Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

Work-related injuries are difficult, but work-related deaths are a catastrophic situation. The North Carolina workers’ compensation system provides benefits for injured workers who lose their lives as a result of a work accident. While you are busy coping with the sudden loss and overwhelming grief, we will fight on your behalf to make sure that your family receives the outcome it deserves.

In an opinion from the North Carolina Court of Appeals, an insurance company appealed a decision from the North Carolina Industrial Commission finding that an injured worker’s death was directly related to and a consequence of his employment. In 2000, the man suffered an injury to his groin and abdomen while lifting a tire. The employer’s workers’ compensation carrier initially accepted liability for the accident and the man started receiving temporary total disability benefits.

The worker then underwent a series of medical treatments including surgeries and pain management prescriptions. Despite these efforts, the man’s condition worsened and he reported experiencing severe side effects from his opiate pain relief medications. He also reported abdominal issues including chronic constipation. In 2012, a tumor was found in his bladder and he was diagnosed with cancer. In 2013, he reported to the emergency room with difficulty urinating and tenderness in his stomach. A few months later, he reported to the emergency room again with worsening symptoms and bowel obstruction. He underwent emergency surgery to remove the obstruction but never regained consciousness, eventually passing away.

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An important step in any workers’ compensation claim is ensuring that the judge makes an appropriate calculation regarding the average weekly wages that you earned prior to the accident. This figure will be used to determine the amount of benefits that you are entitled to receive. The seasoned team of Raleigh work injury lawyers at Maurer Law have guided numerous injured employees through this process while helping them ensure that they are treated fairly.

A recent claim from the North Carolina Court of Appeal discusses average weekly wage calculations. The employer’s workers’ compensation insurer appealed from a decision awarding an injured certified nursing assistant benefits. The insurer challenged the lower court’s calculation of the nurse’s average weekly wages according to one of the many methods listed in North Carolina’s workers’ compensation statutes. According to the insurer, the lower court gave too much credence to the worker’s earnings following the injury and that the figure it chose was not a close approximation of the amount she would have earned had she not been injured.

The appellate court began by reviewing the state’s standard for calculating average weekly wages, which is covered in N.C. Gen. Stat. Section 97-2(5). It sets forth five ways that a court can make this calculation. The methods are listed in the priority that they should be used. Overall, the legislature intended for the court to make the calculation fair and just to the employer and the employee. This has been interpreted to mean that the average weekly wages should be as close as possible to the amount that the employee would have been earning had he or she not suffered an injury on the job.

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If you think a judge made a mistake in your North Carolina workers’ compensation claim, you can file an appeal to have a higher court review the decision. There are different rules that apply on appeals, and the standard that the court must use to review the lower court’s decision can change depending on the circumstance. Ensuring that you put forth the strongest appeal possible and that the appellate court applies the right standard of review is a key aspect of securing the benefits that you deserve.

In a recent claim, the worker suffered neck and spinal injuries while employed with a trucking company as a driver. Her employer and its workers’ compensation insurer appealed a decision from a lower court denying its request to terminate her temporary total disability benefits. Specifically, the employer and insurer alleged that the lower court erred in concluding that the worker was disabled after her doctor released her in December 2015 to “return to full activities.”

The appellate court began by noting the standard of review that it must apply, which is to review findings of fact to determine whether “any competent evidence supports the Commission’s findings … and whether the findings of fact support the Commission’s conclusions of law.”

Work-related injuries are always damaging and disruptive for the employee. In the most unfortunate cases, however, they result in the loss of the worker’s life. North Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Act allows a surviving relative to seek death benefits to help cope with the financial stress of the sudden and unexpected loss. There are countless considerations and laws that must be taken into account when developing a strategy for recovering damages, and no two cases are alike. As seasoned North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers, we have the skills and experience it takes to ensure that your family receives the fair outcome that it deserves.

