Topic: Overuse Injuries

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.

Going Back to Work After a North Carolina Workplace Injury: It’s a Process, not a Project

February 14, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Perhaps it’s too early to even consider what it would be like to go back to work after your North Carolina workplace injury. Perhaps you never want to go back to the construction site, engineering plant, or bank office again. Maybe your experience was so traumatic that you need to switch companies or change the nature of your work entirely.

But if you do plan on working again, you might benefit from thinking about the process of reentering the workforce in the following way.

Most people think about returning to work as a project. It’s something that you “do to be done with it.” You will adjust your workflow, schedule, habits, and ergonomics because of your new physical limitations post-accident. But eventually things will get “back to normal,” and the “project” will be completed.

This might not be an accurate or resourceful way to frame what’s in store for you, especially if you suffered a truly life-changing event, such as a metabolic problem or permanent physical injury.

For instance, you may discover, to your dismay, that you can only concentrate six hours a day (instead of the eight hours a day that you used to be able to conjure up effortlessly). Because of your reduced capacity, you might not get all your critical work done. Thus, you’ll find yourself scrambling to outsource or even accept a demotion to stay gainfully employed.

You will be living in a state of perpetual uncertainty, and the “project” of getting back to work may never ever feel complete.

On the other hand, if you view the situation as a PROCESS that can be continually tweaked and improved, then you will feel much better about the situation, almost instantly.

A process is a system that never really ends. It describes a way of doing or a way of being as opposed to a set of tasks that need to be completed.

For instance, let’s reconsider our theoretical example from the process point of view. If you no longer can work eight hours a day — only six hours a day — that’s fine. You just readjust the process per that reality and find new ways of doing things. Perhaps you stop or outsource certain sub-processes that don’t add value to your work.

The difference is subtle but ultimately very important. In the project mentality, you are living for the future — hoping to reach a place of closure in which you forever put the accident behind you. In the process case, you acknowledge and accept what you and your body have gone through, and you immediately start “living for now.” You adjust, as needed, based on the serendipitous opportunities and surprising challenges that you meet on the road.

For help developing an effective North Carolina workers’ compensation case, call the DeMayo Law team now at (877) 529-1222.

Building a Safer 2013: Ideas for Reducing Workplace Injuries in North Carolina and Beyond

January 10, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Workplace injuries in Charlotte create a catastrophic domino effect.

Here’s an example of how this “bad luck domino” sequence might evolve:

Betty, a 45-year old bank executive, suffers a surge of pain in her arms and wrists, after typing out a contract in her office in the Research Triangle. She goes to the doctor, who diagnoses her with carpal tunnel syndrome. She begins massage therapy, cortisol injections, and other treatments, but the process fails to relieve her pain. Within several weeks, she is too incapacitated to move, and she must take time off of work.

Betty seeks workers’ compensation benefits, but her employer fights her tooth and nail. The legal battle drags in dozens of parties and several law firms. When all is said and done, Betty’s case of carpal tunnel syndrome drains millions of dollars of productivity from the economy. Meanwhile, the case consumes court time, which can create a backlog, which in turn forces other workers’ comp plaintiffs to wait; the waiting exacerbates their injuries and extends their recuperating time; and so on and so forth. A bad domino effect.

If we could collectively find ways to deal with the “front end” of Helen’s cascade, then everyone involved in the North Carolina workers’ compensation system would win — law firms, insurance companies, businesses, the state, and most importantly, hurt/sick employees.

The big question is: HOW can we reduce the number of serious injuries and keep that number headed south, in perpetuity?

Policymakers obviously want to help and protect hurt workers. However, few people understand the need to think through this goal systematically. We should not simply strive to reduce the number of workers’ hurt in North Carolina. We should build and refine systems to reduce injuries. That’s a subtle but important difference. It’s the difference between striving to win the lottery and striving to build a successful business.

To build a great system to thwart workplace injuries, we must measure results, test strategies, get feedback from honest and diverse perspectives, and iterate. In an ideal world, insurance companies, the state, attorneys, employees, employers, and occupational safety experts would collaborate to try to find efficiencies.

For instance, let’s just say that carpal tunnel syndrome is a big problem — a major cause of workers’ comp claims. And let’s also say that data suggest that CTS cases could be cut by 30%, if employees had to take 5 minute breaks for every 30 minutes worked. Those are all arbitrary, made-up numbers. But let’s assume them for this thought experiment. Now, imagine if we used those numbers to create statewide “anti-carpal tunnel syndrome” workplace policy. And imagine if it worked. Not only would we reduce CTS cases by 30%, but we’d reverse the whole “bad domino effect” we discussed!

