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June 2014 Archives

Courtesy of U.S. Supreme Court: clarification on cellphone privacy

Here’s a criminal law hypothetical to ponder. Just suppose that you’re arrested on a drunk driving charge in North Carolina or some other state. In taking account of your possessions while booking you, police officers note your cellphone.

Without treatment records, a disability claim may be difficult

Disability examiners hired by the Social Security Administration have a list of potentially qualifying conditions, called the Blue Book. However, more than just a matching diagnosis is required. Examiners may request treatment records and other evidence indicating that a condition is expected to prevent an individual from working for at least a year.

Ergonomics may improve workplace safety, productivity

North Carolina workers may be interested to know that, according to authorities, the most common occupational injuries include lower back pain, headaches, tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. These injuries account for billions of dollars lost in time off from work each year, authorities report.

Tracy Morgan truck accident spurs truck safety debate

The entertainment industry was recently rocked when comedian James McNair was killed in a truck accident that also seriously injured former "Saturday Night Live" cast member Tracy Morgan and three others. The semi-truck wreck occurred when a truck driver who had not slept in more than 24 hours failed to stop for slowing traffic in front of him. Realizing he was not going to be able to stop in time, the trucker swerved and slammed into the limo carrying the victims.

Lawyers' group spotlights post-conviction restoration of rights

When Jerry J. Cox, the president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, says that the lifetime stigma often attaching to persons owing to a criminal record is a problem “that probably touches the lives of all [American] families,” he might not be far off the mark.

Pork plant employees evacuated after ammonia leak

At least eight employees of a North Carolina slaughterhouse were injured when an ammonia leak developed on June 17. According to the report, the incident took place around 11 a.m. at the Smithfield Packing plant in Tar Heel, one of the largest packing plants for pork in the world. Federal regulators have begun their investigation, but a company representative says that the workers are properly trained for when accidents do inevitably occur.

Are judges "rubber-stamping" SSDI and SSI claims?

In an ironic twist, given that the average wait time for a Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income applicant's claim to be fully reviewed is well over a year, a Congressional committee inquiry now accuses many administrative law judges tasked with handling appealed claims of "rubber-stamping" benefit applications to speed up the process. The House Oversight Committee, led by Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif), interviewed several of the nearly 200 judges being accused of granting benefits on appeal to thousands of previously denied applicants to the tune of more than $150 billion dollars in disability payments.

Fatal accident leaves North Carolina motorcyclist dead

Riding a motorcycle is a great way to relax and enjoy North Carolina's open roads. It can also be a great way to travel to work, school and family events. Sadly, though, since these vehicles are so small, many motorists fail to properly notice them. This places motorcyclists at great risk of harm and even death.

Opinion: forensic evidence flawed at many levels

So, what’s the truth generally about forensic evidence submitted by the prosecution at a criminal trial in North Carolina or elsewhere? Is it sacrosanct because scientifically derived? Is there something inviolable about it because it resulted from laboratory analysis?

OSHA initiatives help keep North Carolina workers safer

The American Society of Safety Engineers, at their 2014 annual conference, addressed OSHA initiatives that include temporary workers and silica exposure. Of particular concern at the conference was the fact that, although 2012 Bureau of Labor Statistics indicated workplace fatalities were down overall, fatal falls in construction, including ladder fall incidents, were still up.

Truck accident on North Carolina interstate injures several

Semi-trucks and their drivers play an important role in our economy by carrying goods throughout the state and across the country. Despite their importance, however, the sheer size of these vehicles makes them a hazard to other motorists, especially when they are driven negligently. A split-second of inattentiveness behind the wheel of a big rig can result in a semi-truck wreck that leaves several injured or dead.

SSD approval and denial rates remain issue of contention

The Social Security Administration and the House Oversight Committee have been at odds for a period of time over the Social Security disability claims approval and denial rates of administrative law judges on an individual basis. Particularly, with the SSD fund insolvency concerns, members of Congress are concerned with the high approval rates of some judges.

Legislature moves to raise compensation to injured workers

A house representative in the North Carolina state legislature has prompted a move to rewrite Senate Bill 101 in what is commonly called a 'gut and amend" procedure designed to fast track changes to standing laws. The bill addresses the cap on compensation for injuries related to organs or organ loss due to a workplace accident or injury.

Memorial Day car accidents take a toll on North Carolinians

People tend to travel more over the holidays and extended weekends. While it may be an inconvenience for some, for others it can be deadly. In fact, the North Carolina Highway Patrol recently reported that 16 fatal accidents occurred across the state over Memorial Day weekend. That is up from last year's 14 fatal crashes. It is unclear how many injurious wrecks happened this year, but last year saw 479. That is a lot of people whose lives may have drastically changed for the worse, and there is probably a high number of individuals facing a similar fate this year.

Potential life prison term for marijuana baked goods?

Although a number of people in North Carolina and nationally might find the following drug-related story more than a bit outlandish, it is very real and features immensely sobering consequences for the young man who is its central character.

SSDI wasn't part of original Social Security Act in 1935

When an illness or an injury leaves a person unable to earn a living in Wilmington, the individual may turn to a Social Security disability attorney for assistance in obtaining the benefits that can help. Today, there are millions of individuals that rely on the Social Security Disability Insurance program to get through each week, but when did this program start? What is its history?