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

Should I Talk to the Insurance Company After My Work Injury?

When you sustain an injury on the job it’s crucial to report your injury to a manager or supervisor right away. You should also file a Form 18 with the Industrial Commission, which can be submitted electronically. Click here for Form 18.

In order for your case to be accepted, the insurance company must follow an investigative process to determine if your case will be accepted or denied. They will review medical records regarding the injury and talk to your employer. They will also talk to you by phone to obtain what is known in the workers’ comp industry as a “recorded statement.”

The recorded statement is a key phone call for them – and for you. What you say can lead to acceptance of your claim or denial.

Be careful how you explain what happened to cause your injury. And be careful how you answer seemingly harmless questions. You want to tell the truth, of course, but we have seen instances where the insurance adjuster spun the truth out of context in their efforts to deny claims.

What is a recorded statement?

The first contact you have with the workers’ comp insurance adjuster will likely be in the form of a recorded statement. The adjuster will call you and ask your permission to ask you questions over the phone while they record the conversation.

The recorded statement should be approached with great caution, and it is prudent to consult with an attorney prior to providing one. Here’s why.

The insurance adjuster is NOT on your side.

The primary purpose of the questions the adjuster asks during the recorded statement is to gather facts and information about your workplace accident. The adjuster might try and use this information to deny your claim.

That is why it is so important to be careful what you say and how you say it – and why we urge people to contact a workers’ comp lawyer before anything is said in that recorded statement.

“Anything unusual happen?”

Let’s say, for example, after you describe your work accident the adjuster asks you if anything unusual happened. Were you doing a task that is part of your regular job and were you doing it the way you normally would? The purpose of this question is not to judge whether or not you are a conscientious and careful employee. The answer you give might be directly related to the compensability of your case. In order for an injury to be considered compensable, there must be an “injury by accident,” which means that something out of the ordinary or unusual must have happened.

“Unusual” to the insurance company might mean that one particular shelf you were stocking had been moved higher than usual and you lost your balance and fell while reaching. To you, reaching for a high shelf is all in a hard day’s work. So you might reply that nothing unusual happened. Unusual to you might mean the electricity went out and you were stocking shelves in the dark.

If you tell them you were doing your job as usual at the time of injury and omit to report any unusual circumstances, such as the shelf having been moved a bit higher than normal, your case may potentially be denied.

To the insurance company, this critical piece of information could be a key factor in accepting or denying your claim. Adjusters know you are not aware of this. But they know we are!

There are a few exceptions to the “injury by accident” requirement. Different rules apply for injuries to the neck and back, hernias, and repetitious motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

The most important thing that you have at the beginning of a recorded statement is your good word, and you need to make sure the adjuster is not distorting your word. Be honest, brief, stick to the facts, and don’t editorialize, i.e., “I didn’t get much sleep last night, and was feeling more tired than usual.” Be aware, we’ve seen some adjusters try to veer off-track and make judgments about the incident, i.e. “Were you taking anything like cold medicine?”

Why consult with an experienced workers’ comp attorney?

This is just one example of the hundreds of nuances of workers’ compensation law. That is why we urge anyone who is faced with giving a statement to an insurance representative to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney first. We can try to help you understand the types of questions you may be asked and possible pitfalls and nuances in language to heed. We can also be part of the conversation during your recorded statement. If inappropriate questions are asked we can object.

Get a FREE Evaluation From a NC Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Not only do we have many experienced workers’ comp attorneys who deal with these issues every day, we have seven North Carolina Board Certified specialists in workers’ comp law. Many of our staff used to work for the insurance companies – and two worked at the NC Industrial Commission. There’s something to be said for that kind of inside experience.

Before you talk to any insurance representative, especially on a recorded statement, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078. We’re available to take your call 24/7.

 

PS: For the record, you have the right to decline a recorded statement and provide a written statement instead.

Have You Relaxed Car Seat Rules Now That Your Baby is Older? Don’t! Here’s Why.

While driving in to the Durham office, I saw something that irritates me even more than texting while driving. A woman (I assumed she was a mom) had her little girl, who could not have been more than 5 or 6, in the front seat of her Beamer traveling down a very busy four-lane road.  Without a car seat. Seriously? I wanted to shout out:

“HEY MOM! DID YOU KNOW YOUR CHILD IS 24X MORE LIKELY TO DIE IN A CAR ACCIDENT IF NOT PROPERLY RESTRAINED?

(Sorry for shouting in all caps. But I get worked up every time I think about it.)

If she had my job as a personal injury lawyer she’d think twice about her irresponsible, reckless, and potentially life-threatening decision.

We have represented far too many forever broken families whose children have died or been paralyzed or brain damaged as the result of car accidents. It can happen in a split second. And often it can be preventable.

“Just going down the street…”

Too often, parents might tend to loosen the rules a bit if they’re just going down the street. What some may not realize is that more kids get hurt when parents are running routine errands like going to daycare or the grocery store – or carpooling to school – than are injured on longer road trips. Safekids.org reports that 75% of car crashes affecting children happen within 25 miles of home. And 60% of crashes occur on roads with posted speed limits of 40 mph or less.

Many accidents and some child deaths happen at speeds of less than 25 MPH.

Children are not fully developed physically and are less able to withstand the impact of a car crash, compared with an adult. According to research conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, because air bags (and seat belts) were designed to protect average-sized adult males and NOT children, they can be extremely dangerous to infants or young children seated in front of them. Moreover, they report that children exposed to air bags during a crash are twice as likely to suffer a serious injury. Many people may be surprised to learn that a crash of less than 30 MPH can cause severe harm or death to a child as a result of airbag deployment. Why?

