Supporting students and parents in education matters

Four years ago, my spouse had to make a choice: continue in the teaching profession (as she had been doing for 10+ years) or…..provide for her family and kids the way that she wanted to. At the time the General Assembly was reducing its funding to public schools. She hadn’t had a raise in 10 years and the outlook for the teaching profession was bleak. Tears were shed at the decision….
Thank you to all the teachers who are headed to Raleigh today and taking the fight for increased support to the General Assembly.
My wife continues to support teachers and students, but in a different role than as a teacher.
Brian Elston Law also supports public education by representing students and parents in special education and personal injury related issues.
Will my weekly check change if I start my own business?

Will my weekly check change if I start my own business?

Will my weekly check change if I start my own business?

“Weekly checks” the are benefits an injured worker receives when they are injured on the job.  The weekly checks, legally known as temporary total benefits or temporary partial benefits, are provided to injured workers’ pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. 97-29 or 30.  The checks should be 2/3 of the injured workers’ average weekly wage.  Because of the shortfall, injured workers’ may feel that they need extra income.  However, the injured worker is hurt.  Who’s going to hire an injured worker?  So, the injured worker is left to ask if they can start their own business while they are receiving weekly checks?

Injured workers’ should receive a weekly check for being out of work

Will my own job change a weekly check?

If an injured worker starts to work a self-employed job while out on workers’ compensation, it is likely that the weekly check will change.  However, it depends on the new job and whether or not the injured worker has “wage earning capacity.”

An injured worker is entitled to weekly checks so long as they can demonstrate:

  1.  The injured worker is incapable after the injury of earning the same wages they had earned before the injury in the same employment.
  2. The  injured worker was incapable of earning the same wages they had earned before his employment in any other employment. AND
  3. That the incapacity to earn was caused by the injury.

Hilliard v. Apex Cabinet Co., 305 N.C. 593, 595, 290 S.E.2d 682, 683 (1982)

The focus is not whether the injured employee actually earns wages, but whether the injured employee has a capacity to earn the wages.  The North Carolina Court of Appeals has stated “post-injury earnings should not be relied on in determining earning capacity of [injured worker] when they do not reflect his ability to compete with others.”  See Bridwell v. Golden Corral Steak House, 149 N.C. App. 338 (2002).

The test for determining whether a self-employed injured worker has “wage-earning capacity” is that the injured worker:

  1. be actively involved in the day to day operation of the business
  2. utilize skills which would enable the injured worker to be employable in the competitive market place, regardless of the injured worker’s physical limitation, age, education and experience.

In other words, would the injured worker be hired in the competitive job market based on what they are doing for the self-employed position?  If so, then the weekly checks could change.  If not, then the weekly change may not change.

So, before opening your own business or starting a new job while receiving weekly checks, the injured worker should contact an attorney that focuses on workers’ compensation.




Advocating for Workers’ rights

Advocating for Workers’ rights

Advocating for Workers’ Rights

At the present time, thousands of jobs a week are disappearing in the wake of automation and other production efficiency techniques. Black and white, we will all be harmed unless something grand and imaginative is done. The unemployed, poverty-stricken white man must be made to realize that he is in the very same boat with the Negro.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1965)

The quote above is just as relevant today as it was in 1965.  Brian Elston Law shares Dr. King’s concern in its workers’ compensation practice.

Working class jobs are dwindling by the day.  Hence, when an on-the-job accident takes an employee out of work, an employee’s concern for job security is an increasingly important aspect of a workers’ compensation claim. In short, just because an employee is hurt doesn’t mean that they have to lose their job.

Brian Elston Law advocates for employees injured on the job.  The goal is simply not only to ensure that an employee maintains their current employment situation, but also is protected in the future.  Whether it is compelling an employer to provide vocational rehabilitation, pursuing additional medical treatment beyond what the employer is offering, or ensuring the employer is complying with an employee’s job restrictions, Brian Elston Law protects its clients.

In this day and age, employment can be scarce and hard to find.  Brian Elston Law works with individuals to protect their employment dreams, and thanks Dr. King for his work.

New Year’s Resolution for 2018!

New Year’s Resolution for 2018!

Resolution for 2018!

Here’s to 2018, and a thanks to 2017….

In 2017, Brian Elston Law concluded a very heavily litigated case.  The workers’ compensation case reached the North Carolina Court of Appeals all the way from the deputy commissioner level.  During the legal battle, the client stenciled the above, which is a rendering of Achilles.  He was recovering from multiple surgeries, which were denied by the insurance company.  He drew a picture of Achilles, as he considered Brian Elston Law his warriors.  He appreciated Brian Elston Law’s ability to continue to fight and advocate for him, even though his claim was initially denied.  Sadly, he was not able to make it through to see the final outcome.  In the end, justice was provided to his family.

The picture hangs at Brian Elston Law, and will continue to serve as a reminder in 2018 to continue to fight at each stage for its clients.

We hope that it inspires you as well, and a reminder to not give up no matter the challenges that 2018 may bring.


Hand-drawn picture of Achilles to Brian Elston Law

Brian Elston Law is a firm that represents individuals and families in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment, and education law matters.  For questions or consultations, please call 828-575-9700.  




Burn Injuries


Work- related burns are one of the primary causes of occupational injuries in the restaurant industry. Burn injuries occur frequently everyday than most restaurant owners care to admit. Working in the restaurant industry comes with the inherent dangers of burns, not only are restaurant workers prone to accidents like this, customers eating in restaurants often times are victims of these injuries as well.

