically embody stress in the form of muscle knots, tension and myofascial trigger points.

Thus, to completely heal from your injury, you may need to focus not only on rectifying the physical stressors – both acute and long-term. You also might need to examine and deal with emotional stresses in your life. For instance, if you hate your boss, your day-to-day work life may lead you to clench up and develop tightness in your upper back and chest and jaw. You may secrete a lot of potentially damaging hormones, such as a superabundance of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.

The mental factors, in other words, might precipitate physical factors, which then precipitate damage or at least increase vulnerability to structural damage.

Obviously, you need to speak to your physician about the best course of action. But the point is that many workplace injuries are actually far deeper and more diverse than victims realize at first.

To connect with excellent resources and develop a plan to ensure that your employer and/or insurance company plays fair, get in touch with the team here at the Law Offices of Michael DeMayo today.

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

September 20, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

For instance:

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

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

2. Get stronger.

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

3. Reduce stress.

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

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

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

September 6, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

A Roadmap For Best Practices

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

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

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

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

Step #3: Process and organize.

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

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

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

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

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.

Doing Less to Achieve More with your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation

August 21, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Take a minute and answer this question for yourself: What activities are you doing right now to further your quest for North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits?

•    Are you seeing appropriate doctors and keeping track of all the reports you get from them?
•    Have you notified your employer about what happened and kept a record of that encounter?
•    Have you researched Charlotte workers’ compensation law firms?
•    Have you and your partner gone over your budget in the wake of your injury/illness to determine what you need to do next and how you want your financial picture to look, now that you’ve gone through all that you’ve been through?
•    Have you kept a journal of all of your experiences on workers’ comp?
•    Have you done exhaustive research about your rights and obligations under the state’s workers’ comp law?

Perhaps you’re already engaged in all or some of these tasks.

But likely you’re probably also engaged in non-essential activities, such as napping more than you used to, moping around the home, getting angry/frustrated about your situation without taking the necessary positive action steps towards getting yourself out of it, etc.

Doing the Purge – Digital Budgeting

Business and productivity expert Jim Collins introduced a kind of time management tool called Digital Budgeting. Basically, Collins believes that many people in the business world and elsewhere do way too many things – this diffused channeling of energy makes getting results extremely difficult. This is an important to learn, whether you are a CEO of a Fortune 500 company or you’re someone struggling to get/maximize North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits.

Collins recommends starting something called a “stop doing list” – basically, you identify projects and tasks that do not provide value and/or enjoyment in your life and then you systematically stop doing them. This activity demands that you focus your time and energy and helps you avoid the busy trap. For instance, let’s say that you’re doing everything that we talked about at the beginning of this list… plus you’re taking care of your kids, watching a lot of sports, sleeping till noon, wasting time online, and ruminating over what went wrong and what “could have been.”

To make headway, you need to start to “chop out” the activities that are not providing you value — that are not moving you towards your goals. Your “purge” doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be totally exact. You just need to start. Find a few activities that you do right now that you know are not productive, and then “stop funding them.” In other words, give them no more time, money, or attention.

This may be difficult at first — but if you can intellectually convince yourself and if you can review your “stop doing list” regularly — you’ll develop the will power and fortitude to stick with it. You’ll then eliminate a source of a drag on your time/energy, and then you can leverage this reclaimed time/energy to make more progress with your case and rebuild your life.

For help managing the ins and outs of your workers’ comp case, look to the team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo.

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.

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.

Books to Read While Well Laid Up on North Carolina Workers’ Compensation

July 24, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Many people who want or need North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits find themselves enormously challenged by a variety of subtle sources of stress in their lives.

On this blog, we try to surface some of these and give you tools and strategies to deal with them. But this blog can by no means give you the complete education you need to face various contingencies and difficult situations. Aside from booking a free and confidential consultation with the experienced pros here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo, you might also avail yourself of a series of excellent books to get familiar with basic strategies for how to cope with diverse problems of being off work. Here are a few key books:

1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

This book is one of the classic “self help” books – it’s in the public domain, so you should be able to get it for free. Napoleon Hill spent a great deal of time with some of the early 20th Century magnates, like Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. He studied their methodologies and philosophies and boiled down their lessons into his book, Think and Grow Rich. While Hill’s philosophy is generally celebrated as a means for “manifesting” prosperity, the steps and thought process he lays out should be useful for people on workers’ comp in Charlotte who want to equalize their finances, set goals, and regain a general sense of control.

2. A great series of novels (e.g. Piers Anthony’s Xanth series).

When you are off work and/or otherwise incapacitated, you can easily fall into the trap of letting your mind fall idle – that is, surfing the web mindlessly, watching way too much reality television, or just simply “vegging out” and not really moving your mental life forward. Now might be the perfect opportunity to dive into a fictional universe – not just to pass the time but also to keep yourself intellectually engaged and thinking creatively. Pick up a series that’s outside your normal reading “comfort zone”. For instance, if you’re a fan of historical fiction, take a break and delve into some science fiction; or vice versa.

3. The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

Ferriss’s book is essentially a study on outsourcing. Considering that you have a diminished capacity to work and be productive, you might find some of Ferriss’s tips and “hacks” useful and inspiring.

Choosing Your Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Team: Getting “A” Players

July 17, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

To make serious progress with your Charlotte workers’ compensation case, you almost certainly need the help of a team of people who have the proper skill sets to get you results.

This isn’t to say that you absolutely must use a Charlotte workers’ compensation law firm, such as DeMayo Law, to succeed. The system is designed so that, at least theoretically, individuals can get results themselves. But in practical situations – especially situations involving complex insurance “stuff”, employers who don’t play by the rules, and long-term medical situations — you’re likely going to need help.

The question is: Where do you get the right help, and how do you coordinate that help to best effect?

Even in the best of times – that is, if you were completely healthy and you had a lot of money and leisure time to put together your workers’ comp “dream team” – you might be hard pressed to design and follow best practices. This is because team building is not necessarily intuitive to most people. Recruiting truly top level individuals can be a daunting task. You might stumble upon a great person by accident. But odds are, you’re going to have to work at assembling the right kind of help.

Getting there means being choosy. It means interviewing prospective team members extensively. But that’s not the way many people operate. Most people respond to the “the latest and loudest” – the most aggressively marketed messages. You need to engage in a thorough recruiting process – just like you might if you were hiring a key person for your company. This will involve interviewing the prospective team member extensively, checking references – calling old clients (not just simply looking at reviews on yelp or whatever). It means that really getting to know that the person or company’s values and mission, and determining whether it matches with your own.

Now, if you’re facing an imminent and urgent legal situation – such as a possible lawsuit against a negligent employer or duplicitous insurer – you may not have the luxury to do a long recruiting process. Indeed, one of the things we often come back to here on this North Carolina workers’ compensation blog is the theme of acting and then course correcting down the line.

In other words, you’re going to have to operate in an environment in which you don’t know all the answers. That can be scary. But embrace this methodology. People can and probably should help you with your workers’ comp struggles. But your doctors, rehab specialists, attorneys, etc should be carefully screened; and if you don’t have the best people on your team, then have the courage to get those people off the team and find better people.

We’ll discuss principles for finding good people in our next post, so stay tuned.

Putting HB 237 in Context: Beyond the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Headlines

July 5, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

The big news of 2012, at least as far as North Carolina workers’ compensation is concerned, is obviously the passage of HB 237, a bill signed into law last week by Governor Beverly Perdue.

As we have covered in previous posts, the law is designed to encourage businesses to comply with insurance regulations. It comes in the wake of a high profile news series in the News & Observer, which documented how thousands of in-state businesses lack North Carolina workers’ compensation insurance coverage.

The measure fell far short of some advocates’ expectations. The Executive Editor of the News & Observer said “if the data from the NC Rate Bureau was made private, we would not have been able to publish [the landmark] story.” John Bussian, a representative of the North Carolina Press Association, also had problems with the bill – specifically the provision that made employer information proprietary: “the fact is, neither the media nor the government can gauge whether employers are complying with the workers’ compensation law with that database.”

Beyond the Headlines

How much will HB 237 change the North Carolina workers’ compensation system?

Are we collectively focusing on the right “stuff” to reform workers’ comp, make it fairer, encourage employers to be more compliant with insurance requirements, and so forth? Perhaps. But in all likelihood, the Sturm und Drang surrounding the News & Observer story — and the subsequent battle over legislation — may be overblown.

Here is the reality: Given the will and economic incentives, there are dozens, possibly hundreds, of strategies that we can collectively deploy to improve the system. For instance, and these are speculative, but they are potentially useful to consider:

•    Consider a statewide ban on sodas and other sugary beverages, similar to the proposed and much ballyhooed New York city ban. This could reduce obesity and diabetes rates in the state, which would in turn reduce pressure on the healthcare system and possibly reduce injuries at the workplace;
•    Launch a campaign to encourage North Carolinians to get more sleep, thereby theoretically reducing the number of fatigue-related accidents and workers’ comp claims;
•    Create a conference to bring together insurers, attorneys, regulators, employee groups, and employer groups to search for mutually beneficial strategies and tactics to improve the system’s efficiency, utility, costs, etc.

This speculation is not intended to downplay the debate over HB 237 – it could turn out to be an important and useful law. But we generally need to think “bigger picture” and see the context in which laws like HB 237 are debated and passed.

On a more practical front, if you or a loved one needs help dealing with your benefits situation, the team at DeMayo Law is here to help.

Milky Way and Andromeda Galaxy to Collide: What Does It Mean for Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Case?

June 12, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

At first blush, you might think that astrophysics and North Carolina workers’ compensation have about as much in common as do Lady Gaga and Albert Einstein. But let go of your skepticism for a second, and consider the following very interesting astrophysics development. There might be critical lessons for you “from the stars,” if you or someone you care about has been struggling to deal with an insurance company, recuperate from a chronic work induced ailment, or saddled with a less than compassionate employer.

Milky Way and Andromeda galaxy to collide, new research finds

North Carolina is located on planet Earth, which resides in the Milky Way galaxy, a consortium of billions of stars. To give you some sense of comparison, if the sun were the size of a very small grain of sand, the Milky Way galaxy would be approximately the size of the earth.

It’s big, in other words!

And it turns out that the Milky Way is on a slow motion (relatively speaking) collision course with a nearby galaxy called Andromeda, which is currently about two million light years away from us. By painstakingly measuring Andromeda’s trajectory using the Hubble satellite, scientists determined that the galaxy is headed our way at approximately 250,000 miles an hour.

At this rate, Andromeda and the Milky Way will collide and merge in about four billion years. Not exactly something to fret about any time soon.

Very interesting, but how does it relate back to my North Carolina workers’ compensation concerns?

Here’s how. Many aspects of the workers’ compensation journey happened in essentially “slow motion.” For instance, if you look hard enough, data could suggest that a certain type of rehabilitation will work (or not). But if you just pay attention to what you normally pay attention to – and fail to look for the subtle, “slow motion” signals – you can wind up struggling with your benefits issues.

Thinking “long-term” does not come intuitively to most people.

Even though human beings have a relatively unique ability to plan, we are still very much “creatures of the moment.” It is very difficult for us to intuitively sense whether a physical action or a dietary change that we undertake will have long-term negative (or positive) effects on us. It’s like… when you look at Andromeda through a telescope right now — even through the best telescopes we have — the collection of stars looks basically frozen in the sky. But it’s actually moving! Likewise, when you take a look at your current habits, resources, and beliefs about workers’ comp, you cannot judge what the outcome of those beliefs, habits, etc will be just by looking at the short-term.

A way around this “perspective” problem

The team here at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo has represented hundreds of people in situations similar to yours. Since we have a better “data set” – more experience, and diverse experience – we understand the best kinds of trajectories for workers comp cases. So we can help you figure out a strategic way to approach your mission to get benefits, heal, and feel back in control.

False Beliefs about Charlotte Workers’ Compensation – Part 4: “Recovery Goes In A Straight Line”

May 31, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

On some level, you already know that the experience of trying to recover from the injury that’s made you need Charlotte workers’ compensation is neither simple, nor obvious. On the other hand, you probably hold some false beliefs about how the healing and recovery process works.

These false beliefs might be toying with your expectations. They could negatively impact not only the results you ultimately get but also how you feel about those results in terms of satisfaction. That’s all a little heady. So let’s break it down.

In the western world, we are trained to think linearly about our problems. When we think about recovering from an injury, for instance, we subconsciously picture the point of injury as the lowest point on a graph of wellbeing. As time goes by, we get treatment, and we get better and better. The metric that we use to track to our wellbeing slowly but steadily rises until we are “back to normal.”

A graph of this process would look like a straight line slopping upwards over time. The same thing will be true for any aspect of the North Carolina workers’ compensation recovery journey. For instance, if you track your financial state, you start at a level place, get hit by the injury and see a sharp dip in the curve followed by a slow but steady increase back to baseline.

Here’s the reality: our lives are rarely linear.

Setbacks, complications, and other dynamic factors will make your journey far less “straight and obvious” than you’d expect.

•    A negative example: you might be healing fine from your knee injury surgery only to wrench your back two weeks out. You’d then find yourself facing 10 months off of work instead of just two.

•    A positive example: you might feel totally overwhelmed by your finances… only to encounter a great recommendation for a financial planner, who manages to tidy up your numbers in just a few afternoons and thus relieve you of a tremendous amount of stress.

Even if the mathematical metaphor is not totally clear you, the takeaway is pretty straightforward: Our minds think linearly; but life is anything but linear. To make sense of the chaos, you need good people, who have experience and a track record of success, to help you navigate the various issues in your journey. The team at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo can help you manage your crisis and come away from your experience stronger, healthier and happier.

False Beliefs about Charlotte Workers’ Compensation – There is Someone Who Has “All The Answers” For You

May 22, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you’ve been struggling with a Charlotte workers’ compensation issue – e.g. trying to compel an unfair insurer to make good on a policy or struggling to negotiate appropriate terms with an employer – you are probably feeling under a lot of pleasure on multiple fronts.

