November 2012

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

November 29, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

This is an understandable sentiment.

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

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

You must move forward in life to make progress

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

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

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

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

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

November 27, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 22, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 20, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

Why you are having such a hard time?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 15, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 13, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 8, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 6, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 1, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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