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N.C. Court of Appeals Upholds Worker’s Right to Attorney Fees

A recent N.C. Court of Appeals ruling upheld a finding by the N.C. Industrial Commission to award attorney fees to a permanently disabled worker who contracted asbestosis and silicosis as a result of his employment.

The N.C. Industrial Commission ruled on the case involving FMC Corporation and an employee. In October 2011, the N.C. Industrial Commission found that the man had been "permanently and totally disabled as a result of his asbestosis" as of June 18, 2006.

Paperwork5_07312014The commission awarded the man permanent total disability benefits at a rate of $730 per week for the remainder of his life. The man was also awarded "a reasonable attorney's fee of $12,000, not to be deducted from the sums due to Plaintiff."

The defendant, FMC Corporation, appealed the decision to award attorney's fees, citing N.C. General Statute 97-88.1, which states that if the Industrial Commission finds that a case "has been brought, prosecuted, or defended without reasonable ground, it may assess the whole cost of the proceedings including reasonable fees for defendant's attorney or plaintiff's attorney." FMC Corporation contended that the case was defended on reasonable grounds, and therefore, it should not have to pay attorney fees.

The N.C. Court of Appeals reviewed testimony presented about the man's injuries and concluded that "the expert medical testimony in this case demonstrates that there was no genuine basis for Defendant's denial or defense of Plaintiff's claim."

Bureau of Labor Statistics Reports Decline in Fatal Work Injuries

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the preliminary results from its Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries at the end of September showing that fatal work injuries decreased slightly in 2011 from the previous year.

According to the CFOI, 4,609 workers died from work-related injuries in 2011, down from 4,690 in 2010. The rate of injuries also fell. The rate of injuries was 3.5 per 100,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers in 2011, down 1.7 percent from the previous year.

The agency reported that workplace deaths have been declining almost every year since 1994.

WorkersComp23_06042014In particular, work-related deaths in the construction and mining industries have declined. Deaths in the construction industry were down 6.8 percent in 2011, dropping to 721 from 774 the previous year. It was the fifth consecutive year that construction-related deaths had decreased.

The labor department said that fewer jobs in the industry as a result of the economic downturn were likely behind the decrease in fatalities.

However, the construction industry still had the second highest number of work-related deaths than any other industry last year. Mining was the most deadly industry, with the highest rate of injuries per 100,000 FTE workers at 15.8. The number of work-related deaths in mining were down 10 percent in 2011, but the number of deaths per worker remained high overall.

The 10 deadliest occupations identified by the report were:

  • Fisherman
  • Logger
  • Pilot
  • Sanitation worker
  • Roofer
  • Iron worker
  • Farmer and rancher
  • Trucker
  • Electrical power line worker
  • Taxi driver


Final data for 2011 will not be released until the spring of 2013.

North Carolina Workers' Compensation Lawyers

If you have been injured while on the job, one of the North Carolina workers' compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin may be able to help you. Call 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case.

NC Gov. Bev Perdue Forms Panel to Investigate Ways to Enforce Workers’ Compensation Policies

North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue issued an executive order in August to form a task force to look for ways to crack down on businesses that are not paying workers' compensation taxes or buying the proper insurance.

The panel will be comprised of representatives from several state agencies and advocacy groups. It will be led by Wayne Goodwin, the state Insurance Commissioner.

Perdue has charged the panel with finding a way to crack down on employers who incorrectly classify employees as a way to avoid buying the proper workers' compensation insurance policy.

WorkersComp8_07312014The News & Observer reported that some businesses are incorrectly classifying employees as independent contractors in order to avoid paying for the costly workers' compensation insurance needed to cover them in case of injury. In April, the newspaper reported that at least 30,000 businesses in the state do not carry workers' compensation insurance at all (even though they are required to do so).

The panel may consider drafting new legislation to address these problems, or it could recommend easier ways to report suspected violations. The N&O reported that agencies currently do not have a good system in place to communicate with one another about suspected violations.

