If you were injured at work, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Our dedicated team of North Carolina work injury lawyers have assisted individuals throughout the region with a wide variety of injury types and legal issues. The workers’ compensation process can be very complex, which is why it helps to have an experienced legal advocate on your side.

In a recent case, the North Carolina appellate court considered a claim in which the worker hurt his back while working in the produce department of a grocery store. He was lifting watermelons from a bin which required him to bend over and scoop them out of the bin. He experienced a sudden onset of pain in his right arm and shoulder. A medical exam was conducted and the doctor concluded that the injury was likely neurological in nature. The MRI revealed acute and chronic damage to his spine with multilevel degenerative disc disease. The doctor attributed it to a sudden event but noted that MRIs do not indicate when an injury occurred. He also identified narrowing of the worker’s spinal cord.

He underwent further treatment, including a decompression surgery for his spine. One of his doctors testified that he could not give a medical opinion with a reasonable degree of certainty regarding whether the incident with the watermelons was the primary cause of his injury. The employer challenged the worker’s claim for benefits on the basis that the injury was chronic and not related to the course and scope of his employment. The Commission agreed with the employer and the worker appealed.

Continue reading

Personal injury incidences always involve deeply stressful and emotional situations. In some instances, however, they are extraordinarily painful for the victim and his or her family. A common example of this type of case is a sexual abuse incident. Although there is a criminal prosecution component, the victim can bring a civil claim seeking compensation for his or her suffering. Our experienced North Carolina personal injury lawyers are standing by to help you seek the justice you deserve.

Recently, the North Carolina appellate court considered a claim involving alleged sexual abuse against a minor. The victim was a 15-year-old girl raised in a strict household with her mother and her sisters. Evidence in the record indicated that due to her mother’s beliefs, the girl lived a very sheltered life which included not being able to spend the night at friends’ houses and not being allowed outside unsupervised past dusk. The mother needed to leave the state to care for her dying mother and the mother agreed to let the girl stay with a friend under the agreement that the friend’s mother provide constant supervision. The mother was unaware that the family had an adult son who was living at the house and that he had an alcohol abuse problem and history of violence.

One evening, the son and some friends were partying in the backyard. The friend’s mother went to sleep and the friend went into her bedroom, leaving the girl alone with the son and his friends. According to the victim, the son provided her with a beverage containing some kind of drug and ultimately raped her in the home. The girl filed a lawsuit against the friend’s mother and the son, alleging negligent infliction of emotional distress based on the friend’s mother’s alleged failure to protect the girl from her son and to provide support for her after she informed the mother of what happened. The friend’s mother’s insurer defended the action and requested a declaratory judgment stating that it had no duty to the mother or son to defend against the claims. The lower court granted the insurer’s motion. The defendants appealed.

Continue reading

Personal injury lawsuits often involve car accidents and other types of bodily injury. What few people realize, however, is that North Carolina law provides causes of action for other types of harm, including emotional distress. Our knowledgeable team of North Carolina personal injury lawyers is standing by to answer any questions you may have regarding whether you have a legal claim against someone else.

A North Carolina appellate court recently considered a claim in which an employee of a political campaign pulled a gun on the plaintiff in the back of a vehicle. The employee worked for the campaign as a director of its North Carolina office. The employee was known for carrying a gun through a concealed carry permit. While the plaintiff and defendant were riding in the back of a car to a campaign event, the plaintiff alleged that the employee brandished the loaded weapon and held it against his knee with his finger on the trigger. The plaintiff filed a complaint against the campaign alleging civil claims for assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and negligent retention and supervision. The plaintiff’s claims were based on a doctrine called vicarious liability, which holds employers responsible for the tortious acts that their employees commit during the course and scope of employment.

The campaign filed a motion for summary judgment on all the claims, which the lower court granted. The plaintiff filed an appeal alleging that it was improper for the court to grant summary judgment. The appellate court first rejected the campaign’s contention that the court lacked jurisdiction over the matter and that it was a workers’ compensation claim. The court noted that a workers’ compensation claim does not preempt intentional torts because the risk of being potentially assaulted at gunpoint by a coworker is not something that a reasonable person would foresee experiencing on the job.

