December 2012

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.

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

December 4, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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