Topic: Workers’ Compensation Claims

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.

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.

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

February 14, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

January 3, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 1, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

December 13, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

That type of metaphor misleads – big time!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 11, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

Unfortunately, that empathy may not be easily forthcoming.

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

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

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

Finding Empathy in Oneself and in Other Trustworthy Sources

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

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

December 6, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

So your case might be pretty simple.

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

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

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

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

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

Key pivotal choices include:

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

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

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

November 29, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

This is an understandable sentiment.

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

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

You must move forward in life to make progress

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

$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.

Setting Expectations After a Workplace Injury in Charlotte

October 11, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Dealing with Hypochondria as a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Beneficiary

October 2, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Perhaps you suffered a Charlotte workplace accident or illness that left you severely sick or otherwise physically incapacitated. Or maybe you endured a “chronic” injury, such as a typing injury you sustained while working as a secretary of a bank in the Research Triangle.

In any event, you crave a return to good health. When you don’t feel good, nothing else really matters. You can have a billion dollars, a castle in Spain, and fame and glory; but if you can’t get out of bed because your spine hurts, all of that fame and fortune is worth a hill of beans.

North Carolina workers’ compensation beneficiaries (or people who want said benefits) often go through a period of becoming far more aware of their bodies following the illness/accident/event. Speculation abounds about why this takes place. Some people argue that the injury/illness increases the salience of the physical body. Others suggest that people who are forced to take time off of work have less to preoccupy themselves with – so they find new “stuff” – like an obsession with their bodies – to fixate on.

Psychology aside, hypochondria can be a real problem for this population.

After all, if you’re legitimately hurt/ill, you have a real medical problem. You might also be waiting for test results or waiting to see how rehab or medication will impact your health. These uncertainties can create a kind of mental tension, which your mind naturally “works on” by hypothesizing both catastrophic outcomes (e.g. “what if it’s terminal cancer?”) as well as grandiose hypotheses (e.g. “if this rehab tech works, I’ll be back to work in two months, rather than 12!”)

It would be glib to suggest that hurt workers moderate their expectations.

Easier said than done!

But it may behoove you to test the reality (or lack thereof) of your thoughts. You may also find it hugely helpful to keep a health journal, so you can objectively identify whether your hypochondriacal musings have any merit. If they don’t, you can use “the facts” that you’ve recorded in your journal to assuage yourself when the anxiety/depression starts.

Of course, your own insights should never be substituted for the ongoing guidance of a wise, licensed physician. Likewise, your own intuition about how/whether you might be able to recover benefits should not be considered a substitute for a consultation with experienced and well recognized Charlotte workers’ compensation law firm.

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.

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

September 20, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

For instance:

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

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

2. Get stronger.

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

3. Reduce stress.

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

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

Talking to Your Employer about Why He Or She Doesn’t Have North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Insurance

September 18, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

The big story this summer, as far as North Carolina workers’ compensation is concerned, has obviously been Charlotte News & Observer’s expose of the Tar Heel State’s employers’ woeful lack of workers’ comp insurance.

A series of News & Observer articles inspired the legislature and Governor Perdue to enact changes to the law to encourage employers to do the right thing… and to punish businesses that fail to comply.

Very interesting stuff.

But how is it potentially relevant/useful for you, if you work in Charlotte, and you want to protect yourself and your family?

It’s a delicate subject. Your employer may not want to discuss whether he or she has workers’ comp coverage, and that creates something of conundrum. If your employer lacks insurance, and you get hurt, you could be in serious trouble. You might even need to jump through many hoops to get appropriately remunerated, if that’s even possible.

On the other hand, you don’t want to “bother” your employer or create a confrontational atmosphere. Here are some tips for how to gingerly approach the subject.

1. Wait for the right time.

Think of this like a negotiation. You want to set the stage. You want to think things through. You want to rehearse it in your mind – or even playact it with your spouse or a friend. Make sure that you get the timing right. You want to ask the question in a way that’s respectful and that also ensures that you’ll get a discrete response. You can check out the book “Getting to Yes” for insights to how to approach negotiation – the section on the “Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement” (BATNA) is particularly intriguing and useful.

