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Jacksonville Legal Issues Blog

The timeline for filing a workers' compensation claim

Getting injured at work is not only painful, but it can be incredibly stressful. Workers must figure out how to pay for their medical care and what to do if they lose wages due to an absence.

Workers' compensation is available to North Carolina employees, but to earn these benefits employees should be aware of the time requirements for a claim.

Misclassification as a contractor could cost you workers' comp

You work as a forklift operator in a warehouse. One day, a heavy box falls from a high shelf--landing on you and crushing your shoulder. You have to have emergency surgery, and you're unable to work for months. To add insult to injury, your manager informs you that you're not eligible for workers' compensation--because you're an independent contractor, not an employee.

You're shocked. You're out of commission--with no income and facing steep medical bills. How is this possible?

Lack of experience leads to teen driver crashes

Supervised driving practice is as important as ever for teenage drivers in North Carolina, based on a study of all the states by AAA. Its Foundation for Traffic Safety has published research that indicates teen drivers are likelier to be involved in fatal crashes when they are carrying teenage passengers than when they are carrying older passengers. More than a million car accidents were reported in 2016 involving teenage drivers, and they caused more than 3,200 car accident deaths.

According to the research, the fatality rate for everyone involved in a crash with a teenage driver increased by 51 percent if the teen driver had only other teenagers in the vehicle. If the teen driver had passengers over the age of 35, on the other hand, the fatality rate was cut by 8 percent. When teens were driving with only teenage passengers, the rate of fatalities was 56 percent higher for people in other vehicles, 17 percent higher for cyclists and pedestrians and 45 percent higher for the teenage drivers.

How North Carolina is raising awareness for driver safety

The state of North Carolina has several public health programs aimed at improving driver safety. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, or NCDHHS, runs these programs for the public.

One such program that helps increase drivers' awareness of the dangers of drunk driving and how it can lead to crashes, serious injuries and fatalities is the state's Breath Alcohol Testing, or BAT, program. The state uses a highly visible type of mobile unit to provide public education.

New regulations urged to prevent truck crashes

Drivers in North Carolina and across the country have good reason to be concerned about the dangers of trucking accidents. Crashes involving large trucks can be devastating and even deadly to people in smaller vehicles let alone cyclists or pedestrians. Those collisions are on the rise, according to federal data. In 2016, over 4,300 people were killed in large truck accidents, a 28 percent increase over the same data for 2009. Despite significant advances in safety technology since that time, however, large commercial trucks are not required to have crash-avoidance systems installed.

According to newspaper reports, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has spurned calls from the National Transportation Safety Board, a fellow federal agency that's seeking to impose safety technology requirements on large trucks. The collision avoidance systems can help prevent rear-end truck accidents, but only a small number of trucks have the technology installed. Reports indicate that the NTSB has recommended that the NHTSA mandate forward crash avoidance system installation on semitrucks at least 10 times since the late 1990s. Despite the recommendations, the NHTSA has not proposed any regulations on the issue.

OSHA focuses on excavation safety with updated NEP

Trenching and excavation operations in North Carolina and elsewhere in the U.S. present a high risk for worker injuries and deaths. There were 130 of the latter between 2011 and 2016, and of those, 49 percent occurred between 2015 and 2016. In response to this increase in deaths, OSHA has updated the National Emphasis Program that concerns trenching and excavation.

Employers who need assistance complying with safety standards should know that for the 90 days following October 1, 2018, which was when the revised NEP went into effect, OSHA's area and regional offices will be providing outreach. After this, the organization's Compliance and Safety and Health Officers will inspect all open trenches and open excavations regardless of if they have violated safety standards. Operations may also be subject to inspection.

AAA points out over-reliance on driver assistance systems

Drivers in North Carolina may be overly confident in the abilities of their car safety technology. This nationwide trend has been the subject of a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, and some of the statistics may be alarming. The study also raises questions about how drivers can adapt to a future with semi-autonomous vehicles.

Approximately 80 percent of drivers with blind-spot monitoring, for instance, overestimate its limited ability to detect fast-approaching vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians. About 20 percent even neglect to look for oncoming vehicles when changing lanes.

Motus: mobile worker car crashes due to rise in smartphones

The vehicle management and reimbursement platform Motus has released its 2018 Distracted Driving Report, and the results touch directly on the mobile workforce in North Carolina and across the U.S. The most crucial of its findings is that there is a link between the increase in car crashes among mobile workers and an increase in smartphone ownership.

Between 2013 and 2017, the percentage of mobile workers with smartphones went up from 55 to 77. During the same time, the number of year-end auto accidents these drivers were involved in rose from 5.7 million to 6.4 million. The mobile workforce is becoming more and more connected, but because of this, it is also becoming more distracted. Motus calculates that every year, mobile workers drive a total of 1,200 miles while distracted.

Three safety tips for restaurant workers

If you have a food service job in North Carolina, it is crucial for you to know the potential dangers in your workplace. Wet floors, hot materials, heavy objects and overworking can all lead to injuries in a restaurant. Whether you work in a fast food restaurant, coffee shop or five-star establishment, you must be diligent in staying safe. 

While it is the primary duty of your employer to provide training and mitigate hazards, you can do some things on your own to reduce your chances of sustaining an injury at your job. Here are some essential safety tips for restaurant workers to prevent injuries:

Inspection blitz finds driver and truck violations

In June, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance held its International Roadcheck inspection blitz. During that time, there were 11,897 taken off of the road in addition to 2,664 drivers. Of the inspections that were conducted, 45,400 were the Level I variety. For drivers, the most common reason why they were taken out of service was for hours-of-service violations. Other top reasons included not having the right type of drivers license and false record of duty status.

Other issues that resulted in drivers been taken off the road were being impaired by drugs or alcohol or having an expired license. For trucks that were taken off of the road, the most common violations were related to brakes, brake systems and issues with the truck's tires and wheels. They were also ordered off the road because of lighting, steering and exhaust problems.

The Law Offices of John Drew Warlick, P.A. - Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorneys

313 New Bridge Street
Jacksonville, NC 28540

Toll Free: 888-746-8094
Phone: 910-378-0556
Fax: 910-455-4068
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