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The Case Against Distracted Driving: Facts, Statistics, and the Law

Numbers don’t lie – distracted driving increases the risk of accidents. Numerous studies have been conducted. So how much does the chance for an accident increase when drivers are distracted? How many people are using phones or otherwise distracted while driving? Is there a law against cell phone use while driving?

To spread the word during Distracted Driving Awareness Month and help answer those questions, we’ve compiled data from many different resources into easy-to-understand facts, and we’re presenting them as shareable graphics. Feel free to grab them and use them on social media or for presentations. Show them to your friends. The risk of being in an accident caused by a distracted driver is very, very real.

As experienced personal injury attorneys with many years working car accident injury cases, we mean business when we say: don’t drive distracted.

Beware iPhone Users

A survey of mobile device users by The Zebra revealed some stunning differences between respondents who used different mobile operating systems.



Cell Phones, Driving, and the Law Across the U.S.

As of 10/2019, 20 states and the District of Columbia banned handheld devices while driving, while 48 states plus D.C. have banned texting while driving with Montana having no ban, and Missouri having only a partial one. And 38 states, plus D.C., have enacted blanket bans on cell phone use while driving for younger drivers, though how they classify those drivers differs by state.

Police Aren’t Always Capturing the Real Cause of Distracted Driving Accidents

According to the National Safety Council, no state fully captures the data required to understand what actually causes crashes to enable safety organizations to effectively address the problem.

The crash reports used by police are plainly lacking. Here are some critical data points and the number of states which fail to track them on their accident reports:

The Gender Gap in Distracted Driving

According to data gathered in 2015, there are some interesting gaps in behavior regarding distracted driving between men and women:

Along for the Ride: How Passengers Say They Feel About Distracted Drivers

Driving while distracted is bad enough. Being a passenger and having your well-being in the hands of someone more interested in a text than the road? Most people aren’t having it:

Unemployment Availability Broadened Due to COVID-19: Governor Issues Executive Order

Thanks to an Executive Order signed by Governor Cooper, some eligibility requirements for Unemployment Benefits in NC have been waived for those filing for unemployment due to circumstances related to COVID-19, such as temporary layoffs, significant reduction in hours, business slowdowns and closings. Here is what you need to know:

  • You must apply for benefits either online at https://des.nc.gov/apply-unemployment or via phone at 888-737-0259.
  • If circumstances related to COVID-19 are your reason for applying, you must indicate that on the application.
  • Even if you are still working, but you have had your hours cut due to the effects of the COVID-19 restrictions, you may be eligible for Unemployment Benefits.
  • The standard one week waiting period for benefits is waived for those receiving benefits due to the effects of COVID-19 restrictions. There is still a 10-day period after the application during which your last employer is able to respond to your application.
  • The standard requirement to search for work is waived for those getting benefits as a result of COVID-19 restrictions. You will still have to do weekly certifications, but you are not required to look for work at this time.
  • The requirement that your unemployment or reduced hours is due to no fault of your own remains in place.
  • All standard eligibility requirements remain in place for those filing for unemployment for reasons other than circumstances related to COVID-19.

The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin Continue to Fight for Our Clients

We are still open, and are fighting for our clients as hard as ever. In addition, we are working to help disseminate useful information regarding the legal impact of the COVID-19 outbreak and containment measures.

Categories: Coronavirus

Cómo la Administración del Seguro Social está manejando el COVID-19

El COVID-19 ha forzado a gran parte del mundo a cambiar la manera en la que conduce sus negocios, y la Administración del Seguro Social (SSA por sus siglas en inglés) no es diferente. Para la mayoría de las personas que ya reciben beneficios, no habrá cambios a lo usual. Para aquellos que están solicitando beneficios del SSA, hay cambios importantes al proceso.

Las Oficinas del SSA están cerradas

  • A partir del martes 17 de marzo la Administración del Seguro Social cerró al público todas sus oficinas locales. Muchas están operando con personal mínimo para continuar procesando solicitudes, apelaciones y pagos. La única diferencia que los reclamantes pueden notar es que asuntos que anteriormente se realizaban en persona ahora tendrán que hacerse por teléfono o en línea. Por ejemplo, cuando se abra una reclamación, la SSA podrá enviar los documentos por correo en vez de solicitar firmas en persona.

Nota: Por favor consulte con su abogado/representante cuando reciba documentos por correo para asegurarse de que son auténticos. Pese a que no hay reportes de fraude, no se pierde nada con asegurarse que lo que usted está firmando y enviando es genuino y va al recipiente correcto.

  • La SSA tiene alguna de sus oficinas asistiendo otras áreas geográficas que han sido más afectadas por el COVID-19.
  • Los empleados del SSA están en lo que se llama una “Estación de Función Alterna,” lo que significa que se les han otorgado laptops y están trabajando remotamente o desde su casa, incluyendo los jueces.
  • La SSA espera que los reclamantes optaran por vistas telefónicas cuando sea posible, ya que esto ayudará a reducir la posibilidad de casos pendientes. A los abogados que representan reclamantes se les solicitó que les motivaran a aceptar vistas telefónicas, pero la decisión final queda en el reclamante.

UN APARTE: La SSA tiene una política de no llamar a las personas sin avisar. Por favor sepa, que si usted tiene una reclamación por incapacidad, nueva o pendiente, no es inusual que usted escuche de ellos. Esto no significa que usted debe bajar su guardia. La SSA tiene un protocolo de seguridad para asegurar que cuando usted les llame, o ellos le llamen a usted, ellos puedan verificar su identidad.

Por eso, usted debe saber que le harán al menos dos o más preguntas (tal como el apellido de su mamá o su lugar de nacimiento). Anticipe que le hagan estas preguntas ya que es su política. Para su seguridad, la SSA ha publicado una hoja de datos sobre como realizan sus conferencias telefónicas.