First of all, you and your family need to deal with your current financial realities. If you have a cash flow problem with your household, that’s a big issue – especially if you have mortgage payments or student loan payments. You also have to contend with the injury itself:

•    How bad is it?
•    Will you be able to heal?
•    When will you heal?
•    What therapies are the most appropriate?
•    Whom can you trust to give you good advice about your medical condition?
•    How can you evaluate and compare different doctors’ opinions and treatments?

So that’s a whole other basket of challenges. Then you face legal/bureaucratic challenges – obstacles that must be overcome. These include wrangling with your boss, insurance company, or the state itself – or all of the above. And if you want to get help, you then have to figure out how and where to get good help. Should you study the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation rules by yourself, or find a good law firm. If so, what firm should you choose, and by what criteria should you choose that firm?

The questions are endless.

Given the depth and breadth of your problems and complications, it is tempting to want a guru or savior – someone who can essentially take a magic wand and wipe away your problems and bring your life back to “the way it was” the day before the accident or injury. It’s a tempting fantasy. But it’s also potentially dangerous one. After all, even if you work with the best lawyers and doctors, and if you get great support from your friends and family members, you still may have a long and surprising road ahead of you, If you operate under the mentality that you are helpless — that you require other people to do your thinking and your healing for you — you are going to make yourself needlessly vulnerable.

So what’s the resolution?

In some ways, workplace accident victims are caught between a rock and hard place. You can’t do it all yourself. Even if you have the time, energy, and health – which you don’t – you lack the expertise, knowledge, relationships, etc. to “get everything done” that needs to be done. On the other hand, good people and resources can play an enormous role in your ultimate recovery and trajectory back to wellness and financial equilibrium.

We invite you connect with the team here at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo immediately for a free consultation about what you might be able to do.

Workers’ Compensation Advice Fatigue: Too Many Answers, Too Few Results

May 17, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Here’s a pretty subtle – some might say insidious – problem that can strike would be beneficiaries in North Carolina workers’ compensation cases. It’s a problem of expectations.

More specifically, if you got hurt or sick on the job, you likely initially felt confused and overwhelmed and out of control. You did what any normal confused and overwhelmed person would do – you went online (and elsewhere) and researched your rights and requirements under North Carolina workers’ compensation law. You wound up discovering a seemingly infinite number of articles, blogs, and websites devoted to “helping you” unpack your challenges, maximize your benefits, and rebuilding your life. While you found some of the information compelling and commonsensical, you haven’t made the kind of progress you had hoped to make. As a result, a kind of dissonance has opened up in your life and created a new kind of stress.

You are now aware that there are experts and gurus and others who “walk the walk” successfully. By the same token, since you haven’t yet achieved your goals, you are finding yourself ruefully comparing your own situation with the “best case outcomes” you’ve read about online and elsewhere. How come your problems aren’t solved? What are you doing wrong that these other folks are doing right?

Unfortunately, these are the wrong questions to ask!

It’s very difficult to understand your own situation exclusively in the context of someone else’s situation. Even if the facts of your North Carolina workers’ comp case are very similar to the facts of another case that turned out successfully, you can never tell what subtleties and nuances separate your situation from that other situation. In fact, two coworkers injured in nearly identically industrial accidents may wind up with very, very different legal outcomes. Is this because one does a better job of getting the right help? Perhaps. But perhaps their situations are more different than superficial analysis can tell us.

This isn’t to say you should not do due diligence and try to find the best law firm around. (If you are interested in connecting with the Law Offices of Michael DeMayo, we would be happy to provide a free consultation). But you need to be careful by managing your own expectations. If you are desperately single, one of the worst things you can do for your ego and spirit is to hop on Facebook and read about all your friends’ wedding announcements. We do so anyway, because we live in a kind of voyeuristic culture. But this is not necessarily a healthy thing to do, psychologically. Likewise, you can read a ton of workers’ comp success stories, but unless and until you ground your own situation in reality, you may be getting your hopes up too soon.

It’s a fine balance, of course. We all need success stories to help us keep our eyes on the prize and boost our motivation. Being optimistic has rewards of its own. But balance your optimism with a grander perspective.

More web resources:

Why to be optimistic:

Why to be realistic:

Obtaining North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Benefits Is Not As Hard As You (Or The Experts) May Think…

May 4, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Perhaps your employer promised to fight your claims; or maybe you’ve encountered resistance from an insurance company. Or maybe you’ve just been reading horror stories about claimants who’ve spent months or even years chasing North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits. In any event, you are gearing up for a big fight. But the path may not be as hard as you fear.

Secret of success: pretend your goals will be tough to reach (even if they won’t)

Researchers at Harvard found that, to set yourself up for success, you need to think effectively about your goals. According to the famous Pareto Principle – also known as the 80-20 rule – imbalances in life are basically everywhere. 20% of all people who get divorced account for 80% of divorces, for instance, amazingly. You wear 20% of your socks 80% of the time. This amazing, counterintuitive principle is at work in practically every facet of our lives, work, relationships, et cetera. Although it’s hard to find statistics to support this contention, it’s probably true that 80% of North Carolina workers’ compensation cases fall into the relatively simple and straightforward category. Only a slim minority of cases constitutes the difficult complex, “drag on in court for months or years” type cases.

Of course, it’s impossible to know whether your particular situation will merit a more robust and muscular response. And it’s always useful to prepare for the worse, even while you hope for the best. But if you’ve been putting off connecting with a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm, like DeMayo Law, because you are worried about the complexity of your situation, avoid this kind of useless, worst case scenario thinking.

After all, you almost certainly face plenty of real challenges related to your injury or accident such as:

•    Educating yourself about your injury or illness;
•    Finding the right doctor and/or rehab specialist to get you maximum care;
•    Working with your spouse and family financial planner to devise an appropriate budget, given your new limitations;
•    Meeting your needs for resting and healing;
•    Enjoying the opportunity to reflect on your life and work and learning to grow as a person and employee;

So stop fretting about imagined obstacles to your case, find a good law firm, and get busy building the next chapter of your life.

More Web Resources:

Fearing Obstacles That Haven’t Yet Presented Themselves

Stop Worrying and Start Rebuilding Your Life

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation: When You’re Just Trying to Get By

April 30, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Many articles online about workers’ compensation in North Carolina and elsewhere focus on the technical aspects of how to get benefits quickly, maximize the utility of the benefits you collect, “fight the system,” compel employers and insurers to “play fair” and so forth. These are all important topics to address – indeed, this blog has spent a tremendous amount of time analyzing these issues.

However, many hurt and sick workers are concerned not just with getting benefits – and “closing the loops” associated with their benefits quickly and efficiently – but also with managing the core instability and frustration of the workers’ comp journey. It’s important to address these issues, too. And the distinction is important. Obviously, hurt and sick workers – and their families – need the appropriate strategies and tactics and resource partners to achieve sufficient results. But focusing on your grand plans – all the big picture thinking – can lead to a kind of overwhelm and dismay.

If you just read a little bit online, for instance, you can immediately recognize:

•    50 problems that you have that are associated with your North Carolina workers’ compensation situation;
•    20 tactics that you should be implementing yesterday to get control of your life;
•    30 possible resource partners;
•    100 North Carolina workers’ compensation law firms;
•    And that’s just the beginning!

Getting human beings to change and move away from the status quo is almost never a comfortable activity, even under the most generous and simplest of circumstances. In other words, if you are young and healthy and you are looking to change your diet or improve your fitness routine or get a little bit more productive… you still nevertheless will face challenges breaking out of old habitual thoughts and actions.

When you’re sick and injured – when you have a family to care for, bills to pay, hidden anger about your employer, your insurance company and possibly yourself, a painful rehab and a scary medical prognosis in front of you, et cetera – the thought of taking on even MORE risk can be almost too overwhelming to bear. Even if the risk is worth it, by any practical calculation. And so many would-be beneficiaries don’t bother taking any action about their cases. So the research that they do comes to naught. So they feel WORSE about their poor results than they would have had they done no research at all!

Not a Good Situation, By Any Means

So how can you begin to move it in some right direction — to get the wheel moving? Unfortunately, there is no cookie cutter answer here. But, if you can at the very least internalize the concepts that we’re discussing here – that taking no action is often worse than taking an inefficient or even negative action (i.e. one that moves you the wrong direction). Action creates its own clarity because of the law of inertia. Once you’re moving in any direction, you’ll find it easier to pivot and change course based on the feedback that you get.

More Web Resources:

The Hidden Cost of “No Action”

The Law of Inertia

Could Massive Changes to California’s System Be a Guiding Light for the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation System?

April 28, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Last year, when we discussed 2011’s massive overhaul to the North Carolina workers’ compensation system, we went on and on about the amazing amount of waste and inefficiency in our system.

If only we could come together as a state and find out ways for all parties involved – insurance companies, lawyers, employers, workers, hospitals, and bureaucrats alike – to work towards mutual solutions. Think about it. It would be awesome. We could probably make massive improvements not only in terms of cost savings but also in terms of better care and better results for everyone involved.

Well, good news. The great state of California has apparentlt taken us up on the challenge. According to a April 12 article in the Los Angeles Times, big companies and labor unions are working in tandem (yes, together!) to overhaul the $15 billion California workers’ comp system to reduce delays, improve medical care, and help break down some of the obstacles facing workers who need compensation.

California workers are hard up.

According to the Los Angeles Times, back in 2004, the average permanent partial disability recipient got $25,000. Meanwhile, UC Berkeley data show that that number has been more than cut in half – down to $12,000 per worker! Employers have been making out okay in the Golden State – workers’ comp premiums have actually gone down by 60%, per the Times. And insurance companies have done well because they have had to payout fewer claims and smaller claims at that.

But the workers themselves are apparently suffering grievously!

Meanwhile, a 2009 analysis conducted by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration found that CA’s system could be streamlined to the effect of $1.5 billion savings annually. That’s about 10% of the total value of the system – a significant amount of waste. California’s system is clogged up with “inefficiencies and frictions” according to stakeholders. Negotiations to overhaul the system will focus on how to strip down those obstacles to make the system “more administrative, more predictable, more affordable [while putting] more money in the hands of injured workers and [bringing] down the cost to employers.” (That quote is courtesy Sean McNally, a VP for a California carrot grower quoted in the Los Angeles Times story.)

Are there any takeaways for the North Carolina workers’ compensation system?

Perhaps – and perhaps not. Comparing the California system to the North Carolina one is a lot like comparing apples-to-oranges. Yes, they are both metaphorical fruits, but there are many important distinctions.

Again, however, the lesson holds not just for California and North Carolina but for all 50 states – we need to strip away inefficiencies and obstacles and needless bureaucracy. It is a quest that concerns us all and it is a quest we should collectively root for.

If you need help dealing with a specific injury or illness, connect immediately with a responsible and respectable North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

More Web Resources:

California’s workers’ comp overhaul is stirring

UC Berkeley’s survey on California workers’ disability costs

ObamaCare and North Carolina Workers Compensation

April 15, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

With the Supreme Court set to weigh in on the critical healthcare mandate aspect of ObamaCare, experts here in the North Carolina workers’ compensation system are already thinking through how the court’s decision might impact the rights of workers and employers here at home.

The case before SCOTUS is monumentally complicated and highly politically charged. This is not the appropriate space to dissect the nuances of the arguments — and the predispositions of the various Justices. Some pundits believe that if Supreme Court scraps the mandate requirement, then much of “ObamaCare” would be hobbled. Others suggest that a Supreme Court smackdown might even ultimately help President Obama and fellow advocates.

We are obviously not going to get into the Supreme Court prognostication business here! But this case does hold interesting implications for North Carolina workers’ compensation. Not so much in how a ruling either way would impact healthcare. But rather… we can look at this cultural moment as an indicator of the interconnectedness of various governmental polices and initiatives.

Let’s make that a little less abstract.

The battle over ObamaCare has been a unique showdown involving the Executive, Congressional and Judicial branches of government. We tend to think about issues like health insurance or workers’ compensation in a vacuum. Indeed, experts in these fields can often get so interested in the subtleties and nuances and “10 levels deep” questions about their areas of focus that they lose the ability to explain what they are talking about in plain language to people who don’t know or don’t care what they do.

We can see some of this narrow-minded thinking with the whole healthcare debate. Practically no one who reports or analyzes healthcare stories has read the thousands and thousands of pages of documents that might be relevant to understand the implications for healthcare.

Let’s put this idea into context. What might it mean for people who are trying to simply understand what benefits they might be entitled to and why their employer or insurance company has given them a hard time?

First of all, understand that employers and insurance companies have an interest in protecting their companies and bottom lines. So, if you are encountering resistance, you shouldn’t necessarily be surprised. Second of all, when you’re traversing the gauntlet of the workers’ comp system, be aware that you will encounter many individuals who claim to be “experts” on the whole enchilada. In reality, the workers’ comp system is so complex, so byzantine, and so multifaceted that no one can “know it all.”

All that being said, a reputable workers’ comp law firm in North Carolina can help you make hugely substantial progress toward your goals.

More Web Resources:

Do the experts know anything?

Why people tend to oversimplify complex problems.

Employers Who Fail to Buy North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Insurance – What Should Be Done? Part 1

April 9, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

A recent piece in the Charlotte Observer, “When NC employers dodge workers’ comp costs, employees pay the price,” has raised a huge conversation among professionals in the North Carolina workers’ compensation community.

Whether you’re a worker who got hurt on a roofing job, a family member of someone hurt in a work-related driving accident, or simply a curious citizen, we hope that you will enjoy this two-part series reviewing and analyzing the Charlotte Observer’s editorial.