The technology used to deploy airbags is similar to the technology in some rocket boosters!

Keeping North Carolina’s Young Children Safer in the Car

Because of the position of airbags, children under 13 are safest when placed in the back seat, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Never place an infant in a rear-facing child safety seat in the front seat with an air bag. In a crash, the air bag comes out of the dashboard with its force directed at the back of the infant's head if riding in the front passenger seat.

Kids need to be in a rear-facing car seat until they’re 2 years old. A 2007 study in the journal Injury Prevention showed that children under age 2 are 75% less likely to die or be severely injured in a crash if they are riding rear-facing in the back seat. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises parents to keep their toddlers in rear-facing car seats until age 2, or until they reach the maximum height and weight for their seat.

Keep most kids in a belt-positioning booster seat until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall and are between 8 and 12 years old, says the AAP. Only 20% of parents put children ages four to eight in booster seats, even though safety experts recommend it. The result of this is that kids between the ages of four and eight actually face a bigger risk of dying in a car accident than a child under the age of three, according to an article in parents.com.

If you don’t have enough room in the back of your car to safely transport the number of children who need to travel safely, visit a car seat check station in your area (typically the local police or fire station) where a trained expert will help evaluate your situation. Click here for Safekids.org safety check stations in North Carolina from Dare County in the Outer Banks to Cherokee County to the west.

5 Car Safety Tips for Kids 13 and Up

(That includes your college-aged “kids” and even you.)

  1. Move the front seat as far back as possible from the dashboard.
  2. Passengers 13 and up need to wear a lap and shoulder belt when riding in the front seat. Air bags are designed to work with the lap and shoulder belt to protect the occupant.
  3. Teach your child not to lean forward to change the radio station, insert CDs, or plug in their phones.
  4. Insist your child sit upright against the seatback, with the seat belt snug at all times.
  5. Find out what you need to know about air bags when buying a used car. Some, such as Takata have been recalled on thousands of vehicles.

We’re lawyers, but we’re parents too. It is beyond heartbreaking when we have to represent a mom and dad who has lost a child in a car crash, no matter what age or circumstances. I am adamant about safety rules in the car (especially teens texting and driving). Maybe it’s because of the brokenness I have seen as a lawyer – brokenness that didn’t have to happen. And it can happen just like that.

Get a FREE Case Evaluation from NC Car Crash Lawyers

We have represented far too many clients with children injured in car crashes. Their stories are heartbreaking. If your child or anyone in your family was injured in a car wreck, please have them contact us immediately or call 1-866-900-7078. We are available 24/7 and will evaluate the situation for FREE.

Why We Believe Open, Regular Communication is Key to Fighting for Your Compensation

Handling someone’s legal case is very intense and there are many moving parts. A person’s future is on the line. Possibly an entire family’s future. It’s not uncommon that when someone is involved in a car wreck, they might lose time from work, and as a consequence could fall behind on their bills, including car and mortgage payments. We’ve had clients lose their homes just because they were in a car accident and had to take a lot of time off work – through no fault of their own. We’ve had clients who were fired from their jobs as a result of the same thing.

Why We Insist on Regular Two-Way Communication

Communication from day one is critical. We don’t want lack of communication to potentially thrust our clients into a destitute situation. There is so much detail that must be cross communicated starting from that very first phone call. Medical correspondence, photos, doctors’ appointments, follow-ups, progress reports.

We are sticklers about keeping regular and open communication with our clients. So much so that we make sure to emphasize the importance of two-way communication to each and every client as soon as we accept their case. And we try to reinforce that fact throughout the case.

We had one client1 come to us not too long ago for this very reason. He was a communicator and wanted a law firm who would try to do the same.

He came to the right firm.

When we accept a case, one of the first things we do is discuss with the client the importance of keeping the lines of communication open. If we can’t get in touch with you to ask you important, often time-sensitive questions about your accident or your medical progress, it can delay progress on your case. On the other hand, if you cannot get in touch with your lawyer or paralegal when you have important updates or information to share, it can delay your case. We pledge that from our end, we will dedicate a lawyer and a paralegal to you.

Once we accepted this client’s case, we immediately set about finding out about his medical treatment plan in our efforts to fight for him to obtain recovery2 (which ended up being very significant despite his extenuating circumstances).

One of the keys to achieving a good result for him was simply having regular two-way communications. We would communicate with him about the progress of his case and he would communicate with us about his treatment and health progress. Another key is establishing trust. That too, we believe, can come from good communication. Here is this client’s story.

How Open Communication Helped Our Client

A caller contacted us a few weeks after his car wreck. He explained on the call that he needed open and regular communication about the case if we decided to accept it and he decided to hire us. After talking with us and learning that our standard operating procedure is to openly and regularly communicate with our clients, he hired us to try to help him obtain compensation for his injuries.

The case was a bit of a challenge from the start. First, the client was rear-ended by a government official’s vehicle. These claims can often take longer than private claims, and can be wrought with minimal cooperation from the other side and often mired in bureaucracy.

Secondly, there were large gaps in time where the client was unable to seek treatment due to extenuating circumstances. And treatment can often be the star player in determining what compensation our clients may obtain. We knew we had our work cut out for us. But we also knew this man was injured through no fault of his own and he needed someone to help him try to prove it.

When he initially called us we were unsure about taking his case, primarily because he had not sought treatment. Yet he had not done so because he did not have health insurance. We explained the various options he could pursue for someone without health insurance.

Upon exploring some of these options on his own he began to treat conservatively before seeing a specialist and then briefly going through pain management.

As can sometimes happen, we had to address another hurdle when all of his diagnostic testing came back negative and showed other pre-existing issues, which we knew the insurance company would use against him.

