Long Term Pain Management For Workers’ Compensation Injuries in South Carolina

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There are a lot of different injuries that can occur in the course of your employment and that will involve long term pain and treatment for pain management. South Carolina workers’ compensation should cover your long term pain management treatment, in most cases, whether the pain is caused by tissue damage (nociceptive) or nerve damage (neuropathic).

Some of the work related injuries that lead to chronic pain include burns, soft tissue injuries, broken and crushed bones, repetitive stress injuries (such as carpal tunnel and generalized back pain), acute back injuries, and various traumatic injuries.

One form of treatment for long term pain management involves both over the counter and/or prescription medications, such as corticosteroids, opioid pain relievers, and antidepressants. Another form of long term pain management treatment involves physical therapy and/or aquatic therapy. Some people will require surgery to reduce their pain, and many will require psychological support and treatment to learn methods of coping with long term pain, such as relaxation techniques.

For many patients, some combination of these methods will be used, with the goals of getting the patient to a point where they can return to work (even if it is light duty work) and of minimizing the amount of pain medication required to manage their long term pain.

How Workers’ Compensation Benefits Are Used To Manage Long Term Pain

The worker’s compensation system in South Carolina can be complex and difficult to work with, though if you know what you’re doing (or work with an attorney who does), you can absolutely ensure that your long term pain management needs are provided for. However, it is important to understand that workers’ compensation laws require that any treatment you receive be approved by the employer or the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company. This can make it difficult to get the treatment that you need, and to have long term pain management treatment covered. Call the South Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys at Bryan Ramey & Associates for assistance with seeking the benefits you need.

The Most Common Work Related Injury Requiring Long Term Pain Management

On the very top of the list of most common work related injuries in the US are back injuries. These injuries include strains and sprains from lifting, pulling, or otherwise maneuvering heavy objects, as well as damage to the spine, like slipped or herniated disks and fractured vertebrae. These are also among the leading work related injuries that require long term pain management treatment, including physical therapy, prescription medication, and even surgery. You may be dealing with this pain for the rest of your life, and it can limit your ability to function at work. With a back injury that leads to chronic pain, you may never be able to return to your former work duties, and you may end up out of work or working in a lower paying light duty job.

When Work Related Injuries Lead to Light Duty Employment

In the aftermath of a serious work related injury that prevents you from working at your usual occupation, you’re going to be facing tremendous expenses along with the inability to earn income to pay those expenses. Beyond the cost of your medical care, you have to deal with your regular everyday expenses and bills that you may not have any income to cover. This is where workers’ compensation medical and wage benefits become essential to your survival.

The medical benefits of workers’ compensation coverage will address your healthcare expenses, as long as they are deemed reasonable and necessary and are approved by your employer or their insurance company, typically based on the assessments of their approved physicians. The wage benefits will pay 2/3 of your average weekly wage while you are out of work (tax free).

However, the goal is to get you back to work. In many cases, this means returning to a light duty job that accommodates the restrictions associated with your injury, as outlined by your treating physician. These light duty positions often pay less than your former position, so workers’ compensation wage benefits will still be provided at a rate of 2/3 the difference between your former pay and your new light duty position pay. When your employer is able to offer a light duty position that meets your restriction needs, you are required to accept that position, or you will forfeit your right to receive benefits. If you feel that the light duty position is still too much for your injuries, discuss this with your doctor to reevaluate your restrictions.

Receiving Temporary Total Disability Benefits After a Work Injury

Sometimes, an injured worker will be released to return to work in a light duty position, but the employer will not be able to provide such a position. If they are able to, then they must, even if it involves creating a new position. However, if they cannot find or create such a position, then they will have to pay temporary total disability benefits. These are wage benefits that are provided at the same rate as a permanent disability (where you cannot return to work at all), being 2/3 of your former average weekly wages, until such time as you can return to work.

Do You Require Long Term Pain Management for a Work Injury?

