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Fewer Workplace Injuries Linked With More Workplace Deaths? Study Reveals Surprising Link

Protecting workers is a top priority and it is essential to understand how worker protection laws and strong workers' compensation programs can reduce the number of injuries and fatalities. Recently, a new study shed some light on this issue.

Conducted by the RAND Corporation, the study revealed that there was a relationship between the number of workplace fatalities reported in a state and the number of workplace injuries reported. However, the relationship revealed the opposite of what one might expect.

Our Durham work injury attorneys know that many workers are injured or killed each year in North Carolina. Understanding why some states have higher numbers of workplace injuries, while others have higher fatality rates is important in order to try to reduce the frequency of workplace accidents. The RAND study reveals some key information that can provide lawmakers with guidance on how to keep workers safer in their own states.

Study Reveals Surprising Link

Researches used data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and compared reported incidents of workplace fatalities and worker deaths among the different states. The researchers discovered that in states where a high number of workplace injuries were reported, the number of workplace deaths was lower. The inverse was also true: higher fatality numbers were linked with lower injury numbers.

At first glance, this data made little sense. After all, it seems reasonable to assume that if there are more workers getting injured, the number of fatalities would also be greater.

However, a closer look revealed a probable cause for the odd relationship. In states where there are better worker protection laws and more generous benefits for injured workers, workers are more likely to report injuries. They are also less likely to die because the state places more emphasis on their welfare. On the other hand, in states where there are poorer worker protection laws and where workers' comp benefits are less generous, injuries may not be reported as frequently and workplaces on the whole may be much less safe.

When a worker lives in a state that cares a lot about workers' rights, he is more likely to take advantage of workers' compensation programs and more likely to feel confident that reporting an injury is not something he'll suffer for at work. When that worker reports the injury, it increases the count of workplace injuries in the state. It also gives employers a chance to correct safety problems that led to the incident and it alerts investigators. This all combines to reduce the fatality rate in those states.

On the other hand, if a worker lives in a state that focuses on employer rights and that provides limited protection and limited workers' comp benefits, then the worker is less likely to report injuries he sustains. This makes the state appear to have a low injury count. However, there are people getting hurt who just aren't saying anything. Further, employers and regulators aren't alerted to correct safety violations before a fatal accident occurs - thus leading to more workplace deaths.

This interpretation of the data was supported by the fact that many southern states with weaker worker protection laws had lower injury rates and higher fatality rates. The data thus shows that lawmakers should take steps to ensure workers are protected.  Work-injury benefits should be generous and workers must be made to feel confident that they can report their injuries without fear of retribution.

If you were injured on the job, you may be entitled to compensation under the law. Call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case.

Speed Limit in NC Set to Increase – Is Your Safety at Risk?

Car Accident Victim_06082014"The faster we drive, the more we die"

Those are the words of Patrick O'Neill, in his opinion editorial against the current NC Senate bill to raise the maximum speed limit in North Carolina.

Senate Bill 704 passed the Senate earlier this year and has moved over to the House. The bill seeks to raise the limit from 70 mph to 75mph on certain roads.

North Carolina is one of several states considering a speed limit hike this year. Illinois, Maine, Ohio and Utah have all already passed legislation to raise their maximum limits.

Analysts say this newest push for higher speeds might be a result of last year - when Texas received national attention after changing their maximum speed limit to 85 mph, a new national high.

According to a report by WRAL, "sixteen states already have speed limits of 75 mph or higher, but if approved, North Carolina would be the first on the more densely populated East Coast."

In Patrick's mind at least, the outcome of these legislative choices is very clear cut: higher speeds = more fatalities.

So what are the facts?

Research on the link between speed limit increases and car accidents is actually quite controversial.

Proponents of higher speed limits point to research, such as the Indiana Department of Transportation's study, that concluded that accident severity varied little for limits between 55 to 70 mph.

However, for limits increased further to 75 or 80 mph, they said:

"To be sure, the additional speed would increase stopping distances and the energy that would need to be dissipated in the accident. Furthermore...higher speed limits may start increasing the variance in driver speeds as some drivers continue to drive at or above the speed limit while others drive below the speed limit because it may have been raised above their "optimum" speed. With these factors considered (along with others that may come into play, such as variations in driver behavior in response to speed limits), there is likely a point beyond which higher speed limits would significantly increase the severity of accidents on Interstates."

Those opposing higher speed limits cite studies such as this one that estimates there were 12,545 additional fatalities after the national speed limit was abolished in 1995 when states began raising their individual speed limits.

