Posts By: Inezmarie Graci

If I’m a Contract Worker, Do I Have Joint Employers?

If I’m a Contract Worker, Do I Have Joint Employers?

Many people have multiple employers. Sometimes this is because they are working more than one job. At other times, it’s because they are contract employees. It also could be because their job falls under the umbrella of two companies. Your individual situation determines how your case will be handled.

For instance, there was a case in 2013 concerning a woman who worked as a housekeeper for the Crothall Services Group. Through Crothall Services she was contracted out to Novant Health, Inc. in order to provide cleaning services. She was assigned to work at Forsyth Medical Center. As she was leaving to take her lunch break, she fell in the parking lot and injured her left shoulder. The parking lot was owned and managed by Novant.

The woman returned to work, but was later fired for smoking an e-cigarette during an unauthorized break. Not only was the break unauthorized, but Corthall’s policy required that she follow Novant’s no-smoking policy while at the hospital. After she was let go, she filed a workers’ compensation claim against both Crothall and Novant. However, both companies denied her claim.

When she tried to appeal her case, the court ruled in favor of Crothall and Novant because she was only employed by Crothall, not Novant, and since she was injured on Novant’s property, she was not eligible for workman’s comp.

The problem here was that these two companies were not her joint employers. If she’d been doing the same work for both companies, the situation would have been different. An experienced attorney can help you navigate small differences such like this and help you approach a case in the way that gives you the best chances of settling in your favor. So if you’ve been injured at work, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney as soon as possible.

If you’re doing contract work, there’s a good chance that you do not have joint employers. Feel free to contact the experienced attorneys at Oxner + Permar for a free consultation to find out how this affects your case.

Does the Future of Workers’ Comp Include Robotics?

Does the Future of Workers’ Comp Include Robotics?

When people think of workers’ compensation, they don’t usually think of robotics. However, the US Food and Drug Administration has recently approved a device that could begin to open workman’s compensation to the world of robotics. Several companies are working to create exoskeletons for medical use. These exoskeletons are external full-body robotic devices that can make it possible for people with paraplegia or other mobility disabilities to walk.

It may sound like science fiction, but this technology is already being put to good use. The USFDA has already approved 3 exoskeleton devices. Two of the devices, ReWalk and Indego, have been evaluated and have received USFDA approval for both personal and medical facility use. This is a huge advancement in medical robotics. What does this have to do with workers’ compensation? 


Well, believe it or not, some workers’ comp insurers have already approved a few claims for these motorized devices and will cover both the device and the training. However, not all carriers have chosen to cover these devices — mainly because they are currently quite expensive.

In order to use these devices, patients need to be able to use the standing frame, have control of their hands, and their shoulders must be able to support the use of crutches or a walker. Each unit is custom fitted to each user. The control system is worn like a backpack, and the user can control power walking through wrist pad controllers. There is also a tilt sensor to help stabilize steps. These devices allow users to walk, sit, stand, and go up and down steps.

It certainly looks like these exoskeletons are the future of spinal cord injury treatment. Early research shows that these devices not only provide an improved quality of life, but also reduce the risk of secondary complications and are effective in allowing the user to navigate their community.

If you have sustained a spinal injury while on the job, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced attorney. At Oxner + Permar, we are dedicated to helping our clients and ensuring that their rights are protected.

Be Prepared to Face the Summer Heat

Be Prepared to Face the Summer Heat

South Carolina summers bring with them extreme heat and extreme humidity. If you’re one of the many people in South Carolina who work outdoors, you know exactly how demanding the South Carolina summer can be.

As you might imagine, if you work outdoors you’re at higher risk for heat-related health problems, but what you might not know is that heat-related illnesses are in fact covered by workers’ compensation. If you’re involved in heavy physical labor, then you’re most prone to occupational diseases caused by working in high temperatures.heat wave in the city and hand showing thermometer for high temperature

Heat related illnesses to watch out for are:

  •   Heatstroke
  •   Heat exhaustion
  •   Heat cramps
  •   Heat rash

If you feel the symptoms of any of these conditions coming on while at work, take a break immediately. Find a cool, shady area to rest and rehydrate. If the symptoms are severe (such as seizures), call 911 immediately.

