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Contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin 1-866-900-7078

What You Need to Know About NC Lake Electrocutions

Electrocutions by drowning in a lake or pool are considered by some to be “freak accidents.” The reality is that they happen a lot more often than you might think, and are often the result of someone’s negligence.

Potential for Electrocution in NC Lakes, Rivers, Pools

Being electrocuted while swimming in a lake, river, or pool is not something you might consider when taking a refreshing dip. But it happens. A 17-year-old Raleigh lifeguard was electrocuted and drowned in 2017 when she tested the water at a public pool where she worked. Negligence and “shoddy workmanship” was alleged to be the reason the water became charged, and the parents have filed a lawsuit.

How Does Drowning by Electrocution Occur?

When you are swimming in water that becomes charged, your body seizes up and you are unable to move or swim away. One of the reasons you see "No Swimming" signs at public docks and marinas is to prevent electrocution by keeping swimmers at least 150 feet away from the dock, which authorities claim is usually a safe distance.

If you own a dock on Lake Norman, Lake Gaston, Kerr Lake, or on any NC waterway, or if you run electricity to any body of water, make sure a licensed electrician checks the wiring at least every two years. Incidentally electric shock can occur in any body of water, however, experts say fresh is more of a conductor than salt water.

Safety Tips to Help Deter Electrocutions in NC Lakes

  • Use a plastic ladder, rather than a metal one, so it won’t help to facilitate transfer electricity into the water
  • If you start to feel a tingle in the water, swim away from the dock, which is where most electrical issues occur
  • Check all of the wiring around your dock, including your ground fault circuit breaker.
  • Purchase a Dock Lifeguard, a device that detects electricity on your dock and in the water around your dock.

Electrocutions Can Happen Near Boats

Boats can have faulty wiring too, which can charge the water around it.  Two boys were electrocuted in a large lake while swimming between houseboats. It was determined that the wiring was faulty on one of the houseboats and it charged the water, killing one boy and severely injuring the other.

If you are a boat owner, you should have a marine electrician periodically check your boat’s wiring and fix any problems.

Electrocution Accidents, Injuries, Deaths

Electrocution is generally classified as death by electric shock. Yet, it also encompasses a wide range of injuries from contact with electricity. Here are the four primary types of electrocution injuries, as defined by the U.S. National Library of Medicine:

  • Cardiac arrest
  • Muscle, nerve, and tissue destruction
  • Thermal burns from contact with an electrical source
  • Falling or other similar injuries associated from an electrical shock

If a person is electrocuted in the water and survives, they could potentially suffer long-term effects, including:

  • Headaches
  • Amnesia or short-term memory loss
  • Mood swings
  • Mental illnesses including depression, anxiety, aggression, and schizophrenia

Drowning by Electrocution Liability

Drownings by electrocution are almost always a result of negligence, including faulty equipment and poor maintenance, human error, poor workmanship. Potentially liable parties may include:

  • Property owners
  • Power companies
  • Equipment and boat operators
  • Contractors or operators responsible for repairs and past maintenance

North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Offer Free Case Evaluation

If your loved one drowned by electrocution or was injured by an electrical shock of any kind, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation. You could be compensated for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, or wrongful death.

What You can do if Worker’s Comp Has You Under Surveillance

Some insurance companies may hate sending you a weekly check while you’re recovering from your on-the-job injury. They’re in business to make money, not give it away.

Every time you receive workers’ compensation benefits, that is money coming out of the insurance company’s pocket and going into yours instead. That’s why some insurance companies may try to find ways to avoid paying you benefits. Sometimes that means an insurance company may completely deny responsibility to pay for your injury. When this happens, they pay you no benefits at all, while you fight (sometimes for years) for what you potentially deserve.

Worker’s Comp Insurance Tactics to Pay You Less

Delay

This is what we refer to as their “delay” tactic. We have seen some insurance companies try to wait out the injured worker while they’re hurt, out of work, and in financial distress. We believe they are waiting you out. The longer they wait, the more urgent your need for money becomes, and the less compensation you may be likely to settle for. And that means less money they have to pay out.

Deny

But shortchanging you is not the only way some insurance companies may try to help themselves. Even when an insurance company accepts responsibility for your work injury, they can at any time, try to reduce or even stop paying you benefits.

We have seen them try to cut off injured workers’ weekly checks. Other times they may try to avoid paying for a recommended medical procedure.

No matter how the insurance company may try to keep money for themselves, it is you, the injured worker, who is simply trying to get better and go back to work, that ends up paying the price.

Surveillance

Do insurance companies randomly decide one day that they are not going to pay you? Of course not. They must have “proof” that they don’t have to pay you. To help enlist them in their efforts, they will try to piece together “evidence” to prove your benefits should be decreased or stopped altogether.

We have seen some insurance companies resort to hiring a private investigator to spy on you to try to gain the evidence they need against you.

They may hire investigators to follow you to the gas station or the grocery store or any errand. They may watch you pick up your kids at school. They may stake out your house and neighborhood at all hours of the day and night. The goal is always the same: to create reports, photographs, and video that make it appear that you are not as badly injured as you claim. Then, if the insurance company can create that impression in the mind of a doctor or judge, they may be able to cut you off or shortchange you – even if they have previously admitted responsibility for your injury.

5 Ways to Handle Insurance Company Spying

You cannot stop the insurance company from hiring an investigator to watch you. But you can be smart about your behavior so that you aren’t making it easy for them to avoid paying you benefits.

