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Contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin 1-866-900-7078

Striving to Become a Better Attorney – Q&A With Our Newest N.C. Board Certified Specialist in Worker’s Comp Law

Recently workers’ compensation attorney Ryan Bliss became a North Carolina Board Certified Specialist in workers’ compensation law. Becoming North Carolina Board Certified is quite an achievement. Out of the more than 28,000 attorneys licensed in North Carolina, only 140 are board certified in workers’ compensation law – that’s less than 1%*. While not all practice areas in North Carolina offer board certification, workers’ comp does.

Not every attorney who has the opportunity to become board certified chooses that path. It’s a tough one to forge. The time commitment alone can deter many capable attorneys.

We sat down with Mr. Bliss to get his thoughts about why he chose to become North Carolina board certified in worker’s compensation law.

What prompted you to become a North Carolina board certified specialist in workers’ compensation law?

For me, it was a no-brainer. The board certification process gives lawyers a unique opportunity to demonstrate specialized knowledge, skill, and proficiency in a designated area of practice. Specialization is a distinguishing accomplishment in the legal profession, and very few lawyers licensed in North Carolina can claim this designation.

I’m proud to say we now have eight attorneys at our firm who are board certified. I chose to apply for board certification because I want my clients to know I strive to be the best lawyer I can be for them. Becoming board certified is one more step toward that effort.

What was involved in becoming board certified in workers’ compensation law?

Candidates for board certification must devote a significant portion of their legal practice to workers’ compensation for at least five years. Additionally, they must meet Continuing Legal Education requirements and be favorably evaluated and recommended for certification by other lawyers and/or judges. There’s also a lengthy written exam, which lasts six hours and covers many aspects of North Carolina’s workers’ compensation law, including nuanced details from decades of court decisions.

What was this experience like for you?

Rigorous. Interesting. Enlightening. Often stressful. I knew that finding time to study while working full time and having a family wasn’t going to be easy, but I looked forward to the challenge.

Before allowing applicants to sit for the exam, the specialization board requires attorneys to demonstrate their experience and skill via a written application. We are asked to list our qualifications and summarize years of active legal practice in just a few pages. Applicants must also provide several personal references from upstanding peers in the legal community.

The exam covers a lot of ground so I began studying in advance. It was a major time commitment, but what I learned has already begun to pay dividends in the cases I am handling. My firm is all about doing what is best for the client, and board specialization certainly runs in that vein.

What did you learn that might potentially enhance and fortify your practice?

In many ways, I believe I’m a better attorney because of this experience. After immersing myself in the intricacies of our workers’ compensation system, I’m now able to be more creative when crafting legal arguments. As a specialist, I can offer my clients a much broader perspective when discussing complex issues that arise in their cases.

I’ve looked forward to this experience for a long time. In my role as a workers’ compensation attorney, I make important decisions every day that directly affect my clients’ livelihoods and families. As a board certified specialist, I know I’m giving them the very best I have to offer.

 

* Figures provided by the N.C. State Bar as of December 2016.

A Must-Read If You Want to Avoid Insurance Mistakes After an Accident

Who wouldn’t trust khaki-wearing Jake-from-State-Farm to be there for us, even at 3 in the morning? And good ol’ Flo from Progressive. You can trust her too – she’s like your quirky bestie. You can tell her anything.  AllState deep-voice guy? He’s not going to let anyone or anything mess with you. You’re in good hands.

Or are you?

Based on our experience? Not necessarily. There’s a reason why insurance companies spend so much money every year on “trust us” advertising.

Free Book on Avoiding Common Insurance Company Pitfalls

When you’re in an accident and you make a claim, why wouldn’t you think twice about giving one of these or any insurance company a recorded statement over the phone?

Why wouldn’t they believe you when you explain that you swerved into oncoming traffic because of a deer, and the car wreck was unavoidable and not your fault. And why wouldn’t they want to pay for all your medical bills caused by the accident, and time off work, or give you what your totaled car may really be worth?

Why would your insurance company try to low-ball you?

Because most insurance companies operate for profit. Theirs. And based on our years of experience of recovering more than $700 million in total* for over 30,000 clients they can’t be trusted to put your financial interests ahead of theirs.

Why do you think their ads emphasize the trust factor?

While many insurance company ads are admittedly enjoyable, dealing with insurance companies when you’ve been injured in a car crash – not so much.

That is why we developed a FREE 40-page Personal Injury Guide (How to take control of your personal injury claim, before it controls you). It’s a booklet we believe will help you try to avoid common pitfalls the insurance companies don’t want you to know about.

“No one should go through the personal injury process alone. If we can’t help, maybe this booklet will.”— Attorney and Shareholder, Michael Jordan

How to Deal With Your Insurance Company After a Car Wreck

Our book outlines some of the most common traps people fall into when trying to handle claims on their own, such as giving a recorded statement over the phone, not getting proper medical care for injuries, not pursuing all available coverage, even signing the wrong documents, and many other little-known traps the unwary can fall into.

The information highlighting common pitfalls, however, is just the beginning, covering just one chapter in our comprehensive guide. We know that when some people are injured in an accident, they may prefer to deal with the insurance company themselves instead of hiring a lawyer. We get it. Not every situation warrants legal help.

How to Understand Your Rights and Potential Barriers

That is why we created this easy-to-read guide. We wanted to help you try to understand your rights, the legal process, and potential barriers you may face after an injury in North Carolina. In the words of the guide’s author, attorney and shareholder Michael Jordan, “No one should go through the personal injury process alone. If we can’t help, maybe this booklet will.”

From the basics of the first things you should do after an injury, to dealing with specific injury types, to DWI victims’ rights, and even premises liability, we’ve tried to make this guide a key go-to resource for many different types of situations general and specific.

We’re Just As Available As Jake – (And We Won’t Raise Your Rates)

There’s a reason you’re reading this. If you have been injured, and if you find yourself falling into some of these common pitfalls the guide warns you about, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078.

We’re available at 3 in the morning too, just like Jake-from-State-Farm.

* Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

 

St. Pat’s Day Parades, Plus Sober Ride Services

If you live near Charlotte or Pinehurst, here are links to the info you need on for St. Patrick's Day Parades in those areas.

North Carolina St. Patrick's Day Parades

Uptown Charlotte
Saturday, March 18 at 10 a.m.

The Village of Pinehurst
Saturday, March 18 at 11 a.m.

St. Patrick's Day Among Deadliest for Alcohol-Related Crashes

While St. Patrick's Day parades have offered fun and entertainment for all ages in year's past, it's a day of binge drinking for many. According to Wallethub, 75% of fatal drunk driving car crashes on St. Patrick's Day involve a driver who has consumed more than 2X the legal alcohol limit. The legal limit in NC is 0.08.

St. Patrick's Day is among the deadliest for alcohol-related crashes.