As expected with this type of claim, negotiations took a few months. The client became somewhat impatient and was anxious for a settlement. That can happen sometimes with clients. We get it! They need money to pay bills while they are healing. Yet through regular communication and having already forged a bridge of trust we had established in the beginning, we were able to keep him updated about the progress of his case.

We ended up resolving his case for significantly more2 than we and the client had initially anticipated, based on the client’s lack of treatment and his pre-existing conditions.

It’s Our Mission to Make Good Things Happen for Clients

While no lawyer is a miracle worker, we really like it when we are able to make good things happen – even when the odds seem stacked against a case, as it was in this client’s situation. Truth be told, our clients can often be a key factor to their own results. And while it’s always rewarding when a case is completed and another client walks out the door with their settlement check, it can sometimes be bittersweet to close the case.

North Carolina Car Wreck Lawyers

Even though we are one of the largest personal injury law firms in North Carolina, each case is personal to us. And we communicate that to our clients. We think they like it that way, and so do we. Perhaps that is one of the reasons we have grown to roughly 200 staff members, including nearly 40 attorneys and have recovered over $700 million2 total for more than 30,000 clients since 1997.

Several of our lawyers have achieved peer- and client-reviewed designations including Best Lawyers “Best Lawyers in America” 20173 and “Lawyer of the Year” 20174; “Super Lawyer” 20165 by North Carolina Super Lawyers, and Business North Carolina’s “Legal Elite 2015”6.

See for yourself what our clients have to say about us.

Get a FREE Case Evaluation From North Carolina Injury Lawyers

If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, and you want a law firm who will communicate with you regularly throughout your case, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078. We will evaluate your situation for FREE and let you know if we think we can help.

 

 

1 Client identity has been removed or changed to protect privacy.

Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. The outcome of a particular case cannot be predicated upon a lawyer’s or a law firm’s past results.

3, 4  For information regarding standards for inclusion visit www.bestlawyers.com.

For information regarding standards for inclusion visit www.superlawyers.com.

6 For more information regarding the standards for inclusion for Business North Carolina’s Legal Elite, visit www.businessnc.com.

 

Striving to Become a Better Attorney – Q&A With Our Newest N.C. Board Certified Specialist in Worker’s Comp Law

Recently workers’ compensation attorney Ryan Bliss became a North Carolina Board Certified Specialist in workers’ compensation law. Becoming North Carolina Board Certified is quite an achievement. Out of the more than 28,000 attorneys licensed in North Carolina, only 140 are board certified in workers’ compensation law – that’s less than 1%*. While not all practice areas in North Carolina offer board certification, workers’ comp does.

Not every attorney who has the opportunity to become board certified chooses that path. It’s a tough one to forge. The time commitment alone can deter many capable attorneys.

We sat down with Mr. Bliss to get his thoughts about why he chose to become North Carolina board certified in worker’s compensation law.

What prompted you to become a North Carolina board certified specialist in workers’ compensation law?

For me, it was a no-brainer. The board certification process gives lawyers a unique opportunity to demonstrate specialized knowledge, skill, and proficiency in a designated area of practice. Specialization is a distinguishing accomplishment in the legal profession, and very few lawyers licensed in North Carolina can claim this designation.

I’m proud to say we now have eight attorneys at our firm who are board certified. I chose to apply for board certification because I want my clients to know I strive to be the best lawyer I can be for them. Becoming board certified is one more step toward that effort.

What was involved in becoming board certified in workers’ compensation law?

Candidates for board certification must devote a significant portion of their legal practice to workers’ compensation for at least five years. Additionally, they must meet Continuing Legal Education requirements and be favorably evaluated and recommended for certification by other lawyers and/or judges. There’s also a lengthy written exam, which lasts six hours and covers many aspects of North Carolina’s workers’ compensation law, including nuanced details from decades of court decisions.

What was this experience like for you?

Rigorous. Interesting. Enlightening. Often stressful. I knew that finding time to study while working full time and having a family wasn’t going to be easy, but I looked forward to the challenge.

Before allowing applicants to sit for the exam, the specialization board requires attorneys to demonstrate their experience and skill via a written application. We are asked to list our qualifications and summarize years of active legal practice in just a few pages. Applicants must also provide several personal references from upstanding peers in the legal community.

The exam covers a lot of ground so I began studying in advance. It was a major time commitment, but what I learned has already begun to pay dividends in the cases I am handling. My firm is all about doing what is best for the client, and board specialization certainly runs in that vein.

What did you learn that might potentially enhance and fortify your practice?

In many ways, I believe I’m a better attorney because of this experience. After immersing myself in the intricacies of our workers’ compensation system, I’m now able to be more creative when crafting legal arguments. As a specialist, I can offer my clients a much broader perspective when discussing complex issues that arise in their cases.

I’ve looked forward to this experience for a long time. In my role as a workers’ compensation attorney, I make important decisions every day that directly affect my clients’ livelihoods and families. As a board certified specialist, I know I’m giving them the very best I have to offer.

 

* Figures provided by the N.C. State Bar as of December 2016.

A Must-Read If You Want to Avoid Insurance Mistakes After an Accident

Who wouldn’t trust khaki-wearing Jake-from-State-Farm to be there for us, even at 3 in the morning? And good ol’ Flo from Progressive. You can trust her too – she’s like your quirky bestie. You can tell her anything.  AllState deep-voice guy? He’s not going to let anyone or anything mess with you. You’re in good hands.

Or are you?

Based on our experience? Not necessarily. There’s a reason why insurance companies spend so much money every year on “trust us” advertising.

Free Book on Avoiding Common Insurance Company Pitfalls

When you’re in an accident and you make a claim, why wouldn’t you think twice about giving one of these or any insurance company a recorded statement over the phone?