  1. Always follow your doctor’s orders. Your doctor knows best what activities you should avoid while you heal. If the doctor tells you not to lift more than 10 pounds, don’t lift more than 10 pounds. The biggest risk of surveillance is that the investigator will see you doing something outside the restrictions put on you by the doctor. If that happens and the doctor is allowed to see the surveillance, the doctor may think you have been exaggerating your symptoms. In a worst-case scenario, the doctor may decide to no longer treat you.
  2. Be thoughtful. If you aren’t following your doctor’s orders about activity restriction, it may not necessarily be because you are not injured. More likely it might be because you weren’t thinking about what you were doing, or you were in a hurry, or distracted. Life happens, and you have to lift your 20-lb toddler out of her car seat. That happens to all of us. But when you have a work injury, and an insurance company may be paying someone to watch you, the cost of being thoughtless can be significant. Violating your doctor’s restrictions just a handful of times could suggest to the insurance company and the doctor that you’re not as injured as you claim to be.
  3. Remember: appearances count. Sometimes surveillance can be harmful even when you are not caught doing something against your doctor’s wishes. Even simple appearances can be enough to cause problems. For example, let’s say your doctor told you not to push more than 10 pounds. And let’s say you’re mowing your lawn with a self-propelled lawnmower that doesn’t require pushing more than 10 pounds. And let’s further say there’s an investigator recording you. All the doctor may see when he watches this video is someone who is well enough to do yard work, including pushing a potentially heavy lawnmower. You can explain to the doctor that the mower is self-propelled, but the damage may already be done. We are not suggesting you become paranoid, but it is important to be aware of how your activity may look to an outsider.
  4. Don’t talk to a suspected investigator. If you think an investigator is watching you, don’t confront them or interact with them. They will not be intimidated by you, and they will only use the interaction to gather information from you that the insurance company may later try to use against you.
  5. Hire a workers’ compensation lawyer. When you try to take on the insurance company yourself, it is not a fair fight. History tells us that many insurance companies may try to figure out ways to maximize their profits and minimize your They have adjusters and lawyers, many of whom spend their time trying to determine the best ways to do this. Surveillance is just one tactic they sometimes rely on.

Get Your Free Case Evaluation From NC Workers’ Comp Lawyers

To try to make sure the insurance companies do not use surveillance or any other self-serving tactic to deny you benefits, call the Law offices of James Scott Farrin. Our workers’ comp attorneys represent clients throughout North Carolina and have the knowledge, experience, and dedication needed to try to see to it that the insurance company doesn’t get away with painting your injuries to be less than they really are, just to save a few bucks. Contact us today or call 1-866-900-7078. Your initial case evaluation is absolutely free.

Shocking Video Emphasizes Elder Abuse at Raleigh Nursing Home

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words.

I admit that I had a few choice words when I viewed the WRAL video that caught Raleigh nursing home “caregivers” abusing a defenseless stroke patient.

This video needs no explanation. The actions it portrays can’t be “justified.” If I hadn’t been practicing law and developed a strong belief that most people are fundamentally good and well intention, this video may have put me over the edge.

Click here to view it. Fair warning: You may find the actions extremely disturbing.

30% of Nursing Homes Cited for Abuse

Nursing home abuse is real. So is neglect.

Reports of serious, physical, sexual, and verbal abuse are widespread among the nation’s nursing homes, according to a two-year congressional study. The study found that 30% of nursing homes in the United States, more than 5,000 facilities, were cited for nearly 9,000 instances of abuse during that time.

Worse, much of the abuse and neglect often go under reported because some patients are too frightened of repercussions and live in fear of retaliation from staff, management, even other patients. In one case, the report noted, attendants bribed a brain-damaged patient with cigarettes to attack another resident, then watched the two fight.

A National Institutes of Health report entitled Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation in an Aging America, quotes a certified nursing assistant justifying abuse:

“Oh, yeah. I've seen abuse. Things like rough handling, pinching, pulling too hard on a resident to make them do what you want. Slapping, that too. People get so tired, working mandatory overtime, short-staffed. It's not an excuse, but it makes it so hard for them to respond right.”

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect

Some well-meaning loved ones may not recognize signs of abuse. We urge you – if you have a parent or loved one in a nursing home or with a caregiver, please take note of the following signs of potential neglect to look for:

Negligent Hiring of Nursing Home Staff

Nursing homes are obligated to hire qualified staff with the appropriate academic and other credentials for their particular position. Background checks are required and there should be no record of abuse or violence found in that background check. Yet, in many cases, we have discovered this has not always been the case.

Nursing Home Understaffing

Many nursing homes and senior care facilities are notoriously understaffed. They can potentially be liable if a resident suffers an injury or dies because of an inadequate number of caretakers to properly care for residents.

Inadequate Caregiver Training

Nursing homes and other senior care facilities can potentially be held accountable for injuries if their staff has not been provided proper training and a resident suffers an injury as a result.

Get a Free Case Evaluation from Experienced North Carolina Lawyers

If you feel your loved one has suffered elder abuse of any kind, contact us immediately or call 1-866-900-7078. Our North Carolina nursing home abuse lawyers can offer a free case evaluation for your unique circumstances.

Categories: Personal Injury

Don’t Let an FCE Derail Your Right to Workers’ Comp Benefits

Is your workers’ compensation doctor recommending a Functional Capacity Evaluation, often referred to as an FCE? If so, I’m sure you have lots of questions. While an FCE can be a useful tool to explore your physical limitations after a work-related injury, there are certain things you need to know before moving forward.

What is an FCE?

I like to think of an FCE as a physical therapy session on steroids.

FCE’s are typically scheduled at a physical therapist’s office where you will be asked to perform a number of physical tasks over a designated period of time. You should expect to spend approximately three to four hours completing the testing. While all evaluators conduct their FCE’s differently, you will likely be asked to walk, lift, stretch, push, pull, bend, and possibly do other exercises. The evaluator will record each task you complete and the extent to which you are able (or unable) to complete it.

