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March 5th, 2015

“Fault” Has No Place: South Carolina Workers Compensation Act

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The South Carolina Supreme Court has recently held in two very important opinions that “fault” has no place in the South Carolina Workers Compensation Act. The two cases are Barnes v. Charter 1 Realty, and in the case of Nicholson v. S.C. Department of Social Services. In the Barnes case, the employer and their insurance carrier argued that claimant had suffered an “idiopathic” fall and therefore was bound from workers compensation coverage. The Court noted in their opinion that “as an exception to the workers compensation coverage idiopathic doctrine should be strictly construed”. Idiopathic falls that cause injury have been defined by the court as being something that occurs internally to the injured worker and is a condition particular to that employee that could’ve manifested itself anywhere. There have been prior case law that had found where a worker was walking and some internal issue occurred inside their knee causing them to fall to the ground and that injury was caused by the “idiopathic fall” and therefore was not compensable under the Act.
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Posted In: workers compensation
March 3rd, 2015

Should Workers’ Compensation Cover Care for A Spouse?

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When a Charleston worker gets hurt on the job, his medical care costs should be covered in full by workers’ compensation. A Charleston work injury lawyer at Howell & Christmas can help workers to make a claim so they can receive necessary medical treatment benefits through workers’ comp. An attorney can also provide assistance if an insurer tries to avoid paying for necessary medical treatments for an injured worker.

Workplace injuries, however, do not just affect the employee. When a worker is badly hurt, his spouse or other family members may become a caretaker helping the injured employee to try to recover or to try to live as fully as possible with the injuries. If these family members need support to best fulfill their role as a caregiver, it is arguable that workers’ compensation should also pay for this treatment as an extension of providing for the injured employee. Recently, Safety News Alert took a look at a case where this exact question arose.
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Posted In: workers compensation
February 28th, 2015

Heavy Questions in Train Accident in Southern California

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download (100)Whenever a crash happens between a vehicle and a train, the government gets involved to do their own investigations. A train crash case in southern California is getting more complex.

The man involved in the crash was pulling a trailer with his truck. His lawyer says he tried to get his vehicle off the tracks but his trailer was interfering. Unable to do anything, he abandoned his vehicle and watched the vehicle explode in flames. 30 people were injured on the train, four critically.

Police say that the man turned right onto an intersection just beyond the crossing but was caught by the crossing arms. Apparently this particular turn has caught many people by surprised, but most are able to drive around the crossing arms before the train comes. Police also say the trailer may have kept him from getting his vehicle off the track in time.

However, the NTSB found that the parking brake on the truck was engaged even after it was shoved 80 feet down the tracks before it stopped.
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Posted In: auto accident, In The News
February 26th, 2015

Seventy Car Pileup in Maine

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traffic-abstractThe South hasn’t experienced too much snow this winter, but New England has been getting a pounding. This has led to some big crashes. However, few have been as big as the one in Maine recently. On I-95, over 70 cars got caught in a chain reaction pileup, as well as school bus and a tractor trailer. It’s the biggest crash Maine has seen in 15 years.

One of the troopers called the crash site a “giant pile of metal”. Seventeen people had to be taken to the hospital and it took five hours to clear the interstate. Amazingly, no one was killed in the accident.

Police say that they will probably never know who hit who, but it was likely caused by poor visibility, slippery roads, and speeding. There was at least an inch of snow on the road when the accident started. The police took the people to a nearby bus stop to gather their statements.
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Posted In: auto accident, In The News
February 26th, 2015

Impairment v. Disability: South Carolina Workers Compensation

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Having worked as a South Carolina workers compensation attorney for nearly twenty years, one of the questions that I’m asked most by my clients is what is the difference between “impairment” and “disability.”  Many times these two terms of art are used interchangeably but I can assure you that both these words have a very different meaning and there is a distinction between these two words meaning that can really make a difference in your case. The South Carolina’s Workers Compensation commission is bound by the Workers Compensation Act which is found in Title 42 of the South Carolina Code of Laws. Specifically, S.C. Code Ann. §42-1-120 defines what “Disability” means. It reads in part that “[t]he term “disability” means incapacity because of injury to earn the wages which the employee was receiving at the time of injury and the same or any other employment.” So with this straight forward definition of disability the next logical question is what in the world does “impairment” mean and why and how does this matter to my case?
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Posted In: workers compensation
February 24th, 2015

Which Work Injuries are Most Costly?