According to the News and Observer, as many as 32,000 businesses in North Carolina that should carry workers’ comp do not. Dun & Bradstreet found that there are approximately 172,000 companies based in NC that employ more than three or more people. This means these companies must purchase insurance or certify that they have money to self insure. Meanwhile, insurers only wrote about 140,500 policies for businesses in 2011.

That’s a big gap!

And that gap is important because, as the Charlotte Observer piece points out, non-compliant companies put hurt workers at risk. An employer who fails to carry workers’ comp insurance can be charged with a Class H felony. Not exactly an armed robbery count — but it’s still a felony. Nevertheless, the enforcement of this law is pretty lenient. As the Charlotte Observer’s piece pointed out, two construction company owners were recently excused of this fraud charge after an investigation revealed that they let their workers’ comp policy lapse because of financial pressure.

In other words, yes, the employers did something wrong – committed a Class H felony, perhaps. But they weren’t trying to skirt the law or cheat the law as much as they were trying to keep their business afloat. That would be all well and good, except for the fact that — in this particular case — a 59-year-old employee got crushed by a load of gravel and suffered a permanent disability. The hurt worker is now out $60,000 in lost wages, and his hospital bills total $40,000.

So that’s $100,000. Where does that money come from, if his employer lacks assets and insurance?

Questions like these are far more than theoretical: they are practical and scary, especially if you or a loved one suffered a serious injury.

Meanwhile, the North Carolina Industrial Commission appears to be kicking the can on this issue. As Observer points out: “The Commission makes no effort to figure out which employers don’t have protection. It only learns of noncompliant companies when a worker has been hurt and appeals for help.”

In other words, we’re closing the proverbial barn door after the horses have all run away.

Fortunately, there are resources out there that can help you understand what to do, how to navigate North Carolina’s complicated workers’ comp laws, and how to get benefits sooner, easier and with more certainty. Connect with a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm to learn more about your potential case.

More Web Resources:

When NC Employers Dodge Workers’ Comp Costs, Employees Pay the Price

North Carolina Industrial Commission

Using Sentence Completions to Help With Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Problem

April 3, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you got sick or injured at work, and you need North Carolina workmen’s compensation to pay your bills and deal with your other issues, you may be unaware of just how many different and diverse problems have stemmed from your workplace mishap. It’s not just that you have a medical problem now. You also have a financial problem. You also have a “when will I go back to work” problem. You also have a “which North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm should I choose” problem. You also have a “how am I going to deal with my anger about this accident” problem. And so on and so forth.

If you took the time to write down all these different problems – the large and small stresses in your life that flow from your injury – you could probably fill at least a page or two out of a notebook.

The question is: Even if you did write down all of these issues, what could you do, strategically, to tackle them?

One very curious method – developed by a protégé of the objectivist thinker, Ayn Rand, is called sentence stems. Here is what you do. Take any problem out of the basket of problems we talked about earlier and write it down on a piece of paper or a word document. For instance: “I need to figure out what I am going to do with my career now that I have been temporarily/permanently hurt.” Now you phrase that problem in terms of an objective. For instance: “To figure out how I’m going to deal with my post injury career transition, I will…”

Make sure you leave the end of that statement blank – something you can fill in. Now, over the course of the next 14 days or so, spend five minutes brainstorming answers to this question. Try to come up with five to ten answers every time you do this exercise – if you do ten answers a day for 14 days, you will get 140 different answers. Your goal is not to try to think through whether one answer is “right” or “wrong” – rather, it’s to go for volume to try to access the wisdom of your subconscious. If you do this enough, and you actively avoid trying to repeat yourself, by the end of the exercise, you will have a really diverse perspective on what’s going on in your thinking – both on the surface level and deep underneath. And once you’ve surfaced that thinking, you make more resourceful decisions based on the more complete portrait you have of your inner dialogue.

To get started, just pick the one issue in your life regarding North Carolina workers’ comp that’s giving you the most agitation and most stress and work on that first. You might be surprised by the profound liberation just this exercise will provide for you.

More Web Resources:

more about sentence stems

The inventor of sentence stems

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

March 30, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

How serfs were treated in the middle ages

The art of getting better over time

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

March 21, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

Values and Purpose

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 2: Identify your values.

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

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

More Web Resources:

Drilling Down to Find Purpose and Principles

Change Must Be Purpose and Values Driven


North Carolina Workers’ Compensation: Introduction to the Alexander Technique

March 19, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

More Resources:

Basic Information about the Alexander Technique

Video on Alexander Technique Active Rest

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

March 12, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Dr. Michael Eades on Vitamin D and the Sun

Vitamin D Deficiency Epidemic?

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

March 11, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

Think about it. It makes zero sense:

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

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

It’s silly.

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Modeling What Works

The Power of the “Right” Mentor

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

March 9, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

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

Complexity Theory: Simple Solutions to Complex Issues

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

March 7, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

A Candidate Root Cause?

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

A Grand Unified Theory of Nutrition?

Burden of Obesity and Chronic Disease on Workers’ Compensation System

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

March 2, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

How did you end up here?

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

Acute Workplace Injuries

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

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

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

Chronic Workplace Injuries

Examples might include:

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Example of a Simple Cause Leading to a Complex Problem.

Chronic Versus Acute Injuries

An Easy, Simple, Dare We Say Fun Way to Cut North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Costs?

February 23, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Discussions about how to get North Carolina workers’ compensation costs down are often dire and filled with gloom and doom.

In fact, as soon as we start talking about workmen’s comp, our minds inevitably get drawn toward worst case scenarios:

•    A worker losing a finger in a cutting machine on a factory floor;
•    A loyal secretary developing a wicked case of thoracic outlet syndrome after typing too much on her computer without a break;
•    A delivery worker suffering spinal damage on his way to drop off a bag of Indonesian food, etc.

We also get drawn into speculation about who is to blame for problems with North Carolina workers’ compensation: indulgent employees, careless employers, unsavory insurance companies, inept bureaucrats, bought and paid for legislators, etc. In other words, everyone paints everyone else as the bad guy.

Lost in this blame game is an opportunity to find experiments in workers’ comp cost management that actually pay dividends…and then applying the lessons of those experiments on a broader scale.

For instance, consider a recent, relatively arcane story in the world of plastics manufacturing. According to a blog post on, employees at Meredith Springfield Associates, Inc. managed to help their company slash accident rates and workers’ comp insurance costs. In 2006, the company paid $100,000 in claims. In 2011, the company paid out just $40,000 in claims. Meredith Springfield is a diverse industrial company that works on extrusion blow molding and engineering for industries as varied as packaging, food, and medical. All told, there are 50 employees in the company.

So, how did this company slashes its workers’ comp costs? Simple.

According to the company’s president, Mel O’Leary: “five years ago, we didn’t have a great safety record…that all changed when we made an investment in specific machine guarding and automation and started a more in depth safety education program.” That program included a cool incentive program to encourage employees to remain accident free. A technician named Scott Hirsch won first prize in this competition – a $10,000 trip to the Bahamas.

You might be tempted to sniff at these “small scale” numbers – the company saved $60,000 on insurance costs in exchange for paying out $10,000 to this employee – but don’t be fooled. Imagine this on a broader scale. In other words, what if we could extract lessons here and create similar incentive programs here in NC? For instance, at a bigger company, maybe you could save $600,000 in exchange for $100,000 of rewards. That’s $500,000 saved. Now imagine if a hundred different companies across North Carolina adopted a similar regime and achieved a similar cost savings. Now you have 100 times 500,000, which equals $50 million in savings. Now, we’re not just talking about pennies. We’re talking about a significant reduction in the burden on the North Carolina workers’ compensation system as a whole. Very interesting.

On a more practical note, if you’ve been struggling to deal effectively with your employer or an insurance company or a state bureaucracy, you might benefit significantly from discussing your matter with a qualified North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

More Web Resources:

Contest helps hold down workers’ comp costs

Finding experiments in the real-world that work – then applying them on a broader scale

Is 10% All It Takes for North Carolina Workers’ Compensation to Change?

February 17, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

The behemoth that is the North Carolina workers’ compensation system seems like a tough beast to tame.

We want to smooth out inequities, give employers breaks, enhance trust among insurers, employers and employees, and, most critically, help employees receive a fair piece of the “grand bargain”. It all sounds like a lot of work. And it might be.

But intriguing scientific research suggests that complex systems – such as the North Carolina workers’ compensation system – can be powerfully shaped and molded with “nudges” as opposed to “sledgehammer blows.”

Let’s unpack that for a second. When you think about large systems – systems involving 100s of millions of dollars, thousands of people and employees and insurance companies – we intuitively believe that, to create change, we need lots of top down power. For instance, we need massive top down legislation. We need a huge influx of cash. We need rate cuts. Or rate hikes, depending on your point of view.

While using a sledgehammer can sometimes get the job done, sledgehammer blows are problematic for a few reasons:

1. They require massive amounts of energy and resources, so you can only fire off a very few;

2. Calibrating sledgehammer blows is very difficult. For instance, say you’ve got a gangrenous arm. A doctor saw off your arm at the shoulder to save you. You’ve cured the gangrene, but you’ve done it in a very sloppy way. The gangrene is gone, but we have no idea why it grew in the first place or what we can do in the future to fix/prevent it. We burn through a lot of our resources needlessly.

3. Hard to replicate. A hammer blow can work one time for one type of problem. But what happens when another problem emerges (and problems always do emerge)?

An Alternative to the Hammer Blow – The Chisel Or The Nudge

Another way to change complex systems is far less cost and energy intensive.

The other paradigm involves using nudges or slight changes in pressure and perspective, applied over extended periods of time. For instance, here is a good metaphor to illustrate the power of nudging. It’s easy to give someone a bruise on his arm by punching him on his arm hard. It is also, however, possible to cause a bruise by putting slight but constant pressure on the arm for an extended period of time. You know how much it hurts if you sit in a chair in the same exact position for too long. The point is: we can nudge easily, without investing a lot of time and energy. We can also run far more experiments to try to nudge the system in the right direction.

Whereas we can only maybe fire one or two or three cannonballs a year at our North Carolina workers’ compensation problem; we can try hundreds of different nudges to get the system to come into line with our values and vision and expectations.

Master business theoretician Jim Collins discusses this kind of resourceful thinking in his recent bestseller, Great by Choice. Collins argues that enduring systems (be they giant companies or institutions like North Carolina’s workers’ compensation) can be shaped and molded most effectively through a process that he calls “Fire Bullets, then Cannonballs.” In other words, conduct small little experiments and try to reach your goals (bullets). Once you are able to “connect” with the bullets, then you fire a cannonball after the bullets to get a massive effect.

This approach doesn’t guarantee success, but it makes success much more likely.

More Web Resources:

Fire bullet, then cannonballs

Small Shift Yields Massive Results Over Time

Change Takes Time… Or Does It? North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Transformation

February 13, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you are sick or injured – or if someone you love and care about needs North Carolina Workers’ Compensation – then you probably fear that you’re “in this” for the long haul. The problems with your health, finances, and career situation are not going to go away overnight. So you better get used to them. It’s going to be a long, hard grind. It’s going to take months or maybe even years.

Or perhaps positive change can come swifter than you realize!

That may sound like a pollyannaish statement. After all, many workers’ comp and workplace injuries are anything but simple to manage. In fact, somebody might even take affront to the suggestion that your injury or illness could be easily resolved. There is a subtlety here. Workers’ comp problems can last a long time and can lead to the “grind” we talked about earlier.

At the same time, however, when change happens, if often happens blindingly quickly. Ask famous writers, celebrities, and politicians about how they succeeded. You will come across a surprising pattern. Often, a person struggles for years, even decades, before a “lucky break” changes everything. Most people think in terms of “how can I make that lucky break happen for me?” For instance, they will try to win the lottery or hope for some other windfall.

But this way of thinking about your problems may not be particularly useful. In fact, the “lucky breaks” and the “swift changes” that follow do not occur spontaneously. They are nurtured and prepared by years of practice and – by consistently making small positive decisions and changes to behavior.

Once there is enough positive momentum going on, efforts can catch fire rapidly. It’s kind of like lighting a match. If you rub the match against the surface nothing will happen. As you rub faster and faster – still nothing. But once you hit some kind of a tipping point – FWOOM – the match suddenly bursts into flame and releases massive amounts of heat.

Likewise, so goes the transition from struggle to success. You struggle, struggle, struggle. Then one day, you “catch fire” and success seems inevitable instead of a distant dream.

The moral here is two-fold:

1. Avoid thinking in terms of “grand, one time fixes” to your North Carolina workers’ compensation problems.

Single decisions that you make – single behaviors or habits or thoughts that you have – are probably far less crucial than your overall habits and rituals. Instead of focusing on wiping out your problems with a single “smart decision” or a one-time phone call with a mentor, focus on winning the marathon.

2. Change, when it happens, can be swift and sudden.

For instance, say that you’ve lost the ability to walk effectively due to a knee injury you contracted at work. You might go through rehab for six to eight months, during which time you slowly but surely regain some capacity in your knee. Then one day, you notice that your knee “feels fine” and you’ve totally regained function. It took the six to eight months of rehab to make the healing happen. But once it did happen, it happened quickly.

Begin the path of good habits, good relationships, and positive outcomes by connecting with a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

More Web Resources:

The Revolution, When it Comes, is Often Swift

Tipping Point

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?

Being a Spouse of Someone on North Carolina Workers’ Compensation: Part 2 – Solutions

January 31, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

In a post earlier this week, we discussed how spouses of North Carolina workers’ compensation beneficiaries (or want-to-be beneficiaries) are often subject to stress, overwhelm, and sudden surges of responsibility. Whether you’re a secondary family earner now charged with the burden of working more hours while simultaneously caring for your sick or injured spouse, or you are a partner who is confused about the sudden and dramatic negative changes in your sick/injured loved one’s behavior and attitude, you need actionable solutions.

Here are some principles to help you solve your problems and get the help you need.