Why wouldn’t they believe you when you explain that you swerved into oncoming traffic because of a deer, and the car wreck was unavoidable and not your fault. And why wouldn’t they want to pay for all your medical bills caused by the accident, and time off work, or give you what your totaled car may really be worth?

Why would your insurance company try to low-ball you?

Because most insurance companies operate for profit. Theirs. And based on our years of experience of recovering more than $700 million in total* for over 30,000 clients they can’t be trusted to put your financial interests ahead of theirs.

Why do you think their ads emphasize the trust factor?

While many insurance company ads are admittedly enjoyable, dealing with insurance companies when you’ve been injured in a car crash – not so much.

That is why we developed a FREE 40-page Personal Injury Guide (How to take control of your personal injury claim, before it controls you). It’s a booklet we believe will help you try to avoid common pitfalls the insurance companies don’t want you to know about.

“No one should go through the personal injury process alone. If we can’t help, maybe this booklet will.”— Attorney and Shareholder, Michael Jordan

How to Deal With Your Insurance Company After a Car Wreck

Our book outlines some of the most common traps people fall into when trying to handle claims on their own, such as giving a recorded statement over the phone, not getting proper medical care for injuries, not pursuing all available coverage, even signing the wrong documents, and many other little-known traps the unwary can fall into.

The information highlighting common pitfalls, however, is just the beginning, covering just one chapter in our comprehensive guide. We know that when some people are injured in an accident, they may prefer to deal with the insurance company themselves instead of hiring a lawyer. We get it. Not every situation warrants legal help.

How to Understand Your Rights and Potential Barriers

That is why we created this easy-to-read guide. We wanted to help you try to understand your rights, the legal process, and potential barriers you may face after an injury in North Carolina. In the words of the guide’s author, attorney and shareholder Michael Jordan, “No one should go through the personal injury process alone. If we can’t help, maybe this booklet will.”

From the basics of the first things you should do after an injury, to dealing with specific injury types, to DWI victims’ rights, and even premises liability, we’ve tried to make this guide a key go-to resource for many different types of situations general and specific.

We’re Just As Available As Jake – (And We Won’t Raise Your Rates)

There’s a reason you’re reading this. If you have been injured, and if you find yourself falling into some of these common pitfalls the guide warns you about, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078.

We’re available at 3 in the morning too, just like Jake-from-State-Farm.

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

 

St. Pat’s Day Parades, Plus Sober Ride Services

If you live near Charlotte or Pinehurst, here are links to the info you need on for St. Patrick's Day Parades in those areas.

North Carolina St. Patrick's Day Parades

Uptown Charlotte
Saturday, March 18 at 10 a.m.

The Village of Pinehurst
Saturday, March 18 at 11 a.m.

St. Patrick's Day Among Deadliest for Alcohol-Related Crashes

While St. Patrick's Day parades have offered fun and entertainment for all ages in year's past, it's a day of binge drinking for many. According to Wallethub, 75% of fatal drunk driving car crashes on St. Patrick's Day involve a driver who has consumed more than 2X the legal alcohol limit. The legal limit in NC is 0.08.

St. Patrick's Day is among the deadliest for alcohol-related crashes.

A National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) study found that alcohol-related crashes claimed a life every 51 minutes on St. Patrick's Day in 2010, accounting for 32% of all fatalities that occurred that day.

NC Sober Ride Services Take You and Your Car Home

We don't want to rain on anyone's St. Patrick's Day parade. We just want you to be safe getting to and from them (or any other event).

If you plan to drink, don't drive. If you plan to drive, don't drink. Designate a driver.

There are many services across North Carolina that offer designated rides home, and their rates are comparable to taxis, even cheaper in some cases. Whatever the cost, it's cheaper than a DWI or worse - hospital bills and a lawsuit.

Click here for a list of North Carolina's sober ride services in Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point, and Fayetteville and their surrounding communities and towns.

These services take you and your car home.

There's also Uber and Lyft in addition to local taxi services. Not only can they take you home, but you could take them to the parade and avoid any parking issues - or having to deal with other drivers who may have had one too many Guinness.

Get FREE Advice From NC Car Wreck Attorneys

Whatever you do and no matter where you are in North Carolina during St. Patrick's Day, we hope this information is helpful in your efforts to safely celebrate it. If you or someone you love was injured in a car wreck, whether or not it involved a drunk driver, contact an experienced car wreck lawyer.

Studies have shown that, on average, car accident victims who hired a personal injury lawyer to represent them received 3.5X more compensation for their loss than they would have on their own*.

Contact us now for a free case evaluation to see if we can help or call us at 1-866-900-7078.

* Insurance Research Council 1999

NC Social Security Disability Hearing Wait Times Almost 2 Years! We May be Able to Help.

How many times have you heard from your children, "That's not fair!" Too many to count? We can laugh it off when they're young, and older brother gets to play football with the neighborhood kids while the little tykes are told to stay on the sidelines until they're old enough to play.

But the reality is sometimes life is not fair. We see it every day fighting for our Social Security Disability clients. And it's no laughing matter.

Many of our clients have been sidelined for life as they were going about their daily routines. One client was stopped in traffic on his way home from work and got rear-ended by a driver going above the speed limit. His injuries were so devastating he vomits three or four times a week. He has headaches so severe they wake him up several times a night, and he has photosensitivity to the point where he can no longer go outside and enjoy the sunshine.

Another client was injured on the job just by walking up a flight of stairs.

One client simply sat down at church when a bolt came lose on the chair and she fell to the floor causing her permanent and total disability.