A National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) study found that alcohol-related crashes claimed a life every 51 minutes on St. Patrick's Day in 2010, accounting for 32% of all fatalities that occurred that day.

NC Sober Ride Services Take You and Your Car Home

We don't want to rain on anyone's St. Patrick's Day parade. We just want you to be safe getting to and from them (or any other event).

If you plan to drink, don't drive. If you plan to drive, don't drink. Designate a driver.

There are many services across North Carolina that offer designated rides home, and their rates are comparable to taxis, even cheaper in some cases. Whatever the cost, it's cheaper than a DWI or worse - hospital bills and a lawsuit.

Click here for a list of North Carolina's sober ride services in Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, High Point, and Fayetteville and their surrounding communities and towns.

These services take you and your car home.

There's also Uber and Lyft in addition to local taxi services. Not only can they take you home, but you could take them to the parade and avoid any parking issues - or having to deal with other drivers who may have had one too many Guinness.

Get FREE Advice From NC Car Wreck Attorneys

Whatever you do and no matter where you are in North Carolina during St. Patrick's Day, we hope this information is helpful in your efforts to safely celebrate it. If you or someone you love was injured in a car wreck, whether or not it involved a drunk driver, contact an experienced car wreck lawyer.

Studies have shown that, on average, car accident victims who hired a personal injury lawyer to represent them received 3.5X more compensation for their loss than they would have on their own*.

Contact us now for a free case evaluation to see if we can help or call us at 1-866-900-7078.

* Insurance Research Council 1999

NC Social Security Disability Hearing Wait Times Almost 2 Years! We May be Able to Help.

How many times have you heard from your children, "That's not fair!" Too many to count? We can laugh it off when they're young, and older brother gets to play football with the neighborhood kids while the little tykes are told to stay on the sidelines until they're old enough to play.

But the reality is sometimes life is not fair. We see it every day fighting for our Social Security Disability clients. And it's no laughing matter.

Many of our clients have been sidelined for life as they were going about their daily routines. One client was stopped in traffic on his way home from work and got rear-ended by a driver going above the speed limit. His injuries were so devastating he vomits three or four times a week. He has headaches so severe they wake him up several times a night, and he has photosensitivity to the point where he can no longer go outside and enjoy the sunshine.

Another client was injured on the job just by walking up a flight of stairs.

One client simply sat down at church when a bolt came lose on the chair and she fell to the floor causing her permanent and total disability.

Some of our clients have fought for our country and returned home physically or mentally unable to exercise their inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness - a right promised to all U.S. citizens in the Declaration of Independence. Sadly, these veterans are among the more than one million people on the Social Security Disability wait list whose delay in having their cases heard can be more than two years in many parts of the country!

Now that's not fair!

Social Security Disability Wait Times in North Carolina

While Social Security Disability is available to help our citizens who have been sidelined by catastrophe, getting it can be very difficult for a number of reasons. One is the long wait time. According to the Social Security Administration, the wait times in North Carolina are currently:

  • Charlotte - 21 months
  • Fayetteville - 20 months
  • Greensboro - 21 months
  • Raleigh - 19 months

Some are forced to wait so long they have died before their hearing date because some are simply unable to pay for medication they need to live. We have seen this happen.

When they finally get a hearing many are denied benefits. More than two-thirds are denied the first time and 88% the second time. Of those who are accepted, it can take several more months in many cases to begin receiving payments and back benefits.

Sadly, some are denied because they attempted to navigate this overwhelmingly large bureaucratic aircraft carrier by themselves.

James Scott Farrin Social Security Disability Team of "Insiders"

These are the circumstances that motivate our Social Security Disability team to come to work every day. We know what you're up against because most of us have worked on the other side.

All but one of our paralegals has worked for the Social Security Administration as a
Disability Determination Services examiner, where initial applications are
accepted or denied.

This inside experience is helpful in knowing how the system works, including:

  • What they look for to accept a claim
  • The importance of filing the correct forms, filling them out correctly, and meeting demanding and unwavering deadlines
  • What medical records you need to produce - and which ones not to produce

Just the paperwork alone can be overwhelming for one person.

Not only can we help you complete it correctly, process it on time, and in the manner in which Social Security Disability requires, but we can also follow up in a timely manner and try to keep the process moving. We can also help you obtain your medical records so that when your case goes to hearing, we know we've tried to do everything possible to make sure your information will not be sent back because of a technicality, for example.

Of all the attorneys licensed in NC, fewer than 1%* are board certified specialists in Social Security Disability law. I am one of them. I also chair the N.C. State Bar's Social Security Disability Law Specialty Committee and I lead the committee charged with writing and grading examinations for attorneys who wish to specialize in Social Security Disability law.

Capped Fees for Social Security Disability Clients

Some people may mistakenly think they cannot afford us to help them through this daunting process. If you are one of them, you are mistaken! This is one area where the federal government is your friend. Not only do we work on a contingency basis, like all Social Security Disability lawyers, the federal government has capped legal fees in order to help keep costs low for you.

The contingency fee for Social Security Disability clients is limited
to 25% of back-due benefits, or $6,000, whichever is less.

NC Social Security Disability Lawyers Offer FREE Case Evaluation

If you need to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, or if you have applied and were denied, click here to contact us or call 1-866-900-7078. Our attorneys and team of former "insiders" will fight to try to improve your chances of getting the benefits you may deserve.

(We think that's a fair offer.)

* Percentage from the NC State Bar as of December 2016

Answers to 10 Commonly-Asked Workers’ Comp Questions

We get so many calls from injured workers who have questions about what to do in certain workers' comp situations. Some questions we hear consistently. We sat down with workers' compensation attorney Jacob Goad to address 10 of the most common questions we hear.

(Incidentally, before Jacob became an attorney, he worked as a workers' comp paralegal for many years, so he has a uniquely rounded perspective). Here, Jacob shares some good news about your rights under North Carolina's workers' comp law.

1.  My employer is treating me differently now that I filed for workers' comp - can they do that?

They shouldn't be, but we see it all the time.

We recently represented a client* who injured his leg driving a delivery truck. The workers' comp doctors insisted the injury only needed a brief stint of physical therapy and the employee could go back to work soon. Yet physical therapy wasn't working. The employee went to another doctor for a second opinion, and that doctor took images that proved the employee would need much more time off work to heal. That extra time off did not go over well with the employee's manager. When he showed up for work after healing, his manager fired him. That's when he called us.

2.  I filed for workers' comp and got fired - what can I do?

When some employers notice an employee files a workers' comp claim they might try to terminate the employee because of the injury. That's against the law in North Carolina.

An employer cannot fire you simply because you filed a workers' comp claim. If they do, they could be violating the Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act, (REDA). REDA is one of a number of laws enacted after the 1991 Imperial Foods Inc. fire in which more than 70 employees were killed or injured in a chicken processing plant that had previously been cited for numerous safety violations.