1.    Behavior/attitudinal shifts are often just the tip of the iceberg.

Whether you notice that you are more moody, your spouse is more depressed, or your teenagers or even your family dog is acting “funny,” you’re probably only paying attention to the tip of the iceberg. You need to probe deeper to find out the root cause of what’s really troubling your family and what’s really pulling everyone’s chain.

One interesting way to get at the root cause is to use the theory of constraints. Basically, you take the most prominent issue at hand and you drill down to the root cause by asking “why?” multiple times. For instance, you may make an observation like: “My sick husband is staying in his room way too much and refusing to help with chores around the house, even though he is physically capable of doing so.” You then ask why this is the case. Your answer might be that he is depressed because he’s unable to provide for his family. You then ask WHY he might be depressed about being unable to provide for his family. Your second answer might be because he values being productive and contributing to his family’s welfare.

Drilling down this way helps you discover the root cause of your problems, and it can also be a wonderful way to get back in touch with your compassionate side, if you’ve been feeling exasperated. After all, take a look at our theoretical example. Just asking “why” two times has led us from a rather despicable-seeming behavior to a noble and valiant root cause of that behavior.

2.    Consider the fact that the problem might be medical/biochemical.

Especially if your injured spouse was hurt due to chemical exposure or a head injury, the shift in behavior or attitude might have nothing to do with the psychology and everything to do with physiology and neurology. If you suspect anything along those lines, seek immediate medical attention.

3.    Make your life simple by connecting with resources to solve your problems.

Now is the time to lean on friends and family members to help with the simple chores that are giving you stress. Now is the time to get in touch with financial planners to help you and your family reconcile with your new financial reality. If you’ve been having trouble with your benefits, now is the time to connect with a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm to identify best practices and protect your rights under the law.

More Web Resources:

Theory of Constraints – The Current Reality Tree

Is the Change in Behavior Psychological or Physical?

Depressed by the State of Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Case?

January 28, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

You have been struggling long and mightily with your North Carolina workers’ compensation case.

•    Perhaps you suffered a slip and fall at a machining plant facility in Raleigh a year-and-a-half ago, and you’re still managing a “bum” leg and knee.
•    Maybe your spouse suffered a traumatic brain injury after he inhaled residue of an explosive fire in his North Carolina car crash.
•    As if the accident or event wasn’t disturbing enough, you have since had to deal with insurance company shenanigans, bureaucratic incompetence, and a totally uncooperative employer.
•    Meanwhile, you need to sustain your focus on getting adequate compensation while dealing with all of life’s other challenges, such as raising your family, managing your dwindling finances, and dealing with the personal drama in your life.

It’s not surprising that many people in the throes of North Carolina workers’ compensation struggle also suffer from depression, anxiety, and fatigue.

There is no easy fix. However, probably just hearing all of your problems laid out like this makes you feel a little bit relieved. In other words, now you know that that sense of depression and overwhelm has a real source: there are real-world, root causes of your discontent.

On the other hand, just labeling the problem is not going to dispatch it!

To that end, here are three tools useful for wrangling with life’s uncertainties, meeting financial and organizational challenges, and cultivating the inner resources necessary to see your case to a positive conclusion:

1. Check out David Allen’s book Getting Things Done

Widely hailed as the most respected “productivity guru” of the twenty-first century (by the likes of Time magazine, Wired, and other big publications), Allen teaches a philosophy of personal management that involves identifying “what’s true now” in your life. GTD uses sophisticated processes to help you manage everything from clearing your email inboxes to codifying and reviewing your purpose on the planet.

2. Practice mindfulness meditation

Powerful scientific research now shows that regular meditators (30 to 45 minutes a day) experience a profound reduction in stress, increase their general level of happiness, and enjoy other health and wellness improvements.

3. Connect with a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

Your workers’ comp case will almost certainly be less overwhelming and terrifying if you have the appropriate team to guide you, help you make the right choices, and avoid the mishaps and false beliefs that hamper so many hurt and sick workers out there.

More Web Resources:

Summary of Research on the Benefits of Meditation

How to Get Started with Getting Things Done

Being a Spouse of Someone on North Carolina Workers’ Compensation

January 24, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

This North Carolina workers’ compensation blog often focuses on the needs, concerns, and fears of hurt and sick workers, and we will continue to surface and address the obstacles that hold workers back.

But most workers don’t operate in a vacuum.

They rely on friends and family members to nurture them, guide them, administer medical care, and, occasionally, financially support them. Many family members of beneficiaries (or would-be beneficiaries) have powerful concerns of their own that may not be getting addressed effectively. In a two-part blog series, we’re going to talk about what it’s like to be the spouse or partner of someone on North Carolina workers’ compensation. We will provide tips, resources, and strategies for you to manage your family’s crisis more effectively and compassionately.

Examples of why being a spouse of someone on workers’ comp can be so difficult:

1.    Sudden temperament changes.

When someone gets hurt or sick at work, everything changes all at once. A confident, proud, and supportive husband can “turn on a dime” and start acting ungrateful and even abusive. The cause of this Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde transformation might be the injury itself, or it might be the psychological trauma of the injury. If your husband was exposed to a nasty chemical slurry at his factory, for instance, the chemicals might have had neurological effects that altered his brain.

2.    Sudden shift of family responsibilities.

Perhaps your wife was the major wage earner for your family. But she suffered severe chronic repetitive stress injury due to her office work. Now she is unable to provide a paycheck for the family. AND she is also unable to offer help with child care and chores around the house. The whirlwind shifting of family roles stresses everyone in the family, including the children.

3.    The chaos of the transition, in and of itself, creates family strife.

In the wake of a workplace injury or illness, you may be shocked and dismayed to discover that your children are fighting more or getting into more trouble at school. Perhaps you or your spouse is getting sick more often. Chaos and constant change can disrupt even the most capable and level-headed family members. Moreover, you may not know where all of these hazards are “coming from.” It may feel like you’ve just hit a jackpot of bad luck. But instability, in and of itself, is often enough to hamper immune systems, challenge even highly functional relationships, and even lead to biochemical and hormonal changes.

If you or someone in your family needs help with a workers’ comp issue – dealing with an insurance company that’s not playing fair, fighting back against a callous employer, etc. – you need stability, guidance, and a return to control. A North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm will help you put the pieces together and get back on track.

More Web Resources:

How Instability In and Of Itself, Creates Stress

Being a Spouse of Someone Who is Injured

Strategy for Avoiding Re-injury after Return from North Carolina Workers’ Compensation

January 11, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you got sick or injured at work – whether you typed your way to carpal tunnel syndrome working an executive job in Raleigh’s Research Triangle or you screwed up your lower back engaging in agricultural work out in the far west of the state – you likely need North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits to pay for your damages and medical expenses (and possibly more) while you get treated and go through rehab.

The process of obtaining these benefits can be complicated and – it’s easy to get struck in red tape, tripped up by insurance company nonsense, and even challenged by your company. This is why many claimants often benefit greatly from talking with North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

But irrespective of your legal and medical struggles, the time will come (hopefully) when you will heal well enough to return to work in some capacity.

This can be a dangerous time, indeed.

After all, stereotypes of North Carolina workers’ compensation beneficiaries to the contrary, most injured workers desperately want to get back to being productive. You might be tempted (or even pressured) to stretch beyond your physical capacity. If you push yourself too hard after your injury, you risk re-injury, new injuries, and other setbacks – physical, emotional, and financial – which may make your journey infinitely harder.

How do you know, if you are on the verge of re-injury?

This is an important question, and many hurt and injured workers don’t pay enough attention to it. After all, when we “push ourselves” we often do subconsciously. To catch overexertion in the process requires tremendous concentration and mindfulness.

But there is a shortcut. You could journal your work experience. Every day after you come home from work, discuss your work day in detail in your journal. Pay attention to how you felt before, during, and after a particularly strenuous task. Did the tasks stress your injury? Did you “feel it” hours or days after exertion? The more you analyze how specific actions impact your healing, the more effectively you “catch” and prevent problem activities. As any successful doctor or healer will tell you, the best healing comes with the most accurate knowledge. Take the time – it could be only 5 to 10 minutes a day – to jot down your work and pain experiences. You might find it invaluable not only as a tool to prevent re-injury, but also as a means to solve other nagging problems in your life.

For help with a specific claims issue, connect with a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation law firm.

More Web Resources:

Becoming More Mindful of Unconscious Habits

The Perils of Re-Injury

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

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 (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.”

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

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?

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

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

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.

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

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

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:



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 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

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 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

What Do North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Pros Think About Ohio’s Plan to Lower State's Workers’ Comp Rates?

May 20, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Ohio Governor John Kasich is seeking to lower that state’s workers’ comp rates – if the Governor succeeds, what will that mean for Ohio, and what will it mean in general for the programs of other states, like North Carolina workers’ compensation?

First, the basics, courtesy an April 29 story from the AP: “Ohio’s Governor wants to lower premiums employers pay for workers’ compensation by 4% for a total cut of about $65 million a year.”

Governor Kasich submitted his proposal last Thursday to the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation – his goal is to encourage businesses to work in Ohio and “make the state more competitive.” If the BWC adopts his plan this month, employers would not see changes in their premiums until February 2012. Steve Beuhrer, the CEO of the BWC’s Board of Directors had the following comments regarding the proposal (courtesy “our goal is to increase premium stability and lower costs for all Ohio employers… rates are a critical part of job growth decisions made by Ohio employers, but will also continue to focus on other aspects, such as containing medical costs and helping injured workers return to leading healthy productive lives sooner.”

Beuhrer’s comments here are germane to discussions about how to renovate and streamline the North Carolina workers’ compensation system. It’s NOT just about slashing rates and limiting benefits. Our solutions must also focus on “continuing medical costs” – and perhaps even more importantly “helping injured workers return to leading healthy productive life sooner.” After all, this is the raison d’etre of workers’ comp – it’s to help return us to productivity ASAP.

Unfortunately, the political discussion about workers’ comp reform often revolves around costs: whether to spend or not; on what; and for how long. This inevitably leads to political calculations.

But what if the most relevant parts of the equation are those two factors that Beuhrer named – containing costs and helping people recover?

Perhaps we are giving short shrift to these questions. Maybe we’re not thinking “out of the box” enough. For instance, cost control measures tend to focus on measurable, direct contributing factors. We aim to reduce the severity and number of workplace injuries, for instance. But we don’t take time to look at long-term exacerbating factors. For instance, are workers getting enough rest? Are workers too distracted by things like the internet and social media to concentrate effectively on their tasks? These indirect factors – such as how much sleep we get, how distracted we are, how much sugar we eat, et cetera – must be addressed if we want to lower injury rates and reduce hospital bills.

Backing away from the philosophical discussion… you may have more practical concerns about how to collect benefits and how to deal with insurance companies and employers. A North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can answer your questions and put you on a good track.

More Web Resources:

Ohio Governor John Kasich

Steve Beuhrer, the CEO of the BWC’s Board of Directors

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Law Debated by Legislative Committee: Passion and Emotions Run High

May 12, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

On Thursday, May 12, a House committee worked feverishly on North Carolina workers’ compensation legislation designed to relax employer responsibility for workers’ comp claims.

The AP has reported that the current sticking points “include whether employers, their attorneys and their insurers should have greater access to the medical records and doctors of an injured worker. Another issue is whether to cap temporary payments for a totally disabled worker at nearly 10 years.”

Powerful figures in the North Carolina workers’ compensation system are currently “at the table” per the AP, including insurance companies, legal representatives, NC workers’ comp lawyers and the Chamber of Commerce. Workers filled the hearing room in a bid to influence the proceedings. As of 6:41pm on May 12th, no compromise had been yet worked out, but observers remained hopeful that something could be accomplished.

It’s easy during moments like these – when everything seems to be on the line – to get defensive and to start about thinking in catastrophic terms. If you are a hurt or injured worker, for instance, you might worry that reforms will result in unexpected and decidedly unwelcome changes in your recuperation plan and your family’s financial strategy. And, depending on your situation and the outcome of the debate, you very well might have to adjust your expectations.

But it’s a good idea to remember the difference between what productivity guru Steven Covey once designated your “circle of control” and your “circle of influence.” Unless you are currently in the assembly room right now, chances are the bill is way out of your hands. Your best strategy for success, therefore, is to react appropriately to whatever laws get passed (or don’t get passed).

Part of dealing with the fallout effectively is getting good help. A North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can help you understand how the new laws might influence your benefits and take the smartest, most efficient steps towards minimizing any negative fallout.

More Web Resources:

House committee works feverishly on NC workers’ comp

Catastrophic thinking

Debate Over North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Law Heats Up (Part 1)

May 12, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

In this two part blog post on the possible reform of the North Carolina workers’ compensation system, we’re going to boil down legislation proposed recently by business groups.

According to an Associated Press article from April 22nd, business groups are practically giddy about the potential to alter North Carolina workers’ compensation laws to reduce employer costs and set limits and constraints.

The AP quotes Bruce Clark, the President of a business group called Capital Associated Industries: “a multi-million dollar event with no legal means to ever end or settle the open-ended, lifelong claim… this is not what good and fair workers’ compensations do around the country and it should not happen here.”

The newly Republican controlled state General Assembly aims to prioritize workers’ comp reform, and the proposed bill will do the following:

• Limit temporary total disability payments to approximately 9.5 years (currently, these payments can last a lifetime)
• Extend benefits for families of workers who die on the job from 400 weeks to 500 weeks.
• Burial benefits will also be ratcheted up by an additional $10,000.
• A provision will be inserted that “would allow employers, their attorneys and their insurers access to the medical records and physician of an injured worker seeking compensation.”
• Workers will be restricted in how they choose the physicians who treat them.

Advocates of hurt workers admit that some people do try to “game” the system by staying on workers’ comp too long or even faking symptoms. But they also point out that insurance companies and employers work relentlessly to challenge claims. The AP article quoted an advocate: “every insurance company works overtime to limit payouts, sometimes by putting injured workers on a carousel of different doctors until one provides an employer friendly diagnosis.”

