Topic: Workers’ Compensation Benefits

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.

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Trap: Be Aware of “Easy Escapes” to Your Money Problems

April 26, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Be Aware of “Easy Escapes” to Your Money Problems

Whether you got hurt in a Charlotte scaffolding injury or endured a wicked case of thoracic outlet syndrome after working as an executive in Raleigh, you’ve been desperate to get your financial situation sorted out — and fast. Without your income stream, you’ve been racking up credit card debt, and your spouse or partner has been forced to work extra hours and/or take on more shifts to compensate. You feel tremendous pressure, in other words, to “get healthy ASAP” and, ideally simultaneously to bring in an income.

To that end, you’ve been searching for solutions to your North Carolina workers’ compensation problem. If you can get adequate workers’ comp, you can cover your budget and — at least temporarily — relieve some of the pressure from you and your family. However, while you are waiting for your matter to resolve, you still need to eat and spend money to support your lifestyle.

Plus, given the extent of your injury and your medical prognosis, you may not be able to return to the kind of work that you’ve been doing for months or even years. If you’re doing heavy labor, for instance, that kind of work may be “out” for you, permanently.

Many people in your situation might find themselves tempted by “make money from home” scams and internet work. While it’s true that you can make a living operating a business or even doing freelance work online, pitfalls abound.

You can all too easily spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on scammy enterprises or just a poorly thought out business plan. Even if you are prudent and educated and experienced at starting a business offline, you will almost certainly find the online world confusing and disoriented. This isn’t to say that you cannot make some kind of career transfer — adopt the skills that you’ve been using to make money on the web. But you need to be careful.

More specifically, you need to learn, operate “lean,” use your current skills and knowledge (as opposed to learning too much “new stuff”), and avoid reinventing the wheel. Operating a business online is all like operating a business offline — if you don’t have the right knowledge, skills, mentors — and a bit of luck — you’re going to have trouble.

One of the biggest rules in business, for instance, is that you need to generate cash flow. That’s true for most of your business and for your personal finances.

To that end, one of the easiest ways for you and your family to generate cash flow might just be to resolve your workers’ comp case quickly. To that end, get in touch with the team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo to go over your options regarding your workers’ comp case.

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

March 14, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

It’s a tricky puzzle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 12, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

But beware the “miracle solution” mentality.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 7, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facebook Jealousy and the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Beneficiary

March 5, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

That sounds strange, but it’s true.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Walking the Paradox: Maintaining Unwavering Faith But Seeing Clearly About Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Benefits Case…

February 28, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

This North Carolina workers’ compensation blog does more than just regurgitate and analyze news. We also like to digress and help beneficiaries (or would be beneficiaries) think more clearly and more positively about their situations. At some level, most injured workers would love to “outsource” the rehabilitation and recombobulation to an omniscient third party. Although a good Charlotte workers’ comp law firm can powerfully help your case, you still need to do a lot of work–mental, physical, and emotional work–to get over your injury and manage the chaos that’s been set off in your life.

The most successful people in all endeavors hew to a variation of what business writer Jim Collins called the Stockdale Paradox. We’ve explained this concept before on other DeMayo blogs, but let’s just rehash it quickly. Admiral Stockdale is a Vietnam War hero. During the war, the enemy captured and tortured him. He emerged from those horrific events not only beloved by his compatriots but also forged and renewed by the experience. His trick to survival–to enduring an extremely difficult time–was to embrace a paradoxical mindset. On the one hand, he maintained absolute unwavering faith that he would somehow survive. On the other hand, he never lied to himself. While many of his fellow captors believed they would “get out by Christmas,” he avoided getting swept up by dangerous delusions of an easy path.

To cultivate this mindset is not easy, nor is it intuitive.

When we get into sticky situations–struggles with a mean insurance company or surprisingly uncompassionate boss, e.g.–we tend to engage in behaviors like:
•    Blaming the offending party and letting our emotions carry us away;
•    Embracing a victim mentality;
•    Searching for a quick fix;
•    Becoming obsessed, euphoric, or entering into some other exaggerated state.

To make best progress, you need two things, according to Stockdale–and his principle probably holds true not just when you’re trying to survive torture or build a business but when you’re working through any project that’s hard:

1. You must persevere and be relentless.

Persistence has a funny way of paying off, often in unexpected ways.

2. You must keep your head in reality.

Never allow overly distressful or overly euphoric thoughts from throwing you off your game. Your situation is neither worse than it is, nor better than it seems. It just is what it is. Embrace that, accept that, and then be relentless in your pursuit of principled, creative solutions.

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

February 26, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rereading Useful Advice about the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Quest

February 21, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you’re a regular DeMayo North Carolina workers’ compensation law blog reader, you’ve been privileged to learn about dozens — actually, hundreds — of cool ideas and insights that hurt workers can leverage to make their journey easier.

If you haven’t spent time browsing the archives of this blog, consider doing so. This is not an entirely self-serving suggestion! The truth is that emerging research in psychology suggests that human beings often need to hear new concepts multiple times before such concepts “sink in.”

For instance, you’ve probably read many articles on this blog (and elsewhere) about the importance of setting positive, emotionally charged, highly specific goals.

Given what’s true now for you, in light of your construction site accident or carpel tunnel syndrome (or other abnormality), how do you want your life to be six months from now, a year from now, five years from now?

Unless you brainstorm best case scenarios, write those scenarios down, and focus on that positive vision on a regular basis, you will undoubtedly drift, and your journey to wellness and happiness will be longer and rougher than it could be.

If you’ve been a follower of this blog, you’ve heard that message — or at least variations of it — at least a dozen times. But every time you hear it again, it sinks in in a new way and creates new memories.

In other words, to understand non-intuitive wisdom — or at least non-conventional wisdom — you need to consciously expose yourself to the unusual message multiple times from multiple angles to make it “set” in your mind and become your default way of viewing the world.

So even if you immediately “get it” when you read about the importance of goal setting — if you fail to reinforce the idea, it will ultimately be forgotten. You will continue to plan without an end in mind and waste time/energy/money trying to get what you want in life.

For help grounding your vision regarding workers’ compensation benefits (and beyond) in reality, call the experienced, trusted team at DeMayo Law for a free evaluation of your injury case.

Rube Goldberg North Carolina Construction Accident — Who’s to Blame?

February 19, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Some North Carolina construction accidents cases are pretty clear cut. A careless worker steps off a scaffold because he forgot to put on his harness, and he breaks his legs. Or a negligent foreman forgets to label certain noxious chemicals, provoking a spill that gives second-degree burns to several workers. Even in cases that appear this simple, surprising complexities with respect to North Carolina workers’ compensation liability law can arise.

But certain cases are obviously hard to parse just upon inspection of the basic facts.

For instance, perhaps you were involved in a large project with numerous subcontractors and subcontractors of subcontractors. Maybe an onsite fire destroyed part of the structure and hurt you and eight other co-workers. Dozens of people, companies and insurers could be implicated as defendants in a North Carolina work injury lawsuit.

How does anyone sort fact from fiction after such a chaotic event?

Turns out, there IS a process.