Perdue's task force is asked to submit reports every six months with its recommendations. The first report is due in early 2013.

North Carolina Workers' Compensation Lawyers

If you were injured on the job, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case and find out if one of our North Carolina workers' compensation lawyers may be able to help you.

Employees Paying for Workers’ Compensation Loophole, Newspaper Reports

Law3_07312014The cost of workers' compensation insurance can be very costly for some businesses. According to a new report from the News & Observer, some businesses are finding ways to get around paying these premiums by using a loophole in which they declare their employees to be "contractors" - a move that is costing some injured workers the benefits they are supposed to receive by law.

In North Carolina, businesses with three or more employees are required by law to buy workers' compensation insurance. If they don't want to purchase insurance, they can show they have the funds to cover liability for any potential workplace injuries.

The newspaper reports that some employers are using a loophole that allows them to declare themselves sole proprietors and their employees contractors. They then purchase what is known as a "ghost policy," which provides coverage for one person as a failsafe in the event that the "sole proprietorship" hires an employee within the year.

According to the newspaper, the ghost policies cost about $1,000 a year, compared to tens of thousands of dollars a year for workers' compensation insurance premiums for some businesses.

One worker featured in the investigative article became injured in a wreck when another employee fell asleep at the wheel. The man became paralyzed from the neck down, and doctors expect his medical care to cost as much as $8 million. His employer had purchased a ghost policy, which didn't provide benefits for the man.

His case is currently being litigated to determine who is liable for paying for his injuries.

The News & Observer reported in April that at least 30,000 businesses in North Carolina have not purchased workers' compensation insurance. It is unclear how many businesses have incorrectly classified employees as contractors in order to purchase ghost policies.

By labeling employees "contractors," employers also avoid having to pay Social Security, unemployment, and insurance for these workers.

The North Carolina Rate Bureau has reported that there are about 16,000 ghost policies for high-risk employers who could not buy workers' compensation insurance, according to the N&O.

North Carolina Workers' Compensation Lawyers

If you have been injured on the job, the North Carolina workers' compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin may be able to help you. Call 1-866-900-7078 right now for a free evaluation of your case!

North Carolina Passes Law Closing Loophole for Workers’ Compensation Insurance

WorkersComp35_06032014In April, an investigation by the News & Observer revealed that tens of thousands of North Carolina employers do not have workers' compensation insurance. However, the Industrial Commission, which is charged with making sure employers have the insurance, often finds out that a company is not in compliance only after an employee has been hurt.

The commission contracts with the North Carolina Rate Bureau to collect information about when an employer purchases, renews, or cancels an insurance policy. The commission has acknowledged that it uses the database to find out which insurer is responsible for paying a claim, but it does not monitor for cancellations.

In June, legislators approved a bill that would require the commission to get all the information about these policies from the bureau so that it can more readily detect which employers do not carry the required insurance and enforce compliance. On July 2, Governor Bev Perdue signed the bill into law.

Prior to her signing the bill into law, many were calling on Governor Perdue to veto the bill because a last-minute amendment was added stating that information provided by the Rate Bureau to the commission will no longer be public record.

Call for Transparency

A group of media representatives and open records advocates pushed for a veto of the new law. The group includes the North Carolina Press Association, the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters, and News & Observer publisher Orage Quarles III.

Open records laws allowed the News & Observer to obtain the information for its investigation, which put a spotlight on the problem of employers not carrying required workers' compensation insurance. If this information were to be kept private, not only would it prevent public scrutiny, but it would also prevent workers from finding out if their employers had the required insurance.

Representatives who supported the amendment said that it will protect private information, such as social security numbers. However, personal information such as this has long been redacted from public records.

North Carolina Workers' Compensation Lawyers

If you have been hurt on the job or have been denied workers' compensation benefits, possibly because your employer did not carry the required insurance, the North Carolina workers' compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin may be able to help you. Call 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. By Austin Baird The News and Observer

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