Some of our clients have fought for our country and returned home physically or mentally unable to exercise their inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness - a right promised to all U.S. citizens in the Declaration of Independence. Sadly, these veterans are among the more than one million people on the Social Security Disability wait list whose delay in having their cases heard can be more than two years in many parts of the country!

Now that's not fair!

Social Security Disability Wait Times in North Carolina

While Social Security Disability is available to help our citizens who have been sidelined by catastrophe, getting it can be very difficult for a number of reasons. One is the long wait time. According to the Social Security Administration, the wait times in North Carolina are currently:

  • Charlotte - 21 months
  • Fayetteville - 20 months
  • Greensboro - 21 months
  • Raleigh - 19 months

Some are forced to wait so long they have died before their hearing date because some are simply unable to pay for medication they need to live. We have seen this happen.

When they finally get a hearing many are denied benefits. More than two-thirds are denied the first time and 88% the second time. Of those who are accepted, it can take several more months in many cases to begin receiving payments and back benefits.

Sadly, some are denied because they attempted to navigate this overwhelmingly large bureaucratic aircraft carrier by themselves.

James Scott Farrin Social Security Disability Team of "Insiders"

These are the circumstances that motivate our Social Security Disability team to come to work every day. We know what you're up against because most of us have worked on the other side.

All but one of our paralegals has worked for the Social Security Administration as a
Disability Determination Services examiner, where initial applications are
accepted or denied.

This inside experience is helpful in knowing how the system works, including:

  • What they look for to accept a claim
  • The importance of filing the correct forms, filling them out correctly, and meeting demanding and unwavering deadlines
  • What medical records you need to produce - and which ones not to produce

Just the paperwork alone can be overwhelming for one person.

Not only can we help you complete it correctly, process it on time, and in the manner in which Social Security Disability requires, but we can also follow up in a timely manner and try to keep the process moving. We can also help you obtain your medical records so that when your case goes to hearing, we know we've tried to do everything possible to make sure your information will not be sent back because of a technicality, for example.

Of all the attorneys licensed in NC, fewer than 1%* are board certified specialists in Social Security Disability law. I am one of them. I also chair the N.C. State Bar's Social Security Disability Law Specialty Committee and I lead the committee charged with writing and grading examinations for attorneys who wish to specialize in Social Security Disability law.

Capped Fees for Social Security Disability Clients

Some people may mistakenly think they cannot afford us to help them through this daunting process. If you are one of them, you are mistaken! This is one area where the federal government is your friend. Not only do we work on a contingency basis, like all Social Security Disability lawyers, the federal government has capped legal fees in order to help keep costs low for you.

The contingency fee for Social Security Disability clients is limited
to 25% of back-due benefits, or $6,000, whichever is less.

NC Social Security Disability Lawyers Offer FREE Case Evaluation

If you need to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, or if you have applied and were denied, click here to contact us or call 1-866-900-7078. Our attorneys and team of former "insiders" will fight to try to improve your chances of getting the benefits you may deserve.

(We think that's a fair offer.)

* Percentage from the NC State Bar as of December 2016

Answers to 10 Commonly-Asked Workers’ Comp Questions

We get so many calls from injured workers who have questions about what to do in certain workers' comp situations. Some questions we hear consistently. We sat down with workers' compensation attorney Jacob Goad to address 10 of the most common questions we hear.

(Incidentally, before Jacob became an attorney, he worked as a workers' comp paralegal for many years, so he has a uniquely rounded perspective). Here, Jacob shares some good news about your rights under North Carolina's workers' comp law.

1.  My employer is treating me differently now that I filed for workers' comp - can they do that?

They shouldn't be, but we see it all the time.

We recently represented a client* who injured his leg driving a delivery truck. The workers' comp doctors insisted the injury only needed a brief stint of physical therapy and the employee could go back to work soon. Yet physical therapy wasn't working. The employee went to another doctor for a second opinion, and that doctor took images that proved the employee would need much more time off work to heal. That extra time off did not go over well with the employee's manager. When he showed up for work after healing, his manager fired him. That's when he called us.

2.  I filed for workers' comp and got fired - what can I do?

When some employers notice an employee files a workers' comp claim they might try to terminate the employee because of the injury. That's against the law in North Carolina.

An employer cannot fire you simply because you filed a workers' comp claim. If they do, they could be violating the Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act, (REDA). REDA is one of a number of laws enacted after the 1991 Imperial Foods Inc. fire in which more than 70 employees were killed or injured in a chicken processing plant that had previously been cited for numerous safety violations.

REDA protects employees who have been hurt on the job and are entitled to workers' comp benefits. It also protects them from being mistreated at work for filing a claim.

Yet people still get fired when they come back after an injury. Let me explain why.

In certain cases, if an employee files a claim, they might as well have a proverbial bull's-eye on their back. The reason is employers and insurance companies know that if the employee is terminated for non-workers' comp issues, the amount they'll have to pay may be significantly reduced. In other words, it can often be cheaper to fire an employee than to pay them workers' comp benefits. That is why some employers may try to get the employee back to work right away, and then look for any technicality to get rid them.

This is often done under guise of rehabilitation. Get the worker as good as possible to get them back to work as quickly as possible, and then fire them so you don't have to possibly deal with a more substantial workers' comp settlement. Return-to-work issues happen in our cases fairly regularly. We often encourage employees to return to work if it is advisable to do so and when their doctor tells them to. But some employers in North Carolina are particularly aggressive with return to work issues, and if employees don't have good legal counsel we've seen them get pushed around. That's when employees could use a lawyer with resolve and passion to help the injured.

3.  Do I have a better case if I am terminated after a workers' comp claim?

Not necessarily. If the employer has solid documentation of why you were terminated, then it may impact your potential compensation because it could mean the insurance company doesn't have to pay your future out-of-work benefits or as much out-of-work benefits.