If you’ve personally suffered harm in a similarly chaotic event, you may benefit a lot from talking with a team member here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo. We’ve helped hundreds of people in very similar situations — including victims of complex Charlotte construction accidents — get results and regain control over their lives. We also can connect you with diverse resources to assist with your recovery. Our crackerjack investigators will protect your rights and untangle the potentially complicated truth about who caused your injury and who should be on the hook for paying your medical bills, lost wages and other damages.

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

February 12, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Figure out two things:

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

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

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

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

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

February 7, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

And they just might be!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Legislators Propose New Tools to Stop North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Fraud

February 5, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

The Charlotte News & Observer is reporting important breaking news on North Carolina workers’ compensation. Journalist Mandy Locke reports that several state legislators are piecing together a bill to detect and punish employers who fail to purchase appropriate workers’ compensation insurance.

The special committee aims to take several key actions, including:

•    Putting employers’ workers’ comp insurance coverage on the public record;
•    Forcing NC agencies to hand over information for analysis to ensure that companies abide by their insurance and tax requirements;
•    Calling for new strategies to limit the frequency and cost of workers’ comp claims (any legislators reading this should peruse the back-issues of this blog, which are chock full of creative ideas to reform the system!)

Per the News & Observer’s article “already, the [state] controller’s office is helping the Industrial Commission identify the tens of thousands of businesses failing to carry insurance…eventually, the hope is to use the data to catch businesses that may be misrepresenting the scope of their business…to avoid certain taxes and insurance.”

But not all the news is good news, at least from injured workers’ point of view. Thanks to last year’s legislative changes, the North Carolina Industrial Commission will be reducing reimbursement rates in April: “in-patient costs will drop 10%, outpatient and ambulatory center surgeries will be cut 15%, and implant costs will not exceed 20% above cost.”

So what might this flurry of legislative action mean for your case? What do you need to pay attention to?

To understand best practices for workers’ comp in North Carolina, based on the new rules and changes to the law, look to the team here at DeMayo Law for steady, intelligent, and up-to-date guidance. Call our offices at (877) 529-1222 to schedule your free workers’ comp case consultation.

Looming North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Study Sparks Concern among Labor Leaders

January 31, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

It’s not often that a North Carolina workers’ compensation study becomes a lightning rod for political controversy.

But we live in unusual times.

In December, NC state lawmakers established a nine member commission of state legislators (made up of almost all Republicans) to study North Carolina workers’ compensation. The commission will release a report in February — a document that could have profound implications for the nearly 90,000 state employees of the Old North State.

Some union leaders and their advocates are concerned about how this study will be conducted. Specifically, they fret that it will fail to take into account workers’ positions.

An organizer for the NC’s Public Service Workers’ Union, UE Local 150, Dante Strobino, told a local paper “they [the legislators] could fast track the study and give us even less time for worker and public input. Or they could just scrap it altogether and make whatever cuts they want based on purely ideological arguments.”

North Carolina has banned collective bargaining for public workers — it’s only one of two states in the entire union to do so — so unions believe that they are particularly disempowered here. Workers worry that legislators will cut off so called longevity pay for state workers; change retirement and healthcare benefits; and even write a ban on collective bargaining into the state’s constitution.

Workers’ advocates also fear any changes that might make public sector work appear more distasteful. Talented people might opt out of government careers and flee to the private sector. This brain drain could then stimulate leadership crises among the ranks of public workers.

It’s hard to separate truth from facts, especially when it comes to heated issues, like North Carolina workers’ compensation reform. Advocates on both sides tend to approach the topic from an ideological point of view. So we often reach a point of gridlock. Name-calling and fear mongering rule.

That’s obviously not so great.

We cannot square the circle regarding how this study should be done.

But if you’re a worker – or a friend or loved one of a worker – who has been struggling with an injury or illness, we can help you. We at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo are renowned for winning complex and difficult workers’ comp cases. We can provide a free, thorough, confidential consultation. Don’t wait another day to get answers to the stuff that’s been confusing you: call our team now.

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

January 29, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Success Story

January 22, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

Silver linings do exist, however.

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

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

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

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

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

Are You Too Proud to Get Help for Your Charlotte Workplace Injury?

January 17, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

As a bread winner and hard working individual, you hate your Charlotte workplace injury for at least two reasons.

#1: The injury has caused you much physical suffering.

Whether you sniffed a lung full of particulate matter at a Raleigh machining plant or ruined your hands and wrists typing up a never ending series of white papers for your boss, you’re wracked with so much physical agony that it’s difficult for you even to surf the web.

#2. The injury has rendered you powerless to do what you once could do effortlessly.

You need to put food on your table. You need to engage in productive labor. You want to look strong to your co-workers and to your family. You want to provide useful services to your community. But your injuries have rendered you incapable of performing like you used to be able to perform, and that really stings, badly.

Unfortunately, one of the most diabolical, destructive myths about North Carolina workers’ compensation beneficiaries is that hurt workers are “lazy” or “just want to sit on the couch and collect checks.” Sure, some people abuse the system. But such cases are few and far between.

Your situation is much more common. Most hurt workers are eager to go to work. Often, this zeal gets them in trouble. They ignore serious signs that they need to stop or at least to cut back. Their pride-induced workaholism aggravates their injuries or even leads to new ones. Today’s mild carpal tunnel syndrome can lead to tomorrow’s full body thoracic outlet syndrome. Today’s sprained ankle or twisted knee can pave the way for a serious injury fall, and a broken back.

Don’t let your pride in what you do — and in who you are — hold you back from getting effective counsel and help. The team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo is passionate about representing people like you — people who want to do good work for their community and get their lives back on track. We can help you make smarter, more effective decisions about your injury. Call or email us now to set up a free case consultation.

After Your Charlotte Workplace Injury — Co-Workers Mean and Unsupportive?

January 15, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you suffered a Charlotte workplace injury — a fall on a construction site, a burn at a chemical lab, or a typing accident at a Research Triangle area bank, e.g. — you may be in for a rude awakening.  Your co-workers may not fully support your claim… or may even actively side with management to undermine your quest for fair compensation.

It can be a hard blow.

Why does this happen? Reasons abound:

•    Especially if you work in a “blue collar” industry — like house painting, construction, manufacturing, delivery — you need to stay strong and tough. Weakness of any sort is not permitted.
•    Many workplace cultures are almost cult-like, so co-workers may be loathe to challenge leadership.
•    Workers are also scared for their own health and livelihood — so they may say or do hurtful things to you to protect their own ambitions, pay checks, and bodies.
•    In some extreme cases, co-workers can even outright lie or fudge facts to impede your claim. This may happen if a co-worker caused or exacerbated your on-the-job injury. For instance, perhaps you’re a construction worker who fell off a temporary mooring, when the guy assigned to stabilize the base went on an inopportune coffee break. He may deny responsibility because he wants to avoid getting fired or reprimanded.

So what’s the solution?

