Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

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.

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Many workers’ compensation claims involve physical injuries like strained muscles, broken bones, and chronic back pain. The workers’ compensation system also provides benefits and medical expenses reimbursement for injuries involving psychiatric conditions and mental health. Just like any workers’ compensation claim, however, it is critical to obey all the procedural and evidentiary rules that govern the compensation process. As seasoned North Carolina work injury lawyers, we are prepared to help you navigate the claims process smoothly and efficiently while ensuring that you receive the outcome that you deserve.

In a recent claim, the worker alleged that she suffered from bipolar disorder and depression as a result of working at a bank as a personal banker. The employer’s insurance carrier denied the claim as non-compensable. The plaintiff filed a request to have the denial reviewed and the commissioner who reviewed the claim denied it.

The plaintiff did not file an appeal. Instead, sometime later she filed a motion to set aside the denial based on newly discovered evidence. She alleged that she suffered the disabilities as a result of practices used by the defendant that she described as “sub-human” and alleged that these practices only became knowable after the statute of limitations had expired. Plaintiff’s motion was ultimately denied and she appealed.

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There several steps involved in a North Carolina workers’ compensation claim that a claimant must complete before receiving an award of benefits and reimbursement for medical expenses.  For example, the reviewing judge will scrutinize all medical evidence that the parties present and determine whether your injury is the direct result of your work duties. As dedicated work injury lawyers, the attorneys at Maurer Law understand how important it is to abide by all applicable procedural rules and to present your claim in the most favorable manner possible.

In a recent appellate opinion, the court considered whether a lower court made an appropriate determination regarding whether a welder’s lung disease was the direct result of his job duties and functions. The man’s welding job required him to perform a type of welding that produced large volumes of smoke and fumes. In 2009, he was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pulmonary impairment. His doctor told him that the condition was caused by or contributed to his employment and welding activities. He was awarded social security benefits starting in May 2010.

Next, the man went to work for a temporary staffing agency and spent 80% of his time working each day. His assignment lasted 18 days over a one-month period. In January 2011, the worker filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits and named several of his prior employers regarding his COPD. All but the temporary staffing agency entered into a settlement with the man.

Work-related injuries can be very complex and it can be difficult to determine the full extent of the harm at the moment the injury happens. Ensuring that you receive the medical treatment and diagnoses that you deserve is a key part of any workers’ compensation claim. At Maurer Law, our North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers have handled countless claims involving a broad variety of injuries. We are standing by and ready to help you seek the compensation that you deserve.

In a recent workers’ compensation claim, a worker was injured while working as a lead installer for a security systems company. The worker reported feeling a sudden pop and the onset of pain in his lower back while lifting some hardware. A few days later, he went to an urgent care facility to receive treatment. The doctor recommended that he switch to light-duty work and receive physical therapy. He filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, which the employer accepted.

Soon thereafter, he returned to the same doctor, reporting ongoing pain in his lower back and buttocks but indicated that the physical therapy was helpful. Over the following months, however, he indicated that his pain worsened. His treating physician recommended work conditioning but the man could not complete it due to bladder incontinence. He eventually saw a doctor about the incontinence, who concluded that it might be related to his back injury and that he should seek a second opinion. The insurance carrier denied the worker’s request for consultations with a neurosurgeon and orthopedist, but the worker went and saw them anyway. The exam revealed that he suffered a lumbar disc desiccation that required surgery. The man returned to the physician a while later and reported symptoms that suggested he was suffering from deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

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It is common practice for employers to loan out employees to assist with other projects or jobs. This can create wonderful opportunities for employees, but it also creates issues when it comes to determining which employer is liable for any injuries that the employee suffers on the job. At Maurer Law, our team of dedicated North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers has handled complex claims involving many different types of injuries and we are ready to assist you.

In a recent appellate opinion, the court considered a claim involving an employee who had been loaned out to another company. The owner of a South Carolina-based company needed help with a construction project in Florida and contacted his friend who owned a North Carolina-based company to request additional workers. The plaintiff worked for the North Carolina company and volunteered to work at the Florida job site. According to the arrangement, the South Carolina-based company agreed to pay the North Carolina employees at the completion of the job. On the job site, the worker fell while lifting furniture to the second floor of a building, sustaining multiple injuries.

The plaintiff filed a Notice of Accident requesting compensation for his injuries from his North Carolina employer’s insurance carrier. The South Carolina company’s insurance carrier had refused to pay compensation to the plaintiff for his medical bills, which totaled over $350,000, and disability benefits exceeding $44,000. The North Carolina insurer filed a request to add the South Carolina insurer and to have it be held liable for the employee’s expenses and benefits.

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Filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits is merely the first step in receiving the financial support that you need and deserve after an accident at work. Your employer’s insurance carrier may contest your claim or seek a denial of certain benefits or items of compensation. Having a seasoned North Carolina work injury lawyer on your side can make a substantial difference when it comes to proceeding through the claims process smoothly and efficiently.In a recent court opinion, an injured employee appealed the denial of her workers’ compensation claim seeking benefits for her disability and compensation for her medical treatment. The plaintiff worked for an employer that contracted to provide food services to a nursing home. The plaintiff worked in the nursing home and was often required to lift up to 50 pounds and to replace or remove heavy items on a shelf overhead. The plaintiff suffered an injury after slipping on a wet floor and falling on her left knee, arm, and hand. The plaintiff was taken to the emergency room and diagnosed with an injury to these areas. She was prescribed pain medications and a sling for her left arm. She was also prohibited from lifting more than five pounds.