However, an FCE is not a simulation of the actual work you were performing when you were injured. For that reason, the results of an FCE may not provide a definitive answer as to whether or not you are able to return to your pre-injury job. In a workers’ compensation context, the FCE report is typically forwarded to, and interpreted by, your authorized treating physician.

Why does my doctor want me to complete an FCE?

FCE’s are commonly used to determine return‐to‐work readiness and quantify your functional limitations after a work-related injury. Most doctors are not trained to make comprehensive determinations regarding your physical abilities. Therefore, they require a little outside help. That’s where the FCE comes in.

However, sometimes it may not be in your best interest for a doctor to rely too heavily on an FCE to determine which jobs you are physical capable of performing. While FCE’s are often treated as the best way to determine your work abilities, that’s probably not the case.

As noted above, the data from your FCE must be interpreted by your treating physician and applied to real world jobs. Unfortunately, they don’t take into account the day-to-day rigors of your actual occupation. For that reason, it’s very important for you to educate your doctor about the essential functions and physical demands of your job before they make a determination about your readiness to return to work.

What do I need to know before I perform my FCE?

Most FCE facilities believe they are able to determine when someone is exaggerating their symptoms or failing to give 100% effort during testing. In my opinion, the “science” behind these methods is shaky at best. Even so, the evaluator’s findings will often make it into the FCE report, which is likely to be seen by your doctor. For this reason, it’s important for you to talk to the FCE evaluator prior to testing about their expectations of you. Ideally, you should plan to at least attempt any task you believe you are physically capable of performing and give the maximum amount of safe effort.

FCE’s are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to your overall physical limitations and ability to return to the workforce. You should always discuss the results with your doctor and be sure to address any issues you encountered during testing.

Enlist the help of workers’ comp specialists

If you have additional questions about FCE’s, please feel free to contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin. Six of us are NC Board Certified Specialists in workers’ compensation law. Of the approximately 28,000 North Carolina licensed attorneys* only 148 (less than 1%) are North Carolina Board Certified Specialists in workers’ compensation law.

What does it mean to be board certified? It means you have an attorney who shows special knowledge and proficiency in their specific area of law, having undergone additional training (and other intense analysis) to become certified as a specialist.

Get a FREE Case Evaluation from NC Workers’ Comp Lawyers

If you are asked to get an FCE, I urge you to get legal advice by contacting us or calling 1-866-900-7078. If we are able to take your case, we will try to ensure that you are well prepared for your FCE in your efforts to preserve your rights to workers’ compensation benefits.

 

*Figures provided by the N.C. State Bar as of December 2017.

Potential Lawsuits Grow as GenX Concerns Escalate

If the increasing number of inquiries we have been getting from NC property owners are an indication of what’s to come, there’s a potentially massive property value issue in the southeastern portion of our state. And a potentially massive health crisis.

Property owners have been contacting us over fears of water contamination from GenX.

GenX is in the molecularly close-knit family of super toxins known as perfluoroalkyls and polyfluoroalkyls (PFAS), which are used to make Teflon-type products. The toxin has seeped from the DuPont Chemours Fayetteville plant into the Cape Fear River and has infiltrated wells and municipal water supplies in at least three counties. No one knows how to filter it out.

GenX is said to be so toxic that even one drop
dissolved into 20 Olympic sized pools may pose health risks. 

Contamination by the same family of chemicals may date back as far as 1980, according to a DuPont spokesperson. Experts are only scraping the surface of the potential for widespread harms after decades of contamination.

Just recently, additional testing by the state and Chemours has expanded contamination concerns to include air, rainwater, honey, wild game, and fruits and vegetables grown in the area.

Diminished Property Values in Wilmington, Pender, Brunswick, New Hanover

If you own property in the Wilmington area, or Pender, Brunswick, or New Hanover counties, your property values may be diminished 10% to 30% due to contaminated drinking water discovered in wells and municipal water treatment plants. You may not even be able to sell your property at all.

GenX. Same Toxic Chemical. Benign New Name.

GenX is the chemical cousin to DuPont’s C8, which poisoned tens of thousands of residents and livestock along the Ohio River Valley. DuPont recently settled lawsuits for over $670 million for knowingly releasing C8 into mid-Ohio Valley streams and tributaries that flowed into the Ohio River.

The U.S. government has since banned C8 from being produced in the U.S. because of its extreme toxicity and its ability to exist indefinitely in the environment. DuPont complied by discontinuing production of C8. Instead, they tinkered with its molecular structure to create a similar chemical, and gave it a new benign-sounding name – GenX.

You say potato, I say potaahto. No matter what you call it, this chemical is in the same toxic family of perfluoroalkyls and polyfluoroalkyls.

Is History Repeating Itself?

Is GenX to the Cape Fear River what C8 was to the Ohio River?

This is a thought-provoking question and no one knows the answer at this point. Studies are proliferating on the potential harms GenX may have already posed or could potentially pose to humans, animals, and the environment.

Here is what we do know. Many North Carolina residents may have been drinking and bathing in extremely contaminated water, potentially since 1980. Not only has this created a potential health issue, but property values may potentially be affected.

As a result, many North Carolina residents are suing the Chemours Company and DuPont.

 

Categories: Personal Injury

3 Ways Your Workers’ Comp “Recorded Statement” Can Trap You

After an injured worker reports or files a claim for a work injury, the employer has to promptly investigate and respond to the claim “at the earliest practicable time...”

As part of that prompt response, the law allows the employer or insurance company to request a statement directly from the employee about the facts surrounding how the work injury occurred. This is called a recorded statement.