La Agencia de Determinación de Incapacidad continúa operando

  • Una vez la SSA ha aceptado una reclamación o procesado una primera apelación, el caso es enviado a la Agencia de Determinación de Incapacidad (DDS por sus siglas en inglés) para tomar la determinación médica sobre si un reclamante está o no incapacitado bajo la Ley del Seguro Social.
  • Todas las oficinas de la DDS están cerradas hasta nuevo aviso.
  • Los casos en proceso continuarán recibiendo correspondencia o llamadas telefónicas relacionadas con su caso si se encuentra en el nivel inicial o el nivel de solicitud de reconsideración. Usted puede recibir llamadas telefónicas del Examinador de Incapacidad sobre su caso. Nuevamente, si usted tiene un caso pendiente, no le debe sorprender que reciba una llamada sobre su discapacidad, historial de trabajo, o actividades del diario vivir.

Los casos continúan yendo a Vistas

  • La Oficina de Operación de Vistas maneja los casos al nivel de Vistas. Los Jueces y su personal continúan evaluando casos y exbibits en evidencia.
  • Por ahora, las vistas se llevaran a cabo por teléfono.
  • Los jueces administrativos estarán celebrando vistas desde sus casas a partir del 30 de marzo usando equipo telefónico y de grabación especial. Aquellos reclamantes que decidan aceptar las vistas telefónicas deben anticipar que dichas vistas se celebren en las fechas originalmente calendarizadas.
  • Los reclamantes no tienen que esperar a ser llamados si su vista está programada por teléfono, usted puede llamar a la oficina de vistas a la hora programada para la misma o puede esperar a ser llamado. Espere que las líneas telefónicas estén ocupadas.
  • Los jueces no están obligados a obviar la regla de presentar evidencia en 5 días, pero se les ha solicitado que sean comprensivos de la situación. (Los reglamentos requieren que los reclamantes o sus representantes presenten evidencia al juez 5 días laborables antes de la vista).

Nosotros continuamos abiertos, y continuamos trabajando en los casos de Seguro Social de nuestros clientes

Las Oficinas Legales de James Scott Farrin continúa operando durante la crisis del COVID-19, a pesar de que nuestros métodos han cambiado. Nuestras oficinas están abiertas, solo para citas, y mucho de nuestro personal se encuentra trabajando de forma remota para seguir las recomendaciones apropiadas para el distanciamiento social, para el beneficio de la comunidad en general.

Si usted entiende que tiene derecho a los beneficios del Seguro Social o Incapacidad, llame al 1-866-900-7078 inmediatamente, 24-horas al día, para una evaluación gratuita. Aquí estamos para usted y listos para luchar por sus derechos.

El Sr. Fleming se unió a Las Oficinas Legales del James Scott Farrin en el 2002. Se convirtió en accionista en la Firma en el 2008 y actualmente lidera el Departamento de Seguro Social. Está admitido a practicar ante el Tribunal Supremo de los Estados Unidos.

Anuncio de Servicio Público Urgente: Evite el Fraude con el Cheque del Estímulo del COVID-19

La pandemia del coronavirus (COVID-19) ha llevado a la mayoría del país a detenerse. Para aliviar el estrés financiero, el gobierno aprobó una ley de estímulo, llamada Ley Ayuda, Alivio y Seguridad Económica para el Coronavirus o Ley CARES (por sus siglas en inglés). Bajo esta Ley, los adultos que cualifiquen recibirán un cheque de estímulo de $1,200, aunque algunos pueden recibir menos. Por cada niño menor de 16 años que cualifique, el pago aumentará por $500 de acuerdo con esta sección de preguntas frecuentes del New York Times.

De qué debo estar pendiente: Fraude con Cheque del Estimulo del COVID-19

Esta distribución de dinero en masa crea el potencial de fraude, y ya ha habido casos que han sido reportados. La confusión sobre cómo y cuándo los cheques serán emitidos no ha ayudado. Según un artículo reciente de Forbes, estas son algunas de las formas que los estafadores están tomando ventaja de las personas:

Estafa #1: Alguien le contacta por teléfono, email, redes sociales o mensaje de texto y sugiere que usted puede cualificar para un subsidio especial del COVID-19 y que es necesario primero verificar su identidad para procesar la solicitud.

Verdad: Están tratando de robar su identidad. No existe tal subsidio. NO provea ninguna información privada, tal como su Número de Seguro Social o número de cuenta bancaria.

Estafa #2: Alguien le contacta y le dice que usted puede obtener más dinero del gobierno, o recibir el cheque de estímulo más rápido. Solo necesitan verificar su información y colectar “honorarios de procesamiento”.

Verdad: La ley del estímulo ofrece beneficios específicos para los individuos que cualifican. Nadie puede obtenerle más dinero del gobierno, y nadie puede obtenerlo más rápido.

Estafa #3: Alguien le llama diciendo ser del IRS para verificar los detalles de su depósito directo para que pueda recibir su cheque de estímulo.

Verdad: Aun cuando es cierto que el IRS le hará un depósito directo del cheque de estímulo en su cuenta de depósito directo asociada con su reintegro de impuestos (o le enviara un cheque de papel), NO le llamaran para confirmar esos detalles. Cualquiera que le llame diciendo ser del IRS solicitándole su información financiera es un timador.

