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15 Things People Want to Know When Appealing a Denied Workers’ Comp Claim

Law6_07032014So the workers' compensation insurance company denied your claim for benefits for a work related injury.

The only way an insurance company can be made to pay benefits to an injured worker is to secure an order from the Industrial Commission requiring payments be made to you.

 

  1. How can I get the Industrial Commission to make my insurance company pay?

Your attorney will need to request a hearing by filing a Form 33. Your attorney will then have to prove you should receive benefits at a hearing before the Industrial Commission.

If the Industrial Commission agrees with your position, then it will issue an order requiring the insurance company to pay you benefits.

 

  1. Do I have to hire an attorney in order to obtain a hearing before the Industrial Commission?

No, you do not necessarily have to hire an attorney. However, your employer and the insurance company will likely be represented by a highly-skilled attorney who will fight to prevent you from receiving benefits.

 

  1. How long will it take to have my claim set for hearing?

Before a hearing is set for your case, the Industrial Commission will require you and your attorney to meet with representatives of the insurance company and their attorney in order to see if you and the insurance company can agree to settle this matter - usually for a lump sum cash settlement.

This meeting or mediation takes place usually within 60 to 90 days after you have hired an attorney. If a settlement can't be reached between you and the insurance company, then the Industrial Commission will set up a hearing/trial within two months of the mediation date.

 

  1. Will my claim be heard by a judge or a jury?

Your claim will be heard and decided by 1 of 20 judges who hear cases across the state of North Carolina. There is no jury trial like you see on "Matlock" or "The Good Wife."

The judge will swear you in as a witness and your attorney will ask you questions about the circumstances that resulted in your injury, or any other matters that you have in dispute with regard to your claim. Your employer's attorney will be able to cross-examine you at this hearing. Both you and your employer can present witnesses to support each side's position in the case.

 

  1. Where will my hearing take place?

Your hearing will be set at one of five locations closest to where you and/or your employer is located. The hearing location could require up to a two hour drive for you and your witnesses to attend.

 

  1. How long does a hearing last?

A hearing typically lasts less than 4 hours. If the hearing is estimated to last more than 4 hours, the Industrial Commission will specially set it before one of three judges designated to hear lengthy cases.

 

  1. How long does it take the judge hearing my case to decide whether I win or lose?

Unlike "Judge Judy", the judge who hears your case will not render a decision on the day you testify. It will usually be months before a decision is made by the judge.

Usually you and your employer will want doctors who have examined you or reviewed your medical records to testify. To try to build a strong case, you will need a doctor who treated you to give an opinion that the injury was likely caused by the work-related accident or incident you reported. You may also need to have a doctor testify about your ability to return to work for your employer as well as what treatment you need.

Doctors are not required to attend a hearing and neither are any other witnesses. The judge hearing your case will typically issue an order giving you and your employer 60 days after the hearing to go to each doctor's office and record the doctor's testimony. Both your attorney and your employer's attorney will likely ask questions of the doctor who treated you. The doctor's testimony is then transcribed and a copy is sent to the judge who will read the testimony of each doctor.

 

  1. Who pays to have the testimony of each doctor recorded and transcribed?

The employer will be required to pay for the cost of recording and transcribing of up to two doctors solely selected by you. If you have seen multiple doctors, then you may be required to pay the costs of additional doctors you want to testify. The taking of the testimony of a doctor is called a deposition. Depositions can cost in excess of $1000.

 

  1. How soon does the judge decide whether I win or lose after he or she receives copies of the doctors' depositions?

The judge will issue an order giving your attorney and your employer's attorney 30 days to send the judge a written copy of each side's argument as to why the judge should rule for or against you.

 

  1. So it will take 2-3 months to try to settle the case. Then another 2 months to have my case set for hearing (if I don't settle). Then 2 months to get the testimony of the doctors and 1 month for the attorneys to send the judge written arguments. I've waited a long time - how soon will the judge decide whether I win or lose after receiving the written arguments?

The judge has up to 3 months to decide the case after receiving the written arguments. The judge will write an Opinion and Award and will mail copies to your attorney and your employer's attorney.

 

  1. If I win, how soon can I expect to receive monetary benefits the judge ordered the insurance company to pay?

Typically, the insurance company will not pay the amount ordered by the judge if it loses the case. They will then appeal the judge's decision to the Full Commission.

 

  1. If I lose, do I have a right to appeal the decision?

Yes.