The "safest" speeds

According to the National Association of Motorists, traffic engineers say that speed limits should be set by the 85th percentile of free flowing traffic for safety reasons. Meaning limits would be set at what 85% of people are currently driving on the road in question.

The logic behind this idea is that it would encourage drivers to travel at the same speed and thereby reduce the chance of a car traveling at a higher rate to crash into a slower-moving vehicle.

What makes "safe" speeds unsafe

However, many argue that the 85th percentile is a "moving target" because people continuously travel 5-10 mph above the posted limit - no matter how high it goes.

According to Kara Macek, a spokeswoman for the Governors Highway Safety Association, higher speeds don't necessarily mean more accidents, but they do mean the accidents that do occur tend to be more severe.

"It's a simple matter of physics," she says. "The faster you're going, the worse your injuries will be."

Tell us what you think at the poll on our Facebook page:

If you've been injured in a car accident, you may be eligible for compensation. We've helped over 20,000 North Carolinians and who've been injured in a car crash we may be able to help you. Contact us for a free case evaluation.

4 Reasons Why You Might Need a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Law5_07312014So what can a workers' compensation lawyer actually do for you anyway? We recently released a video to address this very topic:

Why should I hire a lawyer for my workers' compensation claim?

If you've been hurt at work, here are just 4 reasons why you might want to consider hiring a workers' comp lawyer:

  1. The process is tricky
    Insurance companies are businesses and, just like any other, they want to make (and keep) as much of their money as possible. In our experience, that means that insurance adjusters may ask you questions that, if answered incorrectly, could have a big impact on the outcome of your claim.Not to mention there lots of deadlines and paperwork you must comply with that can also be confusing. An experienced workers' compensation lawyer would be able to guide you through this process in a way that may strengthen your workers' compensation claim.
  2. You might receive better medical care
    Did you know that if you're injured at work in North Carolina, the insurance company has the right to dictate your medical care? This means deciding which doctors you get to see, how often you can see them and what treatments you can receive.An experienced workers' comp attorney may be able to help you to take back some of that power. They know the processes for negotiating with the insurance company and how to appeal decisions to the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
  3. You might receive more compensation
    If workers' compensation claims were calculated perfectly every single time, our firm would probably cease to exist. The fact is that oftentimes things like permanent disability or future medical needs can be left out of the equation.A qualified workers' compensation lawyer may be able to help you fight for more. It's important to remember that, just because you may be receiving some workers' compensation benefits now, that doesn't mean it is everything you are entitled to.
  4. You might have more job security
    Typically, it's in an insurance company's best interest to get you into a job and off of workers' compensation benefits as soon as possible. We've seen cases where employees have been forced back to work before they're physically ready, into a lower-paying job or even into a "made-up" job that is later eliminated.A workers' compensation lawyer who's seen these kinds of things before should be able to see these curveballs coming and help you try to avoid them. Far too often injured workers are discriminated against and we believe that's unfair. A qualified workers' comp lawyer may be able to help you try to protect your job.

Do I need a workers' comp lawyer?

One of the best ways to find out if you have a workers' comp case, is to contact an experienced workers' compensation firm. If you've been hurt at work in North Carolina, give us a call at 1-866-900-7078 for a free and confidential, no-obligation case evaluation.

Our team of NC workers' compensation lawyers includes three NC Board Certified Specialists in Workers' Compensation law and several attorneys who've previously worked for the "other side" (the insurance companies). Click here to see what our clients have to say about us.

Why underreported cell phone accidents should matter to you

If you're involved in an accident in North Carolina, the reporting process goes something like this:

  1. Your accident occurs.
  2. The police arrive and determine what caused the accident.
  3. Their findings are compiled into a report.
  4. That report is entered into regional and national databases.
  5. Those databases generate statistics on accident causes each year.

These statistics then influence national prevention priorities, funding decisions, media attention, legislation, and even vehicle and roadway engineering.

Iphone_12292014So, in the end, your accident has a direct impact on where funding, attention and legislation is directed.

But what if the real cause of your accident wasn't reported? And what if 50% of accidents weren't interpreted properly?

Unfortunately, according to a report by the National Safety Council (NSC), that may be the case.

The NSC study:

For their study, the NSC identified 180 fatal crashes from 2009-2011 that were positively connected to cell phone use. Cell phone use was verified via a passenger in the car, someone who had been on the other end of the phone, an investigation or court documents (such as wireless records).