Datos sobre el Cheque de Estímulo por la Comisión Federal de Comercio (FTC por sus siglas en inglés)

Para clarificarle al público lo que deben y no deben esperar, la Directora Asociada de la FTC de la División de Educación de Consumidor y Negocio, Jennifer Leach, publicó un blog en el sitio web del FTC. En este, ella clarifica ciertos puntos importantes para ayudar a los consumidores a identificar y evitar fraude:

  • El gobierno no le solicitará que pague por adelantado para obtener su cheque de estímulo.
  • El gobierno no le contactará para solicitarle su Número de Seguro Social, número de cuenta bancaria o número de tarjeta de crédito.
  •  Si se le requiere que verifique información en línea o mediante otros medios antes de que lo pueda cambiar o depositar, definitivamente es falso.
  • Usted no puede hacer algo para recibir su cheque más rápido. Llegará cuando llegue.

Leach establece además que, no importa la forma que tome, o cuando tome efecto, cualquier persona solicitándole que usted pague para recibir su estímulo es un estafador. Usted puede reportar estafas al FTC si usted se ha dado con uno, y  aquí puede aprender más sobre estafas relacionadas con el brote de COVID-19 y como evitarlos.

¡“Somos el IRS”!

No, no lo son. Quien le llame diciendo que es del IRS es un estafador, así le estén hablando del cheque de estímulo o no. A continuación una lista, en caso de que esté preguntándose si esa llamada del “IRS” es legítima. ¡Cuando hay duda, es probablemente una estafa!

  • El IRS nunca le llamará para solicitar pago inmediato por teléfono.
  • El IRS nunca le llamara sobre sus impuestos adeudados sin primero enviarle por correo un estado de cuenta.
  • El IRS nunca le amenazará con enviar la policía local u oficiales de ley para arrestarle.
  • El IRS nunca le requerirá que pague su cuenta de impuestos sin permitirle hacer preguntas o apelar la cantidad que debe.
  • El IRS no requiere un método de pago específico, tal como una tarjeta de débito pre-pagada o transferencia electrónica.
  • El IRS nunca le solicitará que provea números de tarjeta de crédito o débito por teléfono.

Los negocios también están siendo estafados

Los estafadores buscan cualquier oportunidad de malversar fondos de los confiados. Los negocios, especialmente las pequeñas empresas, son vulnerables a algunos de estos métodos.

Estos son frecuentemente perpetrados por llamadas-robóticas (robocalls) – llamadas automáticas con mensajes grabados que escucha por respuestas de la víctima. Algunos de estos robocalls hacen declaraciones sobre la disponibilidad de fondos especiales, o préstamos para empresas para brindar alivio económico por el COVID-19, si la empresa puede verificar o entrar cierta información privada, pagar una tarifa, y otros. Algunos timadores intentarán convencer a la empresa que tienen una solicitud pendiente de verificación en línea, intentando así ganar acceso a información privada.

Estas llamadas frecuentemente utilizan tácticas de miedo y libretos estresantes para hacer que las personas reaccionen a consecuencia del miedo. Si usted piensa que ha sido víctima de una estafa del coronavirus o COVID-19, le motivamos a que contacte a las autoridades inmediatamente.

¿Qué hacer si usted es contactado por un estafador?

Antes que todo, no les provea alguna información. Es mucho mejor colgar la llamada si usted la contesta accidentalmente. No diga algo. Solo cuelgue o termine la llamada. No interactúe con ellos, ni siquiera para decirles que les sospecha.

Si recibe un mensaje de texto, no responda, bajo ninguna circunstancia debe presionar en los links que contengan. Borre los textos inmediatamente.

Otro método común son los emails, y estos no siempre vienen directamente de los estafadores. Personas con buenas intenciones que piensan que comparten información útil – mediante email o redes sociales – pueden contribuir a la propagación del fraude. No presione en los links de esos correos electrónico y no se los envíe a otros. Bórrelos.

En adición a reportar las estafas al FTC, también puede reportarlos al Better Business Bureau (BBB), la Comisión Federal de Comunicación (FCC) o entre a esta página sobre alertas de fraude.

Manténgase seguro del COVID-19 y los estafadores que tratan de ganar dinero fácil

Las Oficinas Legales de James Scott Farrin continúa trabajando por nuestros clientes y aceptando casos durante esta crisis, a pesar de que la forma en la que le servimos ha cambiado un poco.  Fraude de esta naturaleza está fuera de nuestra experiencia legal, pero publicamos esta información porque la salud y seguridad de nuestra comunidad es importante para nosotros. No permita que usted u otros caigan victimas del fraude con el cheque de estímulo. Por favor comparta esta información con todos los que conozca, ya que puede evitar que un estafador sea exitoso.

Si usted o alguien que conoce ha sido lesionado por razones que no fueron su culpa, puede contactarnos al 1-866-900-7078 o contáctenos en línea para una consulta gratuita. Estamos listos para ayudarle.

Categories: Coronavirus

Updates: How the Social Security Administration Is Handling COVID-19

The COVID-19 crisis has forced much of the world to change how it conducts business, and the Social Security Administration (SSA) is no different. For the majority of people already receiving benefits, there will be no changes to life as usual. For those who are seeking benefits from SSA, there are important changes to the process.

SSA Offices are Closed

  • As of Tuesday March 17th the Social Security Administration (SSA) closed all of its local offices to the public. Many are running on a skeleton crew to continue to process applications, appeals, and payments. The only difference claimants may experience is that anything they might have normally done in person will now need to be done by telephone or online. For example, when a claim is opened, SSA may mail documents to sign rather than ask for in-person signing.

NOTE: Please consult with your attorney/representative when you receive documents by mail to ensure they are authentic. While there are no current reports of fraud, it does not hurt to be certain that what you are signing and returning is genuine and going to the correct recipient.