During a subsequent medical examination, the plaintiff was diagnosed with a probable rotator cuff tear and a bruised knee and wrist. The restriction on lifting was maintained, and she was prohibited from pushing or pulling more than 10 pounds. The plaintiff underwent more examinations and treatments, including surgery.

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The North Carolina workers’ compensation system is complex, and there are many different requirements and legal rules that could affect your ability to recover benefits. At Maurer Law, we have the experience it takes to assist injured workers with receiving the fair treatment they deserve after a work-related injury.In a recent claim appeal, the court considered whether an employee’s injury was compensable in light of a dispute regarding whether it arose out of his employment duties. The plaintiff worked as a press operator for a manufacturing plant for 28 years. On the day of the injury, it was very hot, and he arrived for his shift in the afternoon after spending the beginning of the day tilling potatoes. Toward the end of his shift, the plaintiff collapsed. He did not remember what happened leading up to his collapse and loss of consciousness. The plaintiff received treatment at the hospital, and an MRI test showed that he incurred an injury to his right shoulder as a result of the fall, which required two surgeries.

The plaintiff filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits that was initially denied. The plaintiff sought a rehearing, and the Commissioner concluded that the plaintiff’s injury did not arise out of his employment, so the injury was not compensable. The plaintiff appealed.

On review, the appellate court first stated that an injury is compensable when it was caused by an accident during the course of employment and arose out of employment. When the origin of a fall or the reason behind a fall is unknown, the Commission must use an inference that the fall arose out of employment unless there is evidence that some force or condition independent from the employment caused the fall. According to case law, the appellate court noted that a blackout or loss of consciousness is deemed an explanation for a fall. Accordingly, the appellate court concluded that the trial court properly refused to apply the unexplained fall doctrine. The appellate court noted that the plaintiff was working in an air-conditioned environment and was allowed to eat and drink as much as he wished. He was also standing on level ground at the time of the fall and did not appear to be exerting himself in an excessive manner.

Once you are awarded workers’ compensation benefits, it is important that you protect your right to continue receiving those benefits for as long as you are legally entitled to receive them. Many insurers will attempt to terminate benefit payments after an initial award. As seasoned North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers, we are standing by and ready to help you protect your right to benefits at any stage of the proceedings.

In a recent workers’ compensation appeal, the worker was a 68-year-old man who was injured while working as a meat cutter. The man’s job description provided that people in his position must be able to lift up to 100 pounds on a routine basis and must be able to reach from 6 inches to 72 inches. The description also listed stooping, kneeling, crouching, balancing, and climbing as regular activities. The man sustained an injury to his lower back, right hip, and right extremities while lifting a box of meat from the top of a stack of boxes.

The man received medical treatment that showed serious injuries, including multilevel disc bulging, spinal and foraminal stenosis, and spondylolysis. The employer and its insurer admitted compensability of the injury and began paying temporary total disability benefits. The worker then underwent a functional capacity evaluation which determined that he could not return to his job as a meat cutter but that he was able to perform light physical demand work. He was later determined to have reached maximum medical improvement, but he claimed he continued to experience serious pain in his lower back and right leg. Over the course of the next few years, he continued to receive medical treatment and used a cane occasionally to provide assistance with walking.

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There are many rules that apply to the workers’ compensation process and that can affect your right to recover benefits. This is why it is critical to consult with an experienced and competent North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney. A recent appellate opinion demonstrates the impact that some of these rules can have on your right to recovery.

The plaintiff suffered serious injuries on the job when he was unloading a truck and a pallet jack failed, causing a pallet to fall and pin the plaintiff’s leg. He suffered a broken ankle and required surgery to address the problem. The surgery did not successfully resolve all of the plaintiff’s injuries. Further examination noted that the screw used in the first surgery was too long so another doctor removed and replaced it. Additional examination suggested that the plaintiff required a third surgery, but he stated that he did not want to undergo another procedure. He was provided with a brace for his ankle at this time.

Sometime thereafter, the plaintiff was released by the doctor as having reached maximum medical improvement with some restrictions, including sedentary work only and short periods of walking and standing. He was also assigned a 15% permanent partial impairment for his ankle injury.

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The North Carolina workers’ compensation system can be intimidating for injured workers. This is especially true if you are coping with painful conditions or facing a lifetime of disabilities. At Maurer Law, we have guided many North Carolina workers through the claims process and helped them ensure that they receive the full amount of compensation that they deserve.

In a recent claim, an employer appealed from an opinion that awarded an injured worker benefits and compensation for an injury that she sustained on the job. The man suffered a devastating injury when he was pinned between his delivery vehicle and another vehicle. The employer did not dispute that the injury arose from his work duties, nor did it dispute his claim that he suffered injuries to his right leg and back. The defendant provided workers’ compensation wage loss benefits to the man in addition to medical benefits for treatment that he received following the accident. The man continued to suffer serious health problems stemming from the accident, involving a staggering 390 surgical procedures and the amputation of his leg up to the buttock. He also experienced kidney failure and other medical issues, such as depression, dental problems, elevated cholesterol, and diabetes.

In its appeal, the employer argued that the North Carolina Industrial Commission did not have appropriate jurisdiction over the injured worker’s benefits claim and that it was a reversible error for the Commission to award benefits to the worker. More specifically, the employer argued that the court erred in awarding benefits for attendant care costs that he received prior to the date upon which he initiated his workers’ compensation claim.