REDA protects employees who have been hurt on the job and are entitled to workers' comp benefits. It also protects them from being mistreated at work for filing a claim.

Yet people still get fired when they come back after an injury. Let me explain why.

In certain cases, if an employee files a claim, they might as well have a proverbial bull's-eye on their back. The reason is employers and insurance companies know that if the employee is terminated for non-workers' comp issues, the amount they'll have to pay may be significantly reduced. In other words, it can often be cheaper to fire an employee than to pay them workers' comp benefits. That is why some employers may try to get the employee back to work right away, and then look for any technicality to get rid them.

This is often done under guise of rehabilitation. Get the worker as good as possible to get them back to work as quickly as possible, and then fire them so you don't have to possibly deal with a more substantial workers' comp settlement. Return-to-work issues happen in our cases fairly regularly. We often encourage employees to return to work if it is advisable to do so and when their doctor tells them to. But some employers in North Carolina are particularly aggressive with return to work issues, and if employees don't have good legal counsel we've seen them get pushed around. That's when employees could use a lawyer with resolve and passion to help the injured.

3.  Do I have a better case if I am terminated after a workers' comp claim?

Not necessarily. If the employer has solid documentation of why you were terminated, then it may impact your potential compensation because it could mean the insurance company doesn't have to pay your future out-of-work benefits or as much out-of-work benefits.

On the other hand, if the employer fires you for no good reason after you've returned to work under workers' comp simply because they don't want to deal with your ongoing disability, then that does likely help your case. We've seen this happen a lot.

4. What protection is available to keep me from losing my job if I file for workers' comp?

Primarily the REDA, as I mentioned earlier. It is a safety net for employees who have been injured in the workplace when they are entitled to workers' comp benefits. And again, REDA is also supposed to help protect you from being harassed or mistreated at work because of your injury.

5.  Will it hurt my workers' comp case if I go back to work?

It depends on your circumstances. You should always discuss this with your workers' compensation attorney first.

In many cases, if you go back to work you may be forfeiting your right to continue receiving workers' compensation checks.

However, if recommended by your attorney, it may be advisable to return to work if your employer is willing to accommodate work restrictions, and you want to stay with that employer for a long time or permanently. In those cases where there is a good relationship and there is no permanent medical restrictions, it could be in your best interest to go back to work and continue working with your employer, and be compensated for your permanent partial impairment rating (PPI) rating. We see a lot of claims go that route.  As a matter of fact, the majority of claims filed through the workers' comp system resolve this way. Additionally, we have knowledge and experience working with many employers throughout the state; so again, it may potentially benefit you to consult with us about your claim.

6.  What if I can't do the same job?

Often injuries prevent an employee from continuing to do the same work they were doing before their accident. That's where the rub often is. A lot of employers have policies in place where if the employee can't come back full duty, they can't accommodate them permanently. The employee would then be entitled to future out-of-work compensation until they or the insurance company find more suitable work for them.

This would come through vocational rehabilitation or possibly even a self-guided job search. For example, a Spanish-speaking laborer might be assigned to ESL classes to be able to acquire marketable skills in a non heavy-duty job. If somebody can't go back to their regular job, the insurance company assumes a major responsibility to try to get that person gainful employment.

Otherwise, the insurance company may be on the hook for future time out of work. That is why they will generally work very hard to help them find some work somewhere. Under the new workers' comp law, an employee could potentially get up to 500 weeks of benefits if they are out of work and are unable to find suitable employment.

7.  Will I lose my health insurance, if I lose my job?

A lot of times, yes. If you file for workers' comp and you're out of work completely, you're probably going to lose your employer-provided health insurance. Of course, there are exceptions. Some companies have a specific policy in place that says they, as a company, have decided that despite the workers' comp claim, they're going to continue to provide health insurance.

But if a corporation has no such policy in place, the employee could lose their health insurance. Workers' comp will pay for the work-related injury, but no other unrelated health issues.

8.  Do I have to go back to work if I'm able to?

If you are able, yes.

For example, let's say an injury is healing well, the employee wants to go back to work and the employer agrees. The doctor will give the employee a Permanent Partial Impairment (PPI) rating. A PPI rating allows an employee to receive compensation for a determined period of time for that injured body part, even if they continue to work. That allows them to go back to work and everyone can live happily ever after.

But sometimes, in the employer's eyes, it may not be about what you want. It might be about their bottom line. If the employer doesn't want you back after you filed a workers' comp claim, you may need a workers' comp attorney to help guide you through this process because the employer may very well want your resignation - or may simply fire you for trumped up allegations. Sadly, as you can imagine after almost 20 years representing injured workers, our firm has handled these situations many times. It's our daily mission as advocates for injured workers.

9.  When should I contact a workers' comp lawyer?

Whether or not you'll need a workers' comp lawyer depends on the nature of your injury. But it's almost always wise to contact one early - especially if your injury is serious.

At our firm, these initial case evaluations are free. One of our attorney's will review your claim and let you know if we think we can help you or not.

And if you hire an attorney who works on a contingency basis, like we do, you only pay an attorney's fee for the compensation we may be able to obtain for you.

10.  What will a workers' comp lawyer do for me?

First, as your advocate, we try to see to it that you're getting the medical care you may need to heal properly. And we can consider whether it is advisable to try to obtain a second opinion if you don't feel you are getting proper care or if a more neutral medical opinion is needed.

Second, we can try to help you protect your job while you are recovering. And if you are unable to return to work, we will help inform you of your options and the compensation to which you may be entitled.

Third, we help determine what other benefits you may be entitled to. Determining workers' comp benefits is a complex system involving complex math and all kinds of variables. A lot of people don't even know what benefits they may be entitled to, and if they did most would probably not understand how those benefits are calculated and determined.

For example, let's say an employee developed CRPS following the injury to an upper or lower extremity. CRPS is complex regional pain syndrome and it can develop after an injury, surgery, and other situations. It is a major medical condition and is painful and can be difficult to live with. It can also require long-term medication treatment, and that treatment can be expensive.

Now let's look at occupational disease claims like carpal tunnel or de quervain's, for example, repetitive motion injuries. We see this a lot with factory workers, food industry workers, or fabricators here in North Carolina. Those things can be difficult to deal with because it can be a chronic condition. Depending on who the employer is, if you have to go out for surgery, an employer who takes and aggressive position might not want you back. And they might not to want to pay you for future medical expenses for a chronic condition. We've seen this happen too.

Complex conditions, such as CRPS, carpal tunnel, and others abound. It is prudent to have someone on your side who knows what workers' comp insurance calculations involve, including familiarity with these and other medical conditions and knowing how to project future medical costs so that you may not be burdened with these medical expenses after your settlement.

Bottom line? You don't know what you don't know.

For these reasons and dozens of others, we urge anyone who has suffered a workplace injury to contact an experienced workers' comp lawyer as soon as possible. Right away even. If you need a lawyer, the earlier we can advocate for you, the better we can help you deal with your medical issues, your employer, and workers' comp insurance benefits.