On the other hand, if the employer fires you for no good reason after you've returned to work under workers' comp simply because they don't want to deal with your ongoing disability, then that does likely help your case. We've seen this happen a lot.

4. What protection is available to keep me from losing my job if I file for workers' comp?

Primarily the REDA, as I mentioned earlier. It is a safety net for employees who have been injured in the workplace when they are entitled to workers' comp benefits. And again, REDA is also supposed to help protect you from being harassed or mistreated at work because of your injury.

5.  Will it hurt my workers' comp case if I go back to work?

It depends on your circumstances. You should always discuss this with your workers' compensation attorney first.

In many cases, if you go back to work you may be forfeiting your right to continue receiving workers' compensation checks.

However, if recommended by your attorney, it may be advisable to return to work if your employer is willing to accommodate work restrictions, and you want to stay with that employer for a long time or permanently. In those cases where there is a good relationship and there is no permanent medical restrictions, it could be in your best interest to go back to work and continue working with your employer, and be compensated for your permanent partial impairment rating (PPI) rating. We see a lot of claims go that route.  As a matter of fact, the majority of claims filed through the workers' comp system resolve this way. Additionally, we have knowledge and experience working with many employers throughout the state; so again, it may potentially benefit you to consult with us about your claim.

6.  What if I can't do the same job?

Often injuries prevent an employee from continuing to do the same work they were doing before their accident. That's where the rub often is. A lot of employers have policies in place where if the employee can't come back full duty, they can't accommodate them permanently. The employee would then be entitled to future out-of-work compensation until they or the insurance company find more suitable work for them.

This would come through vocational rehabilitation or possibly even a self-guided job search. For example, a Spanish-speaking laborer might be assigned to ESL classes to be able to acquire marketable skills in a non heavy-duty job. If somebody can't go back to their regular job, the insurance company assumes a major responsibility to try to get that person gainful employment.

Otherwise, the insurance company may be on the hook for future time out of work. That is why they will generally work very hard to help them find some work somewhere. Under the new workers' comp law, an employee could potentially get up to 500 weeks of benefits if they are out of work and are unable to find suitable employment.

7.  Will I lose my health insurance, if I lose my job?

A lot of times, yes. If you file for workers' comp and you're out of work completely, you're probably going to lose your employer-provided health insurance. Of course, there are exceptions. Some companies have a specific policy in place that says they, as a company, have decided that despite the workers' comp claim, they're going to continue to provide health insurance.

But if a corporation has no such policy in place, the employee could lose their health insurance. Workers' comp will pay for the work-related injury, but no other unrelated health issues.

8.  Do I have to go back to work if I'm able to?

If you are able, yes.

For example, let's say an injury is healing well, the employee wants to go back to work and the employer agrees. The doctor will give the employee a Permanent Partial Impairment (PPI) rating. A PPI rating allows an employee to receive compensation for a determined period of time for that injured body part, even if they continue to work. That allows them to go back to work and everyone can live happily ever after.

But sometimes, in the employer's eyes, it may not be about what you want. It might be about their bottom line. If the employer doesn't want you back after you filed a workers' comp claim, you may need a workers' comp attorney to help guide you through this process because the employer may very well want your resignation - or may simply fire you for trumped up allegations. Sadly, as you can imagine after almost 20 years representing injured workers, our firm has handled these situations many times. It's our daily mission as advocates for injured workers.

9.  When should I contact a workers' comp lawyer?

Whether or not you'll need a workers' comp lawyer depends on the nature of your injury. But it's almost always wise to contact one early - especially if your injury is serious.

At our firm, these initial case evaluations are free. One of our attorney's will review your claim and let you know if we think we can help you or not.

And if you hire an attorney who works on a contingency basis, like we do, you only pay an attorney's fee for the compensation we may be able to obtain for you.

10.  What will a workers' comp lawyer do for me?

First, as your advocate, we try to see to it that you're getting the medical care you may need to heal properly. And we can consider whether it is advisable to try to obtain a second opinion if you don't feel you are getting proper care or if a more neutral medical opinion is needed.

Second, we can try to help you protect your job while you are recovering. And if you are unable to return to work, we will help inform you of your options and the compensation to which you may be entitled.

Third, we help determine what other benefits you may be entitled to. Determining workers' comp benefits is a complex system involving complex math and all kinds of variables. A lot of people don't even know what benefits they may be entitled to, and if they did most would probably not understand how those benefits are calculated and determined.

For example, let's say an employee developed CRPS following the injury to an upper or lower extremity. CRPS is complex regional pain syndrome and it can develop after an injury, surgery, and other situations. It is a major medical condition and is painful and can be difficult to live with. It can also require long-term medication treatment, and that treatment can be expensive.

Now let's look at occupational disease claims like carpal tunnel or de quervain's, for example, repetitive motion injuries. We see this a lot with factory workers, food industry workers, or fabricators here in North Carolina. Those things can be difficult to deal with because it can be a chronic condition. Depending on who the employer is, if you have to go out for surgery, an employer who takes and aggressive position might not want you back. And they might not to want to pay you for future medical expenses for a chronic condition. We've seen this happen too.

Complex conditions, such as CRPS, carpal tunnel, and others abound. It is prudent to have someone on your side who knows what workers' comp insurance calculations involve, including familiarity with these and other medical conditions and knowing how to project future medical costs so that you may not be burdened with these medical expenses after your settlement.

Bottom line? You don't know what you don't know.

For these reasons and dozens of others, we urge anyone who has suffered a workplace injury to contact an experienced workers' comp lawyer as soon as possible. Right away even. If you need a lawyer, the earlier we can advocate for you, the better we can help you deal with your medical issues, your employer, and workers' comp insurance benefits.