Customers eating in restaurants often fall victims of a hot spill over the counter by a waitress, hot soup burns a patron’s mouth or even the grease in a to-go bag melts onto a patron’s laps. Whatever form or degree of burns experienced by either the workers in a restaurant or the clients, burn injuries are quite frightening and dangerous; they should be prevented at all cost.

Apart from the most common form of injuries experienced in a restaurant; burns other forms of injuries can still pose a situation of danger to the workers and patrons in any restaurant. Some common forms of accidents include;

  • Slips and falls – This can occur from grease on the floor, tripping over an object or even slipping on a wet surface after mopping, this form of accident is very common for clients and employees in a restaurant to suffer from. Many serious burns occur in the restaurant industry when employees slip and try to steady themselves properly. Slips and falls account for about 18 percent of work related injuries in a restaurant.
  • Cuts and lacerations- Every restaurant kitchen contains sharp objects like knives, glass, slicers, choppers and other sharp objects that can pose dangers in the kitchen environment

Restaurant owners owe their workers and patrons a duty of care to ensure that they prevent the frequent occurrence of injuries like this in their work environment. They have a duty to provide safety measures for their employees as well as their patrons. In other to avoid the occurrence of any burn injuries by restaurant owners, it is important that they train their employees on the correct safety measures to keep them out of harm’s way. Prompt repairs should be made by restaurant to any damaged area in the kitchen or any other place in the restaurant.

Providing employees in a restaurant with educational materials even before employing them is an effective way to train them to identify hazards and highlight ways to perform their jobs efficiently while avoiding getting any injuries.

Managements of any restaurant are also enjoined to ensure that strict guidelines in the restaurant are followed to avoid mishaps. Safety measures should also be followed at all times, and workers should be attentive and observant to avoid occasioning injury to themselves and their patrons. Great communication and understanding between co-workers is also relevant in preventing burnt injuries.

There are some established preventive measures restaurant workers can adopt in other to avoid major burn injuries at their work place. Some of this measures include;

  • Wearing of protective gloves or mitts when handling hot pots or when cooking with hot, deep- frying oil.
  • Avoid reaching over or across hot surfaces and burners; make use of barriers, guards or enclosures to prevent contact with hot surfaces.
  • Read and follow the proper instructions of any electrical appliance before making use of them in the kitchen.
  • Avoid carrying or moving oil containers when the oil is still hot or on fire
  • Wear non- skid shoes to prevent slipping on wet or greasy floors.
  • Extinguish hot oil/grease fires by placing a lid over the top of the container.
  • It is also important that the management should plan traffic patterns so that employees when carrying hot food don’t collide with each other.
  • Cook at manufacturers recommended temperatures. Don’t overheat the oil.
  • Ensure you place nonslip floor mats around fryers to reduce the chance of slipping and falling into the frying equipment.
  • Keep floors clear of debris and grease to avoid slipping.
  • Apply extreme care when handling foods that have been microwaved; they can reach temperature greater than boiling.
  • Keep first aid kits readily available to your employees.
  • Make sure at least one person on each shift has first-aid training.
  • Keep fire extinguishers at work place accessible and available at all times.
  • Ensure lids are tight-fitting and handles are securely attached to vessels that contain hot liquids.
  • Use proper cooking tools such as tongs, to prevent contact with hot surfaces and foods.
  • Avoid opening cookers and steam ovens when they are under pressure.
  • Turn hot pot handles away from burners and never leave handles sticking out over the edge of the range.
  • Do not leave hot oil or grease unattended for any period of time.

While it is not possible to entirely eradicate the occurrence of burn injuries in a workplace, adopting the aforementioned safety tips to minimize work-place accidents.

When burns occur in restaurants either to employees or patrons it is important to employ the appropriate first aid kits in other to relief the pain as much as you can. Burns are experienced in several degrees, and there are also several available ways to contain several degrees on burns experienced at restaurants while awaiting the help of medics. Some suggested ways include;

  1. Stop the burning process- As fast as you can it is important to stop the burning process. This may require removing the affected person from the area, dousing the flames with water, or smothering flames with a blanket.
  2. Cool the burn to help soothe the pain. It is advisable to hold the burned area under cool but not cold water until the pain eases. Alternatively, you can apply a clean towel dampened with cool tap water.
  3. Remove any clothing or jewelry near the burnt area of the skin, don’t try to remove anything that is stuck on the burnt skin as this may occasion more damage to the skin.
  4. Elevate burnt body parts above heart level.
  5. Cover affected areas with clean sheets or blankets.

Provided that the burns occasioned is not a major burn, you can apply the mentioned steps. When a major burn occurs, it is important to treat with the help of medical professionals.

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Brian Elston Law is a personal injury law office in Asheville, NC, dedicated to fighting for people who need it most. Our practice areas include personal injury, workers compensation, wrongful death, employment law, civil litigation and more.

At Brian Elston Law our success comes from our willingness to serve individuals and families all across North Carolina with our high-quality personal injury and workers' compensation advocacy. We know how difficult it is to suffer a personal injury and / or workplace injury and how hard this must be for you and your family. Our team of attorney’s are here to help you make the process as easy and stress free as possible. To learn more about what our firm can do for you, just give us a call or a text. If you would like to learn more about how our firm can assist with your case, we encourage you to contact us immediately. We are proud to offer 100% free, confidential consultations.

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

The verdicts and settlements listed on this site are intended to be representative of cases handled by Brian Elston Law. These listings are not a guarantee or prediction of the outcome of any other claims.