Articles Posted in Workers’ Compensation

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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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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