END OF Q&A WITH ATTORNEY JACOB GOAD

Get a FREE Case Evaluation From Our NC Workers Comp Lawyers

If you've been injured at work, don't be afraid to file for workers' comp. It's your right under North Carolina law. Just as importantly, don't think you will necessarily get the medical and future benefits with your workers' comp insurance company just because you were injured on the job. There's too much at stake. Your health, your job, and possibly, future benefits.

Click here or call us at 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case.

P.S. Don't feel like you can't afford to hire a qualified workers' comp attorney. At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we work on a contingency basis, so you don't owe us an attorney's fee if we don't get you compensation for your claim.

* Client identity has been removed or changed to protect privacy

The Top 4 Ways People Die at Work in North Carolina (and How to Avoid Them)

More people died at work this past year than in any of the past four years. It's a sad, but true fact.

If you've lost a loved one in an at-work accident, please click here to talk to someone immediately who can help advocate for you.

According to the North Carolina Department of Labor, workplace fatalities in 2016 (federal fiscal year) are higher than they've been since 2012. A total of 48 people lost their lives, primarily in construction and manufacturing.

The 4 Most Common Reasons People Die at Work (in NC)

In an effort to curb workplace deaths, the North Carolina Department of Labor identified the following four accident categories that caused the most work-related deaths (89%) in North Carolina from 2009 - 2015. These were in large part construction-type jobs.

  1. Falls From Elevations

    Nearly half of all these "Big 4" fatalities were falls. Electricians, construction workers, firefighters - anyone whose job involves using a ladder or working at great heights can be susceptible to deadly falls.Many are preventable. A worker in Carteret was not secured onto the roof when he bent over, lost his balance, and fell 50 feet below onto concrete. Other falls are just very unlucky. One victim from Person County fell through a tin roof and landed on a vertical rod protruding from a table. The Centers for Disease Control recommends keeping work spaces free of clutter that could trip someone and cause a fall, making sure edges are protected, and checking all ladders or work surfaces for stability and proper positioning before applying weight.
  1. Struck-By Events
    Although the Department of Labor does not count car accidents among their work fatality numbers (such as a truck driver who dies in a crash), they do count when a vehicle strikes someone outside of a vehicle - such as someone working on a highway construction site.Other struck-by events can include those who were killed by something falling on them or being hit by a type of machinery.

    More than a third of the at-work deaths in North Carolina in 2016 were struck-by events, which are largely preventable.

    In an interview with WRAL-TV, Division of Occupational Safety and Health Division Director Allen McNeely said, "All of us - safety professionals employers and employees - must do better in identifying struck-by hazards... Staying vigilant around heavy machinery and construction material is critical."
  1. Caught In or Between Objects or MachineryThis category traditionally includes being caught in agricultural or manufacturing machinery, but may also include trench or excavation collapses and cave-ins. In fact, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 90% of their safety citations involve excavations. Even something as seemingly simple as laying pipework near a roadway can turn deadly in a split second, as it did for one Rocky Mount worker who was laying pipe near a pond in August when the ground collapsed, trapping, and killing him.The agency says that cave-ins are the most deadly of any type of excavation-type job. Again, safety and precautions are emphasized. They recommend having protective systems in place and inspecting trenches every day. Sadly, the Rocky Mount worker was unprotected.

    For other kinds of caught-in accidents, it is imperative to be diligent about safety training. ABC Eyewitness News in Gastonia County reported on the tragedy of a 19-year-old young man who suffered an unthinkable death when he was pulled into a wood cutter. It was his first day on the job. The owner of the business was so distraught he suffered a heart attack.

    Safety is everyone's responsibility. Be mindful of things like lose clothing and hair that could get caught in a machine. When around machinery, whether conducting maintenance or when it's not in use, make sure it is turned off and any wheels are blocked.

  1. ElectrocutionsWhile electrocutions can happen anywhere an electrical current is tampered with, those that prove fatal often involve power lines. Crane operators and people working on scaffolds near power lines must be especially careful.In general, assume all lines are energized unless verified otherwise, keep yourself and all equipment at a safe distance, and use a spotter and warning devices to avoid getting too close.

Temporary Workers Are Most Vulnerable to Fatalities on the Job

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health cites a report by the Labor Relations and Research Center at the University of Massachusetts indicating that 90% percent of U.S. businesses utilize temporary labor.

The report claims that temps sometimes receive insufficient training or are inexperienced in protecting themselves on the jobsite. Yet they are reluctant to ask employers for help because they fear they could be replaced. Moreover, temporary workers tend to be younger, less educated, and disproportionally consist of minority workers, many of whom might be immigrant workers.

Why are temps at higher risk for job injuries and fatalities?

"There's little incentive for host employers to rigorously train and supervise temp workers because staffing agencies carry their [workers'] comp insurance. If an agency has a high number of injuries within its workforce, they - not the host employer - are penalized with higher premiums," a recent Center for Public Integrity feature on the plight of temporary workers reported.

Further, there's little monetary accountability. The Occupational Safety and Health Act limits negligent employers to a maximum fine of $7,000 per safety violation deemed "serious" - even if the violations cause death.

That fine amounts to little more than a finger wagging for many employers.

If a Loved One Died at Work

No matter how careful we try to be, sometimes accidents happen. If you've lost someone, you have our deepest sympathies. You're the reason we do the work that we do. Click here for helpful resources that we believe might be of some help in your time of grief.

You should know there are many workers' compensation benefits surviving family members may qualify for. But don't rely on your loved one's employer or workers' comp insurance company to make sure you get everything you may be entitled to.

Regrettably, even in a time of loss, we've seen insurance companies turn their backs - or try to.

NC Workers' Comp Lawyers Offer FREE Case Evaluation

If someone died at work we are here to try to advocate for you. Our experienced team is dedicated to fighting for justice and trying to get surviving family members the benefits they may deserve. Let one of our workers' comp attorneys - seven of whom are North Carolina Board Certified Specialists in Workers' Compensation Law - evaluate your situation for free.

We are here to listen to what you are going through and see if we can help get you the answers you need. Contact us or call 1-866-900-7078.

Anti-Distracted Driving Apps Your Teen WILL WANT on Their Phone

I'm a dad.

Of teenagers.

I help out in my church with teen youth groups. And despite what my teens believe, I actually was a teenager at one time back when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

The teen years represent that magic threshold (some would say precipice) of adulthood. It reminds me of the toddler years when they discover new freedoms like walking (falling) and unearthing new things to put in their mouths like watch batteries and loose change. The difference is you were usually around to try to avert the really bad stuff from happening.

With teenagers?

You can't ride shotgun forever.

So when I read on Cars.com that half of all teen drivers will be involved in a crash before graduating from high school I did what any good parent of a teen driver would do.

I panicked.