The first part of your solution is to seek effective legal representation, as soon as possible after your accident. The Charlotte workplace injury team at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo can provide a free, fair, and detailed consultation about your case and help you find the clearest path to get compensation. Dealing with a betrayal — or even a cold shoulder from a supposed friend — can be quite challenging, and there may not be a “quick fix” for it. Just recognize that, if you’ve experienced the sting of uncooperative co-workers, you’re not alone, and help is available. Talk to the team at DeMayo Law now to get effective, robust guidance.

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.

Take Ownership of Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Case

January 8, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you’re the spouse of someone hurt at a construction site in Charlotte, or you threw out your back lifting a heavy crate at your Research Triangle office, your life feels chaotic and confusing. You want to take back control and ownership over your legal fate.

This instinct can be useful, but it can also backfire, if you’re not careful.

Even if your case appears fairly cut and dry, you still should probably get in touch with a seasoned, insightful North Carolina workers’ compensation firm. Odds are, you are not a lawyer with expertise in this area. Minor, seemingly trivial mistakes that you make during the first few days and weeks after your injury can come back to destroy your claim… or create an unnecessary series of legal headaches.

Here’s the reality: human beings are flexible thinkers. But we need a strong knowledge base to develop intuitions that are trustworthy. Albert Einstein, for instance, was clearly an “out-of-the-box” thinker. But he spent years studying physics, pouring over Maxwell’s equations, etc, before he developed the theory of relativity.

Workers’ compensation law may not be the same thing as advanced theoretical physics. But the analogy is not wholly unsound! If you don’t understand how to create, investigate, develop, and execute your case, the odds of your “figuring it out on the fly” are slim to none. The team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo succeeds so often because we understand the process.

There’s always an elements of chance with every case. But what we do is not guess work. We follow a system that we’ve honed, refined, and optimized over years to get superior results for our clients. Whether you choose our firm or a different law firm, acknowledge your knowledge limitations. Find trustworthy people to help you deal with your workers’ comp situation.

Save your focus for the stuff that you know how to do — and the stuff that you absolutely must control — such as your health, your diet, and your relationships.

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

January 1, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2013 Goals for North Carolina Workman’s Comp Claimants

December 27, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

2013 approaches — or at least it should approach, assuming the Mayans got it wrong! — and workers’ comp claimants in North Carolina and elsewhere are trying to set their New Year’s resolutions.

What goals will you strive to reach in 2013? When you start any to-do list – especially a list of hopeful resolutions – you can easily overwhelm yourself by taking “too much” on your plate. For instance, here’s a short list of stuff that could make your list:

•    Get back in shape
•    Lose 20 pounds
•    Clean up your finances
•    Have key conversations with your mother, brother, and boss
•    Fix up the porch
•    Get your retirement portfolio in order
•    Heal from your workplace injury
•    Get workman’s compensation
•    Travel Europe
•    et cetera

Our to-do lists can easily start to “sprawl” and actually cause us more stress and agita then they relieve. It’s great to set goals and to write them down and focus on them over time. But it’s equally important to avoid “biting off more than you can chew.” Ironically, instead of “more more more,” think “less less less.” What are the least amount of objectives that you can add to your plate that will satisfy your needs, completely?

Jim Collins, a great business theorist, advocates that people create what he calls “stop doing lists” instead of “to-do lists.” We’re all overwhelmed and overworked. If you’re injured or sick, you have even less energy and time than you ordinarily might have to get things done in your life and make forward progress.

Rather than rail against these constraints, acknowledge them. Work within them to shortcut your path to success. For instance, maybe you’d love to fix the porch, build the addition, and help your sister move into her new place. But you simply do not have the time or energy to devote to those projects. So cross them off your list. What’s essential? Ask yourself that question again and again: is this essential for what I need for my purpose?

Once you “lean down” your 2013 resolution list, you may then arrive at three, perhaps four, “key goals” for the New Year. Then you can systematically focus on those goals and bring your entire attention to bear on them. For instance, one of your goals might be to finalize your worker’s compensation claim. Another goal might be to heal from the illness and get back to doing something constructive. And a final goal might be to take an awesome, two-week vacation to a place that you’ve never been, like the South of France.

Once you have a vision for what you want to achieve, you can then find resources, tools, and people to help you bring those ambitions to life.

The takeaway message is somewhat counterintuitive:

•    Limit your resolutions to only the “essential stuff”;
•    Once you’ve paired down your list, focus on your resolutions relentlessly, perhaps twice a day, and search for resources and serendipities to shortcut your way to success.

The team here at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo would be happy to talk to about your North Carolina workers’ compensation case.

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

December 25, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

But there is a subtle road bump you might hit!

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

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

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

Change in Course on New North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Laws?

December 20, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

2012 has been quite a year for the North Carolina workers’ compensation system.

The big story of 2012, as everyone knows, broke in April, when the Charlotte News and Observer revealed that 30,000+ businesses in the state lacked adequate workers’ comp insurance. This blockbuster story exposed the exquisite vulnerability of so many employees; and the revelation sparked such a public upheaval that Governor Beverly Perdue and state lawmakers felt compelled to overhaul the relevant laws ASAP.

But the overhaul proved prickly.

The changes to the laws included (and left out) items that created their own “sub controversies.” For instance, lawmakers agreed to make some of the News and Observer’s data confidential to protect insurance interests. Not a universally lauded decision, by any stretch.

Another huge question emerged from the debate: does the public have the right to know whether certain companies carry workers’ compensation insurance?

The laws passed earlier this year prohibited workers from finding this info out. But now state representative Dale Folwell, who introduced the provision to the bill that blocked workers from checking out the records of their employers, has indicated that he wants to reverse course. According to a new N&O piece, Folwell now blames the North Carolina Rate Bureau and NCIC for inserting language into the bill that stops employees from learning about employer insurance coverage. The leader of the North Carolina GOP in the Senate, Harry Brown, said that he thinks state lawmakers will fix this issue next legislative session. But Brown worries about when and how the line should be drawn. Brown told the News and Observer: “I think the public should know but…we just need to be careful that we do it right.”

The team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo can provide straight answers about your North Carolina workers’ compensation options. Whether you’ve recently been hurt on the job, and you’re still striving to get your bearings, or you’ve been wrangling with an uncooperative boss and/or insurer, our team is here for you. Get in touch today.

Does Your Employer Really Have North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Insurance… Or Is It A “Ghost Policy”?

December 18, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

The Charlotte News & Observer reports that the Joint Senate-House panel on North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Insurance and Fraud Prevention is currently hard at work trying to figure out how to deal with the problems of “ghost policies.”

This is a peculiar type of insurance coverage that employers take out to protect “future” workers. Coverage may not apply to current people, like you or your coworkers!

Ghost policies create a special kind of challenge for the workers’ comp system. Employers can cite the fact that they own this coverage to show ostensible compliance with guidelines … without providing you any real protection.

The trouble is that regulators have an incredibly hard time identifying and thwarting companies that intentionally misclassify workers to get out of tax obligations and thus reduce their North Carolina workers’ comp insurance costs.

The News & Observer piece suggested that ghost policies have largely been confined to the construction industry. But this quirky, disturbing practice may be spreading to other industries. Lawmakers are debating vigorously over what to do about general contractors, who need to provide insurance protection for all site workers, but who also utilize subcontractors who may use this “ghost policy escape hatch” to create confusion.