 

  1. What is the Full Commission?

They are six appellate judges appointed by the Governor. They sit in groups of three judges hearing the appeal of the cases that were heard by the 20 trial judges. If two of the judges disagree with the decision made by the judge that heard your case, then the decision is overturned.

 

  1. Will I be able to testify before the three Full Commission judges who will decide whether the trial judge's decision in my case should be upheld or overturned?

No. When you and other witnesses testify before the trial judge, a recording is made of the testimony. If your case is appealed, a written copy of that recorded testimony is made and sent to the Full Commission. The Full Commission judges read the testimony and decide whether you win or lose.

Even if the judge who saw you face to face believes you, the Full Commission judges can reverse that judge's decision because they don't believe you based upon the written testimony they have read. Your attorney and the insurance company's attorney will be given 20 minutes to argue in front of the 3 judges at the Full Commission as to whether the decision by the trial judge who heard your case should be upheld or overturned. This hearing takes place in Raleigh at the Industrial Commission.

 

  1. How long afterwards will I know whether I have won or lost my case after it is appealed to the Full Commission?

It takes 2-3 months for the Full Commission to set the 40 minute hearing for your attorney and the insurance company's attorney to attend. Both sides are given time to submit written arguments on their positions as to how the judges should decide the outcome of the case. The Full Commission takes between 3 and 6 months to render their decision after the 40 minute hearing.

 

Read this if you've been denied benefits:

If you've been denied benefits, you could be in for a long ride, and we highly recommend you do not try to present your case in front of the Industrial Commission on your own.

Most workers' compensation attorneys work on a contingency fee basis - meaning they will only take an attorney's fee out of your final settlement, so you have no upfront costs.

At our firm, we have several NC Board Certified Workers' Compensation Specialists and two former Industrial Commissioners.  Click here to tell us about your case and get a free case evaluation. Or call us at 1-866-900-7078.

 

Can I Sue My Employer in Court over a Work-Related Injury?

If you were seriously injured on the job, you may believe that you should sue your employer in court to obtain additional compensation for your pain and suffering from your injury. However, as North Carolina Workers' Compensation Lawyer Barry Jennings explains, this may not be an option.

North Carolina workers' compensation laws limit your ability to sue your employer in civil court if you are injured on the job. Workers' compensation law was originally designed to provide a direct route for employees who are injured on the job to receive compensation for their medical treatment and lost wages.

The trade off under North Carolina workers' compensation law is that employers are, generally speaking, not responsible for damages other than those allowed under the workers' compensation law.

WorkersComp48_06042014Though North Carolina workers' compensation law limits a worker's ability to sue an employer in civil court, there is an exception. Workers who can show that they were injured on the job because their employer's conduct in causing their injury rose to the level of an intentional act may be able to sue for damages in civil court.

A qualified North Carolina workers' compensation lawyer can evaluate your case and let you know how the law applies to your particular circumstances and let you know what rights you may have.

North Carolina Workers' Compensation Lawyers

If you have questions about whether you can pursue a claim against an employer for an injury, you should consider contacting a North Carolina worker's compensation lawyer, who can advise you of your legal rights. Call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case and to find out if one of our North Carolina workers' compensation lawyers may be able to help you get fight for the compensation that you may deserve.

Can I Trust a Doctor that Has Been Provided by My Employer for My Workers' Compensation Claim?

Medical4_06082014Under North Carolina law, if you are injured on the job and your employer agrees to provide workers' compensation benefits for your injury then your employer and their insurance carrier generally have the initial right to choose the physician who will treat your injuries. As North Carolina Workers' Compensation Lawyer Barry Jennings explains, even though your employer or insurance carrier may select your doctor, it is in their best interest for you to get the best medical care possible.

However, if you feel that your employer sent you to a doctor that did not give you the best medical care, then you should consider contacting a North Carolina Workers' Compensation lawyer.

As an injured worker, you have the right to request to be provided with treatment from a different physician. North Carolina law allows you to petition the North Carolina Industrial Commission to obtain further treatment if the employer and their insurance carrier will not agree. Additionally, if you are released by the doctor with an impairment rating, North Carolina law allows you to request a second opinion evaluation on that rating to be paid for by the employer and their insurance carrier.