If you have sustained a back injury or other injury at work that requires long term pain management, then you will benefit from the experience of the dedicated South Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys at Bryan Ramey & Associates. We know how to help you to pursue your workers’ compensation claim, with or without the help of your employer, and we know how to fight for the benefits that you deserve and are entitled to under the law, even when your needs are difficult to prove. If you require an independent medical examination because you don’t believe that you are receiving the appropriate diagnosis or care from the company approved physician, then we can help you to take this step and ensure that you are being properly cared for and accurately diagnosed.

Contact Bryan Ramey & Associates for a FREE consultation to learn your rights.

Tips for Passengers Involved in Auto Accidents

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When you are a passenger in a vehicle that is involved in an auto accident in South Carolina, you can recover compensation from the insurance policy of the at-fault driver, even if the at-fault driver was the one in the vehicle that you were riding in. It can be especially frustrating to be a passenger in an auto accident, because there was probably absolutely nothing you could have done to prevent it, and you may feel powerless during and after the incident. The driver should certainly contact an auto accident attorney, though as a passenger, you have a right to do the same thing, and it is likely the best thing that you can do for yourself to ensure that you can recover fair compensation for your injuries and damages.

Passengers Face Unique Risks in an Auto Accident

As a passenger in an auto accident, you’re going to face some unique risks. For example, you might not be sitting in the safest position. The driver is at risk for injuries associated with their seating position, such as whiplash, but the passengers are more likely to be sitting in positions that can create even more severe injuries. For example, you might be sitting with your legs crossed or your feet on the dash board. You might even be reclining in the front seat, or laying down in the back seat. Many who ride in the back seat don’t wear seatbelts, thinking that the back seat is fairly safe, and they find out the hard way that it is not. In some cases, passengers face serious injuries because they are resting their heads against the side window, they are holding objects in their laps, or they have fallen asleep in an awkward position.

How Passengers Can Take Action After An Auto Accident

If you are a passenger in an auto accident, and your injuries do not prevent you from doing so, attempt to gather as much evidence as you can. You’ll want to take note of the contact and insurance information of all involved drivers, collect the contact information of any witnesses, and take pictures of anything that might be relevant to proving liability and the value of damages. This could include the position of the vehicles, the conditions of the road, the property damage, the injuries, and anything else that could be important.

Don’t Discuss the Auto Accident With Anyone But Your Attorney

While you will likely have to provide a statement to the responding police officer at the scene of the accident, you should avoid discussing anything about the auto accident that might be subjective, such as who caused it and how, until you have a chance to talk to an attorney. You don’t have to comment on things that you aren’t sure about, and fault is something that will need an investigation to determine. You should also avoid discussing the auto accident with any car insurance company until you’ve had a chance to discuss it with a lawyer first.

Where Do Passengers Turn for Compensation for Injuries and Damages?

One benefit of being a passenger in an auto accident is that you can seek compensation from the auto insurance policy of the at-fault driver, no matter who it is. While the driver can only recover compensation if he or she is less than 50% at fault for the incident, the passenger can recover compensation even if the driver of the vehicle they were in is entirely at fault or holds the majority of fault. In some cases, you may also have an insurance policy of your own that you can turn to. You’ll want to discuss the details of the incident with your auto accident attorney to establish who is at fault for the accident and which insurance policy you should file a claim with.

Avoid Making Mistakes After a South Carolina Auto Accident

Passengers in auto accidents are at just as much risk of making mistakes in the aftermath of that incident as the drivers are, so it is worth noting what the most common mistakes are and how you can avoid them. Making mistakes immediately after an auto accident can harm your claim and create even more problems than you started with.

Don’t Make the Mistake of Panicking or Expressing Anger

It can be difficult to control your emotions after an auto accident, especially if someone else’s behavior was egregiously negligent or if your injuries (or someone else’s injuries) are shockingly bad. You may be tempted to panic when you see blood and severe injuries. You might be tempted to confront the at-fault driver. This is where it helps to take a deep breath, close your eyes, count to ten, and proceed with a cool head. Don’t argue with anyone or make any accusations. Try not to panic when you see injuries. The calmer you stay, the less likely you are to make even more mistakes, such as saying the wrong thing or making injuries worse.

