The Law Offices of Lyndon R. Helton, PLLC
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Lyndon R. Helton, PLLC
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Hickory NC Personal Injury Law Blog

Understanding workers' compensation benefits

The purpose of workers' compensation is to provide financial support for individuals who have been injured or become ill in connection with their work. Each state, including North Carolina, has its own workers' compensation laws that set forth coverage and other matters.

In general, workers' compensation covers any work-related illness or injury, including work injuries that are the result of either an employee's or employer's carelessness. However, there are some exceptions. States have the latitude to compel an injured worker to submit to alcohol and drug testing and can then deny compensation to employees whose test results show that they were under the influence when the incident occurred.

Workers' compensation in North Carolina

If you are a North Carolina worker who has been injured on the job, you may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits designed to pay your medical bills and replace a portion of your wages that are lost as a result of missing work. If someone other than your employer was responsible for your accident, you also may be able to sue the responsible party. Workers' compensation laws prohibit you from suing your employer in most cases, but they do not prevent you from suing a third party who contributed to your accident.

Certain occupations are more likely to suffer injuries on the job, such as construction and manufacturing. If you have suffered a work injury, you could be out of work for an extended period of time. In most cases, workers' compensation will pay for your medical treatment in addition to a disability payment based on your salary and a disability rating.

Worker killed in forklift accident at North Carolina mill

On Aug. 4, a 54-year-old Weyerhaeuser employee of seven and a half years was killed at the Greenville lumber mill on Hanrahan Road between Ayden and Grifton. The worker sustained life-threatening injuries due to the use of a forklift. To date, it is unclear as to whether he was actually operating the forklift during the incident.

OSHA is investigating the fatal accident; due to the fact that the man's death involved a forklift, the investigation will reportedly be seeking to establish several key safety practices. Those practices include whether the mill's forklifts are operated at safe speeds in designated travel paths; whether only authorized personnel operate the forklifts and several other related safety requirements. The plant had not been inspected since 2009. At that time, there were four violations at that plant, according to the OSHA website. The investigation process usually takes about three or four months, says an OSHA spokesperson.

Ten Important Steps To Do Prior To Separating From Your Spouse

1.  CONSULT WITH A FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY.  A knowledgeable attorney will advise you of the divorce process, your rights and help you develop a plan of action based on your wants and needs.  As with any marriage, each separation and divorce is accompanied by its unique facts and issues.  For this reason, avoid relying on the advice of your family and friends who think they know the best way for you to proceed based on their isolated experience.  While family and friends are important sources of support during this emotionally draining period, you need a professional that understands the ever changing laws of North Carolina in order to achieve the results you deserve.  For instance, leaving the marital home could be a huge mistake for your alimony claim, and depending on the facts of your cases, an attorney may be able to force your spouse out of the home.  The earlier you consult with an attorney, the more likely you are to avoid costly mistakes, which will affect your family and finances for years to come.  

North Carolina targets employers lacking workers' comp coverage

The North Carolina Industrial Commission recently initiated a concerted effort to identify and hold accountable employers who fail to obtain insurance coverage in accordance with the state's workers' compensation laws, reportedly. The Noncompliant Employer Targeting System, a tool employed by the commission, went online in April 2014.

NETS is designed to mine data from state agencies and produce a list of businesses that default in their duty to comply with compensation insurance rules, authorities said. Initially, officials filed charges for failing to maintain workers' compensation insurance against five employers in Guilford County. This came after a two-day operation in June to identify non-compliant employers, authorities said.

Trench collapse in North Carolina kills 1

A civilian employee in North Carolina was killed after an accident that occurred at Fort Bragg on July 24. Identities of both the worker and his employer have yet to be released. The worker was reportedly buried in a trench after it began to collapse at approximately 11 a.m. Search and rescue personnel from an area fire department arrived to offer assistance, but it quickly became apparent that they would be unable to reach the buried worker in time.

Investigators say that displaced dirt had fallen back into the trench, burying the worker. Reports state that he had been attempting to connect two pipes at the time. Response crews secured the sides of the trench in order to remove the dirt and excavate the decedent. The worker's family may wish to consider speaking with legal counsel regarding the viability of filing a claim for damages in court.

The practice of free climbing for electric company workers banned

North Carolina electric utility workers should be aware that those with the Obama Administration have made free climbing, or climbing utility poles without the use of safety harnesses, illegal. One company, Washington-based Seattle City Light, used to let their workers climb in excess of above 180 feet without any form of safety. While the crew chief stated that no injuries had ever occurred, falling from the height could result in life-altering injuries or even death.

Across the country, an average of 74 electric company workers die each year as a result of falls and electrocution. An employee with another Washington-based energy company stated that the fatalities from falls could be reduced if some sort of fall protection was put into place. This particular company, Puget Sound Energy, and its transmission-line contractor no longer permit their workers to engage in free climbing.

Employee killed in North Carolina work plant

Emergency workers found an employee with a crushed skull at a factory. The plant where the fatal workplace accident occurred performs embossing and printing on textiles and plastics.

The North Carolina division of Occupational Health and Safety is performing an investigation of the fatal work injury. According to the plant's vice president, the company called the division to request assistance with looking into the accident. The company will also perform its own investigation. A representative for the state's Department of Labor stated that an investigation is typical after a workplace fatality.

Explosion at GM factory kills 1, injures 8

Residents of North Carolina may be interested to learn about a deadly chemical explosion that happened at a General Motors factory in Indiana. One worker is reported to have died in the explosion and eight others were injured. According to a GM spokesperson, four of the injured workers suffered from non-life-threatening injuries and the other four were sent home without requiring any treatment for their workplace injury.

At around 1:50 p.m. on July 1, emergency officials were notified about an explosion that took place at a metal-stamping factory operated by GM. Following the fatal explosion, employees of the factory were evacuated from the building. The fire department and other emergency workers were said to have responded to the scene promptly. The spokesperson offered his condolences to the deceased team member's family.

Factory fire injures 2 in eastern North Carolina

According to a local news source, a fire that occurred in the Bridgestone-Firestone tire plant about 215 miles east of Hickory, North Carolina, in Wilson, injured two individuals on June 28. Employees were reportedly evacuated while authorities dealt with the blaze, and eight workers suffered from smoke inhalation in the incident.

Respondents to the factory included about 70 firefighters and emergency personnel according to the source. The fire reportedly broke out around 2:45 p.m. on the first floor in the mixing area but did not spread any further. Officials with the company said plant workers tried extinguish the blaze before authorities reached the plant.

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