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What Kind of Medical Treatment Can I Receive Under Workers’ Comp Insurance?

If you're injured on the job and your workers' compensation claim is approved, workers' comp will pay for your medical treatment. That's great! But what exactly does that mean to you?

That's a loaded question.

What Is Medical Compensation?

Under the North Carolina Workers' Compensation Act "medical compensation" can include virtually anything that will cure your pain, give you relief from pain, and/or get you well enough to get back to work.

Treatment can include:

  • Medical
  • Surgical
  • Hospital
  • Nursing
  • Rehabilitative services, such as:
    • Attendant care services: At-home care or physical therapy
    • Vocational rehabilitation: In some circumstances, the insurance company will pay for retraining or for a specialist to help you find another job
  • Medicines
  • Sick travel: Reimbursement for any travel to authorized medical providers or pharmacies more than 10 miles away
  • Other treatment

While it may seem as though you're entitled to just about anything that will help you get better, who gets to decide what will help you get better. You or the insurance company?

1756873Who Decides What Medical Treatment Is Necessary?

If your workers' compensation case is accepted by the workers' comp insurance company, they are responsible for paying for your medical treatment. The flip side is: they also have the right to direct your care.

That means the workers' comp insurance company can send you to the doctor or doctors they choose. Keep in mind, many insurance companies are for profit businesses - not nonprofits. That means if there's a choice of treatments and doctors who might claim to be able to achieve the same results, but one option is less expensive than the other and may even get you back to work quicker, it would likely benefit the insurance company to opt for the less expensive, get-back-to-work-quicker option. Even if your doctor recommends a more expensive treatment and potentially longer recovery period for you, the insurance company may refuse to authorize it. So what can you do if they refuse the treatment you'd rather have?

How Can I Control What Treatment I Get?

Fighting for the treatment our clients feel they need is something we deal with day in and day out. It's one of the primary reasons people contact our firm.

If the workers' compensation doctor recommends treatment the insurance company refuses to pay for, our attorneys can file a motion for a hearing or a motion for medical treatment.

You also have the right to request a second opinion exam with a physician that you and the insurance company agree on. Our workers' compensation attorneys have years of experience fighting on our clients' behalf to try to get them the second opinions they may need

If you wish to transfer your treatment to another doctor, our attorneys can file a motion with the NC Industrial Commission (that's the workers' compensation "court") to try to transfer that care for you.

Our NC Workers' Comp Attorneys Will Review Your Case for Free

If you feel you're not getting the treatment you need, or that your insurance company may not have your best interests at heart, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078.

Let one of our workers' comp attorneys - six of whom are North Carolina Board Certified Specialists in Workers' Compensation Law - evaluate your situation for free. We're available 24/7 to try to get you the answers you need.

(PS...If you're worried that you can't afford us, stop worrying! We work on contingency, which means that you don't pay any attorney's fee unless we get you compensation.)

How Does My North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney Get Paid?

"How do I pay you?"

I get this question all the time. Let's face it, money doesn't grow on trees. An injury at work can make a tight financial situation even tighter and nobody wants to worry about money when they're hurting (that's what we do for you!).

But as nice as it would be for someone else to work on getting your workers' comp payments started, or negotiating for more money, if your work injury has you struggling to put food on the table, how can you possibly afford to pay a lawyer?

NEVER FEAR! CONTINGENCY FEES ARE HERE!

Let me try to ease your mind while answering some important questions about attorney's fees for workers' compensation cases in North Carolina.

What Is a Contingency Fee?

To put it simply, a contingency fee means your lawyer doesn't get paid an attorney's fee unless you get paid.

If you have a workers' compensation case in North Carolina, you should almost never have to worry about paying your attorney's fees out of your own pocket.


Here's How Contingency Fees Work

In North Carolina, your workers' comp attorney's fee is regulated by the state and must be approved by the Industrial Commission. The standard fee is 25%, which usually comes out of any payments your attorney helps you collect from the insurance company. These payments can come in many different forms, depending on the details of your particular case. Here are just a few possible examples of payments you may be entitled to receive after an on-the-job injury:

  • A weekly check from the insurance company while you're out of work
  • A monetary judgment after taking your case to court (and winning!)
  • A lump sum settlement after negotiating with the insurance company at the end of your case

Please keep in mind that every workers' compensation case is unique so there's no guarantee that any or all of the payments described above will apply to you. However, one thing is certain: if you have a workers' compensation case in North Carolina, you should almost never have to worry about paying your attorney's fees out of your own pocket.

Are There Any Other Fees I Should Expect?