The AP article then discusses the sad case of a 42-year old Randolph County man, Levy Grantham, a tree trimmer who seriously hurt his back, arm and shoulder on the job. Grantham’s “employer’s insurer… sent [him] to five doctors after the initial diagnosis in a pattern of persistent refusal to provide timely treatment.”

So the debate rages on, and both business advocates and advocates of hurt workers are more than well aware of the stakes. In a subsequent blog post, we will discuss possible outcomes to this fractious debate and analyze the deeper implications.

If someone you care about needs immediate help with a claim or a benefits issue, connect with a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm to go over your resources.

More Web Resources:

NC panel hears effort to change workers’ comp law

NC panel hears effort to change workers’ comp law

Debate Over Reform to North Carolina Workers’ Compensation System Rages On (Part 2)

May 10, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Several days ago, this blog reported on proposed changes to the North Carolina workers’ compensation laws. Politicians, business advocacy groups, and workers rights groups have contentiously debated the merits of the reform proposals. Some of the changes would redound to “good effect” for workers (e.g. the ratcheting up of death benefits); while some of the changes would take away rights that injured workers currently have (e.g. allowing employers and insurers access to workers’ medical records, limiting the time workers can collect temporary total disability, et cetera).

Anyone who even casually reads the news about North Carolina workers’ compensation will be struck by the passions exuded in this debate.

Indeed, many advocates of the reforms see them as nothing short of foundational – in other words, if the state doesn’t pass them, NC will go to heck in a hand basket.

Conversely, opponents of the law worry that, if it gets passed, hurt workers are going to be essentially abandoned by the state.

Obviously, both of these positions are extreme. In reality, the reforms may not do much of anything – that is, they may not solve our states’ fiscal crisis or even workers’ comp crisis – nor might they particularly derange the care and treatment that workers receive. This isn’t to say that the passing of reforms won’t change the playing field – in some ways, significantly. But it is to say that we should “let the air out of the balloon” and stop awfulizing and catastrophizing about it [or overly celebrating it].

As this blog tirelessly advocates… we must examine root causes of our problems if we want to contain costs, help workers, and get to “win win” outcomes.

Here is a rough (an obviously not totally consistent) analogy. Imagine a family fighting over money. A 16-year old daughter uses her credit card to buy clothes, purses, et cetera, while the family struggles to stay in the black. The father and daughter might get into serious screaming matches over the daughter’s purchases at the mall. Might there be ways that the daughter could cut down on her spending? Would that help with the family situation? Probably and probably. But does the debate about the daughter’s spending really address the root causes of the family’s crisis? Almost certainly not.

The analogy here is that our focus on controlling workers’ comp costs may be legitimate; but it’s definitely not the only thing we need to be focusing on. Instead, we need to look at the broader picture – the structural, fundamental problems with our state’s (and perhaps even our country’s) medical problems and institutions. These problems may not be easily tractable. For instance, the baby boomer generation is getting older – this is going to create a demographically “top heavy” situation, in which the sheer number of older Americans requiring medical help will go up, and the number of active workers engaged in productive work will decline.

This top heaviness is no one’s “fault” — but it’s a real structural problem.

Continuing our analogy – it’s as if the family home got flooded, and the basement got rotted out and mold developed in the house. It’s a structural problem that drains the family’s finances. It’s no one’s fault — it just is what it is. Efforts should go to sorting out that problem instead of simply addressing the more emotional (“political”) problems. Let’s spend less time trying to control “spending at the mall” (although that is important) and more time “fixing the foundation of the house.”

Need help with a claim? A North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can help you get the benefits and fair treatment you need and deserve.

More Web Resources:

NC panel hears effort to change workers’ comp law

New Bill Could Change Workers’ Compensation Laws in NC

The Paradox of North Carolina Workers' Compensation: Can Calling Yourself Ill or Hurt Make You More Likely To Stay That Way?

May 1, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

The whole point of North Carolina workers’ compensation and other similar entitlement systems is to provide resources for hurt/injured workers, so that they can reboot their lives, treat medical conditions and reenter the work force.

For most people, these entitlements are stop gap measures.

Unfortunately, hurt and injured workers may come to depend on their benefits not only for essentials such as grocery and rent money but also for psychological reasons. And this dependence can be hugely problematic – not only for the employers, insurance companies, and taxpayers who foot the bill, but also for the hurt and injured workers themselves.

So, how can we deal better with these psychological hang ups?

First of all, it’s easy to grow dependent on any source of income – whether you’re earning six figures as an investment banker or you’re scraping by on the (unfortunately) low salary of a public school teacher. You start to think of your incoming sources of money as “your own” and you adjust your life style accordingly. This happens to everybody, irrespective of “will power,” class, or history. Trying to think about life without this income stream is frustrating and scary.

But a deeper and perhaps more problematic issue is that, when you are hurt and sick, you may start to think of yourself as “a hurt/sick person.” In other words, you may actually revise your internal self concept to think that you will never get to go back to work. This kind of thinking can, unfortunately, take on a reality of its own. If you think this way, there’s a very real possibility that you will accidentally manifest this reality.

Don’t get mixed up here, however: The idea that negative (or positive, for that matter) thinking can influence your real world destiny in no way suggests that the pain you feel is “all in your head” or anything like that. Indeed, one of the terrible (and ultimately illogical) criticisms leveled against people on workers comp is that they “want” to be “on the dole.” If you actually talk to people who use these benefits programs, it’s clear that nothing could be farther from the truth. People want to be motivated, independent. They want to work. They really do. There has nothing to do with will power or psychological constitution. Indeed, it takes tremendous courage and strength to recover from an illness and try to rebound and get your old life back.

The takeaway is simple: fixing the way you think can potentially have profound, positive effects.

But you likely need good help as you progress with your recovery. A North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm, for instance, can help you fight back against insurance companies, employers, and others who needlessly and unfairly block you from getting the benefits you need to get back on your feet.

More Web Resources:

You Are What You Focus On

Calling Yourself “Sick” Makes You Sick? – Power of Language

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Community Looks to Raging Debate Out of Washington State

April 28, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Although this blog typically covers news germane to North Carolina workers’ compensation issues, those who report on benefits and entitlement issues have been riveted by an ongoing debate out of Washington state regarding how to reform WA’s workers comp system.

Here’s the latest news in the WA workers’ comp saga.

According to an April 20th AP article, eight moderate House Democrats have unveiled a proposal to change the Washington system. In 2010, Washington Governor Chris Gregoire — along with leaders from the state’s House and Senate — prioritized workers comp reform after evidence surfaced suggesting that the system was in danger of insolvency.

One of the “harder core” plans for reforming the system would have required major concessions from workers. Hurt and injured workers would have to take “lump sum” settlements in lieu of ongoing payouts. While business groups backed this measure, injured workers voiced concerns that the arrangement would leave many in a lurch; and workers who could not afford legal representation would be at risk for decreased protection.

The new “moderate” plan proposed would provide workers some protections. Essentially, it would thread the needle. Workers would get enhanced safeguards, and a study would be conducted in three years to assess how the plan is performing, both in terms of saving money and in terms of protecting workers rights. On the other hand, while settlements from medical claims would be eliminated, “the option for lump sum settlements would remain.”

One interesting factoid from the AP article: “About 85% of compensation costs come from only 8% of all claims.” It’s very likely that a similar breakdown occurs in the North Carolina workers’ compensation system.

The so-called Pareto Principle (also known as the “80-20 Rule”) suggests that, in a variety of natural systems, 80% of inputs yield 20% of the results and vice versa (20% of inputs yield 80% of the results). So, when you get a statistic that says something like “8% of workers’ comp beneficiaries drive 85% of all costs,”– yes, at first, it sounds alarming. But it really shouldn’t be. Distributions of wealth, water, commodities, and basically everything else in the world organically wind up lopsided. This is why a small fraction of the people in the United States – and indeed in every country of the world – owns the majority of the wealth. It’s not a sinister plan – it’s just the way that distributions tend to form.

Getting away from the abstract, if someone you care about needs help from a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm, don’t wait to get that assistance.

More Web Resources

WA workers’ comp proposal

WA Governor Chris Gregoire

Ray of Hope for Montgomery Police Officer in New Ruling; North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Experts React

April 5, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Last year, the family of injured Montgomery Police Officer, David Brown, filed a lawsuit against the city of Montgomery to collect workers’ comp to pay for medical bills Officer Brown received during a tragic September 11th accident. Industry watchers — including many widely respective figures in North Carolina workers’ compensation — couldn’t help but reflect on the sequence of truly tragic accidents to befall the officer. Although this blog covered the accident and lawsuit, we’ll recap the details:

• On September 11, 2010, Brown got hired by a funeral home to work a funeral procession.
• A motorist slammed into his motorcycle during the procession, causing critical injuries.
• The ambulance that took Cooper Brown to the hospital overturned on I-65, hurting Brown even more.
• Brown suffered a double amputation, major burns, and brain injuries.
• He underwent dozens of surgeries to save his life and to correct some of the damage. He now owes $3,000 in co-payments and $1.5 million in medical/surgical bills.
• To top it off, the city of Montgomery initially denied his worker comp claim because Brown got hurt during “off duty” work for private company (the funeral home).
• Brown’s family sought workers’ comp anyway, since Brown had been in uniform as a police officer and had been using Montgomery Police Department equipment.
• Circuit Judge Tracy McCoey ruled in favor of Brown’s family last Tuesday – saying that Brown should get the workers’ comp.
• But… Mayor Todd Strange is prepared to fight the decision.
• More legal wrangling and national headlines will be sure to follow, as this story has touched a nerve not just here in the North Carolina workers’ compensation community but also elsewhere throughout the Southeast.

If you or a family number got hurt or sick at work, the last thing in the world you want to do is wrestle with your employer or deal with tedious bureaucracy or an uncaring insurance company.

Unfortunately, if you don’t fight for your rights actively, you can lose benefits that you should be entitled to. A North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can give you the guidance, professional support, and wherewithal to get the benefits you and your family require.

More Web Resources:

David Brown’s saga

Brown’s September 11th accident

Will the NC General Assembly Gouge the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation System?

March 30, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

The blogosphere has been on fire since February with worried articles about how and whether the North Carolina General Assembly will fundamentally alter the North Carolina workers’ compensation system. The Republican controlled General Assembly – boosted by business groups – boasts an ambitious agenda to redraw the medical malpractice and North Carolina workers’ compensation systems to limit costs.

Opponents have complained that the proposed legislation could negatively impact hurt workers. For instance, when the changes go into effect:

• workers’ comp will cease after 500 weeks
• individuals who fail to follow their treatment may receive more limited compensation
• workers may lose flexibility in choosing their physicians
• hurt workers may lose certain privacy rights

All told, the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) processes more than 60,000 claims every year, so the General Assembly’s actions could profoundly change the landscape for hurt workers. Reformers, such as Republican McAlister, have argued that the system is tantamount to a retirement program: “In too many instances, it’s become more of a retirement program instead of taking care of a person until he is ready to go back to work.”

One of the key questions policy makers should look at here is: will the proposed General Assembly changes actually save the state costs and help small business owners? In other words, let’s set aside for a second how precisely these changes would impact hurt workers and ask a more fundamental question: what is the primary purpose of this legislation, and will it accomplish that purpose?

If the state seeks to save money, might there be other ways to make the system more efficient that don’t involve restricting benefits? For instance, could we collectively improve system administration through digital record keeping? Could we enact more data based programs to boost workplace safety and thus reduce burden on the system proactively? Could we help our workers avoid chronic illnesses and obesity by, for instance, regulating soda and sugar consumption on the job? These are all “out of the box” ideas that may or may not be useful, but it’s critical to at least search for “win-win” solutions that will help the state, small businesses and hurt and sick workers alike.

If you need help with a North Carolina workers’ compensation issue, connect with an experienced and highly reputed law firm to protect your rights.

More Web Resources:

North Carolina General Assembly

proposed General Assembly changes to workers’ comp

Baby Steps: Transitioning from North Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Back to Work

February 9, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you’ve been on North Carolina workers’ compensation for two weeks or eight years, with your doctor’s blessing, you’re now ready to start looking for part-time work again. This blog post will give you ideas about how to make this transition as painless and productive as possible.

1. Don’t violate the terms of your North Carolina workers’ compensation arrangement

If you take certain work while on workers’ comp, you may violate the terms of your benefits. Not only could you lose your benefits as a result, but you could also get in trouble for North Carolina workers’ compensation fraud. Penalties for fraud can include fines as well as jail time, so play it safe.

2. Don’t go “all in”: Test your limits, and work incrementally towards a full return

For instance, say you twisted your knee badly on a construction site. Your orthopedist and physical therapist helped you recover full function of the damaged joint. Now you’re tempted for financial reasons to get back on site and start drilling holes (or whatever) again. Careful! A too-early return to work could undermine the sensitive reconstruction efforts.

Your basic process should be: “Start small. Test. Ramp up a bit. Test. Ramp up a bit more. Test again.” And so forth. Yes, it can be frustrating to have to hold back when you “know” you could handle more. But the goal here is not a one-time push or exertion – it’s the ability to engage productively in the work that you love for as long as you want to do that work. If you shortcut the recovery process, you may make it difficult, if not impossible, to recover fully.

3. Pay attention to medical issues that snag your attention

Often, in our desperation to return to gainful employment after an injury or illness, we ignore or subconsciously repress feelings of pain, uncertainty, and anguish. Especially if your family is depending on you to produce — and your coworkers and employer are counting on you to “step it up” in the wake of your recent time off — you may be tempted to go faster, harder, or more vigorously than your body is ready for. Don’t ignore your body!