Teens are notorious for being accident prone behind the wheel.

Especially younger teen drivers. Esurance.com says 16-year-old drivers are more than 2.5 times more likely to be in a crash than drivers ages 20 to 24. It gets worse when teens are carrying passengers. They report that the likelihood of teen driver death increases with each additional teenage passenger.  And, unfortunately, I get calls with that exact scenario far too often. Those are the cases that truly make me cry.  And then I spend some extra time with my kids.

Distracted Driving Apps Might Help Curb Teen Car Accidents and Deaths

Smartphones have put the world at our fingertips - particularly our social world. And that's hard for teens to ignore. That ping you hear which signals you to reach for your phone? It's addicting. Physiologically addicting. Read this fascinating blog to find out why our brains will not allow us to ignore the ping.

New distracted driving apps can help us ignore the ping.

By incentivizing safe driving, or even directly blocking you from using your phone while driving, these apps can help keep your attention on the road instead of the phone. According to DMV.org, these apps offer safety features that can:

  • Mute text alerts
  • Send calls to voicemail
  • Send auto-replies via text that the person is driving and cannot respond
  • Some will even send alerts to parents

I admit that as a parent, I sometimes get frustrated if my kids don't answer my calls, especially when I don't know they are driving.  But I'd rather them get to their destination safely and then respond rather than try to answer and wreck on the way.

With numerous apps that can help curb distracted driving, we cannot review them all. Here are some which offer more (and more interesting) ways to cut distracted driving than simply a locked phone.

Get FREE Cash and Incentives for Not Texting While Driving

PADD (People Against Distracted Driving) has approved two unique apps that offer positive reinforcement to ignore your phone while driving.

Drive BeeHive is a unique peer-to-peer app. You pair with a sponsor to earn rewards points for not using your phone while driving. It is enabled when the driver opens Drive BeeHive and begins driving. A lock screen appears and will count the driver's "safe miles." All it takes to earn those miles for that trip is to not use the phone behind the wheel. If you do, your miles are reset back to zero. Once the driver reaches their goal, their sponsor will be notified to release their reward. PADD is working with consumer sponsors to offer actual rewards in the form of discounts, coupons, and freebies.

AT&T DriveMode is also piggybacking on the positive incentive wave. This app allows you to set up your own prizes for a private group of drivers or for the public. The device works by blocking any phone calls or texting and driving. DriveMode can be set up to automatically start when you are driving over 15 MPH. You can even have it notify you when your teen driver has the app deactivated or if certain settings are changed.

Distracted Driving Apps That Track Driving Habits

Remember when your driver's ed instructor would ding you for making "jack rabbit starts and stops"? You got dinged a few times and eventually learned how to start and stop smoothly. Some apps can now reinforce this in your teen (or any) driver.

Consumer Reports favorably reviewed the Cellcontrol DriveID. It can record braking, acceleration, speed, cornering, and key driving events showing the scores on the app for the driver - or the driver's parents - to view. This Bluetooth technology device attaches under your rearview mirror and pairs their app with your cell phone to help curb impulses to check, chat, or text. Your phone screen goes into screen-lock mode when the car starts moving, and only 911 or designated phone numbers are accessible. This technology also has the capability to rate driving patterns and phone usage on a scoring system.

Apps That Alert Others When You're Driving

The Wonder app empowers not only the driver, but also people who may try to text or call the driver, to make the decision not to contact them while driving. By viewing a red or green dot, contacts within the app will know that you are driving before texting or calling. One downside, Wonder only works if all parties involved have the app.

There are dozens of other apps you can check out yourself, including Sprint's Drive First, T-Mobile's DriveSmart, and Verizon's Driving Mode, among others. Many of these and other apps are free.

Get FREE Advice From NC Car Wreck Attorneys

Whether you download a distracted driving app or not, don't ignore the risks of distracted driving. We are all in this together and everyone's at risk. If you or someone you love was injured in a car wreck, whether or not it involved a distracted driver, contact an experienced car wreck lawyer.

Studies have shown that, on average, car accident victims who hired a personal injury lawyer to represent them received 3.5X more compensation for their loss than they would have on their own*.

Contact us now for a free case evaluation to see if we can help or call us at 1-866-900-7078.

* Insurance Research Council 1999

 

Storied Attorney Hoyt Tessener Talks Candidly About Why He Joined James Scott Farrin

Hoyt Tessener joined our firm this year and we are excited to have him on board. Hoyt has an enviable reputation among other attorneys as being tough, meticulously prepared, yet fair and honest. He worked as a defense lawyer for major large corporations before deciding to represent individuals. So he has a broad and unique perspective of both sides of the law. He has won multiple multimillion dollar verdicts* in many high-profile cases, and is currently leading our formidable Charlotte School of Law legal team.

We sat down with Hoyt to learn a bit more about what led him to become a lawyer, and why he chose the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin to continue his accomplished legal career.

Your reputation precedes you as a tough-minded, meticulously prepared attorney who has fought tooth and nail for clients on many large high-profile cases. That's pretty flattering. What do you think makes you that way?

Hoyt: That is extremely flattering. Of course James Scott Farrin is already a successful firm and represents people well. I've been told I connect with people well. I think I have a good sense of people and what's important to them and what they need as a result in trial.

I am very competitive and I like fighting for the underdog. I think my background has a lot to do with how I am today. I have represented very big companies - but they never once sent me a Christmas card!

When you represent the little guy who really needs your help, it's more rewarding - and it's necessary. The last trial I was in had 15 lawyers stacked against us. But they only get to speak one at a time.

Tell us about your clients, and how you connect with them. What do they need?

Hoyt: They need someone to guide them through the legal process. They are frightened, they've been hurt or wronged, and whatever resources they need, they may not have during this difficult time. People who have been severely hurt depend on me. They can't do what they normally do like go to work and take care of their family. They didn't get up that morning and realize they could be paralyzed that night. And all of a sudden without any preparation and through no fault of their own, their life is changed and they don't know where to go or what to do. They need someone they can relate to and they know will fight for them and do the very best for them.

You mentioned your background. How did you grow up?

Hoyt: I grew up in Shelby, North Carolina - a textile town. My father died when I was 9. My mom remarried when I was about 14. My stepfather was the father in my life. He was a man's man. He owned an auto body shop with his two brothers. Sports were important to him and to Shelby, so I grew up playing all sports.

During my senior year I applied to two colleges - NC State and UNC. For me, back then I didn't understand the difference between a public college and a private one. Nobody in my family went to college. I had never been on either of the college campuses, but they seemed like the best schools, and tuition was only $300 a month. My mother saved every penny of the Social Security checks when my father died. She gave me that check every month and told me I was going to college. I had about $4,000 back then, and that was plenty of money to go to college. I applied at early admissions to State and Carolina and got accepted to both, and I had to decide within a week!