Don’t Make the Mistake of Declining Emergency Medical Assistance

In the aftermath of an auto accident, you might be in a state of shock. You might not realize how severe your injuries are or even that you are injured at all. If others have more obvious, more serious, and more visible injuries than you do, you might be inclined to worry more about them than yourself. This is all perfectly natural, and it is also why you need to contact 911 and let the emergency responders take you to the hospital if they think it’s the best thing to do. If they don’t take you in an ambulance, then you should still seek a full medical evaluation as soon as possible. There may be injuries that you aren’t aware of or that are worse than you think.

Don’t Make the Mistake of Accepting a Low Settlement Offer

Many people who are suffering from injuries after an auto accident are also facing tremendous medical expenses, their usual bills and living expenses, and lost wages from time off of work. This puts a lot of financial stress on you, and makes it very tempting to accept the insurance company’s first settlement offer. It may even seem like a lot of money at the time. Yet, it is very likely that the value of that settlement is not even close to what your medical expenses are going to end up being, much less enough to cover your lost wages and other damages.

Don’t Make the Mistake of Negotiating Without an Attorney

You don’t want to try to negotiate with the insurance company without the guidance and representation of a skilled South Carolina auto accident attorney. Insurance company claims adjusters will trying to settle your claim for the lowest amount possible – that is their job! Depending on the severity of your injuries, you might not need a lawyer, and the low settlement might be enough to address your damages, but it doesn’t hurt to seek a FREE consultation with an experienced attorney. Contact Bryan Ramey & Associates to learn more about the value of your claims and the options available to you for recovering compensation for your damages.

The Dangers of Drowsy Driving In Greenville or Spartanburg, South Carolina

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According to the United States Department of Transportation, every two hours, three people are killed in alcohol related accidents. While this and many other drunk driving statistics are shocking and most people realize the danger of drunk driving, there is another danger that is comparable to drunk driving that is not as widely recognized as a threat to motor safety.  This is the danger posed by drowsy driving, which has been compared to drunk driving.

 

Federal regulators have stated that a person driving after being awake for over 24 hours is as impaired as a driver who drives with a blood alcohol content that is above the legal limit for intoxication in most states.  A driver does not have to stay awake for 24 hours to be impaired however, even a shortfall of as little as two or three hours less of sleep than a driver should get in a night is enough to cause impairment.  According to a report released in December 2016, with less than four hours of sleep, a driver becomes 12 times more likely to get into a car accident that could be fatal.

 

Drivers who work long hours, who have young children or babies at home, or who are driving at certain times of the day – early morning or late night, tend to be more likely to drive while tired.  Drivers in certain professions, such as doctors, nurses, police officers, and those who work night shifts are also more prone to be sleep deprived.  It is possible for drivers who do not get regular sleep to develop chronic sleep deprivation, which can cause medical issues and affect the brain and cognitive function.

 

Regulations to Counter Sleep Deprivation

Recognizing the danger a lack of sleep can pose on the roads, there are regulations in most states as well as federally requiring certain professional drivers, especially long haul truckers and other commercial drivers, to get some rest and sleep after driving a certain number of hours.  These limitations on how long a driver works before getting rest are enforced through electronic tracking of the truck and the driver.  When a drowsy truck driver causes an accident, the trucking company that employs the driver may also be liable for the driver’s accident, and be required to pay for the injured party’s medical bills and other costs arising out of the accident.  Trucking companies who put requirements on their employees to drive beyond the safe hours and ignore the safety regulations, thereby putting other drivers and passengers at risk, can be found liable for additional damages if the driver causes an accident that injures or kills other drivers or passengers.

 

Signs of Drowsy Driving

Drivers do not always know that they are too tired to drive until they start experiencing some of the signs of drowsy or fatigued driving.  These include:

  • closing or heavy eyelids,
  • confusion,
  • trouble focusing and frequent blinking trying to regain focus,
  • inability to remember the last few miles driven,
  • swerving in between lanes or off the road,
  • feeling irritable, and
  • having disconnected thoughts.