Sometimes the recorded statement is a straightforward process where an injured worker is allowed to simply recount how they were injured. Other times I have seen some insurance adjusters use the recorded statement as a way to lead an injured worker to say something that may be damaging to their case so the insurance company can deny their claim.

3 Ways Recorded Statements Can Trap You

  1. The state of North Carolina requires employers to pay only for injuries that occur as a result of an accident or occupational disease.

    An accident can be a slip, trip, or fall and it can also be an untoward, unusual, or unexpected event. Based on my experience, employees typically do not want to damage their relationship with their employer even after they have suffered injuries. Yet some adjusters will throw phrases at them like “normal job duties” or “doing your job in your regular way” as a way of trying to prevent the employee from explaining what actually happened to cause their injury. When employees hear these types of phrases, some may feel that it is pointing toward faulting the employer. Typically the clients I have dealt with do not want to cast blame on their employer for their injury nor do they want to get the employer in trouble even if the employer was to blame. These clients typically want to assure their employer and the employer’s insurance company that no one was at fault. Yet I’ve seen some insurance adjusters take advantage of this mindset to lead these employees to state that there was nothing unusual that occurred when they were injured. They may ask leading questions to the employee so they provide an account of events which may not be entirely accurate. Sometimes they won’t allow the employee to provide an open-ended account of events – as this often leads to acceptance of needed medical and disability benefits. Instead, they may be more likely to ask specific questions that might potentially lead to denied benefits.

  1. Another tactic I have seen some insurance adjusters use, is to try to limit the nature of the injury that occurred. Workers’ compensation is designed to cover any injury that occurs as a result of an accident. If someone is involved in a highly traumatic event, they may have injuries to multiple body parts. I have seen some adjusters ask leading questions to try to limit what an employee can later claim as being injured in the accident. Again, it is a process of putting words into the claimant’s mouth. An adjuster I deal with quite often frequently asks questions like, “So you only injured your knee?” When in fact, more than the knee was injured. Again, this puts the employee in a difficult spot. They do not want to claim conditions that are unrelated to the accident. They only want what is fair and necessary to heal and return to work. This leaves some injured employees minimizing their symptoms in order to “go along” with the process.
  1. Some insurance companies we have dealt with have also occasionally used the recorded statement to attack the injured employee by asking irrelevant and offensive questions. This might include asking employees about other health conditions which are unrelated to the injury, personal information which may be uncomfortable for an employee to provide, and prior health information which an employee wishes to keep private. It puts the injured worker, who is simply trying to get treatment for their work injury, in an uncomfortable position.

They may not want to share past details of their life – nor are they legally obligated to in a recorded statement. Some have confided to us that they are worried the employer will find out about their private health conditions. Those details have no bearing on what occurred at work. It’s a Catch 22. If the injured worker declines to answer these unfair and invasive questions, some insurance companies may use that as a basis to deny needed benefits. If they do answer them, the insurance company may find reasons to deny the claim.

Benefits of a Workers’ Comp Lawyer in Recorded Statements

Answering recorded statements can be tricky for some injured workers to answer. If they are not answered in the precise manner that is clear to the adjuster that workers’ comp benefits should be covered, the statement can result in unfounded denial of benefits.

I take these statements very seriously for my clients.

I will only allow my clients to give a recorded statement with my guidance. And I do not allow an insurance adjuster to ask unfair, leading, or inappropriate questions.

I have had many, many clients come to me with denied claims simply because they did not seek the assistance of an attorney before giving their recorded statement. These statements can be a mine field for claimants. They are frequently used in evidence by employers and insurance companies in court to support a denial of a claim. It is only by adequate and thorough preparation that a claimant is in the best position to give a statement. It is also with the guidance of experienced legal counsel that they can try to avoid providing an incorrect account of events.

As stated earlier, I always advise my clients not to give any statement whatsoever to the insurance company before consulting with me and without me present. There are so many ways we’ve seen injured employees hurt their workers’ comp claim by talking to an insurance adjuster, without realizing how some of their statements may be misinterpreted in the best interest of the insurer.

I, or any of our workers’ compensation attorneys, can help you prepare to speak truthfully about your claim, and in ways that do not harm your case. We will be on the call with you to make sure the adjuster does not take advantage of you or twist your words. If a written statement about the events of your injury is the best option, we will coordinate with you to prepare a truthful statement to help protect your right to benefits.

Get a FREE Case Evaluation From NC Workers’ Comp Lawyers

If you are faced with giving a recorded statement to a workers’ comp insurance adjuster, contact an experienced North Carolina workers’ comp lawyer at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin before saying anything. You don’t want to inadvertently damage your case before getting a professional evaluation.

Contact us or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation.

Hard Knocks Lawyer, Rosa Antunez, Knows How to Stand Up to Adversity for Clients

Personal injury attorney Rosa Antunez has been described as soft-spoken and even quiet at times. In a social setting she may come across as somewhat reserved. Don’t be fooled. She is anything but when fighting for her clients. Or when negotiating with insurance companies to try to get the maximum that her clients potentially deserve.

Rosa learned to fight for what she wanted early in life when her family was abruptly uprooted from their upper class Honduras lifestyle to relocate to America under much different circumstances.

Some people may have given up when faced with the obstacles Rosa has faced. Not Rosa – it is part of what has made her a highly effective attorney and tenacious client advocate. It is what has given her a heart to serve others – to try to bring justice to her clients who have been wronged.

We recently had an opportunity to sit down with Rosa to talk about what led her from Honduras to North Carolina, and what led her to want to become an attorney after working as a paralegal for many years.

What drove you to become an attorney?

I had worked as a paralegal since 2005, and it was so rewarding because you are in the trenches with the clients daily. You are doing much of the research, dealing with the medical providers and insurance companies. And you are a sounding board for injured people who really need a shoulder to lean on, sometimes to cry on.