2. Divorce observations from emotions.

When you talk to your employer, do your best to separate your feelings from observations of the facts on the ground. For instance, instead of saying something along the lines of “I am scared that your lack of coverage is putting me in danger,” say something more along the lines of “I notice that you’ve never told me whether or not you have workers’ comp coverage. After reading this article in the Charlotte News & Observer, I’m worried that you might lack coverage. I’d like some reassurance that you are complying with the law.”

In other words, avoid accusing. Stick to the facts. And try to be empathetic, if possible, to your employer’s position. If your employer lacks the appropriate insurance, odds are that he or she is scared and concerned and may need some understanding from you.

3. If the situation is truly problematic, it may behoove you to get in touch with an experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

Protect your rights, and come up with a strategy to protect yourself and potentially collect damages, if you’ve already been hurt or injured at work. Talk to the DeMayo Law team today.

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.

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

September 6, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

A Roadmap For Best Practices

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

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

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

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

Step #3: Process and organize.

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

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

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

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

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.

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

August 28, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 23, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 21, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

Doing the Purge – Digital Budgeting

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 17, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

1. Acknowledge your reality.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Getting Beyond the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Anger

August 2, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Anger – it plays a lively, yet subtle role in the North Carolina workers’ compensation process.

•    For instance, you might be angry at your employer or your boss or coworkers for being less than sympathetic – for challenging your version of events, putting your safety at risk, failing to adhere to the values of your company, and so forth.
•    You may be angry at the actions of an insurance company that has acted in bad faith or otherwise made life needlessly and unfairly complicated.
•    You might be even angry at friends and relatives who have been less than supportive of your bid to get compensated.
•    You might be angry at a physician or rehab specialist or other caretaker who either didn’t do a good job or who led you to feel more confused and frustrated than you were before.
•    You might be angered by the glut of information you’ve found online – it’s confusing to sort the good information from the bad about Charlotte workers’ compensation.
•    You might even feel angry at yourself because of your perceived incompetence, lack of skill, lack of understanding of the nuances of workers’ comp law, etc.

Unfortunately, we are taught in modern American society to avoid expressing anger outright.

Our M.O. is to internalize our bad feelings – to try to act as if “nothing really bad” is happening.

According to back injury specialist Dr. John Sarno, our repressed anger, fury, frustration, and anxiety can actually manifest internally in the form of muscle tension and muscle knots, which in turn can trigger physical symptoms, such as numbness and tingling, heart palpitations, and beyond.

Sarno’s ideas are theoretical. But the general point is that subtle feelings like anger and anxiety are often indicators that certain needs are not being met. Aim to surface these unmet needs and do something positively to try to meet them.

Part of dealing with the overwhelm and uncertainty of your situation is getting the right people on board to move in a positive direction.

•    Finding a great rehab specialist, for instance, can be a blessing.
•    Connecting with the friends and family members, who support you physically and emotionally (and possibly financially), can also be a blessing.
•    And finding a great Charlotte-based North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm, like DeMayo Law, can be profoundly helpful, in that the team might be able to help you quickly access workers’ comp benefits to pay for critical care.

Connect to someone on our team immediately for help with your situation.

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.

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.

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.

Counterintuitive Findings of North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Study Highlight Dangers of Simple “Policy Solutions”

June 19, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Fixing the North Carolina workers’ compensation system is a top priority, not only for policymakers but also for insurers, employers, employees, and everyone else concerned about the quality of care delivered in our state.

Good intentions are one thing. Hard data is another.

To that end, a recent study conducted by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) is pretty telling. Let’s dive into the details and try to extract lessons that might be meaningful, if you or somebody you care about has been recently injured in a workplace accident, and if you might need help from a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm, like DeMayo Law.