For help understanding your rights and remedies regarding your North Carolina workers’ compensation case, get in touch with the DeMayo Law team today.

Will You Collect North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Benefits Before Voyager 1 Leaves the Solar System?

November 27, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Your wait to collect your North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits can feel epic – measured in astronomical time units as opposed to earth years. Or at least it sometimes feels that way!

Even when you have your claim ‘under control,’ legally speaking — and you have a great Charlotte workers’ compensation law firm on your side — you may still need to reconcile with delays, insurance company nonsense, and other annoying ‘stuff’ pertaining to your injury, your case, or your employer.

When you don’t know how much longer you need to ‘fight’ to get your benefits, the wait can feel eternal. If you knew it would “just” take five more months, for instance, then you could plan your life around that eventuality and move on. But the fact that you don’t know if or when you will collect creates tremendous anxiety.

Consider, as a metaphor, the experience of scientists who are following the Voyager I space probe. (Yes, it’s a ‘far out’ metaphor, but it’s surprisingly useful one, so keep reading.)

Voyager I was launched back in 1977 to study the outer planets, like Jupiter and Saturn. It did a yeoman’s job. Since then, it’s travelled around 15 billion miles from Earth. That’s three times as far from the sun as the planet Pluto. Now, scientists believe its on the verge of penetrating into interstellar space, beyond the influence of our sun. Once Voyager exits the solar system, it will be the first manmade object to reach interstellar space, so the probe’s status has become a hot topic in the astronomy world lately, even though it was launched 35 years ago.

The problem is that scientists are not sure whether Voyager I is on the verge of escaping from the solar system – it may have even done so back in August! – or whether it will stay under the sun’s sphere of influence until around 2025, by which time the power will have died out.

In other words, the situation that the Voyager scientists face is actually somewhat similar to your own situation. You might get an answer tomorrow or a month from now about your case. Or maybe your case has already been decided. Or it could be years before you get resolution!

The Voyager scientists in some small way probably feel a bit like you do – anxious just to know, one way or the other, whether they will get the information they crave.

Unfortunately, there is nothing the Voyager scientists can do but sit back and wait. But you have options to improve your clarity and odds. Get in touch with the team here at the DeMayo Law for help with your North Carolina workers’ compensation case.

Can You “Manifest” Success with Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Case?

November 15, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you’ve been struggling to get results in your North Carolina workers’ compensation case, you might be tempted to abandon hard-headed, logical thinking about your benefits, your finances, and your life in general.

Perhaps you’ve recently become enamored of books like The Secret or of Wayne Dyer’s books about the Power of Intention. As a result, you might believe that you can just essentially wish for the universe to provide benefits… and then just sit back and reap the rewards.

This post is by no means meant to be a cynical, simplistic attack on theories of “manifestation” and other similar practices. In fact, many of the alternative, hocus-pocus-y theories about productivity, creativity, and self-improvement are less far out than you might realize… and some ideas are also backed by intriguing research.

For instance, consider the region of the brain known as the reticular activating system, also known as the RAS. For decades, scientists have recognized that the RAS helps you process your reality. For example, if you cue your conscious mind to notice pink objects, you will — all of a sudden! — start to notice the “pink stuff” in your present environment. This is why, when you buy a new car, you “all of a sudden” see that same make and model on the road everywhere. Thanks to how you’ve programmed your RAS, your brain is now cued to see your new car everywhere.

“Manifestation” people, like Wayne Dyer, suggest that you can use this focusing property of the brain to generate specific positive outcomes in your life. For instance, Dyer would probably tell you to produce and hold onto an emotionally charged, highly specific vision of what success with your North Carolina workers’ compensation case would look like. If you do so, you might be more primed to recognize opportunities and ideas that will help you achieve that end.

Now, there is a difference between self-priming your brain in this interesting way and just expecting the universe to “provide” for you.

You need to develop and emotionalize positive goals. But you also need to take action and overcome numerous and unexpected hurdles. The journey may be far harder than “just close your eyes, imagine workers’ comp checks coming to you in the mail, and wish for it to be so.”