Drivers experiencing these signs often have a reduced ability to react to road dangers, be aware of what is around them, and have impaired decision making ability.  It can take just a few seconds for a tired driver to shut his eyes, swerve into the path of oncoming traffic and cause a fatal accident.

 

Coffee and other caffeinated substances are not an adequate substitute for sleep.  It is possible for a driver to have developed a tolerance for caffeinated substances due to long term use, and so one cup of coffee may only provide a short term solution, while giving the driver a false sense of security.  A driver who experiences the signs of drowsy driving should pull over immediately as soon as it is possible to do so and get some rest.  When a driver falls asleep behind the wheel and causes an accident, the driver may be found negligent for causing the accident and found liable even if he did not know he was drowsy driving.

 

Liability Without a Test

A drowsy driver cannot be tested for impairment in the same way that a drunk driver or a driver impaired by drugs can be tested.  However, there are other ways in which an accident can be attributed to a drowsy driver.  Eye witness accounts of how a driver was behaving in the minutes before an accident, the driver’s admissions relating to his fatigue or lack of sleep, the lack of skid marks from the drowsy driver’s car, and even accident reconstruction are some ways in which an accident can be shown to have been caused by a drowsy driver.  However, it may not be necessary to show that a driver was drowsy to get compensation, as long as it can be shown that the driver did something negligent and that negligent action caused an accident.  For example, proving that a driver ran a red light or swerved off the road, and that these actions caused the accident with other drivers, may be sufficient for the other drivers to receive compensation for the accident without showing that the driver ran the light or swerved off the road due to fatigue or sleep deprivation.

 

There may be other factors that contribute to drowsy driving.  In some cases, a driver could be affected because he is taking medication that causes him to become drowsy.  The fact that the driver was drowsy due to taking prescription medication does not diminish the driver’s liability in causing an accident, although the drowsy driver may have a claim against his doctor for not warning him about the medication’s side effects.  Other factors can include untreated sleep conditions, and intoxication from drinking alcohol.

 

Contact Us for Legal Assistance

If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one when a drowsy or fatigued driver negligently caused an accident, you may be able to receive compensation from the driver or the driver’s insurance company.  For more information on how you can seek compensation, contact the dedicated Greenville, South Carolina car wreck attorneys at Bryan Ramey & Associates for a consultation today.

 

Employee Intoxication As A Defense In A Spartanburg Workers’ Compensation Claim

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The workers’ compensation system generally compensates workers for workplace injury without regard to whose negligence caused the injury, in exchange for the employee not seeking compensation in civil court for the workplace injury.  However, the employer is allowed to present defenses to a workers’ compensation claim when the employer feels it is justified in refusing a claim.  In presenting a defense, the employer can cite employee conduct that should be used to limit a claim.  For example, an employer can refuse to pay out benefits to injured workers who are injured in the course of their employment, if the employer can prove the employee was drunk or used other substances that could cause impairment at the time of the injury.

 

Intoxication Defense

Under South Carolina law, an employer is allowed to refuse to pay out a workers’ compensation claim if the employer can prove that the injuries an employee sustained were as a result of the employee’s intoxication.  The same law also limits an employee’s rights to receive workers’ compensation benefits if the employee was trying to commit suicide or harm others and those actions resulted in the injury.

 

The law further requires an employer who wants to use an employee’s intoxication as a defense to prove that the employee was in fact intoxicated at the time of injury, and that the intoxication led to the employee’s injuries.  Therefore, employers in some industries generally require injured workers to take drug or alcohol test shortly after reporting accidents or injuries with an eye on using any positive results to challenge the employer’s requirement to pay out workers’ compensation benefits.  If an employer denies an employee’s workers’ compensation claim, the employer must provide a written explanation for the denial to the employee within a certain period of time.