North Carolina Workers' Compensation Lawyers

If you feel that the doctor your employer or the insurance company has provided for your workers' compensation claim is not providing you the best care, you may need to speak with a North Carolina workers' compensation lawyer. Call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case. Representatives are also available to offer you a free evaluation if you have been injured on the job and want to explore your legal rights.

Workplace Deaths Drop 34 Percent in North Carolina, NC Department of Labor Reports

The number of tragic accidents in the workplace dropped last year, and there was a 34 percent decline in workplace fatalities, according to preliminary numbers provided by the N.C. Department of Labor. There were 35 workplace deaths in 2012, down from 53 in 2011.

The department said that the rate for illness and injury in private industry is at an all-time low of 3.1 per 100 full-time workers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, North Carolina is one of the top 10 safest places to work.

Officials with the N.C. Department of Labor say that the department has increased its efforts to improve safety and to prevent workplace accidents from happening. The department's Occupational Safety and Health Division has created partnerships with businesses in some of the most hazardous industries to improve safety measures. Outreach efforts have included posters in the workplace and focused training sessions.

The OSH division identified "the big four" -- major hazards that accounted for 80 percent of workplace deaths in North Carolina over the past 10 years. These include "struck-by" accidents (such as being hit by objects and falling) and accidents involving fire, heat stress, and forklifts.

The construction industry had the most fatal accidents last year at 10. The number was down from 16 the previous year. Other dangerous industries included agriculture, forestry and fishing (7 fatal accidents), manufacturing (6 deaths), and the services industry (6 deaths).

Out of North Carolina's 100 counties, 75 saw no workplace deaths in 2012. The counties with the most fatalities included Gaston, Mecklenburg and Wake (each had three). Four counties had two fatalities each (Harnett, Iredell, Rockingham and Sampson), and the remaining counties had only one fatality each.

Men accounted for 34 of the 35 workplace deaths in 2012.

North Carolina Workers' Compensation Lawyers

Zero is the only acceptable number of workplace deaths. Even though the number of workplace fatalities is declining, the workers' compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin won't be happy until there are no more tragic deaths.

If you were injured on the job, or someone you love was killed in a workplace accident, you may be entitled to compensation under the law. Call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case.

How can a worker tell if an employer has workers' compensation benefits?

In North Carolina, it should be as easy as knowing how many co-workers you have. As North Carolina Workers' Compensation Attorney Barry Jennings explains, under North Carolina law, every company that has three or more regular employees is required to carry workers' compensation insurance or be self-insured for workers' compensation coverage.

WorkersComp22_06042014Businesses who carry workers' compensation insurance or are self-insured are required by law to post a notice in your workplace. Employment notices are usually posted in common areas such as break rooms or other gathering spots.

However, not all businesses who are required to carry workers' compensation insurance in North Carolina do so. The Raleigh News & Observer published a report in April that as many as 30,000 companies in North Carolina do not have the required workers' compensation insurance. The newspaper also reported that some companies exploited a loophole in the law by classifying their employees as independent contractors and then purchasing a policy known as a "ghost policy" in which they purchased coverage for a single worker to be added to the payroll at a later date. The policy was meant to cover one of the "contractors" in the event of an injury.

The newspaper used public information to compile the report, and in response, legislators passed a law making this information confidential. Now, not even employees can find out if their employers have workers' compensation insurance. Lawmakers have said this was an unintended consequence of the law, and they have vowed to push for changes in the law.

North Carolina Workers' Compensation Lawyers

If you have been injured on the job and you have a question about whether your employer has workers' compensation benefits, you may need to call a lawyer to help you find out. Call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case and to find out how one of our North Carolina workers' compensation lawyers may be able to help you.

Raleigh News & Observer Reports that Advocates are Pushing N.C. Lawmakers to Create a Safety Net for Injured Workers

Raleigh_07032014Last April, the News & Observer reported that 30,000 or more employers do not carry the workers' compensation insurance required under North Carolina law, leaving thousands of workers vulnerable if they were to become injured on the job. The paper reports that advocates are now pushing North Carolina lawmakers to create a program that would provide a safety net for workers who are injured on the job and are unable to collect compensation from their employers.

The program would help workers who can't collect benefits because their employers did not have workers' compensation insurance and who then went out of business or just plain refused to pay the benefits. Some workers can fight their employer for years trying to get the benefits that the courts have ruled they deserve, only to have to rely on government programs such as Medicaid or food stamps in order to get the support they need.