END OF Q&A WITH ATTORNEY JACOB GOAD

Get a FREE Case Evaluation From Our NC Workers Comp Lawyers

If you've been injured at work, don't be afraid to file for workers' comp. It's your right under North Carolina law. Just as importantly, don't think you will necessarily get the medical and future benefits with your workers' comp insurance company just because you were injured on the job. There's too much at stake. Your health, your job, and possibly, future benefits.

Click here or call us at 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case.

P.S. Don't feel like you can't afford to hire a qualified workers' comp attorney. At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we work on a contingency basis, so you don't owe us an attorney's fee if we don't get you compensation for your claim.

* Client identity has been removed or changed to protect privacy

The Top 4 Ways People Die at Work in North Carolina (and How to Avoid Them)

More people died at work this past year than in any of the past four years. It's a sad, but true fact.

If you've lost a loved one in an at-work accident, please click here to talk to someone immediately who can help advocate for you.

According to the North Carolina Department of Labor, workplace fatalities in 2016 (federal fiscal year) are higher than they've been since 2012. A total of 48 people lost their lives, primarily in construction and manufacturing.

The 4 Most Common Reasons People Die at Work (in NC)

In an effort to curb workplace deaths, the North Carolina Department of Labor identified the following four accident categories that caused the most work-related deaths (89%) in North Carolina from 2009 - 2015. These were in large part construction-type jobs.

  1. Falls From Elevations

    Nearly half of all these "Big 4" fatalities were falls. Electricians, construction workers, firefighters - anyone whose job involves using a ladder or working at great heights can be susceptible to deadly falls.Many are preventable. A worker in Carteret was not secured onto the roof when he bent over, lost his balance, and fell 50 feet below onto concrete. Other falls are just very unlucky. One victim from Person County fell through a tin roof and landed on a vertical rod protruding from a table. The Centers for Disease Control recommends keeping work spaces free of clutter that could trip someone and cause a fall, making sure edges are protected, and checking all ladders or work surfaces for stability and proper positioning before applying weight.
  1. Struck-By Events
    Although the Department of Labor does not count car accidents among their work fatality numbers (such as a truck driver who dies in a crash), they do count when a vehicle strikes someone outside of a vehicle - such as someone working on a highway construction site.Other struck-by events can include those who were killed by something falling on them or being hit by a type of machinery.

    More than a third of the at-work deaths in North Carolina in 2016 were struck-by events, which are largely preventable.

    In an interview with WRAL-TV, Division of Occupational Safety and Health Division Director Allen McNeely said, "All of us - safety professionals employers and employees - must do better in identifying struck-by hazards... Staying vigilant around heavy machinery and construction material is critical."
  1. Caught In or Between Objects or MachineryThis category traditionally includes being caught in agricultural or manufacturing machinery, but may also include trench or excavation collapses and cave-ins. In fact, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 90% of their safety citations involve excavations. Even something as seemingly simple as laying pipework near a roadway can turn deadly in a split second, as it did for one Rocky Mount worker who was laying pipe near a pond in August when the ground collapsed, trapping, and killing him.The agency says that cave-ins are the most deadly of any type of excavation-type job. Again, safety and precautions are emphasized. They recommend having protective systems in place and inspecting trenches every day. Sadly, the Rocky Mount worker was unprotected.

    For other kinds of caught-in accidents, it is imperative to be diligent about safety training. ABC Eyewitness News in Gastonia County reported on the tragedy of a 19-year-old young man who suffered an unthinkable death when he was pulled into a wood cutter. It was his first day on the job. The owner of the business was so distraught he suffered a heart attack.

    Safety is everyone's responsibility. Be mindful of things like lose clothing and hair that could get caught in a machine. When around machinery, whether conducting maintenance or when it's not in use, make sure it is turned off and any wheels are blocked.

  1. ElectrocutionsWhile electrocutions can happen anywhere an electrical current is tampered with, those that prove fatal often involve power lines. Crane operators and people working on scaffolds near power lines must be especially careful.In general, assume all lines are energized unless verified otherwise, keep yourself and all equipment at a safe distance, and use a spotter and warning devices to avoid getting too close.

Temporary Workers Are Most Vulnerable to Fatalities on the Job

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health cites a report by the Labor Relations and Research Center at the University of Massachusetts indicating that 90% percent of U.S. businesses utilize temporary labor.

The report claims that temps sometimes receive insufficient training or are inexperienced in protecting themselves on the jobsite. Yet they are reluctant to ask employers for help because they fear they could be replaced. Moreover, temporary workers tend to be younger, less educated, and disproportionally consist of minority workers, many of whom might be immigrant workers.

Why are temps at higher risk for job injuries and fatalities?

"There's little incentive for host employers to rigorously train and supervise temp workers because staffing agencies carry their [workers'] comp insurance. If an agency has a high number of injuries within its workforce, they - not the host employer - are penalized with higher premiums," a recent Center for Public Integrity feature on the plight of temporary workers reported.

Further, there's little monetary accountability. The Occupational Safety and Health Act limits negligent employers to a maximum fine of $7,000 per safety violation deemed "serious" - even if the violations cause death.

That fine amounts to little more than a finger wagging for many employers.

If a Loved One Died at Work

No matter how careful we try to be, sometimes accidents happen. If you've lost someone, you have our deepest sympathies. You're the reason we do the work that we do. Click here for helpful resources that we believe might be of some help in your time of grief.

You should know there are many workers' compensation benefits surviving family members may qualify for. But don't rely on your loved one's employer or workers' comp insurance company to make sure you get everything you may be entitled to.

