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Industrial Accident

One worker died and another was injured on Tuesday morning, January 22, 2013, at the Resolute Forest Products plant in Catawba. Catawba is located in southeastern York County.

Although the accident was clearly work related, an initial investigation of the incident failed to reveal what exactly caused the death of the 39 year old worker from Monroe, North Carolina. According to Sabrina Gast, the York County Coroner, he died at approximately 1:30am while he was working inside a fume tank. There was no evacuation ordered for the plant that has 600 employees.

The men were hired to clean a large tank in the plant’s power generation section. The 10 foot by 40 foot tank was up for scheduled maintenance, according to a spokesperson for Resolute Forest Products.

It was reported that there were no burns on his body and there was no explosion. One of the other contract employees had some minor irritation and was taken to Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill for further examination. The third man involved was examined on-site and released. All workers were wearing protective gear.

There was speculation that possibly some chemical may have leaked into the tank but there was no evidence of that happening. The tank that was being cleaned is used to collect odorless chemical fumes, which are later burned off in power boilers.

Investigators from the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) will examine the site and report their findings. Such an investigation usually takes six to eight weeks.

This is not the first time Resolute Forest Products has faced an OSHA investigation. In May 2012, four employees were sprayed with a chemical called “white liquor” when a suction valve malfunctioned. In June 2012, a contract employee was splashed in the face with white liquor. The worst accident at Resolute was in 2000, when an explosion caused the deaths of two contract workers who were welding a tank. It exploded, killing them and injuring several others.

OSHA issued the company four violations last year which were listed as “serious.” Fines were set at $6,125 if these items were not corrected.

Workers at large plants like the Resolute Forest Products plant in Catawba face danger every day they go to work. When workers are injured on the job they are entitled to North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits from their employer’s insurance company. These benefits include weekly compensation benefits while they are off work and medical care. Once the worker attains maximum medical improvement following the injury, there can be a lump sum settlement negotiated depending on the extent and duration of their injury.

If a worker suffers an injury or death on the job and it is caused by the negligence of someone other than the worker’s employer, there might be a separate claim or cause of action for third party negligence. Those situations are often very complex and require immediate investigation to determine what caused the accident and to preserve valuable evidence.

If you or a family member has suffered an injury on the job or lost a loved one in an industrial accident, you need to talk to a Charlotte attorney experienced in handling workers’ compensation and third party cases.

Auger & Auger is a Charlotte, North Carolina based firm with three offices in Charlotte. We also have offices in Raleigh and Greensboro. Our Workers’ compensation team is headed by the firm’s founding partner, Herbert W. Auger. For nearly 20 years we have been helping injured workers get what they deserve.

Contact us through our website or you can call (704) 364-3361 or (800) 559-5741 toll free, for a free consultation.

With our firm, you never owe a fee unless we get you a settlement.

Other Resources:
NC worker dies in accident at York Co. paper plant, Herald Online, Article by Jonathan McFadden, January 22, 2013

Related Blog Posts:

OSHA Cites “Fatal Four” Hazards Leading To Construction Fatalities, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, January 14, 2013

Duke Energy Employee Escapes Tragedy, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, October 2, 2012

Construction Crane

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has compiled a list of the four leading causes of fatal injuries to workers in the construction industry. The leading cause was falls, followed by electrocutions, struck by object and caught-in/between.

There were nearly 4,609 fatal work related injuries in the U.S. during 2011, according to the data just recently released by OSHA. Even though this is down slightly from the 4,690 fatalities recorded in 2010, the harsh reality is that approximately 90 workers are killed on the job every week. This means that there are roughly 13 deaths per day. The bottom line is that 13 workers will go to work on any given day and never come home.

The OSHA report revealed that the “Fatal Four” causes of worker fatalities were responsible for more than half of all worker deaths. Three out of five, or 57% of all construction worker deaths, resulted from falls (35%), struck by object (10%), electrocutions (9%) and caught-in/between (3%). The conclusion is that by eliminating the “Fatal Four,” the lives of 410 workers could be saved each year.

According to the statistics gathered by OSHA, the age group most likely to suffer from a fatal on-the-job injury was for workers between the ages of 20 and 24 years of age. That age group had an increase of 18% over 2010, rising from 245 in 2010 to 288 in 2011. Interestingly, fatal female worker injuries went up slightly in 2011 and declined by two percent for male workers, 4,234 in 2011 from 4,322 in 2010. Older workers, age 55 or higher, work fatalities were down.