Whether there might be other fees depends. Some North Carolina workers' compensation attorneys choose to recoup additional costs on top of their 25% fee for expenses related to the administration of your case. This includes things like medical record charges, filing fees, and expert witness costs. In many cases, your attorney's firm will pay these costs upfront on your behalf with the expectation that they will be repaid when your case resolves. It's always a good idea to discuss any additional costs with your lawyer before you sign a retainer.

How Do Contingency Fees Benefit Injured Workers?

The contingency fee system is particularly important for injured workers!

In my experience, work-related injuries almost always result in some level of financial hardship. Without contingency fees, thousands of injured workers throughout the state would be unable to afford legal representation, leaving the door open for insurance companies to call all the shots.

Contingency fees also level the playing field. Think about it. With regulated attorney's fees, you shouldn't have to worry about a particular lawyer being "too expensive." This gives you an opportunity to do your research and find the best candidate to help you.

A Workers' Comp Attorney Can Potentially Help:

  • Move your case along quicker to get your payments started.
  • Negotiate a higher settlement than you may be able to on your own.
  • Obtain medical benefits the insurance company is denying.
  • Attain a measure of job security, if for example, the insurance company forces you to go back to a made up job, which may be disguised as "light duty," "modified duty," or "restrictive" employment. These jobs are sometimes eliminated later.
  • Give you added peace of mind knowing you have someone championing your rights against Big Insurance.

Click here for many other good reasons to hire a NC workers' comp attorney.

We know you're hurting. Fortunately, North Carolina has a contingency fee structure in place that is designed to help keep your wallet from hurting too.

North Carolina Workers' Comp Attorneys

Don't let the thought of fees prevent you from potentially getting the legal and financial help you deserve.

If you've been injured at work, click here to contact us right away or give us a call at 1-866-900-7078. Let one of our workers' comp attorneys - six of whom are North Carolina Board Certified Specialists in Workers' Compensation Law - evaluate your situation for free!

PS: Check out these helpful workers' comp booklets:

How to Choose a Lawyer for Your Workers' Compensation Claim

How to Take Control of Your Workers' Compensation Claim

 

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How Many Beers Can You Drink in an Hour and Still Drive?

You've seen the ads: "Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving." You've heard the DWI statistics. But unless you have personally felt the effects of drunk driving or you work as a personal injury lawyer representing actual people whose lives have been ripped apart by the real devastation a drunk driver can cause, it probably doesn't hit home.

But home is exactly where drunk drivers hit - and hit hard.

Families shattered. Children and teens' lives cut short. Or left permanently disabled, severely disfigured. Brain damaged.

I'll never forget one case in particular. It haunts me to this day.

A man was in his vehicle, stopped in traffic. The other driver - the drunk driver - had skipped out of work early and started drinking with his buddies. He was so drunk when he got behind the wheel that he plowed right into my client's car, hitting him so hard, the man was ejected from the vehicle and killed. The man had a wife and young children, and was a pillar in his community. This one irresponsible, irreversible event plunged his family into a downward spiral.

While we could not help this poor family's emotional burden, our team went into overdrive to get that family everything we could to help ease their financial burden. We left no stone unturned to get them a settlement that would help pay for therapy, loss of financial support, funeral expenses, and punitive damages, among other things*.

Drunk Driving: The Facts

So here are those statistics again.  Read them. But this time read them knowing that each statistic represents a real person. Real people just like you and me.

NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts reported that in 2013, every 52 minutes a death occurred as a result of a drunk driver whose blood alcohol content (BAC) was 0.08 or higher.

That's 10,076 deaths.

A BAC level of .08 g/dL, is about four standard drinks in one hour for a 170-lb. man or three drinks in an hour for a 140-lb. woman.

Among those fatalities, 68% were in crashes in which at least one driver in the crash had a BAC of .15 g/dL or higher - or roughly six to eight drinks in an hour.

Those 10,076 deaths represented 31% of all traffic fatalities for that year! Simply put, drunk drivers were behind a third of all traffic deaths!

The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2013 was nearly four times higher at night than during the day.

The highest rates of drunk driving occur among drivers aged 21-24. This age group makes up 35% of alcohol-impaired drivers involved in fatal collisions.

 

We all know what alcohol does to the body and brain - slowing our reactions, blurring our vision, making us brave, making us take unnecessary risks. Here are some links worth sharing with friends, family and others - especially teens and twenty-somethings.

Drunk Driving Links Worth Sharing

And, it bears repeating, if you've been drinking, call a cab, or Uber or Lyft. Contact a sober friend or relative. Use public transportation. Use your head - DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE!

*Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. The outcome of a particular case cannot be predicated upon a lawyer's or a law firm's past results.

Do I Owe Taxes on My Social Security Disability Benefits?

Just because the government pays you Social Security Disability benefits doesn't necessarily mean you don't have to pay the government its portion back. It's like the old adage says: Nothing is certain but death and taxes.

If you're in certain income brackets, you may owe taxes on the benefit money you receive. Part of your Social Security benefits may be taxed if:

  • You are single and your total income is more than $25,000
  • You are married and you and your spouse have total income of more than $32,000

Paying Your SSD Taxes - Two Ways to Get Your SSA 1099

If you fit into either of the categories above, you will likely need to pay taxes on your benefits and the Social Security Administration should have sent your SSA 1099, which shows how much you received in Social Security Disability benefits.

If you have not received your 1099, here are two ways to get it.

Access Your Social Security Benefits Info Online

  • Go to the Social Security Website's my Social Securitypage
  • Click on the "Sign In or Create an Account" button
  • Log In
  • Select the "Replacement Documents" tab for your 1099

If you want to keep track of your earnings each year, you can also use your personal my Social Security account for that, as well.

Call the Social Security Office
You can also obtain a replacement benefits statement by calling the Social Security office at 1-800-772-1213 or by calling your local Social Security office.

This blog is not intended to constitute written tax advice within the meaning of IRS Circular 230 §10.37, the author intends by this communication to share general information for discussion purposes only, and you should not interpret the statements otherwise.

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Why Can’t My Lawyer Name the Insurance Company in the Lawsuit?

A question we tend to hear in our law firm is why, in a courtroom situation, their lawyer cannot name the insurance company in the lawsuit.

The short answer is because the insurance company did not cause the accident. Therefore they cannot be sued. The at-fault driver caused the accident, so he or she is the one being sued. That driver is simply using the insurance company's money to pay whatever damages must be paid. And the insurance company is in court with their legal representation in an attempt to generally try to pay out as little as possible.

Admittedly, it's easy to get confused.

Why Can't You Name the Insurance Company of the At-Fault Driver?
The reason for this is simple: Insurance companies have deeper pockets than the average person, and that could sway a jury to ask for more money. This premise is misleading, however. The insurance company is only going to pay what they have been contracted to pay, which is limited by the policy limits of the at-fault driver.

However, clients may ask this question because they're worried about the exact opposite. In other words, if they DON'T name the insurance company, the jury might be swayed to ask for LESS money.

The logical question then is, what happens if a jury awards more than the policy limits? If a jury awards more than the other driver's insurance coverage, it's called an "excess judgment." The at-fault driver will have to pay the difference between the policy limits and the excess judgment.

Let's say, for example, the driver's policy limits were $60,000 and a jury awarded you $85,000 in damages. The driver would need to cough up that additional $15,000 in order for you to get the full amount. Easier said than done.

Getting an individual to pay can get complicated. That is why it is prudent to get an attorney involved soon after your accident - one who is experienced in investigating and identifying ways the at-fault driver may be able to pay.

Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers in North Carolina
My advice is to work with a legal team like ours with many years of experience in personal injury litigation. We are dedicated to taking every available measure and utilizing every resource that may potentially help secure the best outcome for your case. Better still, we don't charge an attorney's fee unless you recover.

If you have questions, or want to see if we can help you or someone you know, click here for a FREE case evaluation or give us a call at 1-866-900-7078. We're here for you 24/7/365.

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What Should Injured Amtrak Passengers Do And What Will the Investigation Attempt to Uncover?

Earlier this week the Carolinian, an Amtrak passenger train out of Charlotte, derailed in Halifax, NC, at the U.S. 301 and N.C. 903 crossing, after hitting an overloaded tractor-trailer that was stuck on the tracks.

Tractor Trailer Front_07032014The truck was being escorted by a State Highway Patrol trooper and according to witnesses, it was stuck for 15-20 minutes before the train hit.

"That's plenty of time to stop a train. If all the facts are right, this accident should have never happened," said attorney Elizabeth Overmann, who worked for a railroad defense firm for 4 years, prior to joining the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin.

But unfortunately, for the 54 people injured onboard, the train wasn't stopped in time, leaving lots of people with questions.

What the Amtrak Investigation Should Attempt to Uncover

Someone's insurance company will be liable for all the injuries passengers onboard the Amtrak train sustained, but whose? Injured passengers who want payment for their medical bills may need to buckle up for a long ride (no pun intended) as companies try to fight it out.

