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September 2011 Archives

Workers' Comp: 2011 Reforms — Medical Privacy of Injured Workers Is Stripped Away

This is the second piece in a series examining the 2011 amendments to the Workers' Compensation Act pushed by big business and the insurance industry and passed by the General Assembly in June. The amendments made major changes to an injured worker's right to medical privacy. Most glaringly, under the new law, the employer, the insurance adjuster, or their lawyer can pick up the phone and call the injured worker's doctor to discuss her medical care.

Workers' Comp: 2011 Reforms — Employers Seize Tighter Control of Medical Treatment

This summer the North Carolina General Assembly passed a number of fundamental changes to the Workers' Compensation Act, changes pushed by big business and the insurance industry. In a series of posts, we'll look at these changes and discuss how they affect injured workers in North Carolina. To begin, we'll examine the new laws on medical treatment, in which employers have seized even geater control over an injured worker's treatment.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Begins Work

A new national consumer protection agency has begun work on behalf of American consumers. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was established in June 2010 as part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act.

Workers' Comp: Suspending Weekly Benefits of Noncompliant Employees

Injured workers receving weekly disability benefits have a duty to cooperate with their medical care and, if they are unable to return to their pre-injury job, with vocational rehabilitation efforts. In fact, the law allows employers to suspend the benefits of injured workers who are noncompliant. What must an employer prove to suspend the benefits of an injured worker who is noncompliant with vocational rehabilitation? The Court of Appeals recently answered that question.

Workers' Comp: Is North Carolina's OSHA Protecting NC Workers?

Prompted by the 20th anniversary of the Hamlet chicken plant fire that killed 25 workers, the News & Observer published an article Sunday noting that safety inspections and citations of workplaces are at a 17-year low. These inspections are performed by North Carolina's Occupational Safety & Health Agency ('NC-OSHA'), a division of the Department of Labor. Are North Carolina workers being kept safe? Three observations below.

Workers' Comp: Return to Work — Shift Changes & Child Care

One of the primary goals of the workers' compensation system is to return the injured employee to work as quickly as possible. A quick return to work benefits both the worker, who will receive full wages instead of reduced disability benefits, and the employer, whicih gets a productive worker back and keeps its insurance premiums down. However, returning to work after a period of disability can also cause conflicts and disputes. For example, what happens if a shift change is required that conflicts with the employee's child care needs?

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