I have a B.A. in psychology, and I grew up in a home with a mother who was a psychologist. Psychology was my first love, and to some extent still is. I've always loved to work with and help people try to overcome their struggles. Having that psychology background, I felt I was more equipped professionally to help people through their issues – which is a lot of what many paralegals I know face every day.

The more I worked with the attorneys, the more I realized how much of a difference I could make as an attorney with my unique background as a paralegal with a degree in psychology.

Once I began to go through law school, I understood the dynamics of why an attorney would make certain decisions that didn’t seem to make sense to me as a paralegal. It all started coming together in law school. Those puzzle pieces I was piecing together as a paralegal came together to give me the bigger picture as an attorney.

One of my professors in law school once confided, "Maybe we can't personally go out and change the laws as an attorney, but the way we change the entire system is by being an advocate for the people." As you're doing that, as you're actively taking these cases and advocating for them, fighting for them, then you're changing the system one client at a time rather than letting the system take them over.

I feel this is especially the case for women and immigrants. I immigrated from Honduras as a teenage girl, and I understand firsthand how the system can derail your plans.

What brought you to America from Honduras?

I loved growing up in Honduras. We had a very happy family life. My father owned a candy factory and my mother was a psychologist and full-time mom and she ran other businesses. Like many upper class families in Central America, we had live-in maids, chauffeurs, bodyguards. I never had to do chores! Although we did go down to my father’s candy factory to “help” wrap the candies – meaning we would wrap one, eat one.

In 1998, Hurricane Mitch tore through Honduras. It was one of the deadliest hurricanes in history and destroyed most the infrastructure of Honduras – the economy, and thousands of businesses. Within a couple of years, my father lost his candy factory as a result of the widespread economic struggles the hurricane set into motion, and we could not pay our bills.

I’ll never forget how my parents faced this life altering devastation. They knew they had lost everything. There was no choice for us but to pack up what little we had left and move to Florida near relatives to start a new life.

Life as we had known it was over.

My parents’ attitude was “this too shall pass.” That kind of strength was ingrained in me my entire life, but to see my parents live it in real time really had an effect on how I would live my life.

When we arrived in Florida, my formerly wealthy, highly educated parents cleaned houses to make ends meet. My father used to always do a little something extra for his candy customers in Honduras. My parents did the same when they cleaned houses in Florida.  My father would leave flowers behind and my mother would engage with the customers. The customers appreciated the effort my parents gave and the caring they showed. Word of mouth spread and within just a couple of months, they were able to start their own cleaning business, which is very successful today.

Those are two things that have been engrained in me – never despair or give up, and always give that extra effort. And I definitely try to do that with my clients – even talking to people who call in and do not become clients. I often find myself offering them legal advice. Who knows, maybe they will need us one day for another legal matter.

How were things different for you in the U.S.?

Very different. I was a junior in high school when I first moved here. Fortunately I knew English, so I was able to graduate high school. But even though my parents had the money to send me to college, I was not legally allowed to attend college in the U.S. at that time because I was considered an “overstayed visitor.”

I took some classes, got married, moved to North Carolina, and eventually attended undergrad at UNC, which is where I got my psychology degree. I worked during college, so it took me twice as long to get my degree.

With a psychology degree, how did your path evolve to becoming a lawyer?

It was a tough road. Although it didn’t start out that way.

I got a full scholarship to law school. Then I became pregnant with my daughter. Two very happy moments in my life! I maintained my grades, but my daughter was born prematurely in the middle of my spring semester. Unfortunately, she was in the NICU for three weeks.  Plus, I had to have a blood transfusion, which kept me in the hospital for a week. I lost the scholarship because I was away from school for about a month. Not too long afterward, my husband and I divorced.

I needed a job and had experience as a paralegal. So I applied here at James Scott Farrin. I was very blessed to be able to find this law firm. I worked as a paralegal and was able to go back to law school and finish my law degree. For the first time in my life, I feel as though I am where I was meant to be.

What are you to your clients? How do you connect?

I thrive off being a no-nonsense advocate for my clients. Especially when some insurance companies try to play semantics’ games, and belittle my client’s situation, as in this case I handled for a client injured by a drunk driver.

My client was hit by a drunk driver, but thankfully escaped with relatively minor injuries. The drunk driver was charged with a DUI. However, that driver was not convicted due to a technicality (despite being several times over the legal limit). As expected, the insurance adjuster low-balled my client on the recovery offer. While a low offer is expected, what got to me was that the adjuster had the unmitigated gall to laugh about my client’s injury claims. Actually laughed at the suffering of another human being! When I subsequently demanded policy limits because of the egregious behavior of the drunk driver, the defense attorney’s response was, “We all have bad days.” Suffice it to say that the defense attorney had a bad day, too – when I forced the insurance company’s hand to pay my client the policy limits*.

Don’t disrespect another human being. And don’t laugh at the expense of my client’s misfortune.

What are some encouraging words you have lived by?

My parents used to always tell us, “This too shall pass.” And that is what I try to impart to my clients. No matter how bad a situation they may find themselves in, it will eventually pass.

Who or what has influenced you most?

I would have to say my parents. They have taught me to always strive to do better. I am the third of four children. My parents have told me my whole life that ... their first kid was a girl, their second kid was a boy, so they were learning how to be parents with them. I'm the first one they really got to relax with and enjoy. I grew up being their sweetheart. But they were (and still are) very strict. They have always pushed me to do better. I would get A's, and I would get a 96, and my dad would say, "You could have gotten a 100." Not enough.

I watched them hold fast in the face of major adversity and disaster. They didn’t miss a beat. They just kept on faithfully believing that “this too shall pass.”

*Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

Denied Treatment by Workers’ Comp? You Have More Rights Than You Know

Many people call in and tell me that the workers’ compensation insurance company is not paying for all their medical bills. Understandably, this is a very worrisome situation.

If a workers’ compensation claim has been accepted, the law requires that the employer and its workers’ compensation insurance company provide medical treatment and pay the bills for any treatment that is “medically necessary.” That same law, however, gives the employer and its insurance company the right to “direct” any employee’s medical care.

What I have seen happen is that the workers’ compensation carrier will not pay for visits to a doctor that they did not pre-approve. Certainly, the workers compensation carrier is typically liable for any medical bills incurred from EMS and emergency room visits. But outside of these general and necessary bills, my experience has been, you may have to fight for what you want.

Workers’ compensation is responsible for paying for medical visits, diagnostic tests, epidural steroid shots, physical therapy, surgery, and related rehabilitation services that are deemed medically necessary. If, for example, you want them to pay for home care by a relative, that is typically not compensated, unless the relative is a licensed medical provider.

What Is Covered Under NC Workers’ Compensation?

If you have an accepted workers' compensation claim in North Carolina, you are entitled to medical benefits. This usually includes things like doctor's appointments, physical therapy, prescriptions, and even surgery. To put it simply, medical benefits for any treatments that help you recover from your injury.

Compensation can include, in many instances:

  • Travel costs to and from medical appointments (if more than 20 miles round-trip)
  • Attendant care
  • Medical equipment
  • Home or vehicle modifications

The workers’ comp insurance company is responsible for 100% of your approved medical expenses, so you are not responsible for co-pays as with regular health insurance.

Who Controls Your Care Under Workers’ Comp?

In North Carolina, your workers’ comp insurance carrier has the right to choose which doctors you see, when you see them, and which treatments you receive. (They may even appoint one of their approved nurses to “watch over” you. Click here for more about who these nurses may really be watching out for.) If you refuse certain treatments, they can (and likely will) discontinue benefits.

If you want a second opinion, you have the right to request it. Be forewarned. The insurance company might deny your request or try to direct which doctor you see before they agree to pay for treatment.

You have the option of requesting to see your own doctor. Based on my experience, however, the insurance company is likely to refuse to pay for that. If your doctor makes any new treatment recommendations, they will probably refuse to pay for those too. If you choose to pay for the treatment on your own, they may not reimburse you.

Delay, Deny, Defend Schemes Do Not Deter Us

As you've probably guessed, these issues can (and usually do) lead to lots of problems for the injured worker who is only trying to heal so they can get back to work and get on with their life. Yet instead of moving on and healing, many of them find themselves wrestling with their insurance company over denied medical treatments.

We’ve seen so much of these denial tactics that we developed a book called Insurance Companies (and Others) Behaving Badly.

I have been a lawyer for more than 25 years and I’d like to be able to say I have seen it all when it comes to insurance company denials. Truth be known, they seem to never stop inventing new reasons to try to deny injured workers. But their denials don’t deter me or any of our other workers’ comp lawyers.

NC Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Offer FREE Case Evaluation

Based on our team’s 150 years of combined experience, it is almost always a good idea to speak with us about your workers’ comp questions and issues. Our confidential case evaluations are free, and you may learn that you’re entitled to more than the insurance company claims.

If workers’ compensation is refusing to pay for any medical treatment, or if they are denying approval of medical treatment, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078 to learn how a workers’ compensation lawyer from the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin could potentially benefit you.

Shocking Stats About NC’s Pedestrian Accidents

I heard an interesting story from a colleague recently about an older pedestrian who was struck by a car traveling at 45 MPH while she was crossing the street. According to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety if a car is going 46 MPH and strikes a pedestrian, there is a 90% chance the pedestrian will sustain a severe injury. The chance of death if struck by a car traveling 42 MPH is 50%.

The woman was in her 70s and was known in the area for her strict exercise regimen, which included lifting weights. Amazingly, she was only badly bruised and suffered no broken bones. Her doctor attributed this miracle to her weight lifting, which kept her bones strong.

This story got me to thinking about pedestrian accidents in North Carolina in general.

Speed Increases Likelihood of Severe Pedestrian Injury

AAA confirms what we all intuitively know – that speed is a major factor contributing to pedestrian accidents and injuries. In fact, increased speed can make a substantial impact on the chances a pedestrian will be killed or badly hurt when struck by a car. Here are the statistics of the potential for chances of serious injury as vehicle speed increases:

  • 16 MPH there is a 10% chance
  • 23 MPH, there is a 25% chance
  • 31 MPH, there is a 50% chance
  • 39 MPH, there is a 75% chance
  • 46 MPH, there is a 90% chance the pedestrian will be severely injured

Chances of Pedestrian Death Due to Speeding Cars

Here are the chances of the potential for death as vehicle speed increases:

  • 23 MPH, there is a 10% chance of death
  • 32 MPH, there is a 25% chance of death
  • 42 MPH, there is a 50% chance of death
  • 50 MPH, there is a 75% chance of death
  • 58 MPH, there is a 90% chance of death

NC Among the Least Safe States for Pedestrians

Over 3,000 pedestrians in North Carolina are hit by cars every year. In fact, North Carolina is one of the most unsafe states in the U.S. for pedestrians. On average, about 160 pedestrians are killed each year in North Carolina, representing about 15% of all traffic fatalities that occur on our roads.

Where Do Most Pedestrian Collisions Occur in NC?

According to a study by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, from 2008 through 2012, most pedestrian collisions, injuries, and deaths, occurred in our Piedmont region (where most people live), followed by the coastal regions and lastly, the mountain areas. (Although the city of Asheville had the most pedestrian collisions of any North Carolina city.)