I thought the reason you went to college was to get a better job when you got out and went to work. There were a lot of textile mills in Shelby, and if you got a degree you could work in management in the textile mills. So I looked at that. And since you could get a Bachelor of Science degree in Textiles at State, I checked the box for State. When I arrived at State for orientation, it was the first time I had ever been there.

When you go to court, what are you to your clients?

Hoyt: I am their champion. I am there to champion their rights.

When you go to court, you are there to try to win that trial for your client and you need to do it with integrity. I will be prepared for everything. I always tell the truth good or bad. The jurors know that. If there is anything bad, they are going to hear it from me. I'm not going to hide anything from them.

Why did you make the switch from representing big companies to representing individual plaintiffs?

Hoyt: I started out representing banks, insurance companies, and corporations. I worked for a great firm with great people, but they did not represent the people I wanted to be a lawyer for.

When I was working at a textile mill in South Carolina, I had to lay someone off who had five kids and his wife had just died. He came to me crying, but I had to make that decision when I was just 22. So I watched how people's lives were affected by big corporate decisions, and how their jobs and the decisions made for them defined them. When the textile business took a turn for the worse, I looked across at my boss who was 12 to 14 years older than me, married, with a mortgage. He was tied to that job. I thought to myself I have to do something else. My background was better suited for medical school because of my college courses, but my wife wasn't interested in being married to a doctor. (She may feel differently now.) My father-in-law had his law degree and was a plant manager in Alabama. He'd gone to law school at night, graduated first in his law school class in Birmingham. And then the best law firm in Birmingham offered him $350 a month, and he was making $1200 as plant manager with a wife and two kids. He said he couldn't afford to be a lawyer. But he told me that a law degree helps you think critically, see things objectively and manage fairly. He was successful, and he is a perfect example of how law school prepares you, so I decided to go to law school.

At the time, Campbell Law School made every student go through the trial advocacy program, and every part of that fit me to a tee. I won a lot of competitions, and litigation just seemed right. It's funny, when I meet my friends from college or high school, every single person seems to think I found my exact calling.

What sort of strategic advantage does having worked for companies and banks give you now that you're on the Farrin team and a plaintiff's attorney?

Hoyt: Going to trial is a war of sorts. I tell my clients, "Look, if we go to mediation, everyone has to agree. It may not be everything we want or they want, but in the end we can't make them do anything and they can't make us do anything. So there is no reason to play mean, get upset, fight, or yell about this and that." I've done it a few times, but I try not to.

But trial is a whole different ball game because a decision is going to be made, so you have to fight. The defense lawyers are serving at least two masters - their client and whoever is paying the bill. They might also be serving the boss too. When you are representing the plaintiff, the only person you answer to is the plaintiff. You make decisions on the case based upon your client and what they are going through, using all your experience. The defendants' attorneys don't get to do that.

I think having a background in both defense and plaintiff representation is really helpful. It can be reassuring to the client who's in this terrible spot. It's reassuring they know you lived on the other side of the curtain for some period of time. They realize, "Wow. This guy sat on that side of the table before and may know what they are thinking and what they are doing." So I think it provides comfort and some security. I tell my clients, "I will always tell you what I think you should do. But what you decide is up to you. You're hiring us to take this to court, and if you want to go to court on a matter of principle then we will go to court on a matter of principle, it is your right. I'll tell you all the options and what I think you should do." But in the end, the client makes the decision. In the end, if our clients are satisfied, then we have done our job.

At this point in your career you are obviously very accomplished. You've chosen to define yourself in part by coming to work at James Scott Farrin, so what is it about the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin that made it attractive for someone like you?

Hoyt: I think it's a good marriage. This firm provides legal representation for people who may not get representation anywhere else. Insurance companies have made it very difficult to get a fair result without speaking with an attorney. In addition and especially in North Carolina, justice is tilted severely away from the injured. Many other law firms just cannot afford to represent many of the clients helped by JSF. JSF is so well organized and reaches so many people, that JSF can help. In my career I have tried cases throughout North Carolina. It is my belief that all cases must be prepared for trial. It is our hope that we can reach a fair settlement but that is not always the case. My skill set is valuing cases, planning strategy, and going to court. JSF gives me that opportunity along with the opportunity to mentor young attorneys. It is the highest calling for an attorney to represent those most in need. JSF recognizes that we are the last warriors for those in need and gives me the opportunity to continue to do what I have done for decades in a firm with integrity and sound management.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment within the courtroom?

Hoyt: The easy answer is winning* at trial when we were offered nothing. The next easiest answer is winning a case or settling a case where we not only made a difference in our client's life, we made a difference by making the world a little safer. What I most remember can be summed up in the movie The Guardian with Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher. Kutcher is this young great swimmer. Kevin Costner is a Coast Guard rescue swimmer. That's a very dangerous job. They bring you out in a helicopter and drop you into the water from 30 feet near a burning boat or whatever. Ashton Kutcher wants to be a Coast Guard rescue swimmer, and he's a great collegiate swimmer. Kevin Costner's character is a trainer. Ashton Kutcher keeps asking how many people he has saved, and Costner never answers. I don't remember the number precisely but toward the end of the movie, Costner looks at Kutcher and says "36." Here Costner has been a rescue swimmer for something like 30 years. Kutcher looks at Costner, and Costner says, "Oh are you not impressed?" And Costner repeats, "36. Those are the ones I lost." He didn't keep track of the ones he saved. Only the ones he lost.

I'm like Costner in that sense. I can tell you in vivid detail all the cases I've lost rather than the ones I've won. I don't lose anything personally from losing a case, but my client could be going to bed hungry, can't take care of their family and get the medical care they need, and possibly losing their self-respect. So the pressure is intense, because where else can they go?

How many times have you been to trial?

Hoyt: As best I can tell around 130 times with a verdict and another 50 or 60 times that settled. I only take a few cases to trial at a time now, because the types of severe injury cases I take now can take weeks to try. Clients need to know that when you go to trial they're your only case, they have to be your focus. And that's a great thing about being at a place like James Scott Farrin. You've got the resources to take your case to trial, try it against anybody, and utilize the firm's vast technological resources to your advantage.

Jim Farrin: You have a tremendous amount of experience and we are happy to have you on board. I believe confidence and nerve also play a part in your success. There are some lawyers who try to take the easy way out and tell the client they're getting a good settlement, just so they can be done with it and have the next weekend or few weeks off, and I've seen some lawyers at some firms do that. But it takes a lot of experience and guts to keep pushing for what you know your client may deserve.

Hoyt: I think you've got it analyzed very well, and I can tell you there have been times when I have gotten offers initially and said that's reasonable. You must value your case based upon your experience including your experiences at trial. You then discuss the value with your client. If the opposing side offers the value, you should encourage your client to accept. However, if you do not get the value that you objectively discussed with your client, it is your professional duty to go to trial.