One way to identify your subconscious feelings about your work is to keep a journal. Write down your experiences after every work shift. Note any chronic or acute pain or even general odd feelings you have about your job. Often, these written descriptions of your day-to-day work will give you clues to help avoid re-injury and even speed up your recovery. For instance, you might notice that a specific kind of bending exacerbates your pain. If so, talk to your boss about not having to do that bending work anymore.

4. Get advice you can trust

Is your employer giving you a hard time about your benefits? Are you caught up in insurance red tape? Are you confused about something you read on the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) website? If so, a qualified North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can give you insight and guidance about how best to proceed.

More Web Resources:

North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) website

going back to work “too soon”

Back Surgery not the best option for North Carolina Workers’ Compensation patients?

February 6, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

An intriguing new study published in the January issue of the magazine Spine has critical implications for North Carolina Workers’ Compensation patients. The study, out of Massachusetts’ General Hospital, looked at nearly 1,000 patients with lower back pain and leg pain stemming from herniated discs and sciatica. Some patients underwent surgery to treat back problems. Other patients received non-surgical interventions such as drugs, physical therapy, and exercise plans. The leader of the study, Dr. Steven Atlas, discovered that, while surgery initially yielded better results for patients; after two years, the differences between the surgery patients and non-surgery patients dwindled away – at least for Workers’ Comp patients.

In other words, injured patients who got surgery for sciatica faired equally as well as injured patients who did non-surgical treatment, two years down the road. The implications for treatment of North Carolina Workers’ Compensation patients seem pretty profound. They suggest that surgery may not be the best course for action for some sciatica patients.

Here is one potential explanation of these results: BOTH surgery and non-surgical interventions may not deal effectively enough with fundamental back health problems. Consider: nodules of fibrous tissue (called trigger points) will form at stressed sites in the muscle tissue. These trigger points have been implicated in causing all sorts of soft tissue injuries and repetitive stress problems, from Carpel Tunnel Syndrome to lower back pain. Neither of the two interventions studied effectively located and resolved the trigger points that might have been causing/exacerbating the sciatica. Thus, it makes sense that the treatments would yield similar (less than stellar) results two years out.

It would be interesting to see how the patients studied would have compared with a third cohort of patients who received trigger point therapy and other soft tissue treatments for their backs.

The big point here is that North Carolina Workers’ Compensation patients must keenly research their treatment options. What is in vogue today, medically, may be disproven tomorrow. Thus, it’s important to speak with your physician at length before making any decisions. Informed patients can work more effectively with their doctors and, theoretically, develop more proactive recovery plans.

For assistance with any North Carolina Workers’ Compensation legal questions, get in touch with a qualified and top caliber attorney today for a free, no obligation, and confidential consultation.

More Web Resources:

Dr. Steven Atlas Back Study

Trigger Points and Back Issues

The Road Back: 4 Tips to Transitioning from North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Back to Work

February 4, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Few hardworking individuals prefer to stay on North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits indefinitely. Unfortunately, with the state’s job market still somewhat in limbo – and with your own medical future potentially in doubt, you and your family may be losing hope that you will ever be able to transition back to the workforce in a real and meaningful way. This blog post will hopefully inspire you to realize that return to work is indeed possible – and you may be able to get back on track faster than you ever realized. Here are some things to think about:

1. Are you really getting the “best care” for your condition?

Employees’ who suffer an occupational disease, like chemically-induced emphysema or repetitive work-induced damage to soft tissue, do not always get high quality care from their doctors. Busy physicians may overlook important causes; a more holistic approach to wellness may be needed. For instance, say a person gets a serious typing injury while working at a bank in the Research Triangle. His doctor gives him cortisone shots. These don’t work, so he’s told to undergo surgery. The surgery may offer temporary relief. But the underlying insults to the soft tissues and ligaments and muscles may not be repaired – thus, someone on North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits may remain out of good working condition… until he re-learns how to use his or her body correctly and eliminates fibrous nodules called “trigger points” in the upper back, chest, and thoracic regions.

2. Focus on your goals and eliminate your road blocks

Professionals in athletics and business coaching often emphasize goal-oriented thinking. Rehab specialists also encourage thinking in terms of goals – and using visualization. But many recovering workers are never encouraged to think in vivid positive terms about the future. They are merely told to “get back to normal.” It may be more helpful to aim for a very positive, optimistic outlook to galvanize healing. It’s a lot more exciting, for sure, to think about going back to work and earning twice as much as you had been earning than it is to daydream about maybe, possibly getting your old job back and working half the hours.

3. Focus on improving your strength

When you are on disability, you may be tempted to spend a lot of time resting and recuperating. This is good. But don’t let this sedentary attitude harden. Improving your muscular strength can have many long-term benefits. Talk to your doctor and rehab specialist about doing isometric strength training exercises (ideally, in a slow, controlled fashion) to speed up your recovery time.

4. Avail yourself of good legal resources

A North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can provide a free evaluation of your current situation and help you think strategically about how to collect benefits, how to budget for the near and mid-term future, and how to get additional resources to improve your recovery.

More Web Resources:

Strength Training Help

RSI resources

Hot Button Issues in North Carolina Workers’ Compensation — 2011 (Part II)

January 26, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

In Part I on our series on hot button North Carolina workers’ compensation issues for 2011, we discussed how escalating health care costs, information overload online, and confusion over “independent contractor” status have redefined the national and local NC workers’ comp systems. In today’s post, we will examine other burning issues that insurers, analysts, employees, and employers will be debating this calendar year.

1. Confusion over Medicare Set-Aside Arrangements

The so-called Medicare Secondary Payer laws – MSP laws – can be overwhelming, even to people who have familiarity with the laws in theory and practice. A hurt worker can lose key Medicare benefits if he or she fails to deal with his or her MSP issues effectively during a settlement. Indeed, a scary number of experts remain confused about things like the best practices for dealing with Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set-Aside Arrangements (WCMSA).

2. Is workers’ comp litigation helping or hurting?

Detractors of workers’ comp litigation point to the fact that institutions like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) have ramped up their legal activity thanks to expansions of laws like the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, the ADA, and the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. With so many legal disputes in the works, some analysts fear a break down in employer-employee trust.

Obviously, litigation for litigation’s sake can clearly damage the economy and degrade trust. But critics of the EEOC should recognize that that group and others like it may merely be responding to longstanding unfair industry practices. It should be possible to work out “win-win” arrangements to simultaneously reduce litigation and improve conditions for both employees and employers. For instance, the strategic use of “social nudges” to prevent people from engaging in bad behavior and encouraging more generous employer-employee relationships could really help.

3. The frequency of workers’ comp claims may be reversing

Starting in the early 90s, the number of claims filed per company payroll began to decline. This reduced caseload helped to counterbalance the increase of medical and rehab costs. But the frequency of claims may be picking up again… adding yet another stressor to the North Carolina workers’ compensation system and other state systems.

4. The obesity and diabetes epidemics

Good data suggest that the increased prevalence of obesity and diabetes (sometimes known as “diabesity”) may be driving up health and medical care costs throughout North Carolina and other states. This epidemic not only creates additional cost control problems but also indirectly impacts the job market itself.

5. Bad advice at the beginning of your research can bias you and make you continue to make poor decisions

Social science findings show that the quality of the resources you initially tap into can have a dramatic influence on your long-term prospects for economic and medical recovery.

To that end, it may be helpful for you or your injured coworker to connect with a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm that has the resources, track record, and wherewithal to deliver excellent service.

More Web Resources:

Medicare Secondary Payer

Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Hot Button Issues in North Carolina Workers’ Compensation — 2011 (Part I)

January 24, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

From the corridors of the Research Triangle to rural parts of Western NC, North Carolina workers’ compensation specialists have been reviewing crucial trends in the industry and trying to identify the major issues that will shape the system in 2011. In a two-part blog post, we will be exploring pertinent studies and ideas weighing on the minds of physicians, employers, insurers, injured workers, and government policymakers.

1. OSHA bringing down the hammer

OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, has stepped up its enforcement activity, according to the National Safety Council. The agency expects to collect $1 million this fiscal year for each of its 10 biggest penalties. A National Safety Council report indicates that, while the organization’s “Top 10” list of major workplace violations will remain the same, “the agency’s message of strong enforcement is clear.”

2. Medical costs continue to escalate: When and how will it all stop?

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) has found that workers’ comp claims are skyrocketing – they now represent nearly 60% of all claims. A study in the January 2010 Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine reported that “injury types or diagnoses that don’t have clearly defined treatment pathways could easily lead to higher costs.”

Notably, fewer than 4% of all doctors are responsible for nearly three-quarters of workers’ comp costs. Perhaps by targeting those physicians and trying to help them treat patients more cost effectively, the North Carolina’s workers’ compensation system and other state systems could save some money without reducing care quality.

3. Hurt workers finding it harder than ever to get work

The “Great Recession” that stretched from 2008 to 2010 — and the relatively anemic recovery that’s followed — has meant that workers throughout the Atlantic region have found it difficult to earn effectively. That means hurt workers are finding it harder to get new work. This lag in reemployment stretches out temporary total disability benefit periods. This creates a drag on the system and a disincentive for hurt workers to find reemployment.

4. Murky definition of “independent contractors”

When should someone be considered an employee under workers’ comp law, and when should he or she be considered an independent contractor or freelancer? The answer may not be as clear cut as most employers and employees realize. The US Department of Labor, among other institutions, is cracking down. The DOL compelled employers to pay 5,200+ employees $6.5 million in back wages in 2010 – that’s more than double the 2009 numbers.

5. Information overload and confusion among workers’ comp beneficiaries… going WAY up

Despite the proliferation of websites, blogs, and other informational sources about workers’ comp (or maybe because of them), injured claimants are finding themselves more and more overwhelmed and confused by the sheer glut of often contradictory resources.

If you are struggling with a workers’ comp issue – or a friend or a family member is – get a free consultation from a qualified North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

More Web Resources:

About the Research Triangle

National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI)

Getting Off North Carolina Workers’ Compensation and Getting Back To Work: Crucial Tips

January 17, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Injured or sick workers who are forced to rely on North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits to pay for medical care, surgical bills, and replacement wages often spend a tremendous amount of energy battling their employers and insurance companies to get fair payment and appropriate treatment. Simultaneously, they must reconfigure their family budgets, repurpose their careers, and manage various medical costs, drugs, and procedures.

If you or someone you care about has been swamped by this kind of chaos, you likely empathize with how difficult it can be to “right one’s ship.” Moreover, aiming merely for a return to the status quo before you got hurt/sick is kind of dispiriting. You would much rather aim for something better than what you had before you got sick or injured. But is striving for greatness really possible when you must confront a gauntlet of face pesky insurance rules and medication side effects?

This essay attempts to rekindle your hope that a better life is possible – not just a return to “normal” but actually an elevation to a better state of mind, work, life, and financial possibilities.

First things first, it’s important to accept precisely where you are now in your life, financially, physically, and psychologically. “Accepting” doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing that this should be your ultimate reality – it simply means acknowledging what’s true now. One good method to clear your head is to use the productivity system developed by best-selling author David Allen. In his book Getting Things Done (GTD), Allen recommends that individuals make a total and comprehensive inventory of “open loops” — anything in your life that’s bothering you or that has a grasp on your attention in any way. Once you have everything out of your head and onto a written form – a Microsoft Word document will do – then it becomes infinitely easier to process this information and organize what to do with it next.

Another powerful method to help you deal with your North Carolina workers’ compensation issues – or any other problems in your life – is to spend some time envisioning “best case” scenarios. Imagine yourself in the future from a place of great success. What does your life look like? How do you feel? Where do you work? What’s happened to your injuries? How have you dealt with your insurer and/or employer? How have you managed the anger, confusion, and overwhelm about the accident? Once you have a vision of your success, it becomes a lot easier for you to figure out how to get there.

This may sound like a lot of homework – and it certainly is — but it’s also empowering work. When you’ve been knocked off your game by an injury or a workplace accident or illness, it becomes all too easy to mope around in self pity, confusion, and helplessness. You can go numb to your actual life and ignore potential useful advice. These kinds of written exercises – getting stuff out of your head onto an objective format for easy review and envisioning ultimate success without prejudging your vision – can make an enormous difference not just in terms of your actual on the ground success but also in terms of your psychological state.

On a more practical note, if you are struggling to deal with an insurer or an employer or a confusing series of forms, don’t struggle alone. Get help from a responsive and compassionate North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm right now.

More Web Resouces:

Getting Things Done

Power of Intention

Hospital Worker on North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Won’t Get Job Back

January 11, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Last Wednesday, the North Carolina Personnel Commission ruled that it could not reinstate former Cherry Hospital employee O’Tonious Raynor to his job, marking a setback for a man who went through a long and drawn out process to collect North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits for eye injuries he sustained in a fight with a patient.

Raynor got into a fight with a schizophrenic patient in early March 2010. 55 year-old Bernard Freeman had been smoking when he wasn’t supposed to. Raynor interfered, and Freeman snapped and punched Raynor in the face, seriously hurting his eye. Raynor then pinned the patient down against some furniture and stood on his broken hand. Although the initial fight happened in a common area under surveillance, Raynor then wrestled Freeman out of view of the cameras into a nearby bedroom. Raynor later confessed: “I didn’t intend to hurt the patient. I felt like I was in danger, and I did the best I could under the circumstances…he told me “when I get up, I am going to kill you.””

The North Carolina Department of Justice examined the case against Raynor. No charges were filed. A judge agreed that Raynor used excessive force, but he also argued that the hospital could have simply disciplined him instead of firing him outright.

As this case illustrates, North Carolina workers’ compensation situations can get quite complicated and even ethically tricky. If a worker causes his own injury through carelessness (even partially), he may find it difficult to collect money for medical bills, surgeries, back pay, and lost wages. For instance, say you and some co-workers goofed around at a construction site. You then slipped on some tar, twisted your knee, and tore a ligament. Your employer might argue that your goofing around caused (or exacerbated) the injury and thus you should not be entitled to benefits or should be entitled only to limited benefits.