Visualization is powerful. It’s fired up spiritualists for thousands of years as well as high performance athletes, business executives, and political figures. One key, perhaps, is to combine this intention/manifestation “stuff” with hard-nosed, data-driven, boots-on-the-ground action.

The team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo can help you build a specific roadmap to solve your workers’ comp problems and anticipate and refute the obstacles you encounter.

The Impatience Problem: You Want Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Benefits NOW

August 28, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

When can you start to collect North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits?

This is a mission-critical question. It speaks both to the urgency of your situation and to the expectations that have been set for you and so many millions of others who’ve been rendered disabled by accidents or workplace injuries.

Dealing with this impatience is one of the most difficult, rarely talked about chronic sources of stress for beneficiaries and would-be beneficiaries alike. You want things to “be like they were.” You want your boss or the insurance company in your way to “cooperate” and just “let you live your life.”

The constraints on your success are diverse and constantly surprising. Just when an insurance company, for instance, agrees to pay its “fair share” to you, you discover that now you face a new medical setback, which may cost you thousands of dollars more than you anticipated, so your life is thrown out of whack yet again.

Managing the chaos is possible. Good people and good resources can help you achieve your goals faster and with more certainty. For instance, the team at the Law Offices of Michael DeMayo will be happy to discuss your situation and give you a free, strategic case consultation.

But understand that Rome wasn’t built in a day. You’re not going to solve your Charlotte workers’ compensation issues in a day, either. It’s going to take time. You’re going to need to heal and “recombobulate”, physically, emotionally, and psychologically. If you recall the old proverb, “the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time,” you will be better off.

Understand, too, that you might face setbacks as you go forward, even if you have the best help in the world. You might encounter unpleasant surprises, financially, physically, emotionally, and relationship wise. But you need to keep moving forward, keep striving to recover and better yourself.

Keep your focus on the journey as opposed to the destination.

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.

Principles for Assembling the Best North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Team Possible

July 19, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

In a recent post, we built a case for why you need a properly vetted North Carolina workers’ compensation team to help you through your various financial, medical, and legal issues.

In all likelihood, you’re currently trying to wrangle a basket of challenges in diverse areas of your life. And even if you are in relatively stout health after the accident/event that rendered you incapable of working, there is a very low likelihood that you can deal with all of these diverse challenges on your own efficiently and successfully.

How do you pick the right team for your needs?

Here’s a thought exercise to help you. It is an exercise designed to help you surface the underlying principles and values that you hold… the ones you haven’t yet made conscious and concrete yet. Here’s what you do. Imagine that you have a friend, Mr. X, who is going to build your entire North Carolina workers’ compensation “dream team” for you.

What instructions would you give Mr. X?

Spend about 10 minutes writing down all the possible primary instructions you would give Mr. X. Don’t censor yourself or worry about being too silly or persnickety. You can edit this list later. But the point is to get the most prominent ideas out of your head onto paper. For instance, you might say:

•    I want my doctors and any professionals involved to be licensed and credentialed – no black marks per the Better Business Bureau or other regulatory or licensing agency;
•    I want any rehab specialist to be located within 10 miles of my home or to be willing to drive to me;
•    I want this process to be wrapped up as quickly as possible – I don’t mind sacrificing some of my benefits in order to “be done with this” ASAP;
•    And so forth.

In working through this imaginary conversation with Mr. X, what you’re doing is you’re coming up with the values and principles that you want to govern the team building process. It’s so important to get these cleared up early on in the process; if your values and principles are lurking in your head – not on paper and not communicated to people who might be helping you – you will end up stressed out and overwhelmed.

After you’ve made your big list, take the time to “snip out” values that are really not that important to you – distill the list down to no more than 10 or 12 points. And then share that list with whomever you invite on board to assist you. Doing this one exercise will improve your North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits process tremendously.

For help analyzing your situation and a free case evaluation, connect with the team here at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo.

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.

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.

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:

The Stress of North Carolina Workers’ Compensation on Your Relationships

May 14, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Most outsiders who think about North Carolina workers’ compensation questions focus on the obvious stuff: The struggles with insurance companies and uncooperative bosses; the bureaucracy; the financial concerns; the medical, surgical, and rehab-related problems, etc.

But let’s not forget that the worker’s comp experience is not just a financial or medical one – it’s an emotional one as well. In particular, beneficiaries often experience significant challenges in their relationships – both relationships with themselves and with the close family and friends.