The News & Observer quoted a VP for the Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina, who said that “the potential for misunderstanding … is just tremendously increasing with those ghost policies.” A representative for the state’s Homebuilders Association told lawmakers that the problem has to do with system abuse as opposed to some fundamental flaw in the law.

The number and diversity of solutions proposed for the ghost policy model is, frankly, hard to track. Some people have suggested developing an NC unemployment fund to cover workers who fall through the cracks. Others want fundamental changes to the law.

What should you do, if you’re struggling with your North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits?

The team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo is well equipped, experienced, and battle proven. Get in touch with us today to discuss what you can do, starting right now, to gain clarity on your objectives and the most appropriate tactics to take. Don’t allow the larger debates over the law – and over questions like what to do about ghost policies – deter you from making tangible progress and thinking effectively about your challenges and possible solutions.

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

December 6, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

So your case might be pretty simple.

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

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

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

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

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

Key pivotal choices include:

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

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

The End of the Uncertainty about Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Case (What’s Causing All the Stress)

December 4, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Why is your North Carolina workers’ compensation case causing you so much agita?

That’s a loaded question. Dwell on it for a second. When you mentally fixate on your situation – what happened at work, how your employers have reacted so far, what the potentially liable insurance company has done – you likely feel some negative feelings.

So what’s causing these feelings? What’s at the root of your stress?

Your instincts might be to blame your lack of “stuff.” Your lack of money. Your lack of cooperation from your employer or the insurance company. Your lack of ability to function, physically, or live your life free of pain.

These all might be problems that are currently holding you back in your life. But they are likely NOT the core constraint that’s causing you the frustration.

The core constraint, almost certainly, is your lack of certainty.

Uncertainty – both negative uncertainty (“is the diagnostic dire or not?”) and positive uncertainty (“will I get the promotion or win a big North Carolina workers’ compensation award?”) — can cause stress because it causes your mind to “spin out” diverse positive, negative, and neutral scenarios. When you envision yourself in these different scenarios, the stakes of any actions mount.

It’s not hard to get on board with the notion that instability could cause stress.

But what IS somewhat counterintuitive is the idea that the instability in and of itself – independent of the positive or negative stuff associated with it – might cause stress. Yet research from diverse fields bears this out.

Painful events and setbacks do cause stress in the short-term, but they don’t necessarily impact our happiness or satisfaction in the long-term. Taking an extreme example… consider studies on the hedonic effect of getting paralyzed. You might think that losing your ability to move your arms and legs would radically decrease your life satisfaction and happiness. In the short-term, it does. But over longer periods of time – a year plus – even this kind of epic medical crisis does little to impact baseline happiness and life satisfaction.

What this means is that, if we can manage the instability and uncertainty surrounding North Carolina workers’ compensation cases, we can go a long way towards resolving the emotional problems that accompany it.

Think about all the pressing questions that, when you dwell on them, cause you stress. They all involve your “not knowing” some key factor:

•    Will I get benefits at all?
•    If so, what will my weekly allowance be?
•    How will my finances change when/if I get the compensation?
•    How will my financial plans change if I don’t get the compensation?
•    When will I be able to get back to work?
•    How serious is the injury?
•    Who can help me resolve these and other questions?

The team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo cannot fix everything in your life and tie up your circumstances in a near little bow. But we have ample experience helping people in very, very similar situations get great results and resolve their stresses.

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

November 29, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

This is an understandable sentiment.

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

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

You must move forward in life to make progress

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

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

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

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

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.

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

November 20, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

Why you are having such a hard time?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Quiz: Are You an Independent Contractor or an Employee?

November 13, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you’ve been hurt in a workplace injury in Charlotte or elsewhere in North Carolina, the last thing you want to do is to parse technical lingo about your employment status:

•    What exactly was your working status at your job, when you got injured?
•    Were you an independent contractor?
•    Were you an employee?
•    Were you en route to work (and therefore ìat workî); or were you sufficiently engaged in non-work related activities so as to be ineligible to be considered ìat workî?

These nuances may sound irrelevant or even just boring to think about. But they can mean the difference between your being able to collect thousands of dollars every month in benefits and your being able to collect zilch.

The answers differ from case-to-case. For instance, say you work construction jobs. You recently did subcontracting work on a new architectural project in Charlotte. You and two coworkers slipped on a misplaced rivet on Day Two of the job. You wrenched your back and tore a ligament in your ankle. You went to the doctor and got a lousy prognosis: you can’t work for at least six months, if not a year.

So: will you be eligible to collect workers’ comp during your time off?

The answer may hinge on your employment status. Were you just a “worker for hire” at that job – an independent contractor – or were you an employee? Factors that could determine that status might include:

•    Subtle elements in your contract;
•    The kind of work you were doing;
•    How you were doing the work;
•    Who was supervising you;
•    Et cetera.

In one scenario, you might be considered an independent contractor, in which case, you might not ever collect workers’ comp benefits. In another scenario — only ever so slightly different — you might qualify to be considered an employee and get the sought-after benefits.

This would all be confusing enough, if everyone agreed on the precise definitions of relevant terms. But gray areas abound in workers’ comp law, and you may need to fight vigorously to be classified the right way to receive fair compensation.

The experienced, empathetic, knowledgeable team at the Law Offices of Michael DeMayo can guide you to make smarter decisions, even if your case is complicated and full of subtleties like the ones discussed above. Get in touch with our team today to find out what can be done regarding your situation.

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

November 8, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are the Stresses on the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation All (Or Mostly) Due to Our “Diet Troubles”?

November 6, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

A new “Be Active NC” report from 2012 has profound implication for the North Carolina workers’ compensation program. New research suggests that healthcare costs – in particular, healthcare costs related to the diseases of civilization, such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, and so forth – may be nearly singlehandedly creating profound and potentially fatal stresses on the system.

Consider: nearly two out of every three adults in North Carolina is now obese. More than 40% of teenagers or kids are obese or overweight. One report estimates that over 20% of prescription and medical bills (from 2010) can be tied into obesity and overweight.

The question before us all is: what can we do to deal with our obesity problem better?

Clearly, the past methods have not been working. Over the past several years, Americans – and North Carolinians included – have been getting more and more obese. Twinned with this obesity epidemic has been an epidemic of other diseases, most notably Type 2 diabetes, but also including Alzheimer’s disease, certain types of cancer, hypertension, “bad cholesterol levels,” gout, and literally dozens of other health issues.

Physicians and policy experts who are trying to understand and deal with this problem begin from a certain assumption about what causes obesity and overweight and build from there.

We all assume that people who eat too much and don’t exercise enough become fat; and that the solution for overweight/obesity thus must be to put obese people on starvation diets – cajole or force them to eat less and exercise more.

An alternative hypothesis suggests that this fundamental description of the problem – and description of a potential cure – may be misguided.