To clarify your rights and responsibilities, it’s important to get excellent legal guidance. Any on-the-record admissions you make – even seemingly minor admissions – can hamper your chance to get the money you need to support your family and recover. If an insurance company or employer has unfairly denied benefits to you, you can take legal steps to compel them to make good. A North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can provide a free and effective (and confidential) consultation about your injuries and advise you about the best next steps to take.

More Web Resources:

O’Tonious Raynor’s story

Cherry Hospital

Good News for Principal Shot in the Face: He Will Get North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Benefits After All

January 4, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Last year, 38 year-old James Hunt, a former Principal for Fairmont Middle School in Southeastern NC, got shot in the face with a shot gun while driving to school. Fortunately, Hunt survived (albeit with ongoing pain and chronic injuries), but his North Carolina workers’ compensation battle had just begun…

The Robeson County School System initially refused to pay his benefits — which included $60,000 a year and medical expenses — in spite of the fact that Hunt had been driving to school when he got shot and that the shooter almost certainly committed the attack in response to Hunt’s attempts to rid his school of gang violence. An official from the North Carolina Industrial Commission, Philip Baddour III, said that the shooting attack almost certainly “arose out of [Hunt’s] employment because the shooting was more likely than not related to his anti-gang activities as school Principal.” Furthermore, Baddour said that Hunt had been talking on a cell phone issued by the district about Middle School business. Hunt remains disconcerted by the attempt on his life, and the mystery shooting prompted Hunt’s supporters to create the website to ferret out the truth.

Per the terms of his North Carolina workers’ compensation agreement, Hunt will get his wages compensated as well as his medical/surgical bills. In a statement, Hunt said that: “it’s just unfortunate we had to take this route to get the help I need… I really felt like my school system, my employer, let me down on this. They left me hanging.”

If you or someone you care about has similarly faced frustrating issues collecting benefits or dealing with an insurance company, get good help from a qualified and compassionate North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm. You likely have many rights and resources available that can help you resolve your troubles with minimal stress and maximal efficacy.

More Web Resources:

Ex-principal wins workers comp; Sues school system over 2009 shooting

Massive Six-Figure Fine Leveled Against ACE American; North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Analysts Probe the Details

December 26, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

Many high profile North Carolina workers’ compensation cases have major interstate elements. A recent case filed by the Texas Insurance Department’s Division of Workers’ Compensation demonstrates how interconnected states like North Carolina, Texas, and Pennsylvania can be when it comes to workers’ comp claims and insurance disputes.

A Philadelphia-based company called ACE American Insurance Company was fined $221,000 for failing to pay key medical costs and failing to comply with the Texas Workers’ Comp Commissioner’s rulings. According to local sources, ACE had to pay a $74,000 fine pursuant to the company’s failure to respond to preauthorization requests and failure to pay for certain key treatments, services, and emergency care. In a second case, the insurance company paid out $147,000 pursuant to its failure to pay indemnity and medical benefits and failure to comply with the Texas Commissioner’s orders. ACE also did not pay medical bills according to Texas’ medical fee guidelines.

While this kind of case is not exactly novel – insurance companies have been known to try every tactic and strategy in the book to get out of paying North Carolina workers’ compensation claims – the story does illustrate the truly interstate ramifications of workers’ comp disputes.

Here you have a Philadelphia-based company dealing with allegations drawn up by the Texas Workers’ Comp Commissioner. Although states do make independent decisions regarding their workers’ comp programs, this case illustrates the essential interconnectedness of the US workers’ comp systems. National and even transnational players, like insurance companies, funds, and big businesses, often get deeply embroiled in state-specific litigation.

Fortunately, most workers’ comp claimants don’t have to worry about these highly technical ramifications. If you have been recently injured at work – or if you know someone who has come down with an occupational disease, such as bronchitis or repetitive stress injury, from work related activities – you want a simple, clear and precise strategy to get your benefits as quickly as possible and reboot both your health and your career.

Talk to an experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm to develop and execute a sound plan of action to get the help you need.

More Web Resources:

Texas Insurance Department’s Division of Workers’ Compensation

Case against ACE American

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Guide to Surprising Hazards at the Workplace

December 16, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

Most North Carolina workers’ compensation policy analysts focus on “after the fact” remedies for workplace injuries and diseases. In other words, they focus on how to get injured workers paid for things like back surgery, time off of work, and finger amputations. They also look at how insurance companies can provide better service at more affordable rates and how employers can cut through red tape to give their employees the protection they need without compromising the business’s finances or other objectives.

But what’s missing in this discussion, overall, is frank and specific talk about preventing injuries and diseases. As the old adage goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This cliché is common advice that’s unfortunately uncommonly practiced. Rather than focus so much on solving problems once they have already occurred, we in the North Carolina workers’ compensation system should collectively focus our energies more on attacking the root causes of workplace injures with the goal of ultimately making workplaces from the Research Triangle to the far west of the state safer for all employees.

To that end, we need to recognize dangers that often go unremarked upon – and try to figure out how to deal with these pernicious hazards.

1. Too much sugar in the workplace

Whether you work as an high powered banking executive in the Research Triangle, or you supervise a construction crew in a rural part of far western North Carolina, chances are you encounter sweets many times during your day. There might be a vending machine in your office lobby that sells extremely sugary drinks. Your secretary may keep a bowl of delicious candy on his desk. Or, if you work at a large office, you may be asked to partake in weekly or even biweekly birthday parties for your office mates, during which you’ll be fed cupcakes, ice cream, and other goodies.

The problem is that all of this sugar is extremely bad for people – bad for workers, bad for the cardiovascular system, and bad for our collective health. Furthermore, eating too much sugar can make you feel lethargic, less attentive, lightheaded, and more. Excessive sugar consumption can also lead to problems such as diabetes, heart disease, and perhaps even cancer. If North Carolina workers and employers could focus on reducing their collective sugar consumption, this would almost certainly lead to reductions in things like workplace accidents, sick days, and occupational diseases (sugar also compromises the immune system).

2. Too much informational input

Whether you are an office worker bombarded by dozens of emails everyday; or you are a construction foreman snowed under by frustrating paperwork, chances are that you get more information than you can comfortably process. Studies suggest that this overconsumption of information can be hazardous: it can lead to inattention at the workplace, general fatigue, and even depression and anxiety.

3. Not enough sunlight

Medical studies suggest that most people could benefit from getting regular sun exposure to boost levels of Vitamin D and stimulate the immune system. Unfortunately, many North Carolina workers don’t get enough sun exposure – they are trapped in office buildings all day – and this lack of natural sunlight could impair mood, cause fatigue, and lead to inattention that could further stimulate on-the-job injuries and other problems. Perhaps employers could institute a 20-30 minute break per day – kind of like a “recess” – during which workers would be encouraged to go outside and recharge.

4. Bad Ergonomics

Whether you sit in a chair for 8 hours a day, spend 8 hours doing repetitive tooling and machining work, or engage in some other repetitive or physically uncomfortable activity, you could be setting yourself up for long-term work-related injuries. Working at a computer, for instance, can create all sorts of problems from eye strain to thoracic outlet syndrome to lower back problems. Remedies could include taking regular breaks, getting better and more ergonomic office equipment, using programs like Feldenkrais or the Alexander Technique, engaging in strength training, and changing up your work tasks so that they are not as repetitive.

If you or someone close to you needs guidance with a workers’ comp issue, connect with a quality and experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation firm to go over your options and ensure that you get all benefits owed to you.

More Web Resources:

Sunlight and Vitamin D research

Good v. Bad Ergonomics

Texas-Sized Mess Serves as a Cautionary Tale for the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation System

December 9, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

Analysts often get mired in the details of internal state policy, spending time reviewing in-state cases and poring over announcements from individuals like Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner to understand factors shaping the North Carolina workers’ compensation system.

But sometimes it’s instructive to attend to the trials and tribulation of other state’s workers’ comp programs. To wit, a November 23 report out of Austin, Texas highlights a slew of nagging problems with that state’s Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC). The report identified four serious problems that “significantly inhibit” the DWC’s ability to offer benefits and care for workers hurt on the job. The points get technical and dry, but they are worth quickly reviewing:

1. The Texas DWC allegedly does not process complaints about medical practitioners well, so system auditors cannot evaluate the consistency and appropriateness of any disciplinary actions.
2. The complaint process the DWC uses fails to comply with the Texas Labor Code.
3. The way healthcare providers get chosen creates major inefficiencies and results in the “overutilization” of healthcare.
4. DWC also has problems in engaging in sanctions and enforcing its decisions.

Texas professionals plan to meet on December 14 in Austin to discuss how to rehabilitate the Division of Workers’ Compensation. But the ongoing struggles in the Lonestar State should alert analysts and policymakers who focus on North Carolina workers’ compensation to the sheer size and scope of some of the crises we face.

One major theme that emerges here is the idea that failure to process information effectively can have serious systemic consequences. State bureaucracies are not exactly known for being efficient. But lack of a structured set of processes and systems gums-up the whole system. It forces people to engage in extra paperwork. It drains resources from already resource-strapped and time-strapped individuals.

New developments in information processing theory may be useful. For instance — and this may sound silly at first — but imagine if everyone in the system adopted the “K.I.S.S. principle” (keep it simple, stupid) when developing their systems and procedures. A return to simplicity could make regulations and restrictions clearer, allow employers and hurt workers to make better decisions and foster a more genial overall spirit.

Stepping back from these global and philosophical implications…

If you’ve recently been put out of work by an injury or occupational disease, or if your family has been struggling to collect benefits from an insurance carrier, you are probably less concerned with what’s going on in Texas and much more concerned with questions like: “How am I going to feed my family if my benefits run out?” and “What can I do to heal faster so I can get back to work?”

To tackle all your concerns, you may benefit greatly from a free consultation with a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

More Web Resources

Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC)

Texas’ workers comp agency’s oversight faulted: Auditor

North Carolina Workers Compensation Experts See a Big Legal Battle Brewing in Seattle

December 1, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

The business of reforming North Carolina workers’ compensation – or any other state system – is a complicated and fraught one.

To wit, a monumental brouhaha is brewing in Seattle, Washington over a reform program championed by WA businesses. Theoretically, the reforms could save the Washington workers’ comp system upwards of $1.2 billion, including a one-time net savings of $730 million. Different entities within the Washington government have proposed wildly different estimates of the savings that the business backed plan would generate. Labor groups are vociferously protesting; they have put forward a different plan that may save the system approximately $450 million over the next several years.

According to the Seattle Times, WA governor Chris Gregoire is treading carefully, aiming to split the different between these two plans. The state’s Office of Financial Management believes that one quarter of all injury claims in WA (approximately 7,000 cases) will end up at settlement. The Chair of Washington state’s House Labor Committee, representative Mike Cells, doesn’t plan to give the bill a hearing, stalling its advance.

What bearing does this tug of war over Washington state’s potentially insolvent workers’ comp system have on the North Carolina workers’ compensation system?

Practically speaking, not a lot!

But although Washington is located literally thousands of miles away from North Carolina, it’s a mistake to underestimate the influence that out of state battles over benefits and entitlements can have on the timbre of debate here in NC. As we’ve explored in other posts, states around the union are desperate to get workers’ comp costs under control. (Witness the recent very public battles in both Illinois and California over similar issues.) As the national economy continues to stall and unemployment rates remain stubbornly high, political figures will look at entitlement programs like unemployment and workers’ comp to identify places to cut.

The problem is that indiscriminate, non-strategically optimized cutting may not necessarily save states. Slashing may also create longer term headaches — not just for hurt and injured workers, but also for the states’ fiscal health. Imagine, for instance, if the North Carolina General Assembly passed a draconian measure to chip away at workers’ comp. Say, for instance, the benefits period maxed out at 250 weeks. What might happen to all those hurt and sick workers? Where will they get money to support their families and to pay for rehab and medical bills? It’s not like these people will just disappear.

Obviously, there is no quick solution to these problems. And if you are personally struggling with an employer or insurance company, a consultation with a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can be crucial to making sure that you’re treated fairly and justly — and that you have the information you need to get your health back on track.

More Web Resources:

Can the Washington workers’ comp system be saved?

North Carolina General Assembly plan to reform NC workers’ comp

RSI Claim Approved for Ice Cream Scooper in Canada — North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Analysts Look at Controversial Case

November 24, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

While most North Carolina workers’ compensation analysts probe the local news for instructive stories, sometimes blogs look to international sources to find the most compelling news. And a case out of Toronto – reported by the Vancouver Sun – has many in the North Carolina workers’ compensation community talking. An Alberta tribunal has ordered workers’ comp payments for a convenient store worker who suffered serious shoulder injuries from scooping hard ice cream. According to the Sun’s report, the woman had to serve up an enormous quantity of orders in a short period of time during a heat spell in April 2009. The Appeal Board noted that “the activity required considerable force with her right hand and arm in a twisting motion because the ice cream was frozen hard…the total sale of ice cream cones [for a 2 day period] was $1,500.”

The woman had been treated for a shoulder injury prior to working at the ice cream store and had rectified that injury through the use of cortisone shots. But the ice cream scooping reinjured her shoulder so badly that she needed surgery on her rotator cuff to deal with the flare up. The Sun’s article quoted an orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Stephen Reed, who argued that ice cream scooping is indeed a dangerous activity. Dr. Reed said “they are forced to do this basically at arm’s length, reaching into a large cabinet…it’s basically poor ergonomics, and they are doing it repetitively.”

Repetitive strain injuries due to manual labor, such as ice cream scooping, typing, or repetitive lifting, can cause lasting damage to muscles, fascia, ligaments, and other soft tissue. More frustratingly, the full extent of the damage may take weeks or months to reveal itself. By the time an injured employee notices what’s been happening, it may be too late to reverse the problems easily.