Amazingly, in 1970 there were 38 worker fatalities every single day. That is nearly three times as many as in 2011. The decrease in worker fatalities by more than 65%, when the employment numbers in the U.S. have nearly doubled, over four decades is nothing less than incredible.

Without a doubt, construction sites are dangerous places to work. There are usually many different trades on the job performing their specialties at the same time, including cranes and other heavy equipment, 18-wheelers, cement mixers and concrete pump trucks. The possibilities of being injured are endless and workers have to be aware of the danger that surrounds them.

Fall prevention measures such as cleaning up debris to prevent falls, using safety netting, guardrails and harnesses can save lives. Make certain all “hot” power lines are clearly marked so workers will avoid them and make sure all power tools are grounded to prevent electrocution. Wear protective hard hats and reflective vests to avoid being struck by falling objects or caught-in/between heavy equipment. And most of all do not allow anyone to tamper with or disengage the backup beepers on heavy equipment, no matter how annoying they are.

No matter how safe a construction site is, accidents and fatalities are still bound to occur. If you or someone you know have seen a loved one suffer from serious injuries on the job or lost a loved one due to a construction site fatality, you need to seek the advice of a North Carolina attorney experienced in workers’ compensation and third party claims.

Auger & Auger is a Charlotte, North Carolina law firm that devotes 100% of its practice to representing clients who have been seriously injured or lost loved ones in accidents. Our attorneys have over 40 years of combined experience that can help to maximize your recovery.

We have offices in Charlotte (3), Raleigh (1) and Greensboro (1) for your convenience.

Contact us online or direct at (704) 364-3361 to schedule your no obligation consultation. For contact 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, call (800) 559-5741 toll free.

With our firm, you owe us no fee unless we get you a recovery.

Other Resources:

OSHA Commonly Used Statistics

Related Blog Posts:

Duke Energy Employee Escapes Tragedy, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, October 2, 2012

NCDOL Warns Employers About Dangers of Extreme Heat For Employees, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, July 4, 2012


Interstate Sign

A family of five from Boone, Burke County, North Carolina, survived a wrong-way crash near Savannah, Georgia. The accident happened on Thursday, January 3, 2013 on I-95. Two cars were involved and seven people were injured in what could have been an even more devastating collision.

Investigating officers have released a statement advising that the collision occurred slightly before noon on Thursday. Apparently Virgil Hicks, 83, the driver of a 2007 Buick Lucerne and his wife from Statesboro, Mary Hicks, 82, were traveling the wrong-way in the northbound lanes of the interstate when he hit an SUV. The Honda SUV was being driven by Sarah Miller, 41. Her entire family was with her at the time, including her husband Vachel Miller, 43, Galen Miller, 10, Sidra Miller, 8 and Caspian Miller, 6.

Officers concluded that Hicks became confused and was attempting to get to an exit, when he turned across the interstate and struck the Honda SUV at the entrance of the exit ramp.

Virgil Hicks was in critical condition and his wife, Mary, was listed in stable condition at the Memorial University Medical Center. It was later reported that Virgil Hicks passed away on Sunday, January 6, 2013.

The most seriously injured member of the Miller family was their son Galen, 10, who underwent surgery on Friday morning. He remained hospitalized following his surgical procedure at Memorial University Medical Center. The hospital reported that the injuries to other family members were serious but not life threatening.

Vachel Miller is an assistant professor of education at the Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. Appalachian State University is consistently ranked among the top 15 southern regional universities. The Dean of the Reich College of Education, Dr. Charles Duke, extended thoughts and prayers from the university to the Miller family for a speedy recovery and a safe return home.

Interstate collisions come in all sizes and different levels of severity. Unfortunately, they usually happen in the blink of an eye without time to react, until it’s too late. To further increase the odds of serious or fatal accidents on interstates, posted speed limits are 65 miles per hour up to as much as 80 miles per hour in some states.

For wrong-way crashes, drivers sometimes have time to take evasive action if they see a car or truck coming in their direction far enough in advance. However, if you meet another vehicle at the crest of an overpass going in the opposite direction, the results are horrific. Wrong-way crashes are often caused by drunk drivers. Other times, they can be the result of confusion by an elderly driver like Mr. Hicks.