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Worker On-the-Job

After a workplace accident, those who have suffered injury can make a benefits claim with the help of a workers’ compensation lawyer. Workers’ compensation benefits are available not just for injuries from accidents but also for overexertion or repetitive stress injuries, or if your job made you sick. Workers’ compensation provides you with coverage for medical costs as well as disability benefits. You cannot obtain compensation for pain and suffering form an employer after a work injury, but a personal injury lawyer can sometimes help you to pursue a claim for compensation from a third-party non-employer depending upon the kind of harm that you experienced.

It is imperative you understand your rights if you are hurt on-the-job because work injuries can be very expensive to treat and can lead to significant financial loss. In fact, according to Safety News Alert, there are a total of just 10 workplace injuries that have a price tag of $59.58 billion every single year in workers’ compensation costs.
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Posted In: workers compensation
February 20th, 2015

Recalls Announced for Land Rovers and Jaguars

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download (88)Whenever a vehicle recall is announced, it’s important that owners of those vehicles pay attention and get the repairs done. An unrepaired problem could lead to very serious or even fatal accidents. Three recalls have been announced by Land Rover and Jaguar, which are owned by the same company.

The first involves Range Rovers made from 2006 to 2012, involving nearly 75,000 vehicles. The company says that one or both of the front brake hoses can rupture and cause a brake fluid leak. This would make the car much more difficult to stop. The issue was first identified in 2010, but there were no accidents regarding the problem. Dealers were only reporting that they were noticing bulges in the hose. The case was closed in 2012, but reopened last year when an accident did happen and more ruptured hoses were discovered.

2013 and 2014 Range Rovers and Range Rover Sports have a problem with the routing of their brake vacuum hoses.
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Posted In: auto accident, In The News
February 19th, 2015

Expansion Joint Causes Accident on James Island Connector

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download (87)Sometimes an accident isn’t caused by another driver or by a faulty vehicle, but from the roadway itself. In what authorities are calling a freak accident, a piece of the James Island Connector flew up from the roadway and hit two cars.

The first driver said it felt like it tore out the entire rear of his car. His tires blew out and he immediately smelled gas after the strike. Other witnesses said they saw a flatbed trailer drive across an expansion joint and somehow made it fly into the other drivers. The driver of that trailer did not stop.

Metal plates have been places across the gap in the bridge as a temporary measure while transportation officials figure out what to do next. Expansion joints help a bridge handle the stress of weather changes without crumbling to pieces. If one of them is starting to fail, there is likely to be a full inspection.
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Posted In: auto accident, In The News
February 19th, 2015

Am I considered an Employee? South Carolina Workers Compensation

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As a Charleston workers compensation lawyer who has been practicing for nearly twenty years, the key law that defines what an “employee” is in South Carolina is S.C. Code Ann. §42-1-130.

Under the Act “[t]he term “employee” means every person engaged in employment under any appointment, contract or hire, or apprenticeship, expressed or implied, oral or written, including the aliens and also including minors, whether lawfully or unlawfully employed, but excludes a person who’s employment is both casual and not in the course of the trade, business, profession, or occupation of his employer…” §42-1-130 goes on to state that employee also includes all members of the South Carolina State National Guard while performing duties in connection with their membership, all volunteers state Constables appointed, all officers and employers of the state, except those elected by the people, or by the general assembly, or appointed by the governor. The law goes on to state that employees include all officers and employees of municipal corporations and political subdivisions, except those elected by the people or elected by the counsel or other governing body of any municipal corporation or political subdivision.
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Posted In: workers compensation
February 17th, 2015

South Carolina Patients Face Risks of Medical Negligence

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Patients Receive Care at Hospital

Determining exactly how common medical mistakes are is difficult because there are few established standards for hospitals to make reports when problems occur. As a result, some hospitals may submit documentation to regulators that make their safety records look better than they really are. Not every medical mistake is reported and different sources have different information on the number of deaths due to medical errors. Still, Vox reports that somewhere between 210,000 and 440,000 patient deaths may be caused by medical errors, and that medical errors may be either the third or the ninth leading cause of death in the United States.

Since medical errors kill more people than outbreaks of new diseases, breast cancer, AIDS, drug overdoses and plane crashes, it is very clear that the risk of medical mistake is a major problem even if we don’t know exactly how big of a problem it is.
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Posted In: medical malpractice