Recently, the North Carolina appellate court considered a case in which an employee lost his life in a motor vehicle accident while driving a truck for his employer. He was operating the employer’s vehicle at the time of the crash, which was insured under an auto policy. The order also required the insurer to pay the widow five hundred weekly payments of roughly $650 each and over $8,000 for funeral expenses. The total amount of benefits amounted to approximately $333,000 dollars.

The widow was then appointed as the personal representative for the decedent’s estate. She filed a wrongful death action against the driver who caused the crash and his father. The plaintiff reached a settlement of roughly $950,000 for these claims including the policy limits for the at-fault driver’s auto insurance.

One of the most important determinations in a workers’ compensation claim is whether the alleged injury can be directly related to the claimant’s job duties and functions. If the employer can point to a pre-existing injury as the primary cause of your pain and injury, then you may not be awarded workers’ compensation benefits. As dedicated North Carolina work injury lawyers, we have provided seasoned legal guidance to injured parties throughout the region and are prepared to help you ensure that you receive the full amount of compensation that you deserve.

Recently, the North Carolina Court of Appeal considered a dispute in a claim involving a pre-existing injury. The claimant worked at a hospital where she was injured on April 20. Roughly one month later on May 26, she stood up after finishing her lunch, heard a loud popping noise in her knee, and experienced immediate unbearable pain.

The plaintiff filed a claim seeking compensation for the original injury. She also had a history of conditions in both knees, starting roughly 40 years ago. The employer accepted the claim on a medical-only basis and denied further treatment on the basis that the claimant’s current condition was not causally related to the accident. It also denied the injury that occurred one month after the accident. A Deputy Commissioner denied the woman’s claim for benefits, which was later affirmed by the Full Commission.

There are many ways that a prevailing party in a lawsuit can win an award of attorney’s fees, which means the other party must pay the prevailing party’s costs incurred in hiring an attorney. This can make a substantial difference financially, especially if the lawsuit has gone on for a long period of time. In some instances, the losing party will fight the prevailing party’s request for attorney’s fees. As dedicated North Carolina workers compensation lawyers, we are well versed in the rule that governs claims proceedings, including when you might be entitled to having your attorney’s fees reimbursed.

In a recent lawsuit, the North Carolina Supreme Court considered whether a lower court acted correctly in denying to award attorney’s fees to the plaintiff under a North Carolina statute. The statute in question, N.C.G.S. §97-90(c), state that where an attorney has an agreement for a fee, it shall be filed with the Commission and if the agreement is not unreasonable, it shall be approved.

The worker was employed as a bartender when he suffered two back injuries in 2010. He sought workers’ compensation benefits, which he was awarded. The plaintiff underwent back surgery and therapy, but his disability did not improve and continued to worsen. He eventually required attendant care medical services, which the defendants agreed to provide if they could take the depositions of two of the plaintiff’s doctors. The plaintiff and his attorney modified their retainer agreement at this time to include fees for the attorney in the event that attendant care services were awarded.

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Work injuries are incredibly stressful and disruptive for the victim, especially if it is unclear whether you will be able to return to work. The seasoned North Carolina work injury lawyers at Maurer Law have handled many different types of injuries on behalf of hard-working individuals and we are ready to use our skills and experience on your behalf.

The North Carolina appellate court recently considered a claim in which the worker suffered injuries to her neck and spine while working as a truck driver, which required her to maintain a Class A commercial license. Obtaining this license requires the applicant to undergo a medical examination on a periodic basis. She injured her back and spine while operating the landing gear on her vehicle. The company told her that there was no light duty work available. Eventually, the Industrial Commission concluded that she had suffered a work-related injury and she was entitled to temporary total disability benefits.

The woman underwent treatment for her injuries, including a surgical procedure. She was unable to work for several weeks after the surgery. Her treating physician testified that her injury would affect her for the rest of her life, in terms of her ability to move and lift heavy objects. He did indicate that she was able to return to full activities. He prescribed her Vicodin as needed and referred her to the DMV or federal Department of Transportation to determine whether she could return to truck driving.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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