According to Dr. Peter Attia and science journalist Gary Taubes, founders of the new non-profit, Nutrition Science Initiative (NuSI), obesity should be considered to be a disease of poorly regulated fat tissue driven, perhaps primarily, by a “bad diet” in the form of excess sugars and refined grains and carbohydrates.

Dr. Attia and Taubes’ organization was recently ceded with over $5 million in money from a private hedge fund; they and several high-profile scientists are setting to work to test this alternative hypothesis. If it’s correct, it may offer us new hope and new ideas for how to counter not only the obesity/diabetes epidemics but also how to indirectly solve related problems, such as the financial difficulties of the North Carolina workers’ compensation system.

For help understanding what you can do to fight your case more successfully, connect with the team here at DeMayo Law.

Choose a Good Workers’ Compensation Doctor, Not Like This Guy, Who Just Got Hit With 22 Counts of Sexual Assault

November 1, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Choosing your North Carolina workers’ compensation doctor can be challenging; you want someone who’s going to treat you effectively and who will support you if/when you ever need to defend your story in a court of law.

Most practicing physicians in North Carolina and elsewhere are ethical and devoted to providing good care. But every once in a while, a “bad egg” turns up. Consider, for instance, a terrifying story out of California, where local workers’ compensation Dr. Scott Dodd Anderson just got accused of 22 counts of sexual assault. Dr. Anderson’s legal imbroglio has been fulminating for over two years now. Originally, he faced 15 misdemeanor counts along with 26 felony counts. That’s dwindled down to 9 misdemeanors and 13 felonies – still a very serious situation.

According to local Deputy District Attorney, Laura West, Dr. Anderson “violated his position of trust by committing sexual offenses against four of his female patients during their examinations.”

A report in the Sacramento Bee detailed the disturbing allegations. One anonymous accuser said that Dr. Anderson treated her on multiple occasions. During a visit on September 23, 2009, he “put one of his hands in a place where it didn’t belong.” The woman told the doctor she was uncomfortable and rescheduled her appointment with another physician. When she came in again, Dr. Anderson was there again, and she went ahead with the appointment, despite her discomfort, because “it’s a workman’s comp case… you have to go to your doctor’s appointment.” She worried that her case would be in jeopardy if she stopped the treatment.

Whether or not Dr. Anderson winds up convicted or not, the tale encapsulates a terror that many would-be workers’ compensation beneficiaries feel. You already feel disempowered because of your injury/illness and because of a looming potential legal battle with an insurance company or employer. The last thing you want to do is to battle your physician as well.

When you lose trust in your physician – even under normal circumstances – the feeling can be unsettling and scary. We need to trust our medical professionals to give us good guidance.

To get vital, useful assistance with your North Carolina workers’ compensation case, get in touch with the highly respected professionals at DeMayo Law. Whether you are having an issue with your workers’ compensation physician, a battle with an insurance company, or any other problem, our experienced team is standing by to help you figure out what to do and how to do it best.

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

October 30, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

You are failing to articulate an “end game.”

What does that mean?

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

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

How do you go about solidifying such a vision?

You do it in multiple stages.

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

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

Stage 2 – Analyze and edit

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

Stage 3 – Rinse and repeat

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

Stage 4 – Reflect on your positive vision statement often

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

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

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

October 23, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 18, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

2. Elements of the system are just fundamentally unfair.

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

3. You are not in this alone.

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

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

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

October 16, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

October 9, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

The curious reality is: not much!

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

Taking to Your Spouse about Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Dilemmas

October 4, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Contrary to the stereotype, most people who apply for workers’ compensation in North Carolina are proud, hard working, almost stubborn individuals who, in an ideal world, would much prefer to fend for themselves than to accept help from the government.

But there are times in everyone’s life where you need help – you need to have the courage to go beyond your stubbornness and pride and ask help from those who can offer it.

Along those lines, counterintuitively, asking for help from total strangers can sometimes be a LOT easier than asking for help from the people that we care about most.

For instance, it probably wouldn’t take much encouragement for you to call or otherwise connect with a high profile Charlotte workers’ compensation law firm (such as DeMayo Law) to discuss what happened to you and strategize your potential options. But if you have certain new needs or vulnerabilities that you want to discuss with your spouse or children, even the thought of having “that conversation” can overwhelm you.

For instance:

•    Perhaps you need to ask your spouse to go back to work or take a second job to help support the family;
•    Perhaps you want to ask your spouse to treat you more kindly and respectfully regarding the accident/injury itself or your rehabilitation;
•    Perhaps the event – and your frustrating quest for benefits (so far) – has stirred up deep seated issues with the relationship, and you need a larger, more free ranging conversation.

Spontaneous Conversations Versus “Planned” Conversations

In modern America, we think nothing of planning at length for big business meetings or big school presentations. For instance, before a major sales event, you would likely want to review what you plan to say in detail – ideally, getting feedback from your team. Sire, there is a time to be extemporaneous. But when you enter an important negotiation, you need to take time to plan.

Unfortunately, while we all recognize the need for planning in our professional lives, we often don’t plan enough for our important personal conversations. As a result, these conversations tend to go “all over the place.” More often than not, the result is hurt feelings, tears, and anger as opposed to a solid plan and a “win win” resolution.

To prevent that outcome, take time now to plan out what you will say, how you will say it, and how you would ideally like to behave during the conversation. Be as compassionate as possible – both with yourself and with your partner – and focus on a positive vision for the outcome of the discussion. What would it look like and/or feel like, if the talk succeeded beyond your wildest imagination? That’s always a nice question to dwell on when you’re trying to solve a tricky issue.

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

September 27, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

What gives?

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

The Myth of the “One Big Push”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 25, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

And that’s scary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s how to shore up your situation.

1. “Game out” your worst case scenarios.

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 13, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

September 11, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

Consolidating Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Challenges to Overcome Them

September 4, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Motivates People to Commit Workers’ Compensation Fraud in North Carolina and Elsewhere?

August 28, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Workers’ compensation fraud in North Carolina and elsewhere costs taxpayers tremendously and harms every stakeholder in the system – insurance companies, lawyers, employers, employees, the government, and fellow North Carolinians.

Why then are so many beneficiaries tempted to break the rules?

The answers are diverse. They include:

•    Some cheaters just grew up without an appropriate ethical foundation;
•    Some people turn to fraud after struggling so long with the system they felt they had “no choice” but to ignore the law;
•    Some commit fraud out of ignorance;
•    Others commit it out of desperation to feed their families… and/or to enjoy a better life.

Corrupt systems take their toll on all stakeholders

We can and should be compassionate with the people who commit fraud – i.e., avoid judging them as “bad” people but rather as people who have made mistakes because they tried to meet their needs using inappropriate strategies. But we also need to acknowledge that bilking the workers’ comp system out of money can ricochet throughout the system and cause harm in all sorts of indirect and even impossible to predict ways.

For instance, imagine someone defrauds an insurance company out of few hundred thousand dollars by faking a back injury. And one day, the alleged victim is spotted playing rugby with some friends – clearly, his back is not injured. This revelation then in some sense “spooks” that insurance company – and possibly other insurance companies as well.