  • The SSA has some of its offices assisting with other geographic areas that have been most affected by COVID-19.
  • SSA employees are in what’s called “Alternative Duty Station,” which essentially means they have been issued laptops and are working remotely or from home, even judges.
  • The SSA is hoping that claimants will opt for telephone hearings when possible, as it will help reduce the possibility of a backlog of cases. Attorneys representing claimants were asked to encourage them to accept telephone hearings, but the decision ultimately rests with the claimant.

SIDEBAR/BREAKOUT: SSA has a policy of not calling people by telephone out of the blue. Please know that, if you have a new or pending disability claim, it would not be unusual for you to hear from them. This does not mean, however, that you should let your guard down. SSA has a security protocol in place to ensure that when you call them, or when they call you, they can verify your identity.

Because of this, you should know that they will ask you at least two or more questions (such as your mother’s maiden name or where you were born). Expect them to ask these questions as it is their policy.  For your safety, SSA has published a fact sheet about their telephone calls.

Disability Determination Services Continues Operating

  • Once SSA has taken a claim or processed a first appeal, the case is then sent to Disability Determination Services (DDS) to make the medical determination if a claimant is or is not disabled under the Social Security Act.
  • All DDS offices are closed until further notice.
  • Those with cases in process will continue to receive mailings and telephone calls related to their case if it is at the initial level or the request for reconsideration level. You may receive telephone calls from the Disability Examiner about your case. Again, if you have a pending case you should not be surprised if you receive a call about your impairment(s), work history, or activities of daily living.

Cases Continue to Be Heard

  • The Office of Hearing Operations handles cases at the Hearing level. Judges and their staff are continuing to review cases and exhibit evidence.
  • For the foreseeable future, cases will be heard by phone.
  • Administrative Law Judges will be hearing cases from their homes as of March 30 using special telephone and recording equipment. Those claimants who decide to accept telephone hearings should expect those hearings to take place as originally scheduled.
  • Claimants do not have to wait to be called, if you are scheduled to have your hearing by telephone, you can call the hearing office at the scheduled time of your hearing or you can wait to be called. Expect the phone lines to be very busy.
  • Judges are not required to waive the 5-day rule requirement for submission of evidence, but have been asked to be understanding of the situation. (Regulations require claimants or their representatives to submit evidence to the judge five business days prior to the hearing.)

An experienced Social Security Disability attorney will be able to help you understand the rules and ensure your case is properly presented.

We Are Still Open, and Continue to Work Social Security Cases for Our Clients

The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin continue to operate through the COVID-19 crisis, though our methods have changed. Our offices are currently open by appointment only, and much of our staff is working remotely to follow appropriate social distancing recommendations for the health of the community as a whole.

If you believe you are entitled to Social Security and/or Disability benefits, call 1-866-900-7078 immediately, 24-hours a day, for a free case evaluation. We’re still here for you, and ready to fight for your rights!

Urgent Public Service Announcement: Avoid COVID-19 Stimulus Check Fraud

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has ground much of the country to a halt. To help ease the financial strain, the government has passed a stimulus bill, called the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act. Under this Act, adults that qualify will receive a one-time $1,200 stimulus check, though some could receive less. For every qualifying child under age 16, the payment will increase by $500, according to this FAQ published by the New York Times.

What Scams to Watch For: COVID-19 Stimulus Check Fraud

This mass distribution of money creates the potential for fraud, and there are already some cases being reported. The confusion over how and when the checks will be issued has not helped. According to a recent article from Forbes, here are some ways fraudsters are taking advantage of people:

SCAM #1: Someone contacts you via phone, email, social media, or text message and suggests that you might qualify for a special COVID-19 government grant and that it's necessary to first verify your identity and process your request.

TRUTH: They’re trying to steal your identity. There is no such grant. Do NOT give out any private information, such as your Social Security Number or bank account number.

SCAM #2: Someone contacts you and claims that you can get more money from the government, or get your stimulus check faster. They just need to verify your information and collect a “processing fee.”

TRUTH: The stimulus bill offers a specific benefit to qualifying individuals. No one can get you more money from the government, and no one can give it to you sooner.

SCAM #3: Someone claiming to be the IRS calls you to verify your direct deposit details so that you can receive your stimulus check.

TRUTH: While it is true that the IRS will direct deposit your stimulus check into a direct deposit account associated with your tax return (or cut you a paper check), they will NOT call you to confirm those details. Anyone who claims to be the IRS on the phone asking for your financial information is a scammer.

Stimulus Check Facts from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

To further clarify for the public what to expect and not to expect, FTC Associate Director in the Division of Consumer and Business Education, Jennifer Leach, published a blog on the FTC’s website. In it, she clarified some key points to help consumers spot and avoid fraud:

  • The government will not ask you to pay up front to get your stimulus check.
  • The government will not contact you to ask for your Social Security Number, bank account number, or credit card number.
  • As of March 30, checks have not yet been issued. Any check you may have received thus far is bogus. If it requires you to verify information online or by other means before you can cash or deposit it, it’s definitely fake.
  • You cannot do anything to receive your check sooner. It will come when it comes.

Leach further notes that, no matter what form it takes, or when it takes effect, anyone asking you to pay to receive your stimulus is a scammer. You can report scams to the FTC if you encounter one, and learn about known scams related to the COVID-19 outbreak and how to avoid them.

“We’re the IRS!”

No, they aren’t. Anyone calling and claiming to be the IRS is a scammer, whether they’re talking about the stimulus check or not. Here’s a checklist, in case you’re wondering whether that “IRS” call is legitimate. When in doubt, it’s likely a scam!