Even if you don’t think you’re experiencing these symptoms, if you work outdoors in high temperatures, be sure that you’re taking frequent breaks either indoors or in the shade—give yourself time away from the sun. Drink plenty of water to ensure that you’re staying hydrated and cool. Both of these measures can help prevent dehydration and heat related illnesses such as heatstroke. If you develop a heat-related illness, seek immediate medical treatment.

Heat-related illnesses can be very serious, and are often covered by workers’ comp if you’ve been affected by a heat-related illness be sure to contact an attorney to find out if you qualify for workers’ compensation.

Could Your Social Media Be Harming Your Workman’s Compensation Case?

Could Your Social Media Be Harming Your Workman’s Compensation Case?

If you’ve sustained a work injury, then you know there is so much to keep up with: from filing injury reports to keeping up with medical records. What you might not have considered is how your latest tweet or selfie could be damaging your workers’ compensation case.

Like share follow bubble with clip hanging on the line with blue background.Insurance companies are always looking for anything that might cast doubt on the validity of a claim. For instance, if there was no witness, if there are conflicting reports of how the injury occurred, or if there was a delay in reporting the claim, then an insurer will want to look for other means to verify the claim. One such method is using social media.

Insurers will often use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media sites, to investigate your activities to look for contradictions to your claims. For example, if you were to post a selfie of yourself on vacation, when you’re supposedly taking time for recovery, the insurance company may see that as grounds to cancel your benefits. Other things they look for would be any evidence that you’re doing physical activity not related to your recovery, like posting pictures of yourself playing sports or working out at the gym. They also might look to see if you mention working at a second job. Basically they’re looking for anything that would show that your injury is not as debilitating as you claim it is or that you’re not taking your recovery seriously.

Of course that’s not to say you shouldn’t use social media! Just be aware of what you’re posting, and use common sense. Think about how the insurer is going to view your post. What might feel well within your work restrictions to you, might not to an insurance company. When in doubt, don’t post it!   

Insurance companies will use social media to check up on workers’ compensation claims. Always be aware of what you’re posting to social media, and if you have any questions, be sure to contact an attorney.

Understanding Your Rights When You Have a Nurse Case Manager

Understanding Your Rights When You Have a Nurse Case Manager

Under NC Workers Compensation law, employers and their insurance carriers are allowed to hire nurse case managers to assist in coordinating medical treatment. Although the nurse case manager is paid by your employer, take comfort in knowing that they are expected todoctor in green uniform doctor in green uniform be impartial and exercise independent judgment. In fact, nurse case managers are required to adhere to the NC Industrial Commission Rules for Utilization of Rehabilitation Professionals in Workers Compensation Claims.

 

When working with a nurse case manager, make sure you know your rights. Here are a few key things to keep in mind:

  • A nurse case manager is allowed to attend an injured worker’s doctor appointments; however, the worker has the right to a private exam. Usually the nurse case manager will join the injured worker and doctor after the examination to discuss treatment options.  
  • A nurse case manager is also required to prepare regular written reports on the injured worker’s treatment. These notes must be provided at the same time to all parties. You have a right to insist on this.  
  • Know that your communications with the nurse case manager are not protected and that they will likely will be reported back to the insurance carrier. Remember this every time you communicate with him or her.
  • A nurse case manager is responsible for helping coordinate your medical treatment—but he or she should not attempt to direct medical treatment or influence your treatment in any way. Furthermore, a nurse case manager is not to be used as an investigator for your claim and may not give legal advice.

 

In most cases, nurse case managers are very helpful, and can help ensure a smooth road to recovery. Just be sure that you know how to protect your rights in every scenario, including when you are assigned a nurse case manager. We’re here for you throughout the workers’ compensation process because we believe in making wrongs, right.

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