If you or someone you love or work with has been sidelined with a repetitive stress injury or other workplace injury, either chronic or acute, you can benefit tremendously from consulting with a qualified North Carolina workers’ compensation firm. By exploring your rights as a potential claimant, you can collect compensation for things like your lost wages and medical bills. Moreover, you can simplify the process, focus your limited resources on healing from your injuries and getting back to work (or finding new work), and holding reluctant employers or insurance companies fully accountable.

More Web Resources:

Scooping hard ice cream can be hazardous to your health

RSI resources

Lower Back Safety 101: How to Avoid Ever Needing North Carolina Workers’ Compensation

November 10, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you’ve been on and off North Carolina workers’ compensation for a bad back or other occupational injury for years; or you are concerned about chronic nagging aches and pains, you want solid and tested advice about how to take better care of your back.

When most people think about back injuries, they envision things like falling off a crane at a construction site, slipping and falling on a patch of dry ice in the office parking lot, screwing up one’s lower back while trying to pick up a heavy box, or getting whiplash in an auto accident.

While all these situations can result in back injuries, chronic abuse of muscles and poor posture can also cause/exacerbate back problems. For instance, if you work a desk job, and you don’t employ proper ergonomic techniques and tools, over time, your posture can degrade, making you more vulnerable to muscular weakness, atrophy, and damage to soft tissue. This can actually weaken your structure to the point that a back injury may be almost inevitable.

Furthermore, your diet can influence your potential to get hurt (or to recover from) a back injury. If you consume lot of heavily processed foods and sugars, you can weaken your immune system and degrade your body’s natural resilience to things like stress.

Obviously, this blog cannot provide medical advice, but if you or someone else that you love has been dealing with a North Carolina workers’ compensation claim for your back, you might want to explore modalities with your physical therapist and physician to strengthen your body and eliminate the factors in your life and workplace that may be causing or exacerbating back problems. For instance, cutting out refined sugars and starches can help the body’s immune system. Engaging in regular strength training overseen by a therapist can be useful for many people, even for workers in “non-active jobs,” such as data entry or marketing. De-stressing can also be a crucial resource, as can taking regular breaks from repetitive activity.

Other more “exotic” forms of back strain relief include the Alexander Technique, Sarno body awareness, and Feldenkrais movement. For certain individuals who have been severely or chronically injured, traditional therapies, like surgery, may be needed. Other modalities that some have found useful to treat back pain include massage, acupressure, acupuncture, and training in meditation/mindfulness.

On a more general note… many injured workers develop a mentality of helplessness. Since they’ve been hurt, and they have suffered financially, they feel a loss of control over their lives. Fortunately, this loss of control is often imaginary. Even if you have sustained serious problems, you can take advantage of good modalities to speed up healing and prevent re-injury.

All that said, from a practical “nuts and bolts” point of view, you still likely have many questions about how to collect benefits owed to you, how to navigate the workers’ comp system, how to deal with bad faith insurers, and how to manage less than cooperative employers. For help now, turn to a capable and experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

More Web Resources

WebMD article on causes of back pain

Listserve for people with repetitive stress and pain problems

2010 North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Rate Changes Inch up over 2009 Numbers: Business Owners Appear Pleased

October 28, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

The State of North Carolina and the North Carolina Rate Bureau (NCRB) reached an agreement over North Carolina workers’ compensation rates for next spring. The 2010 filings – which will go into effect on the 1st of April, 2011 – should save businesses approximately $7 million over what they might have had to pay, had the North Carolina Rate Bureau completely gotten its way. Wayne Goodwin, the State’s Insurance Commissioner, agreed that the “slight increase” in North Carolina workers’ compensation employers costs (0.6% for voluntary market loss costs and just a little more than 4% for assigned risk markets) was justified.

The Rate Bureau had hoped for slightly higher increases – 1.2% for the voluntary market costs and 5.5% for the assigned risk markets. The industry argued that it needed a hike in rates because of rising medical costs across the state. But opponents of large increases argued that the number of workers’ comp claims in NC has declined; therefore, rates shouldn’t be bumped too much. The Rate Bureau’s director speculated that the number of claims may have declined because:

A) High risk manufacturing jobs preferentially disappeared during the recent recession.
B) Employers have made strides in making their workplaces safer.

The Rate Bureau believes that employers across North Carolina will pay approximately $1.16 billion in 2011 in premiums alone. While a spokesperson for the NCRB claimed to be “a little bit disappointed” with the final decision, the Bureau didn’t seem too frustrated by the final outcome.

These macroscopic changes to the system may be interesting to policy analysts. But what if you are a worker who has recently been diagnosed with a chronic disease or who just got into a serious accident on the job? Will these rate changes affect you? And if so, how?

The trickle-down effect of major policy changes can be very difficult to detect and to quantify. Rather than getting distracted by macroscopic state rate politics, focus instead on what you need to do maximize your claim and speed up your recovery. If you’ve been having trouble with an employer or an insurance company – for instance, an employer unreasonably denying your benefit request or an insurance company acting in “bad faith” and refusing to pay money owed – consult with a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm to figure out your best next steps.

More Web Resources

North Carolina Rate Bureau (NCRB)

More about the rate hike

Alabama Lawsuit Has North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Policy Analysts Talking

October 19, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

A heartbreaking case out of Montgomery, Alabama has much of the nation, including many top North Carolina workers’ compensation policy analysts, debating the effects and legality of a suit filed by the family of Corporal David Brown, a police officer who got hurt while off duty.

Corporal Brown had been escorting a funeral procession on September 11th, when he got injured. The ambulance that took him away flipped over while carrying to the hospital, injuring Brown further. As of this writing, Brown remains seriously injured. The Corporal had been working for a private funeral home and had been technically off duty (September 11th this year was fell a Saturday). But Brown’s family wants the city to declare that the Corporal was actually “on duty” so he can collect workers comp.

Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange has indicated that the city can’t grant the workers’ comp benefits because state law does not allow it. That said, Mayor Strange indicated that the city would do everything it could to help Brown and his family. Brown reportedly will get retirement benefits for life as well as medical disability retirement benefits and extra leave time. In the Montgomery Advertiser, Mayor Strange said, “we want to do everything conceivable under the law to help him.”

On October 27th, the Brown family filed suit against Montgomery, arguing that the corporal had been working “with permission, knowledge, and approval” of the city’s police department and had been working to help the citizenry of Montgomery while directing traffic for the funeral procession.

This case illustrates nicely how complicated certain North Carolina workers’ compensation cases can become – even when employers (or in this case the Mayor of the City of Montgomery) want to cooperate and provide maximal allowable assistance under the law. In other cases, employers and insurance companies may resist obligations to pay an injured worker and may even skirt the law to get out of paying monies owed.

If you or someone in your family has gotten hurt or ill at a job in the state, a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can provide a free and confidential consultation about how you can go about collecting benefits in a fair and timely way. A good team of attorneys can also help you battle back against a bad faith insurer and uncooperative employer.

More Web Resources

Corporal Brown lawsuit

Mayor Strange vs. Brown family

Conference on North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Slated for Next Week

October 7, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

The North Carolina Industrial Commission is sponsoring the 15th Annual North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference next week from October 13 through 15. The event – which will take place at the Raleigh Convention Center – aims to educate people involved in all different aspects of the state’s workers’ comp system about:

• Policies
• Forms
• Procedures
• Rules

The conference also aims to allow diverse participants to discuss key issues about the system. The NCIC website says that the following participants may gain useful info from this conference:

• Employers
• HR managers
• Attorneys
• Medical providers
• Mediators
• Rehab providers
• Paralegals
• Self-insurers
• Administrators
• Claims adjusters
• Safety managers

Both the Raleigh Marriott City Center and Sheraton Raleigh hotels offer discount conference rates just half a block away from the Raleigh Convention Center (where the conference will be held). According to the NCIC website, the following people will be speaking at the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference:

October 13:

• Pamela Young, the Chair of the NCIC
• Martha Dealy, the President of Kids’ Chance of North Carolina
• Denise Thomas, Consultant
• Kirk Leggott, the NCIC’s Chief Information Officer
• Adolfo Arsuaga, a speaker on Multicultural Issues
• Tracey Weaver, David Gantt, and Henry Byrum, who will talk about Professional Ethics

October 14 (Thursday) two breakout sessions will occur in the morning – one on Rehab Dilemmas and one on “The Workers’ Knee – A Medical Assessment”

In the afternoon, two other breakout sessions will occur: one on “Hot Topics in Claims Administration” and one on “I Know I Can Do It, I Just Don’t Remember How!” held by the NCIC Deputy Commissioners.

October 15 (Friday) you will get to hear more speakers, including:

• Pamela Young, the NCIC Chair
• Wanda Taylor, Keischa Lovelace, and John Schafer, who will talk about Industrial Commission Rule Changes
• Dr. T. Kern Carlton III will talk about Controversies in Chronic Pain
• Johnny Lee will talk about Workplace Violence
• Maggie Bennington and Bruce Hamilton will talk about Case Law Updates

If you or someone you care about has gotten injured or sick at work – and your employer, or relevant insurance company, or another party has not treated you fairly, it may behoove you to discuss what steps to take with a qualified North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

More Web Resources

more about the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference

North Carolina Industrial Commission

Steps to Avoid Having to Make a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Claim

August 3, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you work at a potentially dangerous job, such as a construction site, welding factory, or farm; or you face dangers due to occupational diseases and/or repetitive stress injuries at a white collar job, you don’t want to have to go on North Carolina workers’ compensation, if you can help it. Ideally, you want to work pain-free and accident-free. So here are a few tips to help you stay safe at work:

1. Take Breaks, Particularly When You Engage in Repetitive Work

Whether you are doing data entry, computer programming, sewing, or hair styling, or any other kind of repetitive work, ergonomic professionals will urge you to take regular breaks to avoid injuries to your hands, arms, shoulders, and back. Repetitive stress injuries typically result from long-term abuse of muscles, bad posture, and “Type A” enthusiastic work habits. This may sound silly, but one thing you can do is – every 30 minutes or so, or whatever your employer will allow – take two to three minutes to lie down on the ground and let your spine and back relax before you start doing your repetitive activity.

2. Cut Back on Sugar and Processed Foods

More and more studies have linked excess sugar and high fructose corn syrup consumption with diseases like obesity and type 2 diabetes. Although these aren’t occupational diseases, when you get obese and pre-diabetic, you stand at a much greater risk of injury. And some evidence also suggests that excess sugar consumption can decrease your stamina, make you tired, and damage muscle and organ health – which will put you at greater risk of on-the-job injury.

3. Increase Your Strength

Strength training helps with muscular flexibility, improves bone density, leads to innumerable other health benefits, according to abundant medical literature. Many employees neglect effective strength training. But as we age, we will see a natural deterioration of our muscular strength (particularly in places like our lower backs) unless we actively work to improve strength in those areas.

4. Don’t Wait Until a Problem Gets “Too Big”

If you feel like you are getting hurt or you could potentially get hurt at work, tell your employer at once. Don’t keep your concerns to yourself. Your employer can and should want to help you solve the problem. For instance, say you type at an ergonomically dysfunctional workstation. Tell your boss, so he or she can help you solve your ergonomic problems and thus help you prevent injury. Speak up!

Do you need help with a North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits case? Don’t let bad faith insurers, uncooperative bosses, or confusion beat you down – get help from a qualified and well-credentialed NC workers’ comp law firm today.

More Web Resources

Sugar and Obesity and Diabetes

Learn to Take Breaks at Work

Former Chicago Bears Tight End Gets $300,000+ in Comp Case: North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Analysts Debate Implications

July 22, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

Gabe Reid, a former tight end for the Chicago Bears, got an award of $325,000 for a knee injury from the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission this week. North Carolina workers’ compensation experts have been closely following NFL related workers’ comp cases like Reid’s – this blog reported last month about California’s dilemma over how and whether to compensate injured athletes who played for teams outside of California but who got hurt in games played in the Golden State.

Reid played for the Bears from 2003 to 2006. The team released him in 2006 to be an unrestricted free agent. His settlement was the biggest settlement for a pro athlete in Illinois history; although another ex-Bear, Mike Brown, recently collected $140,000 for injuries he suffered to his foot and leg while he played for the Bears. More ex-Bears may be eligible to collect additional funds, according to state sports reporters.

How will Reid’s settlement impact similar North Carolina workers’ compensation cases, if at all? Will ex-Panthers be eligible for similarly large payouts? Truth be told, the states individually are in the process of working out how to compensate NFL athletes (and athletes in other sports). And it will likely be several years before policy analysts have enough data to draw any clear conclusions. However, with all the financial pressure on state workers’ compensation agencies to tighten their budgets – and the new POWER initiative launched by the Obama administration, which this blog reported on earlier in the week – it may be more difficult for claimants to win relevant arguments.

Irrespective of what happens to ex-NFLers like Reid and Brown, what can you personally do to improve the likelihood of collecting fair and flexible benefits for your injury or workplace illness?

If you suffered a chronic, debilitating injury at work such as a knee problem or typing injury – or if you got hurt in some kind of acute accident – such as a slip and fall or work-related car accident – you must simultaneously struggle under a number of burdens. First, you must deal with the medical recuperation, which can be exhausting and emotionally draining in and of itself. Then, you need to figure out how to rehabilitate yourself and get back to work in some fashion ASAP – and/or how to deal with your financial situation. And lastly, under certain circumstances, you might have to fight back against unwilling employers, recalcitrant insurance companies, and bureaucratic red tape to get benefits paid out in a timely fashion.

With all these stresses on your shoulders, it may behoove you to discuss your problems with a qualified North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney. A good lawyer can simplify your strategy, relieve you of logistical and emotional stresses, and help you collect appropriate payments without hassle or frustration.

More Web Resources:

Gabe Reid case

Mike Brown case