The WCRI looked at the initial impact of something called an outpatient fee schedule reduction — a policy attempt to reduce the hospital costs of outpatient stays. Prior to summer 2009, the reimbursement rate was around 95% for most NC hospitals – that fee schedule changed dramatically down to 79%. The study looked at eight months after that fee schedule reduction.

Unsurprisingly, the payment to charge ratio went down (from 82% to 72%). But surprisingly – shockingly, even – the average charge for outpatient services spiked by 17% over the rate for a controlled period prior to the enactment of the new fee schedule.

To summarize: the overall percentage of reimbursement was lower, but the costs of services on average was higher – possibly negating the savings.

If you or somebody you love is struggling to make a claim, deal with an unfair employer, or battle your way through the thicket of an insurance company’s bureaucracy, these findings may not seem like much to you. But the lessons here are pretty broad. They suggest that “quick fixes” to problems at the level of NC policy – or even at the level of your own life – can often backfire… or at least lead to very different outcomes.

In other words, it confirms the hypothesis we proposed in another recent blog post – that the trajectory towards a workers’ comp “win” is often far from straightforward, even if your claim is simple, and even if you know precisely what you want and how you want to get it.

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.

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 – Part II: “My Benefits Will Make Me or Break Me”

May 24, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

If you or a family member got hurt in a workplace accident in or around Charlotte, and you have serious bills and medical expenses to dispatch, an urgent priority is to try to secure North Carolina Workers’ Compensation benefits.

This money can be a godsend to help you pay for bills, produce the cash flow necessary to fund your life, and release stress. Given how important the money might be to you, you might be tempted to overinflate its potential importance to you, long term. Now, obviously, you do need benefits. And if you deserve them and can get them, the team here at the law offices of Michael A. DeMayo can fight as hard as possible, using all of our resources and experience, to get you the fairest and most efficient resolution.

On the other hand, you also need to understand that recovery from an injury or from a tough financial situation is a process. There is no “one-time” fix for your health or your financial dire straits. If you broke your arm, there is no pill or surgery that you can buy that’s going to magically make your arm “all better” by next week. Sure, there are surgeries and techniques and drugs that can help with the process — that can deliver more certainty in terms of results. But healing ultimately takes time. The same thing is true with respect to your finances.

Why is this discussion important?

It’s important because the mindset that you carry with you as you manage your personal injury can have an enormous impact on your potential for success and healing. If you operate under false beliefs – e.g. that getting benefits will “fix everything” or that not getting them will “ruin your life” – then you are not really seeing reality clearly. And you could make inaccurate or desperate decisions that could complicate your situation. Moreover, by searching for the equivalent of “magic pills” instead of trying to find great people, great resources, great systems, and great processes –– you are going to set yourself up for disappointment. The key is your mindset, more than any single decision. And the key to a great mindset is understanding that recovery is a process, not a pill.

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

May 17, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

Unfortunately, these are the wrong questions to ask!

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

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

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

More web resources:

Why to be optimistic:

Why to be realistic:

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

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

May 4, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Fearing Obstacles That Haven’t Yet Presented Themselves

Stop Worrying and Start Rebuilding Your Life

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

April 9, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

That’s a big gap!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

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

North Carolina Industrial Commission

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

April 5, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

How to increase your revenue stream

How to clip your home budget

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

April 3, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

more about sentence stems

The inventor of sentence stems

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

March 30, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

How serfs were treated in the middle ages

The art of getting better over time

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

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

March 21, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

Values and Purpose

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 2: Identify your values.

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

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

More Web Resources:

Drilling Down to Find Purpose and Principles

Change Must Be Purpose and Values Driven

 

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

March 12, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Dr. Michael Eades on Vitamin D and the Sun

Vitamin D Deficiency Epidemic?

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

March 11, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

Think about it. It makes zero sense:

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

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

It’s silly.

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Modeling What Works

The Power of the “Right” Mentor

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

March 9, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

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

Complexity Theory: Simple Solutions to Complex Issues

Simple Solutions to Complex Problems? Are There Magical Fixes for North Carolina Workers’ Compensation?