  • The IRS will never call you to demand immediate payment by phone.
  • The IRS will never call you about taxes owed without first mailing you a bill.
  • The IRS will never threaten to dispatch local police or law enforcement to arrest you.
  • The IRS will never demand you pay a tax bill without allowing you to question or appeal the amount you owe.
  • The IRS will not require a specific payment method, such as a prepaid debit card or wire transfer.
  • The IRS will never ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

Businesses Are Also Getting Scammed

Fraudsters look for any opportunity to siphon funds off of the unwary. Businesses, especially small businesses, are vulnerable to a few methods.

These are often perpetrated by robocalls – auto-dialed recorded messages that listen for responses from the victim. Some of these robocalls may make claims about the availability of special funds or loans for businesses for COVID-19 relief if the business will verify or enter some private information, pay a fee, and so on. Some may attempt to convince the business that they have some sort of online listing that is pending verification, and will again attempt to gain access to private information.

These calls often use scare tactics and high-pressure scripts to make people react out of fear. If you think you’ve fallen victim to a coronavirus or COVID-19 scam, we encourage you to contact law enforcement immediately.

What to Do If You Are Contacted by a Scammer

First and foremost, do not give them any information. In fact, it’s best just to hang up if you accidentally answer. Do not say anything. Just hang up or end the call. Don’t engage them in any way, even to tell them you’re onto them.

If you receive text messages, do not respond, and under no circumstances should you click any links they may contain. Delete these texts immediately.

Emails are another common method, and they do not always come directly from scammers. Well-meaning people who believe they’re helpfully sharing information – via email or social media – can contribute to the spread of fraud. Do not click links in those emails or forward them to anyone. Delete them.

In addition to reporting scams to the FTC, you can report them to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) or check out their scam alert page.

Stay Safe From COVID-19 and the Scammers Looking to Make a Buck

The Law Offices of James Scott Farrin continue to work for our clients and accept cases during this crisis, although how we serve you has changed a bit. Fraud of this kind falls outside of our legal expertise, but we are putting this information out because our community’s health and safety are important to us. Don’t let yourself or others fall victim of stimulus check fraud. Please share this post with everyone you know, as it may prevent a scammer from succeeding.

And if you or someone you know has been hurt through no fault of their own, the HurtLine is always open at 1-866-900-7078, or you can contact us contact us online for a free consultation. We’re ready to help you.

Categories: Coronavirus General

Can You Claim Workers’ Compensation If You Were Exposed to Coronavirus at Work?

If you haven’t heard of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you’ve probably been living under a rock. And if that’s the case, you may want to stay there. We’ve all heard stories about people getting quarantined on cruise ships or at hotels due to the fear of the disease spreading. You may have seen someone walking around with a mask covering their face while out at a store or at an airport.

COVID-19 symptoms may manifest anywhere between 2 to 14 days after you’ve been exposed.* Moreover, the symptoms can closely resemble the common cold or flu, so it’s important to stay vigilant with washing your hands and staying home if you feel unwell.

*According to the CDC, this is based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of MERS-CoV viruses.

What Happens If You Were Exposed to Coronavirus (COVID-19) or Another Dangerous Virus at Work?

Your work may have taken steps to help contain the spread, like asking employees to work from home and grounding all travel. But what happens if you were exposed to coronavirus at work anyway? What if your symptoms don’t show up until later? Does your employer have to cover your medical bills through their workers’ compensation coverage? Are you legally entitled to benefits if you can’t work due to the disease?

As with many things in law, there are no clear-cut black and white answers to whether an infectious disease contracted at work could be covered by workers’ compensation laws. In North Carolina, coverage for workers’ compensation injuries is divided into two broad categories:

  1. Injuries that occurred by an accident or sometimes a specific traumatic event (i.e. spinal injuries or hernias); and
  2. Those caused by an occupational disease

We focus on occupational diseases below, as it is the most directly related to a potential workers’ compensation claim for coronavirus.

North Carolina Workers' Compensation Occupational Diseases

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation: Occupational Diseases

In North Carolina, occupational diseases can be covered either by:

For example, certain conditions like asbestosis and silicosis are assumed to be occupational diseases in nature. They fall under a category that is listed and covered by state law.

Diseases that are not listed are only covered by workers’ comp if they are peculiar to a trade, occupation, or employment. The law goes on to exclude ordinary diseases of life when the public is equally exposed to the risk, like the common cold or flu.

COVID-19 is, for now, a relatively rare condition in the state, but there are already several confirmed cases in North Carolina. Exposure to the condition has been limited as those infected were told to self-quarantine in their homes. However, just because it is a rare condition does not mean it is an ordinary disease like the flu or a common cold.

Does the Nature of Your Work Put You More at Risk to Exposure to Coronavirus?

A person’s employment may put them in contact with the virus if they travel for work to an area where they are unwittingly exposed to other carriers of the virus. So if you travel for work and are exposed to coronavirus, do you automatically have a workers’ compensation claim? It depends. Simply being exposed in a work setting will not likely be sufficient for it to be covered under workers’ compensation laws. In North Carolina, for an injury to be covered by workers’ comp insurance, the person’s occupation would have to place them more at risk for contracting the virus than the general public. So you may want to ask yourself: Does the nature of my job place me more at risk of being exposed and contracting coronavirus than the general public? One large, and perhaps most obvious, example of a group that this may apply to is healthcare workers.

North Carolina Healthcare Workers, Coronavirus, and Workers’ Comp Laws

At the forefront of the battle against novel coronavirus, healthcare workers serve a vital role for diagnosis and treatment of the illness. Healthcare workers certainly would be a category of people who cannot avoid contact with a potentially infected person due to the nature of their work. We also know that more healthcare workers have contracted the virus than any other profession, and it has recently been reported that nearly 3,000 Chinese healthcare workers have gotten the coronavirus.