More than two-thirds (71%) of North Carolina pedestrian collisions over the past ten years occurred within urban areas, and 29% in unincorporated areas.

Pedestrian Safety Tips

What can pedestrians do to try to stay safe? WatchformeNC.org offers these common-sense pedestrian safety tips:

  • Look for cars turning left or right before crossing the street. Don’t assume the driver will stop.
  • Before crossing multiple lanes, be sure each lane of traffic is clear before you cross.
  • Enhance your visibility at night. Walk in well-lighted areas, carry a flashlight, or wear something reflective, such as stickers or armbands.
  • PUT DOWN THE PHONE. Avoid distractions like texting and talking on your cell phone. This diminishes your ability to both hear and see.
  • Follow the rules of the road by obeying traffic signs and signals, including pedestrian traffic signals.
  • Watch for brake lights on a car, which means that a car is about to back up.
  • Cross the street where you have the best view of traffic.
  • At bus stops, cross behind the bus or at the nearest crosswalk.
  • Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from the roadway as you can.

What to Do if You Suffered a Pedestrian Injury

The most important thing is to seek immediate medical attention and follow doctor’s orders.

If you make a claim against the insurance company they will likely contact you to obtain a recorded statement of what happened at the scene. While this can be a necessary step in the investigative process, the recorded statement can sometimes be a trap. Insurance adjusters may try to use the recorded statement against you when it comes time to settle for monetary damages.

Your best course of action with regard to a recorded statement is to contact us first and see if we can help.

NC Pedestrian Accident Lawyers Offer Free Case Evaluation

If you or someone you love has been injured in a pedestrian accident, contact one of our personal injury attorneys as soon as possible. Click here to contact us right away (24/7) or call 1-866-900-7078.

Things You Should Know About Your Workers’ Compensation Case

At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, our goal is to try to provide the absolute highest quality legal representation in your workers’ compensation case. The insurance companies already know we mean business. We want to let them know that you mean business too.

While we are fighting for you against the insurance company, we also want to provide you with first-rate customer service. The philosophy of the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin is time tested – treat our clients the way we want to be treated. In a workers’ compensation case, this means keeping you informed and giving you the same quality advice that we would give our loved ones. Many of our clients think of us first when they need quality legal representation for themselves, family, and friends. We are here to serve you. And we encourage you to contact us if you have any questions whatsoever.

We know that suffering a work-related injury can be a major irritant, even in the best circumstances. At worst, it can be a life-shattering event like it was for Christopher. Click here to read his inspiring story. For exactly this reason we strive for your complete satisfaction with our firm’s representation of your case.

Here are some things you should be aware of as we proceed through your workers’ comp case:

  • You are part of your workers’ comp team. The most important part, really. Your participation is key to a potentially successful outcome of your case.
  • Please keep the lines of communication open. We will strive to do the same from our end. We will explain the facets of a workers’ compensation case. For example, how some insurance companies may troll the social media accounts of a claimant to try to find a photo, a post, or other seemingly insignificant evidence and use it to deny medical treatment compensation.
  • Keep up with your medical appointments as best you can. Informing your doctors about all of your injuries is critical. It can mean the difference between an accepted or a denied workers’ compensation case.

Others on Your James Scott Farrin Workers’ Comp Team

Any number of attorneys and paralegals who may work on your case are on your team, as well as the numerous other resources our firm offers.

Several former defense attorneys and paralegals that worked for insurance companies. We’ve worked for the “other side,” so we know what you’re up against. We know some of their delay, deny, and defend strategies because we’ve seen it from the inside.

More than half our workers’ comp attorneys are NC Board Certified Specialists in Workers' Compensation law. This is the highest level of specialization available in North Carolina, and only a small percentage of NC attorneys can make that claim. Very small.

Two former North Carolina Industrial Commissioners. The North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) is the impartial agency that administers and enforces workers' compensation laws.

A former North Carolina state senator. He was elected to serve the seventh district of North Carolina for four terms.

Several recognized experts in workers’ compensation law. Several of our attorneys have more than 10 years of experience. Some speak at seminars for other workers’ compensation attorneys. Others have written books about various areas of law, and two have collected several coveted awards for workers’ compensation, including “Best Lawyer1” and “Rising Star2.” One was named “Super Lawyer3” three times and “Lawyer of the Year4” for Raleigh twice.

Attorneys who give back. Attorneys who join our side do it because they want to be advocates. This takes a certain mindset and special heart for service. And service to others is not something we take lightly. Of our 13 workers' comp attorneys, 12 are members of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of legal representation in our state. Many are very active members in their communities – from teaching at local colleges, to counseling the Spanish-speaking community. Serving others is in the DNA of our firm’s culture.

While each workers’ compensation case carries its own unique set of facts and circumstances, the evolutionary process is similar. It can best be described by examining the distinct phases of our process.

The Investigation Phase

The initial phase is one of administration and investigation. This is when we begin to build your case by collecting information such as the NCIC incident reports, reports created by the insurance company’s case managers and adjusters, and in some cases, photographs of your injuries. During this phase, we are gathering information about your accident or injury that is critical for us to try to achieve success.

The Medical Treatment Phase

Next is the medical treatment phase, often called the “healing period.” This is perhaps the source of most frustration for clients. It’s the time when you will be receiving medical treatment for the injuries you sustained. The healing process can be a lengthy one. Patience is more than a virtue – it is a necessity during this phase. You will likely will be assigned a rehabilitation nurse case manager by the insurance company, and we will monitor the medical providers and the rehabilitation nurse to try to ensure that you receive the best treatment possible. The rehabilitation nurse is hired by the insurance company as an overseer, a case manager, or coordinator. These nurses do not work for you, yet they often go with you to your medical appointments and report back to the insurance company. Read more about their role here.