Continue reading

Wrongful death accidents are some of the most tragic and stressful accidents that we handle as seasoned North Carolina personal injury attorneys. One of the most common defenses that the other party will assert is that your loved one was acting negligently at the time of the incident and that this contributed to his or her death, rendering the defendant not liable.

In a recent case, the plaintiffs filed a wrongful death claim against an energy company and its associated companies after the loss of their son who worked at a summer camp. The decedent was assisting another camp counselor with bringing a sailboat out of the water when the mast made contact with an uninsulated high voltage power line overhead, thereby electrocuting the decedent who had his hand on the metal portion of the boat at the time the mast made contact.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs admitted that the decedent was reasonably unaware that the high voltage power line was above the boat and that insufficient vertical clearance for the mast of the sailboat to pass under the power lines existed. The plaintiffs claimed that the defendants acted negligently in several regards, including an allegation that the defendant knew or should have known that the uninsulated high-voltage power lines created a risk for the camp employees and guests. The plaintiffs also alleged that the defendants breached their duty to the plaintiff to maintain a safe electrical wire.

Continue reading

Car accidents often involve multiple auto insurance policies, which can lead to confusion and headaches for injury victims. It’s also important to remember that insurance companies are for-profit entities who don’t always have the best interests of injured persons in mind. At Maurer Law, our dedicated team of North Carolina personal injury lawyers has aided numerous residents in interpreting insurance policies and ensuring that they receive the full amount of compensation that they are owed.

Recently, the North Carolina appellate court considered whether a trial court committed a reversible error by crediting payments made to the plaintiff under his own insurer’s underinsured motorist coverage against the judgment that the plaintiff obtained from the other driver in a civil suit. At the time of the accident, the plaintiff had an insurance policy that provided an underinsured motor vehicle coverage up to $250,000 per person. The defendant had an insurance policy that provided a personal liability limit of $100,000 per person.

The case proceeded to trial and the jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff finding the defendant negligent and awarding the plaintiff $263,000 in compensation. A few months later, the plaintiff’s insurance company sent him a check for $145,000 which it claimed represented the amount of underinsured motorist coverage that the plaintiff was owed under the policy. The defendant filed a motion asking the court to determine the amount of set-off that should be credited against the jury award based on the payment as well as other payments that the plaintiff received, including $3,000 from the defendant’s insurer as well as $30,000 from the settlement of a medical negligence claim the plaintiff asserted against the medical professionals who treated him following the accident.

Continue reading

When an employee is hurt at work, the workers’ compensation system may provide him or her with benefit payments to replace weekly wages as well as reimbursement for medical expenses. Understanding the claims process can be very stressful, especially if this is your first encounter with seeking benefits. The dedicated North Carolina work injury lawyers at Maurer Law are prepared to help you ensure that you protect your legal rights to the fullest extent.

In a recent claim, the plaintiff worked in a major department store for nearly 22 years when she tripped and fell forward over the bottom of a stairway ladder. She attempted to break her fall and struck her wrist on the cement floor as well as her shoulder and knee. The plaintiff received emergency medical treatment for her injuries and she was diagnosed with a shoulder sprain. She followed up with the doctor several times complaining of continued pain in her wrist, shoulder, arm, neck, and knee. She underwent many additional medical examinations and treatments to address her pain and symptoms.

The plaintiff filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits and the employer accepted plaintiff’s claim and identified the injury as impacting her right shoulder and arm. The insurer later filed a form indicating that it denied compensability of any new injuries that the plaintiff reported outside of her employment involving her cervical spine. The matter came before a Deputy Commissioner for hearing and he concluded that the plaintiff had suffered a work-related injury that impacted her wrist, knee, and pre-existing cervical disc disease. The plaintiff was awarded benefits and compensation for her medical expenses, including any surgical procedures that were recommended.

Continue reading

When you are injured at work, you may be prevented from returning to your usual occupation either for a temporary period of time or indefinitely. There are many different rules in the North Carolina workers’ compensation laws that require an injured worker to make a reasonable effort to find suitable work in the event that he or she cannot return to his or her usual employment. One of the most common defenses that employers assert is that the injured worker did not perform a diligent search. At Maurer Law, we have substantial experience ensuring that workers are treated fairly in a workers’ compensation claim and that they receive the full amount of benefits that they deserve.