 

Positive Drug Test Alone Not Enough

A positive drug or alcohol test by itself is not enough to stop benefits, although an employer can use a positive test to intimidate or scare an employee into dropping a claim against the employer.  An employer can also try to intimidate an employee if the employee tests positive for a controlled substance, including prescription medication for which the employee does not have a prescription.  Employees should resist pressure and avoid making deals with the employer under these conditions in order to retain their workers’ compensation rights.  The positive test is just the beginning of the employer’s defense.

 

The employer still has to show the connection between the injury and the intoxication.  For example, a drug like marijuana can remain in a person’s system for up to a month.  If an employee smoked or otherwise ingested marijuana two weeks before a workplace injury and his employer required a drug test right after the accident, he may still test positive for marijuana.  In order to legally deny the employee’s claim, the employer will need to prove that the marijuana the employee smoked two weeks before the accident caused the employee’s accident and resulting injuries.  Even with a positive test, an employee should still file for benefits because the burden is on the employer to prove their defense.

 

Medication after Injury but Before Filing a Claim for Benefits

The timing of when an employee takes a substance that could result in a positive drug test is also important in another situation.  If the employee takes the substance after the accident, to relieve the pain of the injury, the positive test should have no bearing on the employee’s workers’ compensation claim.  If an employee takes Vicodin for pain when he gets home after hurting his back at a job site, he is likely to test positive on a drug test taken by the employer a day after the accident.  This is another example of why a positive drug test alone should not cause an employee to abandon a workers’ compensation claim without consulting with an attorney.  Injured employees should be careful about self-medicating after a workplace injury.  It is best to seek medical attention as soon as possible, and receive a prescription for any prescription strength medication the employee may end up taking.

 

Employer Assisted in Intoxication

How does this rule apply to office parties and other situations where the employer provides the alcohol and the employee consumes it as part of his work duties, for example mingling with clients and being sociable? Unfortunately, an employee can get penalized for being intoxicated and causing an accident in which he is injured, even when the employer provided the alcohol.  If the employee decides to leave the party and drive to another location to run an errand for the employer before returning to the party, and gets in a car accident, the employer can seek to deny the employee’s workers’ compensation claim.

 

Employers can require that all employees submit to random drug tests as a condition of employment, and have a written drug testing policy.  In some industries, random drug tests are required as a matter of law.  However, some employers can go beyond random workplace drug tests and require injured employees to take a drug test when the employee is injured in a workplace incident.  An employee who refuses a drug test may be fired under the employer’s drug policy, and additionally, the employer may try and use this refusal in its defense to a workers’ compensation claim to shift the burden to the employee to prove he was not intoxicated at the time of the accident.  The success of this tactic may depend on how reasonable the refusal to take the drug test was; if the injured employee has a chance to consult with his attorney before taking the test, he should do so and receive more specific advice on whether or not to refuse a drug test.

 

Contact an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney

If you were injured on the job and were tested for drugs or alcohol, do not be intimidated into not filing for benefits to which you are entitled.  Before you take a settlement or sign any documentation with your employer, you should speak to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney in Spartanburg, South Carolina, for advice on how you can proceed with your workers’ compensation claim.  Contact Bryan Ramey & Associates today.

When The Elderly Are Injured By Preventable Falls in Nursing Homes in South Carolina

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Falling down can create mild to serious injuries in anyone, but when it comes to fall injuries sustained by nursing home residents, the results can be devastating. Even a minor fall from a short height, even from a seated position, could result in traumatic injuries, such as broken bones, brain injuries, cuts and bruises, and permanent disability. In the worst cases, an elderly victim of a fall accident could even be killed by the associated injuries.

When an elderly patient is placed in a nursing home or assisted living facility, it is typically because they require the assistance that would prevent falls. Thus, when nursing home residents are not properly cared for and assisted with their everyday activities, they are even more at risk of fall injuries than they would be if they were still physically able to live on their own. Because there are so many fall injuries in nursing homes, and because they can be so traumatic, it is important to look at the most common causes of nursing home falls, how they can be prevented, and what you can do if your loved one is injured.