Many changes at once

Consider how much has changed in your life since you got hurt or sick at work:

•    You no longer have a steady stream of income.
•    Whether or not you will even get to collect workers’ comp benefits may be in doubt.
•    You may find yourself in a new, adversarial position with your employer or co-workers.
•    You may have to confront the headache of dealing with an insurance company.
•    You may be scared about your medical prognosis or path to recovery.
•    All of these stresses may have compounded other problems that existed before the injury/illness.

Even if you manage to “keep it all together” psychologically – keep a positive attitude, etc. – other people are bound to perceive you differently. And almost everyone needs a little extra support – emotionally, financially, and otherwise – after they have been seriously hurt or thrown off their career game. So you’ve become more needy, and your new status has changed the dynamics of all of your relationships. For instance, you may no longer be able to lift your kid out of the bath like you used to, and now you need help doing that. That changes your relationship with your child, changes your relationship with your spouse, and changes your perception of your ability as a parent.

Multiply that shift times a thousand, and you can begin to understand why the whole workers’ comp journey is such a challenge to so many relationships.

Being open, getting help, and listening to your feelings and needs

It’s important not to live in denial. Accept the reality of your situation, and you can start to take positive action to make progress. Be compassionate with yourself – and with the people around you. You are all going through lots of big changes, all at once, and they are surprising, and they have the potential to throw you off balance. Give yourself permission to feel a little bit out of control, and work toward regaining control in your life, rebuilding damaged relationships, and finding resources. A North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm, like DeMayo Law, can help you navigate the potentially rough legal waters ahead.

More Web Resources:

How change affects relationships

Being compassionate with yourself

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation: Nine Steps to Set Yourself Up For Success

May 8, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

What kind of mentality should you have to maximize your chances for success with your North Carolina workers’ compensation?

According to researchers from Harvard, there are actually nine key ideas that you should embrace to make better progress towards your goals. Here they are:

#1. Be specific about your goals. Concrete numbers, dates, timeframes, et cetera, are better than ambiguous ones, since they give your mind something to focus on.

#2. Take action towards your goals. Grand plans are great. But if you really want to succeed, you need to start moving forward in some direction – for instance, by connecting with a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm for a free consultation.

#3. Measure your progress. How far you are away from achieving your financial goals, recovery goals, et cetera? When you can measure your milestones, you will be more likely to push yourself along.

#4. Be optimistic, but also be realistic. You don’t want to have your head up in the clouds, but you also no need to keep a positive attitude to keep yourself motivated and moving.

#5. Enjoy the journey. You can learn a lot from your quest for North Carolina workers’ compensation. It’s not just about the benefits (although those are important). It’s about how you get those benefits, what you learn in the process, and what those benefits mean for the rest of your life.

#6. Demonstrate grit. Yes, your goals may be lofty and difficult. But successful people have grit to persist even in the face of substantial obstacles.

#7. Exert willpower. This is kind of similar to #6, but it’s slightly different. Will power is actually a skill that can be learned and improved upon. If you feel like you want to surrender or give up in your fight against an insurance company, employer, or recalcitrant bureaucracy, don’t. Push yourself, and lean on resources to help you get kick started again.

#8. Limit your challenges. In addition to going after workers’ comp benefits, you might also be trying to lose weight and stop playing so many games of Angry Birds on your cell phone. Avoid taking on multiple difficult challenges at once, since it splits your focus.

#9. Accentuate the positive, and eliminate (or at least don’t dwell on) the negative. Focus on actions that you can take that are going to lead you in a positive direction. There will be a time for rumination and regret. But as the old saying goes, you can’t do a don’t. Focus on the steps you can take to get to your workers comp goals, and push as hard as you can to achieve them using the other eight concepts that we have discussed here.

You can also lean on the team here at the Law Offices of Michael DeMayo for good help.
More Web Resources:

Harvard Researcher’s Nine Steps for Success

How to Build Your Will Power Muscle

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

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

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

April 5, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

How to increase your revenue stream

How to clip your home budget

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

Time for a Career Change after Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Injury?

February 2, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

The injury/illness that you suffered at work – and that’s led to a desire to file a North Carolina workers’ compensation claim – altered your physical, mental, and spiritual goals in ways that you’re probably only beginning to understand.