A recent North Carolina appellate opinion discusses the issue of reasonableness. The worker was injured in an accident involving a flatbed truck during the course and scope of his employment. He received emergency medical treatment and complained of pain in the left side of his back, hip, and knee. He received treatment for his injuries including physical therapy and pain medication. He eventually returned to work, but indicated that his back pain increased. The employee attempted to obtain different positions with his employer but was unable to qualify for the positions due to his back pain.

The worker continued to undergo different medical treatments and examinations for his back pain. He was eventually diagnosed with non-mechanical back pain and a spinal contusion.

Continue reading

The legal process includes many different rules that govern substantive aspects of your claim, like which evidence the other party can present and procedural aspects of your claim such as when you can seek an appeal. These rules can be complicated and it can be difficult to know whether you are proceeding in the right manner. This is why having a seasoned North Carolina personal injury lawyer can make all the difference when it comes to securing the compensation that you deserve.

In a recent appeal, the court discussed when a party can seek an interlocutory appeal. The plaintiff was operating a city bus when the vehicle was struck from behind by a regular passenger car. The plaintiff suffered injuries and filed a claim against the driver of the vehicle alleging negligence. The matter proceeded to discovery, which is the phase of litigation where the parties seek information from one another about the claim.

During discovery, the defendant filed a motion to compel seeking an order that would require the plaintiff to provide more robust answers to the defendant’s discovery requests. The court granted this order and compelled the plaintiff to provide more information about her physicians before the accident and her post-accident injuries and mental disabilities. She was also compelled to produce more information about her wage and hours worked following the crash.

Continue reading

Slip and fall accidents can happen virtually anywhere in North Carolina. If you are injured due to someone else’s failure to maintain his or her property in good working condition, then you can bring a premises liability claim against the owner to recover compensation for your injuries. When the owner of the premises is the government, however, special rules and considerations apply. The doctrine of governmental immunity states that municipalities cannot be deemed negligent in some situations for personal injuries. Our diligent team of North Carolina slip and fall lawyers is standing by and ready to help you ensure that you proceed with your claim in the correct manner.

A North Carolina appellate court recently considered a claim asking whether a city was immune from tort liability for the plaintiff’s slip and fall injury based on the doctrine of governmental immunity. The defendant leased the premises to various groups and the lease stated that the defendant was responsible for maintaining the exterior of the building and that it had the right to inspect the premises at any time.

The plaintiff in the matter was one of the tenants of the building. She was leaving through a rear exit carrying a large stack of items when she lost her balance and fell down the steps on a section of the steps that she alleged had eroded. She suffered a broken hip and other injuries. She filed a personal injury claim against the defendant alleging that it was negligent in its maintenance of the stairs and that it waived the doctrine of governmental immunity because it purchased liability insurance. She also alleged that the government was engaged in a proprietary function, which deprived the defendant of governmental immunity.

Continue reading

In a workers’ compensation claim, the injured employee usually must undergo medical examinations to determine the nature and extent of his or her injury. This often involves assessing any pre-existing injuries, which raises issues about protecting the worker’s privacy regarding his or her medical information. As seasoned North Carolina work injury lawyers, we understand how daunting and confusing the claims process can be and we understand the concerns that you likely have about putting your medical history on display. We are standing by and ready to help you determine whether seeking workers’ compensation benefits is right for you.

In a recent claim, the North Carolina appellate court considered the scope of privacy rights regarding medical information that applies to an award of benefits. When the Industrial Commission enters an Award, it provides a written decision explaining its reasoning and basis for making the award. Judges must provide the evidentiary bases for reaching a conclusion regarding whether or not a claimant is entitled to benefits. These evidentiary findings include medical records, as well as expert witness reports and testimony regarding the claimant’s medical condition and health history. The Awards are then uploaded into a publicly available database that can be searched online.

In the case at hand, the plaintiff suffered an injury when he slipped and fell on a wet floor while moving pallets at work, resulting in a lower back injury. During the claim, the employer’s insurance company claimed that the plaintiff was no longer disabled and that he had failed to cooperate with the medical care and further treatment authorized and paid for by the insurer. The plaintiff refuted these allegations. His attorney sought permission to withdrawal, which was granted, and the plaintiff proceeded pro se. This means that he represented himself without counsel.

Continue reading