Going forward, all these insurers now compel anyone who complains of a back injury to go through a strict gauntlet of tests and scrutiny. Inevitably, several “false positives” gets screened out of the system, i.e., people who are legitimately hurt get denied coverage because of this extra screening.

Now imagine all the indirect consequences that results; people who now CAN’T get workers’ comp benefits – the strains on their families, the strains on the community, etc. And you can see how a single act of fraud can “pay it forward” throughout the system in a negative way.

All this is to say that, if you are struggling to figure out how to collect benefits and deal with your multiple, diverse struggles, look to the team at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo for sharp, compassionate, and ethical help.

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

August 23, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 14, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

The Yin and Yang of Strategy Planning and Action

Here’s how it goes:

1: Strategically plan, based on an ideal vision.

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

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

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

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

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

Putting theory into practice with a Charlotte workers’ compensation example

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

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

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

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

August 9, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

3. Don’t forget Form 18!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 7, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

In any event, he was shortly fired.

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

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

Understanding the subtleties your claim

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

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

Don’t Irresponsibly Waste Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Money

July 31, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Whether you struggled long and hard to acquire North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits – or whether your employer or liable insurance company cooperated and gave you everything you wanted right out of the gate – you may soon find yourself flush with funds.

What you do with that North Carolina workers’ compensation money can have a profound effect, not only on your lifestyle and your ability to get therapy, medicine, rehab and medication, but also on your long term financial trajectory.

It’s human nature to indulge in outsized and irrational reactions to situations.

When bad “stuff” happens to us – such as an accident at work, a typing injury or other soft tissue problem, etc. – it’s easy to visit “worst case scenario” places.

Likewise, when things go well, it’s easy to celebrate and imagine that things will always be this good from hereon out. We need to modulate our emotions and expectations. Specifically, once you collect Charlotte workers’ comp benefits, you need to be savvy about how to make those benefits last – and how to integrate them into an overall smart financial plan.

If you treat the money as a windfall — and use it to purchase expensive electronic equipment, services you don’t really need, vacations, etc. — you could ultimately suffer major, even catastrophic, consequences.

First off, depending on what you do with your money, you could inadvertently commit North Carolina workers’ compensation fraud, which is a crime punishable by, among other things, jail time. Secondly, if you fail to put in place structures and systems that help you achieve your financial goals, no injection of money – be it cash benefits, salary money, money from a passive income source, etc. – will “make things better” for you.

Unfortunately, bad financial habits can be devilishly difficult to change and repair.

There is no reason to get overwhelmed, however. Your financial problems have likely been building up for some time now. Likewise, you will not solve everything in a day. The key is to take incremental, positive steps in the right direction. For instance, the team at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo can help you understand your Charlotte workers’ compensation situation much better and put you on a track towards success.

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

July 24, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

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

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

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

3. The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

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

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

July 17, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 12, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

Here it is: Measure.

That’s all? Measure?

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

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

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

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

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

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

July 3, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

Why are so many people so unhappy with it?

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

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

It’s a big deal.

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

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

What will happen because of HB 237?

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

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

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

June 28, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

Could the times really be a changin’?

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

The Industrial Commission appears to have gotten the message.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Compassionate Look at the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Insurance Problem – Part 2: Employers – And Everyone Else

June 26, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

In a recent blog post on the state of the North Carolina workers’ compensation system, we explored the implications of a disturbing survey recently conducted by the Charlotte News & Observer, which found that nearly 30,000 businesses operating in NC may be uninsured or underinsured.

We talked about how employees need to recognize the inherent dangers of working for a company that lacks good insurance coverage. If you or someone you care about worked at a company that lacked coverage, you may want to talk to someone at the team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo immediately to understand your best next steps.

Beyond the tactical implications of the investigative article, what are some deeper points to consider? Here are a few insights the study can tell us:

1. The message is not getting through to business owners that they need adequate North Carolina workers’ compensation insurance.

Approximately 140,000 businesses have insurance, while 30,000 or so might not.

That’s a huge disparity! It suggests that there is a massive breakdown in the system. It’s not enough to blame business owners or to blame insurance companies. Some deeper, core constraint must be to blame. It’s incumbent on everyone who has a vested interest in the health of the workers’ compensation system to explore that constraint and figure out how to eliminate it or make it irrelevant. For instance, maybe business owners need to be notified about their responsibilities in a different way – or rewarded or/punished differently.

2. The “underinsurance problem” suggests that there could be other large scale problems with the system that might cause drag, inefficiencies, and excess costs.

Assuming that the Charlotte News & Observer did their homework properly, it’s hard to contextualize this problem as a “fluke.” Odds are that there are other gaping inefficiencies in the system that could possibly be surfaced and eliminated to everyone’s benefit.

3. We collectively need to do more “holistic thinking” about how to serve all the clients in the North Carolina workers’ compensation system better.

All too often, the discussions about how to reform workers’ comp become trivialized. It becomes law firms versus businesses, employees versus employers, employers versus insurance companies, etc, etc. In other words, there is this mentality of “the pie is only so big, so let’s grapple for our slice, tooth and nail”.

A more generous view: every stakeholder can benefit from positive reforms and improvements and efficiency.

So let’s expand the pie, instead of just slicing and dicing it.

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

June 21, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you’re already been injured

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

The Tesla v Edison Debate: Amazing Implications for the Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Journey

June 14, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

In your quest to find good information about workers’ compensation in Charlotte, you need to be selective and savvy about what sources you trust. Which experts should you listen to? What expert advice should you ignore… or at least take with a grain of salt?

To break down these simple but ultimately subtle questions, let’s change our perspective a second. Let’s tune into a different discussion going on in the world of science journalism – one which will, indirectly shine light on these quandaries and help us make better decisions.

Telsa v Edison: Revisionist History vs Conventional Narrative

Was Nikola Tesla a heroic modern figure? And was Thomas Edison not the altruistic genius inventor that most people believe he was?

Late 19 Century inventor Thomas Edison and genius innovator Nikola Tesla both indubitably created great inventions to help the human race. But a debate rages about how, exactly, these men contributed. Have they been credited fairly by most history books?

The historical debate is obviously complex – as these things always are. But here’s a gist. The standard historical texts credit with Thomas Edison with dozens, if not hundreds, of inventions; and while Tesla is certainly lauded by history books, he is far less well known.

•    Edison made a considerable fortune leading a team of inventors, and he took a lot of credit for what he and his team produced.

•    Tesla, on the other hand, was essentially a solitary genius who died alone, with an imaginary pigeon as his only friend.

Tesla fans, such as internet comic, The Oatmeal, are quick to point out the dozens of contributions that Nikola made to fields as diverse as electronics, x-ray technology, and magnetism.

Tesla fans allege that Edison treated Tesla very poorly and unethically. For an amusing and also educational vantage on this debate, check out the back and forth between the “pro-Tesla” Oatmeal and the “pro-Edison” response from Forbes Magazine.

How the debate relates back to the workers’ comp questions we raised earlier

There are a few lessons we can learn from the Tesla/Edison dispute that can help you manage the informational chaos of researching best practices for being a workers’ comp beneficiary:

1: Don’t expect to ever achieve full clarity.

