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March 14, 2013

North Carolina Legislators Taking Away Workers' Rights

workers-rights.jpgYesterday, two state Senators filed a new legislative bill that is designed to take away some very important rights to the working citizens of North Carolina. The new bill adversely changes the existing worker's compensation laws. Worker's compensation is the body of law that sets out the rules that apply when someone is injured on the job.

Worker's compensation benefits only cover lost wages and medical bills. The injured worker is not compensated for pain and suffering, mental or emotional anguish and other damages. In other words, the worker's right to recover is quite limited under worker's compensation. When someone is hurt on the job, worker's compensation is usually the worker's only remedy under the law. You cannot sue your employer even if your employer recklessly caused you to get hurt.

In some instances, when someone is injured on the job, there is a third person or entity that actually caused the on-the-job injury. For example, if a construction worker is hauling a load of lumber from a lumber company to a job site, and some third person runs a red light, crashes into him, and injures him, then the worker would receive worker's compensation benefits because he was injured on-the-job, but the third person (the at-fault driver) would also be liable to the injured worker.

In situations where the injury was caused by a third person, the employer's worker's compensation insurance company would have a "lien" (right to be paid back) against the worker's recovery from the third person's insurance company. The current law says that the employer's worker's compensation insurance company has a right to be paid back all (100%) of its lien, but that a Superior Court Judge can reduce that lien to an amount that the judge feels is fair so that justice is served to everyone involved.

In most situations, cases against third parties are settled or compromised for various reasons. Once a third party claim is settled, then the attorney for the injured worker and the attorney for the employer's worker's compensation insurance company usually work out a deal with regard to the employer's lien. If a deal cannot be reached about how much of the lien should be paid back, then the parties ask a Superior Court judge to decide what is fair.

CapitalBuilding.jpgThe new bill would chip-away at that last step, and instead give the employer the right to say whether a lien can be reduced more than 50%. In our experience, employers are usually aligned with their worker's compensation insurance company and oppose any reduction in the lien amount.

The BOTTOM LINE is that injured workers are about to see their right to recover fair compensation for their injuries further reduced so that insurance companies can continue to post ever increasing profits. "Pro-Business" and "Pro-Insurance Company" are the new mantras of our legislature.

If you are concerned about this, you can contact the legislators in your district and let them know that you do not want this bill passed into law. Here is a link to our state senators: http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/members/reports/room-phone.pl?Chamber=senate&viewType=normal.

Here is a link to our state house representatives: http://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/members/memberList.pl?sChamber=House.

December 13, 2010

How To Avoid A Truck Accident In Asheville

truck accident avoid.jpgWith over 5,000 people dying in truck crashes each year on our nation's highways, it is important for every driver to understand all of the ways to avoid being involved in such a collision.

1. Stay Out Of The Truck's Blind Spots - If you are sharing the road with a commercial motor vehicle such as a tractor-trailer, either trail behind the truck at a safe distance or pass it quickly. Do not ride along beside the truck! Most crashes between cars and trucks occur when a truck changes lanes and collides with a passenger vehicle. Don't get caught in the blind spot.

2. Leave Yourself An Escape Zone - When passing a tractor-trailer, you should always plan on the truck coming over on you in your lane. If you plan for such an emergency, then you will be prepared in the event it happens and have a plan for what to do. The most important thing to plan for is where to move your car. For example, if you are passing a large truck on an interstate highway, do not attempt to pass while you are crossing a bridge. Why? Because there is no where to move your vehicle in the event a truck comes over into your lane. Instead, wait until you have an open stretch of highway with a wide shoulder before you start your passing maneuver.

Continue reading "How To Avoid A Truck Accident In Asheville" »

March 17, 2010

Why Everyone in North Carolina Needs More Than The Minimum Limits of Car Insurance

head on collision.jpgIf you have less than $100,000 in car insurance on your vehicle, you are rolling the dice and risking financial ruin every time you drive your car. In North Carolina, the minimum amount of insurance coverage required by law is $30,000. But what most insurance agents fail to tell you is that unless you purchase more than the minimum limits of coverage, you are really not protecting yourself or your family from irresponsible drivers, particularly younger drivers. Here's why.

Last week, one of our new clients was on her way home from work, and the traffic in front of her slowed to a stop because a car had stopped to make a left hand turn. She also slowed down and stopped. Ten seconds later, she looked up just in time to see a large SUV barreling down on her. She recalls starting to yell, but the next thing she remembers is waking up in a hospital bed 3 days later. After 2 weeks in the trauma unit and 3 surgeries later, she is trying to figure out how to pay for her hospital bills. Unfortunately, the young girl who did not see her because she was texting and driving has the minimum limits of insurance coverage - this means that the most the young girl's insurance company will ever pay is $30,000. The client's medical bills are over $100,000 already, and she still has months of rehab to complete before she can return to work. There is a way to protect yourself from this very real risk.

You should tell your insurance agent that you want to have at least $100,000 in Uninsured Motorist (UM) and Under-Insured Motorist (UIM) coverage. The increase in your premium should be less than $50 every six months. If you are able, you should ideally purchase a $1 Million umbrella policy that also provides you with UM and UIM coverage. This is the best way to make sure that, if you or a loved one is seriously injured in a car accident, you have the insurance coverage to compensate you for your losses, such as medical bills and lost wages.

Continue reading "Why Everyone in North Carolina Needs More Than The Minimum Limits of Car Insurance" »

February 15, 2010

Toyota Recalls May Trigger Car Insurance Refunds In NC

Toyota update.jpgAs I suggested in an earlier post about the Toyota recall, if you own one of the recalled models, you should not wait for the gas pedal to start sticking before having the problem fixed. Millions of Toyota owners are making dealership appointments to have the gas pedal problem fixed, and many owners are considering whether they are due a refund on their car insurance.

National Public Radio recently aired a piece about the potential effect of the massive recall on insurance companies. During the radio news program, NPR spoke to the manager of the NC Rate Bureau. The Rate Bureau is responsible for setting the rates that insurance companies can charge for car insurance. Ray Evans (the general manager of the North Carolina Rate Bureau) suggests that you contact his office if your insurance rates increased after being in an accident or receiving a ticket that you believe was caused by a sticking accelerator pedal.

Making such an appeal to the Rate Bureau could result in a substantial refund from your insurance company. If such an appeal is successful, then your insurance company would look to Toyota to cover the loss of revenue.

You may contact the North Carolina Rate Bureau at (919) 783-9790.