Regrettably, even in a time of loss, we've seen insurance companies turn their backs - or try to.

NC Workers' Comp Lawyers Offer FREE Case Evaluation

If someone died at work we are here to try to advocate for you. Our experienced team is dedicated to fighting for justice and trying to get surviving family members the benefits they may deserve. Let one of our workers' comp attorneys - seven of whom are North Carolina Board Certified Specialists in Workers' Compensation Law - evaluate your situation for free.

We are here to listen to what you are going through and see if we can help get you the answers you need. Contact us or call 1-866-900-7078.

Anti-Distracted Driving Apps Your Teen WILL WANT on Their Phone

I'm a dad.

Of teenagers.

I help out in my church with teen youth groups. And despite what my teens believe, I actually was a teenager at one time back when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

The teen years represent that magic threshold (some would say precipice) of adulthood. It reminds me of the toddler years when they discover new freedoms like walking (falling) and unearthing new things to put in their mouths like watch batteries and loose change. The difference is you were usually around to try to avert the really bad stuff from happening.

With teenagers?

You can't ride shotgun forever.

So when I read on Cars.com that half of all teen drivers will be involved in a crash before graduating from high school I did what any good parent of a teen driver would do.

I panicked.

Teens are notorious for being accident prone behind the wheel.

Especially younger teen drivers. Esurance.com says 16-year-old drivers are more than 2.5 times more likely to be in a crash than drivers ages 20 to 24. It gets worse when teens are carrying passengers. They report that the likelihood of teen driver death increases with each additional teenage passenger.  And, unfortunately, I get calls with that exact scenario far too often. Those are the cases that truly make me cry.  And then I spend some extra time with my kids.

Distracted Driving Apps Might Help Curb Teen Car Accidents and Deaths

Smartphones have put the world at our fingertips - particularly our social world. And that's hard for teens to ignore. That ping you hear which signals you to reach for your phone? It's addicting. Physiologically addicting. Read this fascinating blog to find out why our brains will not allow us to ignore the ping.

New distracted driving apps can help us ignore the ping.

By incentivizing safe driving, or even directly blocking you from using your phone while driving, these apps can help keep your attention on the road instead of the phone. According to DMV.org, these apps offer safety features that can:

  • Mute text alerts
  • Send calls to voicemail
  • Send auto-replies via text that the person is driving and cannot respond
  • Some will even send alerts to parents

I admit that as a parent, I sometimes get frustrated if my kids don't answer my calls, especially when I don't know they are driving.  But I'd rather them get to their destination safely and then respond rather than try to answer and wreck on the way.

With numerous apps that can help curb distracted driving, we cannot review them all. Here are some which offer more (and more interesting) ways to cut distracted driving than simply a locked phone.

Get FREE Cash and Incentives for Not Texting While Driving

PADD (People Against Distracted Driving) has approved two unique apps that offer positive reinforcement to ignore your phone while driving.

Drive BeeHive is a unique peer-to-peer app. You pair with a sponsor to earn rewards points for not using your phone while driving. It is enabled when the driver opens Drive BeeHive and begins driving. A lock screen appears and will count the driver's "safe miles." All it takes to earn those miles for that trip is to not use the phone behind the wheel. If you do, your miles are reset back to zero. Once the driver reaches their goal, their sponsor will be notified to release their reward. PADD is working with consumer sponsors to offer actual rewards in the form of discounts, coupons, and freebies.

AT&T DriveMode is also piggybacking on the positive incentive wave. This app allows you to set up your own prizes for a private group of drivers or for the public. The device works by blocking any phone calls or texting and driving. DriveMode can be set up to automatically start when you are driving over 15 MPH. You can even have it notify you when your teen driver has the app deactivated or if certain settings are changed.

Distracted Driving Apps That Track Driving Habits

Remember when your driver's ed instructor would ding you for making "jack rabbit starts and stops"? You got dinged a few times and eventually learned how to start and stop smoothly. Some apps can now reinforce this in your teen (or any) driver.

Consumer Reports favorably reviewed the Cellcontrol DriveID. It can record braking, acceleration, speed, cornering, and key driving events showing the scores on the app for the driver - or the driver's parents - to view. This Bluetooth technology device attaches under your rearview mirror and pairs their app with your cell phone to help curb impulses to check, chat, or text. Your phone screen goes into screen-lock mode when the car starts moving, and only 911 or designated phone numbers are accessible. This technology also has the capability to rate driving patterns and phone usage on a scoring system.

Apps That Alert Others When You're Driving

The Wonder app empowers not only the driver, but also people who may try to text or call the driver, to make the decision not to contact them while driving. By viewing a red or green dot, contacts within the app will know that you are driving before texting or calling. One downside, Wonder only works if all parties involved have the app.

There are dozens of other apps you can check out yourself, including Sprint's Drive First, T-Mobile's DriveSmart, and Verizon's Driving Mode, among others. Many of these and other apps are free.

Get FREE Advice From NC Car Wreck Attorneys

Whether you download a distracted driving app or not, don't ignore the risks of distracted driving. We are all in this together and everyone's at risk. If you or someone you love was injured in a car wreck, whether or not it involved a distracted driver, contact an experienced car wreck lawyer.

Studies have shown that, on average, car accident victims who hired a personal injury lawyer to represent them received 3.5X more compensation for their loss than they would have on their own*.

Contact us now for a free case evaluation to see if we can help or call us at 1-866-900-7078.

* Insurance Research Council 1999

 

Contact Information

Raleigh Law Office

5848-100 Faringdon Place
Raleigh, NC 27609
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

201 McCullough Drive, Suite 220
Charlotte, NC 28262
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