There will always be people who will disagree with your point of view. There will always be counter arguments to the arguments, and counter arguments to the counter arguments. At some point, you need to turn off the flow of information and start taking action.

2: What you think of as “true” is often not the case.

If Tesla fans are right, the conventional wisdom about both Edison and Tesla is many ways backwards. That’s certainly the case with respect to a number of issues regarding workers’ compensation. So just because you certain default beliefs about workers’ comp does NOT mean those beliefs are necessarily productive, resourceful, or true.

3: Compassionate, experienced, scholarly people can you help you – often better than you can help yourself.

The team here at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo can provide strategic guidance for your workers’ comp quest.

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

June 12, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

Milky Way and Andromeda galaxy to collide, new research finds

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

It’s big, in other words!

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

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

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

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

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

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

A way around this “perspective” problem

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

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

June 7, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

The power of continuous improvement

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

Q: “How do you eat an elephant?”

A: “One bite at a time.”

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

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

How do we deal with this stress?

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

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

You need to free up how you maneuver.

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

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

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Momentum – Punctuated Evolution

June 5, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 31, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 22, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

The questions are endless.

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

So what’s the resolution?

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

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

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

At Risk for Needing North Carolina Workers’ Compensation?

May 11, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

As the old sages have told us, prevention is worth its weight in cure many times over. So, if you are in the verge of getting hurt or sick – and needing North Carolina workers’ compensation – you want to prevent potential problems — such as a bad back, inhalation-related lung injury, etc.

Prevention is obviously superior to cure. But this revelation just begs us to examine another critical question: How do you know when you are at risk for an injury or illness related to your job that could lay you up and compel you to seek North Carolina workers’ compensation?

Here are a few “red flags”:

During a repetitive task at work – lifting pipe, driving a vehicle, typing, etc – you feel numbness, tingling, soreness, or other symptoms of repetitive stress injury.

Don’t treat flare-ups lightly – they are your body’s way of telling you to pay attention to trauma.

You’ve seen co-workers fall victim to predictable accidents.

For instance, say you work at a construction site, and you’ve noticed that your friends keep hurting their knees working a particular cement machine. Learn from their experience and avoid that particular machine and/or engage in major due diligence to protect your knees. Take some responsibility and interest in your own safety by investigating your workplace and even your industry for best safety practices.

You’ve had one or more “close calls.”

Perhaps you got lucky. Perhaps you nearly fell off scaffolding but caught yourself at the last minute. Or maybe you drove a late night shift and nearly fell asleep behind the wheel. Again, it’s easy to chalk up a near miss to happenstance and to take the path of least resistance by continuing your old ways. But by examining your “almost accidents,” you’ll find ways to prevent real accidents.

Your friends or family or co-workers – or even your internal “spidey sense” – warn you about potential problems.

For instance, your wife or husband may say something to the effect of, “Boy, you’re really looking exhausted every time you come home from night shift,” or you may have a dream about hurting yourself at work. The point is that these subtle, intuitive warning signs should not be ignored. Our intuitions are wired to pick up on subtle factors about our environments that our conscious minds are not very good at paying attention to.

If you’ve already been hurt or may be ill at work, Michael A DeMayo’s North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can help you understand your rights and responsibilities.

More Web Resources:

Paying attention to intuition

Warning signs that you might be hurting 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

How Not to Commit North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Fraud

May 2, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Los Angeles firefighter charged with workers’ comp fraud

Davis’s mixed martial arts fights on YouTube.

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

What If You Find Out That Your Employer Does Not Have North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Insurance?

April 24, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Businesses that employ more than three or more people in North Carolina generally must carry North Carolina workers’ compensation insurance.

If they don’t, the owners can actually be hit with a felony charge and face jail time, among other punishments. Why does the state care so much about this issue? What’s the big deal?

If your employer lack proper insurance — and then you get sick or hurt on the job — how do you expect to collect benefits to pay for your lost wages, the time you spend off of work, and so on and so forth? Perhaps the business owner has personal assets to cover care. But probably not. And many workers’ comp cases in North Carolina can lead to damages in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If your employer is operating on a shoestring budget – and doesn’t have a lot of significant assets, and does not carry insurance – you may not have any recourse at all!

Then your burden becomes your family’s burden – and/or the state’s burden and/or the federal government’s burden. In other words, a simple lapse of judgment on the part of your employer can cascade to have massive impacts not just on your future and your family’s future but also on the economy in general. The rest of our civil society must pick up the tab for the incompetence.

There are a few lessons to be learned:

1. If you are an employer and you do not understand your obligations under North Carolina workers’ comp law — or if you do understand them and you still lack insurance — make it an urgent, top priority to take care of your insurance issue.

Do it not just to protect yourself from felony charges. Do it to secure the well being of the people on your teams who help you produce and also to help society at large.

2. If you are an employee, and you know that your employer has not met his insurance obligations– or other obligations with respect to your safety, financial well being, or welfare — speak up!

Don’t wait until you get hurt or sick to learn about your employer’s incompetence. It’s within your rights – and it’s commonsense – to find out whether you would be protected if something happened to you on the job. If you need more clarification, you can always connect with a resource like the North Carolina Industrial Commission or a qualified North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

More Web Resources:

The North Carolina Industrial Commission

North Carolina’s Laws Regarding Workers’ Comp Insurance

ObamaCare and North Carolina Workers Compensation

April 15, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

Let’s make that a little less abstract.

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Do the experts know anything?

Why people tend to oversimplify complex problems.

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

April 12, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

#2. Improve employer education.

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

#3. Employees need to investigate and speak up.

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

More Web Resources:

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

Speaking up for yourself as an employee

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

April 3, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

more about sentence stems

The inventor of sentence stems

The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Downward Spiral

March 24, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

A hurt worker who gets on North Carolina workers’ compensation can inadvertently wind up on a rapid treadmill to disaster.

It has been said that those who are not moving towards success are moving towards failure. There is no such thing as “standing still” in your life. If you are not making progress towards a goal – towards a better life, or more fulfilling life, a healthier body, etc., then you are in effect moving the other way. This may be a hard pill to swallow. But it’s a subtle idea. Moving towards bigger goals in life – healing from a North Carolina workers’ compensation accident, for instance, does not mean that every step along the way must be positive. You can (and will) experience setbacks. But a setback is different from a wrong direction.

Think about hiking from the North Carolina coast to the mountains. Sure, there might be ups and downs along the way in either direction. But in one case, you are methodically headed towards a higher point, and in the other case you are methodically headed towards a lower point. The trouble is that, if you just look at where you are now — or where you are going in the immediate future or where you’ve come from in the immediate past — you might be mistaken about your overall trajectory. It might look like you are headed towards the proverbial mountains when you are actually headed towards the ocean but just going over a bump. And vice versa.

So how do you know which trajectory you are on? How do you know whether you are moving towards recovering from your injury, stabilizing yourself financially and emotionally, rebuilding your career… or doing the opposite?

The short answer is: “your perspective is limited, so you cannot ever really know for sure.”