The one thing insurance companies do not like is uncertainty. And juries are not controlled by insurance companies so by nature a jury is an uncertainty for an insurance company. The one place that an individual still has a level playing field is the courtroom. Our judges are very good, but they don't get to make the laws, they just interpret them. We want our cases in the hands of the jury where the field gets leveled. Jurors bring different life experiences and beliefs, and putting their whole emotional intelligence together to evaluate a case is the best way to get the right result.

At one time I heard you to say that you felt the jury selection process is a key component of your strategy.

Hoyt: Oh I think it's the most important thing in the trial because it is the first time attorneys can talk to the jurors. It's the one time plaintiffs have the advantage because we get to go first. The jurors make the decision about my client's future. I look at it this way. The judge is the umpire but the jury decides the outcome. As a matter of fact, I have taught a course on jury selection at Campbell for the last 15 years.

Are you in touch with other lawyers on a national level?

Hoyt: Yes. I am part of several organizations around the country. These organizations are by invitation only to help each other address the overwhelming advantage large corporations and insurance companies have over the individual. I've worked with lawyers from North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, California, Kansas, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, Utah, Texas, Pennsylvania, and D.C. I'm also licensed in Georgia.

Who would you say has been of influence to you in some way?

Hoyt: Gene Boyce and Carole Gailor. Gene and Carole were my first bosses and the first attorneys I went to trial with. Carole and Gene understood the case, the other side, the judge, the jury and their clients. Gene is the absolute best civil litigator that has ever come close to North Carolina, in my opinion. Carole has the uncanny ability to know exactly what buttons to push. I was very fortunate.

What is one of life's lessons you have learned from being a trial lawyer?

Hoyt: How precious life and health are. No one plans to be hurt, killed, or wronged. Most people gloss over the news reports believing it will never happen to them. That is exactly what the people in the news thought too - until it does. No matter how careful you are something bad can happen to you or yours.

*Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.

 

 

 

My Workers’ Comp Adjuster Won’t Return Calls or Authorize Medical Treatment. What Should I Do?

I cannot begin to tell you how many times I've gotten a call from an injured worker who needed a lawyer because the insurance company adjuster would not return phone calls or simply seemed to stop all forms of communication.

Not only is this offensive, but it's just plain rude.

There's one story in our free booklet, Insurance Companies (and others) Behaving Badly about an insurance adjuster who waited months before responding to an injured worker. When we got involved and reached the adjuster, she made light of the fact that she had ignored our client, and said she would make a decision in two weeks. Two weeks?*

In workers' comp, we trade stories like this all the time. In our experience, some adjusters will sit on cases just to keep our clients waiting, hoping to wear them out. Unfortunately, this type of "avoid and delay" approach does wear some people out until they just give up. And that's why some insurance companies do it.

Here at our firm, we know their approach. We'll fight that approach.

These injured workers are usually people in need of medical treatment or disability payments. Payments they may be entitled to. Payments that may make a huge difference between deciding to pay their rent or pay their utilities, or even whether to buy food in some cases. Or payments that may mean the difference in continuing to get the medical care they need.

Injured workers can too often experience unnecessary pain and financial hardships just because some adjusters ignoring their pleas for help!

What to Do If an Insurance Adjuster Won't Return Your Calls

My professional observation over the 23+ years I've been an attorney is that insurance companies do not hire enough adjusters to manage the number of cases they have.

Sadly, the reason they don't, in my opinion, is likely related to money. Most insurance companies are for-profit businesses. The less people they hire, the less money they have to spend. And as we've seen day in and day out, it seems that some insurance companies hope that the injured workers will just give up and go away. Many of them do go away. But this type of treatment is not fair or appropriate under our workers compensation laws.

If you find yourself in a situation in which the adjuster won't return your calls, here's what I suggest.

  • Sometimes, it's simply a function of the "squeaky wheel gets the grease." Call the adjuster often and leave messages every day reminding them that you need medical treatment in order to return to work, or that you need your disability check so that you can pay your bills.
  • Call the adjuster's supervisor as frequently as you feel you need to. While frustrating, we have found that this approach often works.
  • If you need follow-up medical care, try calling the doctor's office that the carrier sent you to and ask them to schedule an appointment and ask that they get approval from the adjuster.
  • In other words, be a pest.

But if you don't want to go through all that rigmarole, or if you don't have the time to follow up every day with letters and phone calls, hire an experienced workers' comp attorney from the start.

North Carolina Workers' Comp Lawyers Can Help You...

  • Communicate with the adjuster and others
  • Try to get your payments started, or continued in some cases
  • Keep your case moving along
  • Try to negotiate a higher settlement than you may be able to on your own
  • Try to obtain medical benefits the insurance company is denying
  • Fight for 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 who is championing your rights

And many other things, depending on your situation. Think you can't afford legal help? Think again. Most workers' comp attorneys work on a contingency fee basis set by the state of North Carolina. The standard fee is 25%, and it usually comes out of any payments your attorney helps you collect from the insurance company. This 25% set rate affords you the peace of mind of not having to worry about a particular lawyer or law firm being "too expensive." And it allows you to choose a law firm you feel is best suited for your situation - without having to worry about fees.

Get a FREE Case Evaluation from North Carolina Workers' Comp Attorneys

If you feel you're getting the run-around, 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.

* This is a specific example of an experience we had with an insurance company and adjuster. This does not necessarily represent any industry as a whole. The description of events are based upon the recollections of individual staff members.

The Top 6 Questions About Medical Care after Car Accidents (Answered by a Nurse-Attorney)

Medical care after an accident is important. Important enough for us to find and hire an attorney who's also a Johns Hopkins-trained registered nurse.

Attorney Naa Atsoi Adu-Antoh leads our firm's medical review team. This team, we believe, is fundamentally important in our efforts to try to provide clients added value by offering the unique perspective of a highly trained and experienced medical professional who analyzes clients' medical issues within the context of their legal cases.

Attorney Adu-Antoh is a valued resource on a wide variety of medical issues and often our "go to" professional when we have a hunch there might be that needle in a haystack hidden in a client's medical files.

Q&A With Johns Hopkins Registered Nurse & Attorney Adu-Antoh

We thought it would be worthwhile to sit down with Attorney Adu-Antoh and ask her some of the questions our clients often have about how their medical treatment can affect their case.

Here are 6 of the most common questions she hears.

1. Why do I need to seek immediate medical care after an injury? What if I don't feel much pain?

I believe there are two important reasons.

First, you should have a medical professional evaluate you to see if there are any potential issues you may not be aware of.

Second, you want to make sure a licensed physician documents your injuries immediately after an accident. If your condition worsens and you have to make a medical claim, this initial documentation is largely what insurance companies use to determine the extent of your injuries. It is very important.

When you're in a car accident there's a lot going on in your body, and sometimes you may not feel pain right away - especially with soft tissue injuries, like whiplash. Your body is reacting on adrenaline, and adrenaline helps keep pain away - for a while. Your brain activity tends to focus on other things rather than your pain. You may be thinking, "I have to get to the day care to pick up my daughter before it closes," or "I have to be at that 9:00 presentation at work."