You will eventually reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), which is the end of the healing period. At that point your medical provider will assign you a disability rating and likely release you from treatment. Unless you have specifically requested otherwise, we will not begin to negotiate with the insurance company until you reach this point of your case. Before you reach MMI, we don’t know the extent of your permanent injuries, the permanent work restrictions you may have, and any future medical treatment you might need. Moreover, this is often the best time to seek a second opinion evaluation with a doctor who has not been hand-picked by the insurance company.

The Negotiation Phase

This phase is when we begin the process of resolving your case. Before we can begin negotiations with the insurance company, we make sure we have all of the necessary information:

  • Your disability rating
  • Your permanent physical limitations and work restrictions
  • The future medical treatment you will need as a direct result of your workplace injuries
  • Wage information – including overtime and bonuses – to try to ensure that you are receiving every penny of compensation to which you are entitled

When we have gathered the necessary information, we will perform a thorough and careful evaluation to determine what we believe is the settlement value of your case. We will then call or meet with you to discuss the case value and ensure that all of your questions are answered. During that meeting, we will ask for your authority to submit a settlement demand to the insurance company.

The next step is actual negotiations with the insurance company or their attorney. This is sometimes done informally, but often takes place during a mediated settlement conference. Our clients attend and participate in these conferences. The pledge we make at this stage of your case is to use all our skills and experience to try to negotiate the best possible settlement for you and to help you make the best decision for you and your family.

The North Carolina Industrial Commission must approve all settlements. As such, if your case settles, it can take up to four to six weeks for your settlement check to arrive after the settlement has been reached. We try to shorten this period. We know that this money is critical for your future, and we work hard to try to make sure the settlement is paid expeditiously.

We have many people working behind the scenes on your case. We have dedicated, experienced, and caring professionals at every level working to ensure that we handle your case in a thorough, professional, and timely manner.

NC Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Offer FREE Case Evaluation

We hope this will give you some insight into your James Scott Farrin workers’ compensation team and what you might expect from us. We strive for your total satisfaction as you try to heal, return to work if you are able, and get on with your life.

If you have been injured on the job, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078. Your consultation is free.

 

1 Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers® has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Best Lawyers is based on an exhaustive peer-review survey. For the 24th edition of The Best Lawyers in America (2018) more than 58,000 leading attorneys cast more than 7.4 million votes on the legal abilities of other lawyers in their practice areas. Lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed; therefore inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor. Corporate Counsel Magazine has called Best Lawyers “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice.” For more information regarding the standards for inclusion, visit www.bestlawyers.com.

2 Published by Super Lawyers. To be eligible for inclusion in “Rising Stars,” a candidate must be either 40 years old or younger or in practice for 10 years or less. “Rising Stars” undergo a rigorous, multiphase process which combines peer nominations with third-party research. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are made annually on a state by state basis. While up to 5% of the lawyers in any state are named “Super Lawyers,” by Super Lawyers magazine, no more than 2.5% are named to the “Rising Stars” list. For more information regarding the standards for inclusion, visit www.superlawyers.com.

3 Published by Super Lawyers. “Super Lawyers” undergo a rigorous, multiphase process which combines peer nominations with third-party research. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are made annually on a state-by-state basis. For more information regarding the standards for inclusion, visit www.superlawyers.com.

4 Only a single lawyer in each practice area and designated metropolitan area is honored as the “Lawyer of the Year,” making this accolade particularly significant. Lawyers being honored as “Lawyer of the Year” are selected based on particularly impressive voting averages received during the exhaustive peer-review assessments conducted with thousands of leading lawyers each year. Receiving this designation reflects the high level of respect a lawyer has earned among other leading lawyers in the same communities and the same practice areas for their abilities, their professionalism, and their integrity. For more information on the rules of inclusion visit www.bestlawyers.com.

Contact Information

Raleigh Law Office

4325 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 100
Raleigh, NC 27607
Phone: 919-834-1184
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Durham Law Office

280 South Mangum Street, Suite 400
Durham, NC 27701
Phone: 919-688-4991
Fax: 800-716-7881

Fayetteville Law Office

517 Owen Drive
Fayetteville, NC 28304
Phone: 910-488-0611
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Charlotte Law Office

1001 Morehead Square Drive, Suite 350
Charlotte, NC 28203
Phone: 704-599-1078
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

New Bern Law Office

1505 South Glenburnie Rd, Unit P
New Bern, NC 28562
Phone: 252-634-9010
Toll Free: 1-866-780-3422

Greenville Law Office

702 G Cromwell Dr.
Greenville, NC 27858
Phone: 252-355-5205
Toll Free: 1-866-780-3227

Greensboro Law Office

300 N. Greene Street, Suite 850
Greensboro, North Carolina 27401
Phone: 336-665-7072
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Goldsboro Law Office

214 South William Street, Suite 3
Goldsboro, NC 27530
Phone: (919)-731-2581
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Henderson Law Office

514 Dabney Drive, Suite 200
Henderson, NC 27536
Phone: 252-492-4600
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Roanoke Rapids Law Office

709 Julian R. Allsbrook Highway
Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870
Phone: 252-537-9670
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Rocky Mount Law Office

3202 Sunset Avenue, Suite B
Rocky Mount, NC 27804
Phone: 252-937-4730
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Sanford Law Office

703-B South Horner Boulevard
Sanford, NC 27330
Phone: 919-775-1564
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Wilson Law Office

2315 Airport Blvd Suite A
Wilson, North Carolina 27896
Phone: 252-246-9090
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Winston-Salem Law Office

301 N. Main Street, Suite 2409-C
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078