As you grapple with the manifold and developing challenges, your thoughts will occasionally turn to questions like:

•    What will I do once I’m healthy?
•    How much function will I regain?
•    What will it be like to go back to my old job if I make a substantial claim against the company? Will it be weird?
•    Will my injury, accident, or illness change my career goals? If so, what should I do about this?

It’s important to get thoughts like these out on paper, so you don’t have them clanging around in your head, causing you stress.

Once you’ve written your worries down on paper, try this useful exercise:

1. Spend about 5 or 10 minutes on each question (you can also generate your own questions) and brainstorm answers.

Don’t constrain your thinking. Just spend some time writing free form. Your subconscious will likely pour out its deepest secrets onto the paper for you.

2. Give yourself a break. Come back to these questions tomorrow or the day after tomorrow and do the exercise again.

Once you’ve generated a lot of ideas, you’re going to see patterns in your thinking. For instance, maybe you kept writing things to the effect of, “I really need to find a different job, I don’t want to do this kind of work, and I physically can’t do it anymore.” If so, then really take that message to heart and brainstorm ways around the constraint.

3. Probe and ask questions to solve your problems.

Are there other jobs that you would like to do? Can you apply your training to other jobs? Can you make a vertical or horizontal career move? Compile the questions that stem from these answers, and then brainstorm answers just like you did in the first exercise.

4. For help dealing with your logistical and legal battles, connect with a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

More Web Resources:

Brainstorm Exercise to Help You Find Root Causes

Asking Yourself Why: Again and Again

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

Is the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation System Fundamentally Fair?

January 16, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Perhaps you have been on workers compensation in North Carolina due to a back injury, car accident, or explosive disaster at a Raleigh manufacturing company. Or maybe you and your spouse are just starting to explore programs like workmen’s comp in North Carolina. In any event, you are likely less concerned with how this system came to be — and whether or not it’s structured fairly or appropriately — than you are with getting results and rebuilding your life.

Fair enough.

However, if you operate unaware of the structural flaws in the system, you could be at a disadvantage. The workers’ comp system is, in many ways, an historical artifact. Workmen’s comp arose as a kind of “grand bargain” between employers and business owners in the late 1900s and early twentieth century. Basically, workers hurt on the job surrendered their right to sue employers in exchange for guaranteed benefits. Many of the original governing principles remain intact today. But the artifacts in the system are neither perfect, nor perfectly designed for the modern era.

For instance, legal issues aside, are the rules regarding mandatory workers’ comp really fair for employers – and for employees? Are the evaluations of injuries appropriate or not? Basically, you can examine any facet of the system, and you might come away thinking that the system is archaic and based on tradition instead of on logic.

Many of the rules, regulations, and laws are, indeed, arbitrary. They may have emerged as political compromises. Or they may stem from bureaucratic decisions made decades ago. The North Carolina workers’ compensation system is certainly not alone in this regard. Practically every government benefits program suffers from the same kind “arbitrariness” corrupting its structure.

The question for beneficiaries (or people who want to become beneficiaries) is: Given the uneven playing field and potential “unfairness” built into the system, how can you make the best decisions to protect your rights, speed up your recovery, and prevent more powerful players (e.g. an insurance company or your employer) from manipulating the system?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Every claimant has different needs and constraints.

That’s why it’s very helpful for claimants to work with an experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm – to understand what you need to pay attention to and, perhaps more importantly, to understand what you can safely ignore. You need to appreciate these distinctions as you rehabilitate, apply for and utilize your compensation, and redesign your life so you can get back to work and back to better health.

More Web Resources:

Life is Unfair: Examples

Dealing with Life’s Inherent Unfairness

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

Could Simple Ergonomic Fixes Revolutionize North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Policy?

December 1, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

North Carolina workers’ compensation policy wonks generally spend the lion’s share of their time doing things like analyzing insurance tables, parsing changes to state regulations, and tracking growth trends in state-specific industries. However, abundant research suggests that policymakers might want to focus more attention on simple workstation ergonomics.

Consider that a British research company (The Work Foundation) recently found that 100 million Europeans endure serious musculoskeletal problems every year, and that these problems eat up around two percent of the entire EU GDP — a staggering $400 billion. There’s no reason to doubt that work-related musculoskeletal injuries enact a similarly devastating toll on workers here in the United States and in North Carolina.