Or maybe you're like many of us and are just too busy to go to the doctor for what you think is just a bruised knee. That bruised knee could turn into something else when you start overcompensating for it.

And sometimes the pain may not seem like much at first. Maybe a 1 on a scale of 10. But the moment you feel pain or discomfort, that's a red flag. It's your body's way of telling you something is off. Something is wrong. You hurt something in your body. You may not feel any pain right away, but it can kick in later. Maybe even one or two days later.

The longer you wait to go to the doctor about your pain, the more you could be hurting your recovery and your legal case.

2. Why is it so important what I tell the treating doctor?

Whatever you tell the doctor is what they will write in your records.

You need to be specific and focus on your present injuries and exactly where you feel pain. Is your knee making a clicking or popping sound? Is there a dull ache or a stabbing burning pain? Does it give out? What is your pain level on a scale of 1 to 10? Don't try to "tough it out" and minimize your pain to the doctor. This information is what the doctor will use to determine your diagnosis and the treatment he thinks will help you recover. It is your responsibility to tell the doctor what you are feeling.

This is also the information the insurance company will pay very careful attention to. I've been doing this long enough to know some insurance companies may look for something from your records that they can use to try to minimize payment. And based on my experience, that initial meeting with your doctor is where they have tended to focus their efforts.

Be honest, but don't volunteer unnecessary information. What you say in your first few evaluations actually can count more than what you say seven months later. The insurance company may go back to the first day when you said "I have a little bit of pain." You know your mind was on something else - picking up your daughter or getting to that meeting, and you didn't even think of what you were saying. Regardless, the insurance company may use it anyway. I've seen this happen.

3. Why do I need to keep up consistent medical care?

Whether you were injured in a car wreck, hurt on the job, or have a Social Security Disability claim, one of the most important things you can do to help your case is keep up your medical care. Doing this will not only put you on the path to recovery, but you will have legitimate and accepted documentation that you are injured and undergoing treatment for your injuries.

Medical treatment is what helps bring value to your case. We rely on your treatments, medical records, and medical bills to help give value to your claim. If you don't have medical bills because you have not been to your treatments, that makes your claim all the more difficult.

The things we try to collect for are medical expenses, lost wages, and sometimes pain and suffering. But the majority comes from medical treatments. That is one of the reasons people come to us for help. They can't pay their medical bills after a car wreck or work injury. Your medical records show the issues you suffered and how much you paid for treatment.

If a doctor prescribes treatment for any length of time and you don't abide by your doctor's orders, the insurance company may view this as negligence on your part and possibly claim you are impeding the healing process. And they may not want to pay you as much or at all.

4. Why can't I see my chiropractor first if I only have a soft tissue injury, like whiplash?

If you are severely injured you should go directly to the ER. Otherwise, go to your primary care doctor immediately. Urgent care would be a last resort just because they don't know your history and they generally don't treat patients long term.

For a variety of reasons you want to make sure you initially see a licensed medical provider, such as your primary care doctor, a physician's assistant, a nurse practitioner, or other licensed medical providers of this nature.

First, a primary care provider can prescribe you medicine for pain and inflammation, etc.

Second, as I mentioned earlier, your primary care provider will evaluate you, determine what they think is wrong, and develop a treatment plan to help you recover. That may or may not involve going to a chiropractor for adjustments. The doctor may feel your recovery plan should involve physical therapy instead of chiropractic treatment. But it is your treating doctor who should be the one managing and monitoring you and your treatment plan with any other medical professionals.

Finally, records from a primary care provider who has prescribed a sound treatment plan tend to hold more weight with the insurance companies than injured patients who self diagnose or come up with their own recovery plan. In the insurance company's eyes, having a medical doctor advising you carries more weight and can potentially help your case.

5. Why can't I be in charge of my own medical treatment plan?

From the insurance company's perspective, having a licensed physician at the helm of your overall treatment plan is the best course of action for your recovery. It is the most credible evidence we can present to try to get them to pay your medical bills. Plus, a doctor should know what is best to help you try to get back to the state you were in before your injury.

Because we have dealt with insurance companies for so long, we know what they need to possibly pay your claims.

6. Why is my lawyer and paralegal so concerned with my medical care?

We act as our clients' advocate in so many ways. Without someone advocating for your medical treatments with the goal of helping you get better and trying to get compensation from the insurance company for you, we have seen some unfortunate situations.

Let me tell you a story.

We had a client come to us complaining of back, hip, and pelvic pain after a car accident. Our client had already been seeing a doctor who previously ordered an MRI of his back and hip.

For some reason, our client went back to the doctor's office just prior to the MRI and saw the physician's assistant (PA). (It is generally ordinary procedure to see the PA after the doctor has evaluated you first.) We don't know what transpired during that visit, but whatever it was led the PA to cancel the MRI. Our client went back and forth in pain, seeing the PA for months.

When he hired us, we looked hard through all his medical records back to day one. We finally uncovered that the doctor had never given him an official diagnosis! That is very likely why he ordered the MRI - it would have potentially given the doctor an image of where the injury had occurred and what the client's treatment plan might have been going forward. He had been treating for back pain all this time, yet he was having hip and pelvic pain. That test could have been the lynchpin our client needed to show the insurance company why he kept going back and forth to the doctor for all those months, and the documentation he needed to get them to pay for his medical bills.

Our first concern was, how are we going to try to help our client get better? If we try to get the doctor to order an MRI months later, insurance is not going to pay for it because there was no initial diagnosis! And this poor man had no health insurance. Without an MRI, how can we say his pain was from an injury he had sustained in the car accident that happened so long ago?

At the end of the day he did not get treatment he needed because he did not have someone like us, to advocate on his behalf from the beginning. By the time we stepped in to put all the puzzle pieces together, it was too late for him to get the MRI that could have helped show what was wrong. While we were able to collect from insurance*, sadly, he is still in pain.

It all goes back to initial communication, evaluation, and documentation from the doctor and having someone like a good lawyer advocate on your behalf sooner rather than later.

We do a lot of advocating here. A lot. Most people just don't realize how important these things are to their recovery efforts.

In my opinion, this is an area where I think our people have really added value above and beyond. As advocates, we are essentially helping to encourage you to communicate what is necessary, follow up, and try to keep all your appointments. And we collect all that documentation to show the insurance company the evidence and proof they may need to calculate a potential compensation amount.

At the end of the day it's hard to argue with well documented facts.

NC Personal Injury Lawyers Offer FREE Case Evaluation

If you've been injured in an accident and need an advocate in your corner, click here to ask someone if our firm may be able to help. Or call us at 1-866-900-7078.

 

* Cases or matters referenced do not represent the law firm's entire record. 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. Client identity has been removed or changed to protect privacy.

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