Regardless of the facts surrounding a wrong-way crash, if you or a family member have suffered devastating injuries or lost a loved one in such an accident, you need to seek the advice of a North Carolina attorney experienced in handling serious personal injury and wrongful death cases.

Auger & Auger is a Charlotte, North Carolina law firm that handles nothing but a variety of serious personal injury cases. For over 40 years we have devoted 100% of our practice to this area of the law.

Contact us online or call our office at (704) 364-3361 for a free consultation. For contact 24 hours a day, seven days a week, call us toll free at (800) 559-5741.

With us, you will never owe a fee unless we get a settlement for you.

Other Resources:

Boone family injured after SUV struck by wrong-way driver, WSOC TV, Article by Dave Faherty, January 4, 2013

Elderly Ga. man injured in wrong-way crash dies, 11 Alive News, January 8, 2013

Related Blog Posts:

At What Age Should People Stop Driving?, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, September 10, 2012

Recently Released Data Confirms Benefits of Safety Restraints For Drivers of All Kinds of Vehicles, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, May 31, 2012


Two Orange High School juniors from Hillsborough, North Carolina were killed on Saturday, December 29, 2012, when their truck ran off the road at a high rate of speed and struck a tree. The students, William “Chase” Underhill and Kacie Leann Chamberlain, both 16, were pronounced dead at the scene of the collision on Little River Church Road in Orange County.

North Carolina Highway Patrol investigated the accident and reported that it occurred at approximately 10:30 p.m. on Saturday night. They indicated that speed was a factor in causing Underhill to lose control of his pickup. Two other teens, McCray Williams, 15, of Mebane and Sam Whaley, 16, also passengers in the pickup, were seriously injured and transported to Duke University Medical Center in Durham.

Troopers said that none of the teens were wearing seat belts.

Collin Lunsford, 17, is now facing multiple charges filed against him by the North Carolina Highway Patrol and being pursued by Orange County District Attorney Jeff Nieman. The charges are for prearranged speed competition, reckless driving and two counts of misdemeanor death by motor vehicle. All of the listed charges are misdemeanor offenses. Lunsford’s next court date is set for January 24, 2013.

Prearranged speed competition is the unlawful racing on streets and highways of the state, as provided under the North Carolina General Statutes, Section 20-141.3.

According to Trooper Stephan Foster, Lunsford was operating a 2005 Chevrolet 1500 and Underhill was driving a Ford F250 at speeds in excess of 90 miles per hour. Neither vehicle made contact prior to Underhill losing control and hitting the tree. Following the crash, Lunsford returned to the scene with his two passengers and called 911.

One of Underhill’s friends, Joe Rangel, talked to him before the accident and told him to drive safe. Underhill is the son of an Orange County EMS worker. He said he thought the accident happened when the teens were trying to pass each other on a curve going 100 miles per hour. Rangel related that the Whaley boy had sustained various serious injuries, including a broken collarbone, a fractured pelvis, a punctured lung and a back injury.

News of tragedies like this are especially difficult to hear, when perhaps lives could have been saved if these teens had been wearing their seat belts. Unfortunately, information compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirms that accidents among teen drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 is higher than any other age group and four times higher than older drivers. Some factors leading to accidents for this age group are being a newly licensed driver, having passengers, speeding with risky maneuvers and no seat belts. All four factors were present in this accident.

If you have had to face a parent’s worst nightmare, the loss of a child or having one severely injured in a teen driving accident, you need to talk to a North Carolina attorney experienced in handling car/pickup accident cases.

Auger & Auger is a Charlotte law firm that has represented thousands of North Carolina residents who have lost children or seen them seriously injured in crashes. With over 40 years of collective experience, our attorneys and staff can help you through these difficult times.

Contact us online or call us direct at (704) 364-3361 or toll free at (800) 559-5741 to schedule your free consultation. Remember, you will never owe us a fee unless we make a recovery for you.

Other Resources:
Authorities tie Orange County fatal crash to illegal racing, News Observer, Article by Anne Blythe and Tammy Grubb, January 1, 2013

2 NC teens were killed during 100 mph racing crash, teen boy charged, troopers say, WBTV News, January 1, 2013

North Carolina General Statutes

Related Blog Posts:

Recently Released Data Confirms Benefits of Safety Restraints For Drivers of All Kinds of Vehicles, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, May 31, 2012

The First Day of School Claims Lives of Two Sophomores, North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Blog, September 5, 2012

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