February 28, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Your North Carolina workers’ compensation issues are so diverse (and possibly hard to catalog) that you get a headache just thinking about all the fires that you have put out.

Let’s just surface a few of the deep obstacles holding you back:

•    You’re no longer bringing in income;
•    You are in constant chronic pain;
•    You’re confused about your medical prognosis and probably more than a little scared;
•    You have no idea how long it will take for you to recover your function – or how much of your function you can recover;
•    You may be fighting more with your spouse, family members, friends, and others who want to help you;
•    You may be completely confused and overwhelmed by all the different sources of North Carolina workers’ compensation “wisdom” on the web and elsewhere;
•    You may be locking horns with an uncooperative employer or shady insurance company;
•    You may be dealing with chronic problems that were draining your attention before you got hurt at work (e.g. relationship drama, struggles caring for an elderly parent, financial pressures, an imminent foreclosure, etc.)

It might be worth it to pause from reading this for a second and pick up a pencil or a pen (or open a Word document). Go ahead and type out your own list of problems and concerns associated with your workers’ comp claim.

If you filled out more than a single sheet of paper, you would be in the vast majority of beneficiaries (or want-to-be beneficiaries).
Bottom line: you’re dealing with a lot of complex, diverse and scary “stuff.” And you probably are laboring under the belief that you will need to solve each one of these “fires” separately.

That might be true. But we might be able to borrow from the insights of complexity theory to find a way around your issues. Complexity theory tells us that simple problems can have complex causes; conversely, complex problems can have simple solutions.

Perhaps, then, small changes in perspective, behavior, habit, or thinking can “knock out” many of your chronic problems at once. Here are three speculative “hacks” which can help you get started. These three ideas have a significant empirical and scientific support. Educate yourself by reading the references at the bottom.

1. Mindfulness Meditation

The ancient art of meditation traces its roots across cultures, religions, and continents. Most people associate “meditation” with Eastern traditions, such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Sufism, etc. But meditation like states are often created through other traditions – Catholics who count rosaries, for instance, are engaging in meditative practice. Recent scientific analyses of the effects of meditation on the brain suggest that mindfulness can be a powerful way to treat a vast number of ailments, including depression, anxiety, ADHD, and other psychological traumas.

2. Low Carbohydrate Diets

In their bestselling book, The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living, doctors Jeff Volek and Stephen Phinney discuss dozens of carefully controlled studies that suggest that a properly formulated low carbohydrate diet (low in easily digestible starches and sugars, in particular) can essentially cure metabolic syndrome (which includes diabetes, obesity, and many other ailments associated). Essentially, the low-carb diet theorists suggest that obesity and many diseases result from problems with insulin signaling. Low-carb diets normalize insulin levels and thus help people heal from these problems.

3. Strength Training

In their book, The Slow Burn Fitness Revolution, authors Fred Hahn and doctors Mike & Mary Dan Eades debunk many common myths about fitness and exercise. In particular, the authors suggest that individuals who engage in regular, safe muscular strength training can protect themselves and/or heal from a staggering range of problems, including chronic lower back pain, osteoporosis, etc.

Of course, you need a guide to help you synthesize and structure your recovery. A North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can point you in the right direction and connect you with more powerful resources to succeed.

More Web Resources:

The Benefits of Strength Training for Rehab?

A Simple Solution (low-carb) for a Complex Problem (obesity)?

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

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

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

February 13, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

Or perhaps positive change can come swifter than you realize!

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

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

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

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

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

The moral here is two-fold:

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

The Revolution, When it Comes, is Often Swift

Tipping Point

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

February 11, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

All it Takes is 10%

An Empathy Revolution?

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?

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

January 18, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

Why is this a problem?

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

The State of the Web: 2012

Info Overload Solutions

Is the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation System Fundamentally Fair?

January 16, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

Fair enough.