In North Carolina, simply being a healthcare worker may not be sufficient for employers to be required to extend coverage through workers’ compensation laws in the state. Even if a healthcare worker could prove that they were more at risk for contracting the disease, they would not necessarily be able to prove the claim.

A final element of proving you are entitled to coverage would be showing the work caused the condition. If a condition becomes commonplace, it is unlikely that you would be able to prove the condition arose at the employment. This may be a smaller hurdle due to the limited number of cases of coronavirus currently. However, it still could be a hurdle that would prevent a healthcare worker from obtaining necessary medical and disability coverage.

One fix for healthcare workers who are particularly at risk would be for the North Carolina legislature to mandate coverage for COVID-19 as a listed disease. It may be worth considering from a public policy standpoint to protect people who are placing their lives at risk to care for the injured and sick. Healthcare workers are in a demanding occupation with long hours and difficult jobs. Providing special protection for these workers would perhaps make sense given the nature of the risk we currently face.

NC Workers’ Compensation Lawyers: We’re Here for You

As we at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic, we also continue to serve our clients who were injured at work. We are committed to working with, and for, our clients, even as we remain vigilant of how this pandemic will affect our state.

If you were injured at work in North Carolina, please do not hesitate to call us at 1-866-900-7078 or contact us here.

¿Puede Usted Reclamar Compensación Laboral si Usted estuvo Expuesto al Coronavirus en su Trabajo?

Si no ha escuchado de la pandemia del coronavirus (COVID-19), usted probablemente ha estado viviendo bajo una roca. Si este es el caso, es preferible que se quede allí. Todos hemos escuchado historias de personas aisladas en cruceros o en hoteles por miedo a propagar la enfermedad. Usted puede haber visto a alguien caminando con una máscara cubriendo su rostro en una tienda o en un aeropuerto.

Los síntomas del COVID-19 pueden manifestarse en cualquier momento entre 2 a 14 días luego de haber estado expuesto.* Además, los síntomas son muy parecidos a los del resfriado o influenza, así que es importante mantenerse vigilante al lavarse las manos y quedarse en su casa si se siente enfermo.

*Según el CDC, esto se basa en lo que previamente se ha observado sobre el período de incubación del virus MERS-CoV.

¿Qué sucede si usted estuvo expuestos al Coronavirus (COVID-19) u otro Virus Peligroso en el Empleo?

Su empleo puede haber implementado medidas para contener el propago, como solicitar a los empleados que trabajen desde su casa y detener los viajes. Pero, ¿qué sucede si aun así usted estuvo expuesto al coronavirus en su empleo? ¿Qué tal si sus síntomas no se presentan hasta más tarde? ¿Tiene que su patrono cubrir sus cuentas médicas mediante su cubierta de compensación laboral? ¿Tiene usted derecho a recibir beneficios si no puede trabajar a raíz de la enfermedad?

Como en muchos otros casos, no existe una contestación clara sobre si contraer una enfermedad infecciosa en el trabajo estaría cubierto por las leyes de compensación laboral. En Carolina del Norte, la cubierta de lesiones bajo compensación laboral se divide en dos amplias categorías:

  1. Lesiones que ocurren por accidente o por eventos específicos traumáticos (ej lesiones de la espina o hernias); y
  2. Aquellas ocurridas por enfermedades ocupacionales

A continuación, nos enfocamos en las enfermedades ocupacionales, ya que es lo más directamente relacionado con a una potencial reclamación de compensación laboral por coronavirus.

Compensación Laboral en Carolina del Norte: Enfermedades Ocupacionales

En Carolina del Norte, una enfermedad ocupacional puede ser:

  • Una condición médica o enfermedad que los legisladores determinen esta comúnmente asociada con una ocupación y está incluida en la ley del Estado (vea aquí la lista completa y enumerada de las enfermedades ocupacionales), o
  • Cuando una ocupación pone a alguien en mayor riesgo, que al público en general, de contraer una enfermedad

Por ejemplo, ciertas condiciones como asbestosis y silicosis, se presumen son enfermedades ocupacionales por su naturaleza. Estas caen bajo una de las categorías enumeradas en la ley estatal.

Enfermedades que no están enumeradas, estarán cubiertas por la compensación laboral, solo si son peculiares al oficio, ocupación o trabajo. La ley excluye enfermedades ordinarias de la vida cuando el público está igualmente expuesto al riesgo, como la gripe o influenza.

COVID-19, por ahora, es una condición relativamente rara en el estado, pero ya tenemos varios casos confirmados en Carolina del Norte. La exposición a esta condición ha sido limitada ya que se les ha solicitado a aquellos infectados que permanezcan aislados en sus hogares. No obstante, el que esta sea una condición rara no significa que es una enfermedad ordinaria como la influenza o la gripe.

¿La Naturaleza de su Trabajo lo Pone en Mayor Riesgo de Exponerse al Coronavirus?

El trabajo de una persona puede ponerlos en contacto con el virus si viajan por su trabajo a un área donde pueden estar expuestos a portadores del virus sin su conocimiento. Por tanto, si usted viaja por su trabajo y está expuesto al coronavirus, ¿tiene automáticamente una reclamación de compensación laboral? Depende. El simple hecho de estar expuesto en un escenario de trabajo probablemente no sea suficiente para que esté cubierto bajo las leyes de compensación laboral. En Carolina del Norte, para que una lesión esté cubierta por el seguro de compensación laboral, la ocupación de la persona debe ponerla en mayor riesgo de contraer el virus que al público en general. Así que debería preguntarse a sí mismo: ¿la naturaleza de mi lugar de trabajo me pone en mayor riesgo de estar expuesto y contraer el coronavirus que el público en general? El ejemplo más grande, y tal vez el más obvio, los son los trabajadores del campo de la salud.