The following questions will likely be at the forefront of the argument:

  • Which company determined the route the truck took?
    The truck that got stuck was 164 feet long and transporting a modular electrical building. This is an extremely long truck and an oversized load. Was an engineering firm hired to devise the route the truck should take? Did the trucking company plan the route? Did they take into account the train's schedule and the potential difficulty getting across this crossing? 
  • Was the truck driver negligent?

Did the truck driver ignore precautions or take a different route? Did he have the proper experience and training to attempt the maneuver? Was he simply not careful enough? Was he aware of the train's schedule?

  • Did Highway Patrol try to warn the train?

This is the main question of the hour. Every railroad crossing has a phone number to call in the event of a situation like this one. Did the patrolman try to call or radio in? Did he have flares or something he could have used to warn the train?

  • Did CSX fail to pass on the message? Was their crossing unsafe?

CSX is the company that owns the rail lines.  If they received a warning call from the highway patrol and failed to pass the message to Amtrak, they will likely be liable.

Further, Steve Ditmeyer, a former Federal Railroad Administration official who teaches railway management at Michigan State University has been quoted saying that the intersection was a "bad geometry crossing" (not a 90-degree angle) and the slope created a situation where it would be difficult for the engineer to see the road ahead and the truck driver to see down the track.

  • Did Amtrak's communication fail? Was their driver negligent?

Maybe warning reached Amtrak, but failed to reach the driver for some reason. Or maybe the driver was going faster than the 70 mph speed limit - which could have contributed to the situation and Amtrak might be held liable.

How an Amtrak Train Accident Differs From a Car Accident

Since train accidents almost always involve multiple parties (such as in the Halifax tractor-trailer derailment), these cases can get complicated rather quickly. If you've been in a train accident and you're not careful, you could be left with bills in hand, as companies draw out the liability fight. If that sounds like what's happening to you, contact an attorney - fast.

Further complicating your case, Amtrak is owned by the government, likely making your case a federal case. Meaning if you chose to pursue compensation for your damages, your attorney would likely have to pursue the case in accordance with federal laws and be admitted to the federal court.

It's possible that if your injuries are less serious, or if all parties involved happen to live in the same state, your case would be heard in a state court, but it still might be wise to find an attorney who can go to federal court, if needed.

What to Do If You've Been Injured in An Amtrak Accident

After an accident in which you're not at fault, you're typically owed payment for your medical bills, time out of work, and damages to your wellbeing or property.

Regardless of whether your damages are minor or serious, it's generally wise to get an attorney's advice. Click here for a free case evaluation. We're open 24/7 and well-equipped to handle these types of cases. Plus, you don't pay any attorneys' fees unless you receive compensation for your claim - guaranteed.

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Contact Information

Raleigh Law Office

5848-100 Faringdon Place
Raleigh, NC 27609
Phone: 919-834-1184
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Durham Law Office

280 South Mangum Street, Suite 400
Durham, NC 27701
Phone: 919-688-4991
Fax: 800-716-7881

Fayetteville Law Office

517 Owen Drive
Fayetteville, NC 28304
Phone: 910-488-0611
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Charlotte Law Office

1001 Morehead Square Drive, Suite 350
Charlotte, NC 28203
Phone: 704-599-1078
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

New Bern Law Office

1505 South Glenburnie Rd, Unit P
New Bern, NC 28562
Phone: 252-634-9010
Toll Free: 1-866-780-3422

Greenville Law Office

702 G Cromwell Dr.
Greenville, NC 27858
Phone: 252-355-5205
Toll Free: 1-866-780-3227

Greensboro Law Office

300 N. Greene Street, Suite 850
Greensboro, North Carolina 27401
Phone: 336-665-7072
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Goldsboro Law Office

214 South William Street, Suite 3
Goldsboro, NC 27530
Phone: (919)-731-2581
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Henderson Law Office

514 Dabney Drive, Suite 200
Henderson, NC 27536
Phone: 252-492-4600
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Roanoke Rapids Law Office

709 Julian R. Allsbrook Highway
Roanoke Rapids, NC 27870
Phone: 252-537-9670
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Rocky Mount Law Office

3202 Sunset Avenue, Suite B
Rocky Mount, NC 27804
Phone: 252-937-4730
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Sanford Law Office

703-B South Horner Boulevard
Sanford, NC 27330
Phone: 919-775-1564
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Wilson Law Office

2315 Airport Blvd Suite A
Wilson, North Carolina 27896
Phone: 252-246-9090
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Winston-Salem Law Office

301 N. Main Street, Suite 2409-C
Winston-Salem, NC 27101
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078