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Life is Unfair: Examples

Dealing with Life’s Inherent Unfairness

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

January 6, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

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

Workers’ Compensation Board of New York

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

November 6, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

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

Go-kart tragedy in Chinquapin

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

November 4, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Oklahoma attorney embezzles over $1 million dollars from clients

Charges filed against Schraeder and Anton

The Dog Days of August and North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Claims

August 5, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

The dog days of August are upon us, and, according to an analysis of Travelers Insurance Claims Data, North Carolina workers’ compensation claims at small businesses are peaking.

According to a blog post at InsuranceNewsNet.com, travelers found that, from June through September, “workers’ comp claims peak – approximately one-third of all injuries involve workers under 30 years old.” Common claims include “lower back strains and other back-related injuries and injuries from slips, trips and falls.”

This is the 100-year anniversary of the very first workers’ comp insurance policy ever written, according to Travelers, and maybe now is an appropriate time to reflect on how far the entitlement system has come, as well as on the challenges that the North Carolina workers’ compensation community faces.

One way forward is to zero-in on trends like the ones highlighted in the Travelers report. For instance, if we know that small businesses face a spike in claims during the hot summer months, then maybe we can figure out precisely what is going on during those summer months that makes workers vulnerable.

Are the workers getting too hot and thus endangering themselves due to heat stroke, delirium, or dehydration? If so, that might suggest that a policy for helping workers cool off could make a big difference. Or maybe it’s the type of jobs being done during the summer months. Construction, engineering, remodeling, and so forth might spike during the summer months. Thus, the problem may simply be related to the type of work being done as opposed to heat-specific problems causing degradation of worker performance.

This may seem like an insignificant point.

But we need this kind of analytical thinking to make progress with workers’ compensation reform. What are the root causes of waste in the system? What are the root causes of worker injuries and illnesses? The answers may not be obvious. We may not be able to glean them easily from reports, statistical analyses, or even from meta analyses of claims data.

Good science in any field is notoriously hard to conduct. And well-intentioned policies based on bad science can redound to horrific effect. For instance, if we look at the Travelers data and make the assumption that heat was the problem [instead of the proliferation of dangerous jobs (e.g. construction jobs)], then our policy solutions would not address the problem. We might tell workers to take more breaks, drink more fluids, and stay in air-conditioning more. But we would not address the primary cause (too many dangerous jobs being done), and thus wouldn’t make a dent in the numbers.

Philosophizing aside, if you or someone you care about has a specific, serious question regarding your benefits, a fight with an insurance company, or a battle with an employer, a North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can help you figure what to do, how to do it, and when to do it.

More Web Resources:

“approximately one-third of all injuries involve workers under 30 years old.”

Correlation vs. Causation

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

July 27, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Michelle McKee

Colorado workers’ comp system

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

July 17, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Government Accountability Office (GAO)

Fraud “pays forward” throughout the system

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

June 25, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

Pinnacol Assurance

Martin Lobatos fraud

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Analysts Weigh in on California NFL Claims: Could Similar Disaster Happen Here in NC?

June 7, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

The New York Times and other media outlets – including niche North Carolina workers’ compensation blogs! – have spent months reporting about a crazy series of claims out of the Golden State. According to California Labor Code Section 3600.5(b), employees who are temporarily assigned to the work in CT can make claims for long-term injuries.

Section 3600 may not seem like an overly fascinating piece of law, but injured former NFL players (and other ex-athletes) have been leveraging Section 3600 to file for a rainbow of out of state claims. Recently, a Republican in the California state legislature demanded an overhaul to CA workers’ comp rules to prevent “retired professional athletes with no significant nexus to California to file claims for long-term injuries in the state.”

According to an article in the Insurance Journal, Republicans like Curt Hagman believe that “retired professional athletes who never play for California based teams should not be afforded remedy for claims of cumulative trauma under California’s injured workers statutes.” Technically, California taxpayers may not be responsible for paying the out of state claims. But the jurisdictional issue has raised more than a few alarms, especially now that California is practically drowning in a horrific, multiyear fiscal crisis.

Could something similar happen here in the North Carolina workers’ compensation system? Probably not. California’s uniquely structured laws and history have combined to create this Section 3600 debacle. There is no equivalent law on the books in NC. In fact, it’s far more likely that injured North Carolina athletes will file for claims in California than vice versa.