Trabajadores del Campo de la Salud de Carolina del Norte, Coronavirus, y Leyes de Compensación Laboral

A la vanguardia de la batalla contra el coronavirus, los trabajadores del campo de la salud sirven un rol vital para el diagnóstico y tratamiento de la enfermedad. Los trabajadores de salud ciertamente pueden ser una categoría de personas que no pueden evitar contacto con sujetos potencialmente infectados, por la naturaleza de su trabajo. Además sabemos que más trabajadores de salud han contraído el virus que en cualquier otra profesión, y recientemente se ha reportado que cerca de 3,000 trabajadores de salud chinos contrajeron el coronavirus.

En Carolina del Norte, el solo hecho de ser un trabajador de salud, puede no ser suficiente para que se les requiera a los patronos extender la cubierta de la ley de compensación laboral en el estado. Aun cuando un trabajador de salud pueda probar que ellos estuvieron en mayor riesgo de contraer la enfermedad, no necesariamente podrán probar su reclamación.

Un elemento final para probar que se tiene derecho a la cubierta, es mostrar que el trabajo causó la condición. Si la condición se torna común, es poco probable que se pueda probar que la condición surgió en el empleo. Esto puede ser un pequeño obstáculo por la cantidad limitada de casos de coronavirus actualmente. No obstante, puede ser un obstáculo que prohíba que los trabajadores de salud puedan obtener la cubierta médica y de incapacidad necesaria.

Un arreglo para los trabajadores de salud que están particularmente en riesgo, sería que la legislatura de Carolina del Norte ordene cubierta para el COVID-19 como una enfermedad enumerada. Se debe considerar, desde el punto de vista de la política pública para proteger a las personas que están arriesgando sus vida para cuidar de los enfermos y lesionados. Los trabajadores de salud están en una ocupación exigente con largas horas y trabajos difíciles. Proveer una protección especial para estos trabajadores tendría sentido dada la naturaleza del riesgo al que actualmente nos enfrentamos.

Abogados de Compensación Laboral de NC: Estamos Aquí para Usted

Mientras nosotros, Las Oficinas Legales de James Scott Farrin, continuamos monitoreando la pandemia del COVID-19, continuamos sirviendo a nuestros clientes que se lesionaron en el empleo. Estamos comprometidos con trabajar con y para nuestros clientes, aun cuando permanecemos vigilantes de cómo esta pandemia afectara nuestro estado.

Si usted sufrió una lesión en el trabajo en Carolina del Norte, no dude en llamarnos al 1-866-900-7078 o contáctenos aquí.

El Sr. Harbin se unió a Las Oficinas Legales de James Scott Farrin en el 2003 y se convirtió en accionista de la Firma en el 2008. Practica en el Departamento de Compensación Laboral de la Firma y es un Especialista Certificado por la Junta de Carolina del Norte. El Sr. Harbin recibió su J.D. de la Escuela de Derecho de la Universidad de Carolina del Norte, y su B.A. de la Universidad de Carolina del Norte en Charlotte. Previo a unirse a la Firma, el Sr. Harbin trabajó en la Comisión Industrial como un SubComisionado Especial.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Poses Danger to the Elderly – Are Your Loved Ones Safe?

The novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is in the U.S. and will continue to spread. It is particularly threatening to those with weakened immune systems and the infirm. That puts elderly loved ones squarely at risk, especially when they’re around other people with compromised immune systems, such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Here are the facts about the Coronavirus, some health tips, and things you and nursing homes can do to help protect your loved ones from this global pandemic.

The Coronavirus: New Threat, Familiar Foe

The World Health Organization states that coronaviruses are a family of illnesses, not just one virus. Several viruses in the family are known to cause respiratory illnesses in humans. “These range from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19,” according the WHO website.

In other words, this is a new member of that virus family. While the common title used in media may be “Coronavirus,” the term actually refers to the family of illnesses. What’s spreading now is novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19. It’s a new, different version and was unknown prior to its discovery in Wuhan, China, in December of 2019.

Although this virus is in the same family as the common cold, it is a much more serious risk to the health of the frail elderly. Some in the media have insisted that this virus is no worse than a common cold, but the medical experts, the WHO, Medicare officials, and epidemiologists who study viruses all agree that COVID-19 must be taken very seriously.

Coronavirus Symptoms, Its Spread, and How to Protect Yourself

Again, according to the World Health Organization, the most common symptoms of COVID-19 are a fever, tiredness, and a dry cough. These can escalate to aches and pains, sore throat, runny nose, nasal congestion, or diarrhea. Around 80% of people who contract the disease will recover without special treatment. Serious illness strikes about one of every six who contract it, with the elderly and those with compromised immune systems being most vulnerable. Mortality rates among those aged 80 and above are being pegged at an alarming 15%.

The disease is spread in the moisture expelled by an infected individual when they cough or sneeze. Tiny droplets of moisture containing the virus land on surfaces awaiting transfer to other people. The WHO suggests that contact with the eyes, nose, and mouth from these droplets is what spreads the disease in the vast majority of cases. Therefore, when someone who has the disease – even a mild case – coughs or sneezes, they lay the groundwork for it the disease to spread.

Protecting yourself, therefore, is fairly straightforward. A popularly shared and confirmed legitimate missive from James Robb, former professor of pathology at the University of California, San Diego, offers these tips on protecting yourself:

  • Discontinue handshakes.
  • Avoid touching high-use objects, such as light switches, door knobs, handrails, elevator buttons, gasoline handles, etc., with your fingers. Use your knuckle to flip switches, and use disposable gloves or paper towels when interacting with other things if possible.
  • Use disinfectant wipes when available, such as at grocery stores. Be sure to wipe the shopping cart handle and child seat as well.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly whenever you’ve been in places where other people are present. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, using soap, and warm running water. When soap is unavailable, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content.
  • Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer at each entrance of your home and in the car for on-the-go use.
  • Cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue and discard. Use your elbow if absolutely necessary, but be aware that the clothing may contain infectious virus that can be spread for a week or more.