Different Factors That Cause Fall Injuries in Nursing Homes

To open the discussion of factors that cause fall injuries in nursing homes, we must address the fact that most nursing homes are understaffed. While they are required to fill out a form concerning the fall risk of each patient, these forms are not always completed or updated as they should be. Some nursing home residents require walkers, wheel chairs, and various other forms of equipment to prevent falls. In some cases, this equipment becomes damaged or is simply not provided as it should be. Those who are physically or mentally disabled are at greatest risk and should receive the appropriate care and equipment to minimize that risk.

Beyond the need for adequate safety equipment, assistance, and supervision, there are also hazards in many nursing homes that can put even the most capable of elderly adults at risk of a fall injury. For example, spilled liquids can create a slipping hazard, as can bathroom accidents, when the elderly person is not assisted as they should be. Any obstacles in the path of the elderly could result in tripping hazards, as well. This means that a lack of adequate cleaning and maintenance of the facility could cause a fall accident to happen.

Then, there are cases where the bathing facilities are not up to date in terms of safety standards. It is very easy for someone to slip in the shower or while getting out of a bath. The elderly in nursing homes should have adequate equipment, such as safety rails to hold onto and sufficient assistance and care when required. If someone is at a higher risk of falling down, then they should be supervised and/or assisted with bathing.

A further cause of fall injuries in nursing homes involves those patients who require the most assistance from well trained staff, such as those who cannot get out of bed on their own. If the staff is not well trained in transferring such patients, then accidents could happen, and the patient could be unintentionally dropped and harmed in this way. If the patient is losing muscle mass or is on medication that might cause dizziness or drowsiness, then they are also at a greater risk of falling if they do not have the supervision and assistance that they need.

The most troubling cases of nursing home falls are those that are caused by abuse and willful neglect. This can be seen in the cases where chemical restraints (unneeded tranquilizing medications) are used to keep the patient subdued and cases where nobody is keeping the environment clean or providing the right equipment and assistance.

The Necessity of Adequate Supervision in Nursing Home Facilities

A common theme when it comes to the causes of nursing home fall injuries is the lack of adequate supervision and assistance. While the actual causes are varied, most hazards could be eliminated and risks minimized by adequate care. As we mentioned from the start, most nursing homes are understaffed, and the staff members that they have are often undertrained.

The lack of effective training can lead to mistakes when it comes to transferring patients or administering medication. The lack of adequate staffing can lead to fatigue and insufficient numbers to provide the appropriate supervision for each patient. Then, when fall accidents do occur, the victims may not be properly observed or treated in the aftermath to ensure that there are no serious internal injuries, broken bones, or psychological effects.

If there are untreated internal injuries, the fall could end up being fatal when it didn’t have to be. If there are untreated broken bones, then the patient could be suffering in extreme pain for extended periods of time. If no one addresses the potential psychological effects, then the patient could be traumatized, depressed, and even fearful.

Preventing and Responding to Nursing Home Fall Injuries

To prevent your loved one from experiencing a fall injury in their nursing home facility, start by choosing the facility wisely. Investigate the quality of care provided, talk to the staff, and look for signs of a safe or unsafe environment. You should feel comfortable asking questions, and if your loved one is at a higher risk of falls than the average patient, make a point of emphasizing this and making sure that they are going to receive the care and supervision that they need.

Once you’ve selected the best nursing home facility for your loved one, the work does not end there. You must follow up by visiting as often as you can. This is in the best interests of your loved one for multiple reasons, including their mental and emotional health, as well as their physical safety and wellbeing. Don’t let your loved one get lost in the system and neglected. You can also help your loved one to stay active and strong by taking them for walks or on outings

If your loved one is injured by a fall accident in their nursing home, make sure that you investigate the incident, and consider contacting a skilled Greenville nursing home abuse lawyer at Bryan Ramey & Associates for a FREE consultation, as you may have a valid claim against the facility.