The debacle raises even bigger and broader questions, such as: how can we systematically determine whether injuries occur from cumulative or single traumatic events? How can the workers’ comp system more fairly and accurately divvy up costs among taxpayers and among states? If ex-NFL players are all reporting chronic injuried stemming from their time in the league, how deep does this problem go? And will the newer generation of NFL stars – who play bigger, faster, and more aggressively – suffer even more cumulative damage in the years and decades to come?

For help with a specific question regarding your potential benefits, struggles with an insurer, or debate with an employer, connect with a reputable North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm.

More Web Resources:

Curt Hagman

Section 3600

Workers, Business Owners, and Others Sound Off on North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Reforms

June 7, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Last Wednesday, the NC house passed sweeping and massive reforms to North Carolina workers’ compensation law. The overhaul, led by Republican Representative Dale Folwell, stirred passionate emotions on both sides of the debate. This blog post will examine some of the reader comments in the June 6th issue of the Winston-Salem Journal to give you a sense of the flavor of the debate going on.

The Journal quoted Fletcher Steele, the President of Pine Hall Brick Company — a business owner. He shared very enthusiastic comments about the legislation: “North Carolina workers’ compensation law should be focused on taking care of injured workers and helping them return to work when they are able. Thanks to Rep. Folwell’s leadership, our state may soon have a modern, effective workers’ compensation system that works for both employers and employees, and that is also good for jobs.”

The responses to his editorial reveal a complex debate.

For instance, one commenter who claimed to be a “CEO in a field that… sees more than its fair share of WC claims” said “it’s not surprising Mr. Steele would say WC insurance has contributed to slow job growth. From a macro view, I feel that the state’s cutting of education money will do far more harm to NC’s future job prospects than… this legislation will be able to overcome. The 2009 HS grad rate was only 70%. Hate to see what rates will be in the future. No education equals no jobs.”

Another anonymous commenter, who went by the handle “AJV,” laced into Mr. Steele’s suggestion, even suggesting that the NC Chamber of Commerce “ghost wrote” the editorial. AJV wrote: “so let’s see: he is CEO of a brick company. Potentially a very hazardous work environment… those pesky worker bees having bricks fall on them… breathing in caustic dusts, et cetera. Let’s say that a worker is paralyzed when a pallet of bricks falls on him. What’s a CEO to do? Cut profits. And then what? They expect his company or insurance carrier to take care of that unfortunate worker whose [labor has helped the company profit]?… They busily craft their solution: Limit the worker to no more than 500 weeks of compensation and then dump them for the tax payers to directly support. Sweet! Win! Win! Win! (that is the company, chamber and insurer). “

As these comments clearly illustrate, the debate is passionate and not necessarily civil. Such is the nature of modern politics, perhaps.

Another commenter, who wrote under the handle “native heal” responded to AJVs point: “I have known Fletcher Steele for many years and have had a good business relationship with him for many years as well. He is a good man in an imperfect work situation, as are many others who’ve run large corporations. I am also quite certain that Mr. Steele has a vast more amount of knowledge about workers’ compensation issues than you or I will ever have. I [would rather] light a candle to illuminate the shadows rather than stand in the shadow and throw rocks.”

The rancorous debate notwithstanding, you and your family likely have significant and serious questions about how these laws might affect your potential benefits. An experienced, reputable North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can answer those questions and help you feel relaxed, prepared, and in control to meet the challenges ahead.

More Web Resources:

North Carolina Senate passes workers compensation reform bill

Pine Hall Brick Company

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

May 12, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

House committee works feverishly on NC workers’ comp

Catastrophic thinking

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

May 12, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More Web Resources:

NC panel hears effort to change workers’ comp law

NC panel hears effort to change workers’ comp law

 
 

Parse error: syntax error, unexpected '}' in /home/ncarwork/public_html/wp-content/themes/demayo_blogs/footer.php on line 107