To that end, it seems that fixing whatever is causing these musculoskeletal problems should be a top priority for our policymakers. The question is: how? One theory is that many — if not the majority — of North Carolina workers’ compensation cases stem from chronic damage caused by overuse of certain muscle groups and poor ergonomics. For instance, a stenographer who spends ten hours a day typing up court transcripts can seriously hurt himself if he doesn’t employ excellent technique, take frequent breaks, and use well-designed equipment.

Repetitive stress injuries and other chronic musculoskeletal problems can occur in practically any industry — they are not specific to traditional office work. A painter, for instance, can develop adhesions in her shoulder from doing repetitive brush stroking day in and day out. A truck driver can develop sciatica and lower back strains from sitting in a cab for eight to ten hours a day. Even professional athletes can get quite hurt from doing repetitive actions, even actions not normally associated with acute dangers. Indeed, any job that requires that you bend, lift, type, walk, stand, sit, or talk for extended periods without appropriate rest and ergonomic support can create the conditions for injury.

What’s baffling is that simple and cheap ergonomic solutions to many chronic overuse problems abound. The installation of more ergonomic workstations across North Carolina, for instance, might be very useful at cutting down the rate of typing injuries. The installation of lumbar supports in truck cabs should be useful at reducing sciatica and lower back pain and so forth.

To summarize, North Carolina workers’ compensation policymakers should analyze simple, cost effective, and easily instituted ergonomic fixes post haste. This should not only lead to happier and healthier workers but also to a reduced number of claims, and thus to many other indirect benefits to employers and to the state as a whole.

More Web Resources:

The Work Foundation

Sorehand

Is Dangerous Construction Work Driving Up North Carolina Workers' Compensation Premiums?

August 21, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

Recent statistics put out by both the US Department Of Labor (DOL) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) suggest that construction workers are at high risk for suffering on the job injuries that can result in workers’ compensation claims, leading some North Carolina workers’ compensation policy experts to argue that accidents in this sector may be inflating premiums for employers.

According to DOL figures on 2007 construction work related injuries, there are over 250,000 active construction sites in the country, and around 6 million laborers employed. Each year, more than a thousand workers get killed on site. Many times that number get severely injured or traumatized. Construction work often leads to acute injuries, such as brain damage, spinal injuries, and bone and ligament damage, as well as to repetitive stress injuries and soft tissue damage stemming from overuse of machinery, bad ergonomics, and even improper posture.

OSHA also has sounded the alarm. The agency has found that construction site employers and employees alike routinely violate codes for scaffolding safety, protection against falls, helmet use, training, and general safety around ladders, electrical and open pits.

This news concerns many North Carolina workers’ compensation experts because of the anticipated “downstream” effects of these bad practices. When insurance companies pay out large claim amounts to injured construction workers, they must account for that resource drain somehow. Thus, they must raise premiums, cut benefits, or take other actions which can drive employers out of business or imperil the ability of other injured parties to collect on their North Carolina workers’ compensation claims.

More Web Resources

DOL

OSHA

A Brief Primer on North Carolina Workers’ Compensation for Overuse Injuries

August 8, 2009, by Michael A. DeMayo

When most people think of accidents that merit North Carolina workers’ compensation coverage, they think of catastrophes, like the explosion at the North Carolina Slim Jim plant in June 2009. Acute injuries attract ample media coverage. But overuse injuries stemming from chronic ergonomic effects often don’t, even though they account for a significant slice of North Carolina workers’ compensation claims.

Overuse injuries, such as repetitive stress injuries (RSI), thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS), carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), “blackberry” thumb, joint and soft tissue damage, and eye strain often take months or even years to develop. But once an employee suffers chronic damage, he or she may find it very difficult to regain functions, find good care, and get enough North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits to pay for medical costs.

Recovering workers often complain that physicians are too quick to prescribe cortisone injections, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and surgeries. At the same time, many doctors who specialize in treatment of these injuries seem not to pay attention enough to more holistic factors, such as trigger points, poor workstation ergonomics, bad posture, and lack of physical activity and work breaks. That’s why it’s so important for injured North Carolina workers to get the facts about soft tissue injuries and to explore their treatment options thoroughly before paying for expensive interventions or agreeing to surgeries that can have permanent negative consequences if they don’t go precisely as planned.


Third Body Found in Slim Jim Plant Explosion Rubble, FoxNews, June 10, 2009

On the Other “Hand”
Repetitive Overuse Injuries of the Hand & Wrist, Hughston Sports Medicine Foundation

More Web Resources
Ergonomic Tips

Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

 
 

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