Then they cross-referenced these accidents with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). Here's what they found:

Agreement between NSC review of 180 crash cases and FARS

This chart illustrates that, among the accidents considered in the study, nearly half of cell phone accident cases were unreported in 2011. And in 2010 and 2009, the numbers were much worse.

Agreement between 57 cases where driver admitted cell phone use and FARS
Of course, the best indication of cell phone use is when the driver admits it. This study identified 57 cases (out of their original 180) where the driver openly admitted to using a cell phone at the time of the accident.

As this chart illustrates, even out of those cases, the cell phone usage was only included in the report 50% of the time or less.

Agreement between crash reports with checkbox or numerical codes and FARS
When narrowed down to accidents where the police report contained a specific field for cell phone use, the statistics did somewhat improve, but there is still a significant gap.

"Cell phone use" defined

For the purpose of the study, the NSC defined "cell phone use" as any behaviors where drivers were actively engaged with their cell phone at the time of the crash.

These included behaviors such as: talking; typing or reading text or email; dialing phone numbers; using music, navigation or other apps; looking at phone; and reaching for the phone if it was ringing. A cell phone simply being in the car did not qualify the accident for the study.

What that means in NC:

The study also broke down their data by state for 2011 and 2010. In both instances, North Carolina ranked well below average for reporting cell phone use as a factor in car accidents.

Only .4% of cases in NC identified cell phone use as a factor in fatal crashes in both 2011 and 2010 - meaning our state may be devoting legislation, funding and attention to other, "more important" issues without knowing the real facts.

If you've been injured in an accident:

Texting and driving, or any cell phone usage while driving, can have devastating consequences. If you've been hurt by someone who was distracted behind the wheel, the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin may be able to help.

Give us a call for a free case evaluation today - 1-866-900-7078. We've represented thousands of North Carolinians who've been injured in a car accident and we may be able to help you.

Social Security Disability Insurance: “Unfit for Work” or Unfit for Publishing?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) has gotten a lot of negative press lately and we, at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, wish to set the record straight.

SSDI is a valuable form of income for honest people that really don't have any other options.  It's hard for us to watch those honest people under attack - people who paid into Social Security while they were able to work and were promised that SSDI would be the safety net to catch them, in the event they could no longer work.

Happy19_08012014The NPR article, "Unfit for Work," that's blamed for starting much of the ruckus, relies heavily on personal stories and opinions and it misses some important facts.

The article paints the picture of SSDI beneficiaries as lazy people that are just trying to "pull a check." But this is not true. Disabled workers, and SSDI itself, need to be protected and preserved, not attacked and disparaged.

When allowed to do its job and properly funded, the SSDI system has sufficient safeguards, checks and balances to ensure fraudulent claims are not successful and that those who have medically improved are terminated from disability benefits and transitioned back into the workforce.

In fact, of the few applicants who are approved, many die within the first five years of receiving benefits (one in five male, and one in seven female). Thus, to say they're not "seriously impaired" is ridiculous.

The truth is that getting disability benefits requires significant documentation and is driven by medical records.  Objective medical evidence must prove that the disabling impairment is so severe that the applicant is unable to work for more than twelve months or the applicant is terminally ill.

Our response:

Recently, Rick Fleming, a shareholder here at James Scott Farrin and a NC Board Certified Specialist in Social Security Disability Law, wrote an opinion editorial for the News & Observer on this subject.

If your Social Security Disability claim has been denied, our NC Social Security Disability team may be able to help. They're focused day in and day out on helping clients strengthen their claims for Social Security Disability Insurance.

Give us a call at 1.866.900.7078 for a free case evaluation today.

Contact Information

Asheville Law Office

300 Ridgefield Court Suite 309
Asheville, NC 28806
Phone: 828-552-8215
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Charlotte Law Office

301 S McDowell St, Suite 900
Charlotte, NC 28204
Phone: 704-599-1078
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

2915 Raeford Road, Suite 204
Fayetteville, NC 28303
Phone: 910-488-0611
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Goldsboro Law Office

1308 Wayne Memorial Drive, Suite B
Goldsboro, NC 27534
Phone: 919-731-2581
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Greensboro Law Office

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

Greenville Law Office

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

Henderson Law Office

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

Morganton Law Office

216 N. Sterling Street, Suite B
Morganton, NC 28655
Phone: 828-219-3080
Toll Free: 1-844-520-2894

New Bern Law Office

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

Raleigh Law Office

4325 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 100
Raleigh, NC 27607
Phone: 919-834-1184
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

144 Woodridge Court
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