But this doesn’t mean you can’t do intelligence gathering and find more objective perspectives. A North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm, for instance, can keep you on a positive trajectory as far as your compensation quest goes and can also connect you with other resources to deal with the other problems in your life, such as financial planning for your family, coping with the emotional ramifications of the injury or the loss of your productivity, and so forth.

Get on and stay on a positive trajectory.

One key is to simply acknowledge the reality that we are either moving towards success or moving towards failure in every area of our lives. Just that epiphany – held in the mind – alone is often enough to kick start people towards adopting behaviors and habits — and connect with resources they need — to halt the downward spiral and get their lives back on track.

More Web Resources:

You are Either Moving towards Success or Failure

The Difference between Short-Term Pain and Long-Term Gain

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?

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

March 7, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

A Candidate Root Cause?

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

A Grand Unified Theory of Nutrition?

Burden of Obesity and Chronic Disease on Workers’ Compensation System

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

March 2, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

How did you end up here?

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

Acute Workplace Injuries

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

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

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

Chronic Workplace Injuries

Examples might include:

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Example of a Simple Cause Leading to a Complex Problem.

Chronic Versus Acute Injuries

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

February 23, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Contest helps hold down workers’ comp costs

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

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

February 21, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

Case in Context

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

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

How fraud damages trust in the system

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

February 17, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Fire bullet, then cannonballs

Small Shift Yields Massive Results Over Time

Being in the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Minority

February 15, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

A majority of people who funnel through the North Carolina workers’ compensation system struggle, often for years, with problems ranging from financial pressures to ongoing medical “situations” to problems with employers and insurance companies to personal problems at home.

In other words, it’s no fun to be in the majority of North Carolina workers’ compensation beneficiaries.

You don’t have to be. In fact, most beneficiaries can get a lot more out of their experience as an injured/sick worker than they realize… just by bucking the conventional way of doing things and connecting with powerful resources, like a competent North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm (instead of just “going it alone”).

Separating yourself from the “crowd going off the cliff” is easier said than done. Here are some best practices to bear in mind as a proud member of the productive and successful minority:

•    Think positively and realistically.

Embrace what business management guru Jim Collins once called the “Genius of the And”. It’s good to be clear about where you are. It’s also good to be optimistic. But most people think that in order to be realistic, you also must be a pessimist. Nonsense. It is possible to see your situation clearly and to think positively.

•    Get help sooner than later.

Your perspective on your workers’ comp situation is almost certainly less and ideal. You have your own biases, negative emotions, and the lack of experience dealing with rehab and with recalcitrant insurers and employers. The longer you wait, the more your problems could stack up. Get help to break out of your ossified ways of thinking and acting.

•    Be. Do. Have.

Yes, your life is full of stress. Yes, you desperately need money. Yes, you are confused and scared about your career prospects and even about how you will feed your family and pay your medical bills. If you wait until some distant, undefined point of future to “relax” and “enjoy life,” you may never get there. In fact, the history is replete with ample examples of hugely successful, healthy, famous people who are miserable. Likewise, you can find examples of people in desperate poverty or people suffering terrible illnesses who managed to find joy in life. Don’t wait to “heal” from your workers’ comp problems. “Be” now. It will help you “have” later.

•    Take responsibility.

Human beings have a deep need for control. You may feel like you are out of control right now. You may feel crushed under a heap of “have tos” and “shoulds.” Recognize that giving up choice leads to pain and suffering. As psychologist Marshall Rosenberg once pointed out, the Nazi guards at concentration camps used a bureaucratic language called Amtssprache to justify their bad deeds. This language washed their hands of responsibility. It was full of things like “I have to” and “it’s orders” and “I must.” Once you surrender your autonomy, you surrender your humanity. Take responsibility for what’s happening in your life and for the actions you take next.

More Web Resources:

Amtssprache– the language of no autonomy.

The Overpowering Minority

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

February 11, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

All it Takes is 10%

An Empathy Revolution?

Why Do Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Struggles Seem so Gosh Darn Complicated?

February 7, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

On the surface, the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation system is pretty simply set up. Yes, there are many rules and regulations. Yes, the nature and extent of your injury/sickness can play a key role in the structure of your benefits. Yes, you can run adrift of problems with a mean or cranky employer or an insurance company that acts in an aggressive manner.

But all that said, applying for workers’ compensation is substantially less difficult than rocket science or brain surgery…or at least it should be.

So why do so many beneficiaries (or want to be beneficiaries) endure so much trouble?

Even well-educated, tenacious folks who commit time and energy to really understanding the system can run aground of horrific problems. And these problems are not trivial, either. If you approach your workers’ comp struggles incorrectly, you may wind up with less than fair benefits. For instance, in a best-case scenario, perhaps you could receive $500 a week. In a less than ideal scenario, you could end up with $300 a week. That’s a difference of $200 a week – $800 a month, nearly $10,000 over a year. That’s a substantial amount of money to “lose,” especially if you are already swamped by debt, medical bills and unexpected expenses. In other words, there’s plenty of incentive to do workers’ comp “right.”

Perhaps many people struggle not because they lack for motivation, discipline, or intelligence but rather because they underestimate the complexity of their challenges.

In other words, they have been conditioned to think that their problems are simpler than they actually are. You would never presume to be able to understand — deeply “grok” — the workings of a jet engine or nuclear physics by just reading a few pamphlets or chapters in an elementary textbook. Why, then, should you presume that you would understand the intricacies and subtleties of workers’ compensation after just some basic, superficial study?

The rejoinder, of course, is that the level of complexity is radically different.

But is it really?

Think about any great skill. You’ll realize that you need to dedicate a rather profound amount of time in practice (ideally, guided by a mentor) to achieve any degree of mastery. This doesn’t just apply to complicated tasks like engineering engines or playing the violin, but to basically any human task, such as walking (babies need a lot of practice), handwriting (how long did it take you to learn how to write your name in cursive?) and so forth. In fact, journalists like Malcolm Gladwell and Geoffrey Colvin have argued that people need 10,000 hours of practice on a specific skill before they can achieve mastery.

Fortunately, you don’t need to “master” workers’ comp on your own. You could instead partner with a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation law firm to take advantage of someone else’s skill, practice and mastery to achieve your ends much faster and with more certainty.

More Web Resources:

10,000 Hours to Mastery

An example of how we underestimate complexity (from the world of diet and nutrition)

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

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

January 31, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Theory of Constraints – The Current Reality Tree

Is the Change in Behavior Psychological or Physical?

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

January 14, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

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

The Power of Mentorship

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

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

November 30, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:


Apple Dumplin couple hit with workers’ comp fraud charges.

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

November 25, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

Perhaps. Perhaps. And perhaps.

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

Let’s analyze this.

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

The cost of complacency

How we become careless

North Carolina Worker’s Compensation: Dealing with Scary Setbacks

November 18, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Small Positive Changes Really Add Up

Setbacks are More Common than You Think

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

November 4, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Oklahoma attorney embezzles over $1 million dollars from clients

Charges filed against Schraeder and Anton

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

October 27, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Returning to work after a long absence

How to tell if your co-workers are jealous

 
 

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