If the focus on hand-washing and keeping the hands clear of infection seems odd, consider that a study published by the Journal of Occupational Health and Environmental Hygiene found that ten subjects doing office work by themselves for three hours touched their faces, on average, 15.7 times per hour. Similar studies have produced results between 3 and 23 touches per hour. The point is, we unconsciously touch our faces a lot, and that enables the disease to spread – unless we wash our hands.

Nursing Homes and Your Loved Ones – Preparation and Prevention

Elder care facilities like nursing homes and assisted living facilities are at great risk. COVID-19 is highly contagious, and the elderly or infirm may not have the immune system strength to resist it. Once the virus hits a facility, every resident could be in jeopardy. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recently traced the country’s highest concentration of COVID-19 cases to a nursing home facility in the state of Washington.

In the face of the outbreak, guidelines have been issued from multiple sources to help these facilities increase their prevention measures and prepare. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) and oversees virtually all nursing homes in the U.S., issued thorough guidelines. Some of the measures include:

  • Screening visitors, contractors, and staff for travel history and possible infection
  • Restricting activities to reduce exposure
  • Requiring all who enter to wash their hands immediately upon entry
  • Develop and deploy remote communication methods so residents can contact loved ones safely

As of March 9, 2020, CMS was urging all nursing homes in the United States to discourage visitors from entering their facilities. In the case where COVID-19 is present in the community, visitors are being restricted altogether. Where a case of COVID-19 is in a nearby county or community, visitors are being limited, which means they will only be allowed into the facility in an end-of-life situation, or where the visitor is essential to the health or well-being of the resident. Preventing the spread of this virus is on all of us, not just the staff of the nursing homes. When the facility tells us not to visit, we need to respect that, even though we want to go see our loved one. Even where we are not at high risk for death from COVID-19, the nursing home you enter may be full of those at high risk. Prevention is not just about preventing your infection – it also means preventing someone else’s.

People in nursing homes don't just need blood pressure medicine. They need supplies up and down the line.  So how can you find out how a facility is preparing for novel coronavirus/COVID-19?

Ask the Facility What Its Plan Is

Nursing homes have policies in place if there's a tornado, if there's a flood, or if there's a hurricane coming. They have policies in place for all kinds of emergencies and contingencies. What about this emergency? You may want to ask them. In fact, there are a number of questions you should ask.

  • What is the facility’s plan for dealing with the COVID-19 threat?
  • Are they well-supplied with food, medications, adult diapers and the other things residents need, and do they have enough to last the duration of an outbreak?
  • What measures are they implementing regarding visitors, contractors, and staff?
  • Under what circumstances will they accept an infected person from a hospital?
  • Does the facility have any special features, such as an Airborne Infection Isolation Room (AIIR)?
  • Are residents or patients being kept abreast of the latest developments, and prepared for changes to the facility’s operation?
  • Does the facility have ample amounts of CDC-approved cleaning supplies, and is it disinfecting high-touch surfaces often?
  • Are group activities being canceled?

The last question to ask may be the most important: How can you help? Nursing homes across the country are faced with staffing shortages as it is. There may be nothing you can do, but it does not hurt to ask. We must do everything we can to protect our often-overlooked senior population from this potentially deadly disease.

When Facilities Ignore the Warnings

Nursing homes must comply with numerous regulations, intended to keep their residents safe. If you or a loved one are in a facility that is not taking prudent steps to protect residents from this threat, alert a doctor, nurse, other healthcare professionals, or your area’s long-term care ombudsman.

To neglect to take recommended and immediate steps to protect residents could be viewed as neglectful behavior. We at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin hope that this information helps you and enables you to help others.

If you or someone you know has suffered abuse or neglect at a nursing home or assisted living facility, contact us immediately for a free case evaluation at 1-866-900-7078 or click here.

 

UPDATE 3/13/20: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a strict ban on nursing home visits excepting end-of-life visits, and even those will be heavily scrutinized. The emergency rule also included a waiver of the three-day rule that requires Medicare beneficiaries to spend three days at a hospital on an inpatient basis in order to receive a subsequent 100 days of covered care at a skilled nursing facility. To read more about this new development, click here.

Categories: Personal Injury

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
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Durham, NC 27701
Phone: 919-688-4991
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Fayetteville, NC 28303
Phone: 910-488-0611
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Goldsboro, NC 27534
Phone: 919-731-2581
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Greensboro, North Carolina 27401
Phone: 336-665-7072
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Greenville, NC 27858
Phone: 252-355-5205
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Henderson, NC 27536
Phone: 252-492-4600
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216 N. Sterling Street, Suite B
Morganton, NC 28655
Phone: 828-219-3080
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New Bern, NC 28562
Phone: 252-634-9010
Toll Free: 1-866-780-3422

Raleigh Law Office

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Raleigh, NC 27607
Phone: 919-834-1184
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Roanoke Rapids Law Office

709 Julian R. Allsbrook Highway
Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870
Phone: 252-537-9670
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Rocky Mount Law Office

144 Woodridge Court
Rocky Mount, NC 27804
Phone: 252-937-4730
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Sanford Law Office

703-B South Horner Boulevard
Sanford, NC 27330
Phone: 919-775-1564
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Wilson Law Office

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Wilson, North Carolina 27896
Phone: 252-246-9090
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301 N. Main Street, Suite 2409-C
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
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