The N&O reported that at least half of the states in the country have programs that offer compensation to workers who are hurt while working for companies that do not carry the required insurance. South Carolina has one such program, and it brings in about $18 million a year through a fee assessed on workers' compensation policies.

Advocates also suggest better enforcement of existing rules, including penalties for those who don't carry the insurance.

North Carolina Workers' Compensation Lawyers

If you have been injured on the job and your employer does not have the required workers' compensation insurance, the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin may be able to help you fight to get the benefits you may deserve for your injuries. Call 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case and to find out how one of our North Carolina workers' compensation lawyers attorneys may be able to help you.

North Carolina Lawmakers Vow to Reverse Decision on Workers' Compensation Law

Last April, the News & Observer produced a report that as many as 30,000 businesses in North Carolina failed to carry the workers' compensation insurance required by law, leaving employees at risk if they were hurt on the job. The paper used public information to compile the report, prompting legislators to pass a bill in July that made much of that information confidential.

WorkersComp15_07022014Some legislators say they didn't realize the bill would effectively block employees from finding out if their own employers carried workers' compensation insurance, and now some lawmakers say they want to reverse course.

Rep. Dale Folwell, a republican , told the News & Observer that he didn't know the provision would block employee access to the records, and he told a legislative committee meeting that "the legislature shouldn't seal information from employees."

Some legislators said the changes were made to protect insurance companies from competition on their rates.

This year, legislators said they expect to change the law again, though they are still unsure of how to protect some of the information while making it available to employees.

Legislators are also expected to take up the issue of so-called ghost policies this year. These policies are meant to provide coverage for one employee who may be hired in the future. They are often used by businesses to cover contractors or legitimate employees instead of buying protection for all workers.

North Carolina Workers' Compensation Lawyers

The North Carolina workers' compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin are here to help you if you have been injured on the job and have been denied workers' compensation benefits or have not been given the full benefits to which you feel you are entitled. Call 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case.

Does Workers' Compensation Cover Long-Term Health Conditions?

Medical6_07232014Many people know that workers' compensation benefits provide for injuries that you sustain while on the job, but many are not clear about what workers' compensation law provides for long-term health problems believed to be caused by the job.

As North Carolina Workers' Compensation Lawyer Barry Jennings explains, North Carolina workers' compensation law does provide coverage for people who suffered a long-term health condition as a result of their work. This condition can be caused by an injury that resulted from the job, or it can be the result of exposure to harmful chemicals or conditions on the job. Some examples may include coal workers who developed the condition known as Black Lung Disease or industrial workers who developed the deadly cancer mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos.

As Jennings explains, the law determining whether a person is entitled to workers' compensation benefits for a health condition believed to be caused by working is fairly complex. Essentially, you must show that your work caused the specific condition and that it placed you at a higher risk for that condition than the general population. For example, Black Lung Disease is generally caused by exposure to coal dust, so workers in coal mines are at higher risk of developing Black Lung Disease. Coal workers who developed this illness would likely be entitled to workers' compensation benefits in North Carolina.

Other examples could include injury brought on by repetitive and stressful movement at work.

North Carolina Workers' Compensation Lawyers

A North Carolina workers' compensation lawyer at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin may be able to review the details of your case and give you advice about what your legal rights are and what compensation you may be able to receive for your injuries. If you feel you suffered a long-term health condition because of conditions at your work, call us today at 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case.

Study Finds Hairdressers Reluctant to Pursue Workers' Compensation

Hairdressers are susceptible to a common work-related health problem known as occupational contact dermatitis, which involves inflammation of the skin because of exposure to harsh chemicals or other irritants. It is often ranked as the most common work-related health issue, and hairdressers are particularly vulnerable to it because of substances they use every day, such as hair coloring, bleach, and permanent solutions.

However, a study conducted by researchers at Monash University and the Skin and Cancer Foundation has found that hairdressers are reluctant to pursue workers' compensation benefits for this condition.

The study, funded by the Institute for Safety, Compensation and Recovery Research, analyzed 17 years worth of data in Australia. The study found that from 1993 to 1999, there were 157 cases of diagnosed occupational contact dermatitis, but only 46 workers' compensation claims for this health condition.

Medical39_06122014One of the study authors said that there are likely to be more cases of undiagnosed occupational contact dermatitis among hairdressers since few are referred to or attend a consultation with a dermatologist. Therefore, there is likely to be a much bigger discrepancy between cases and workers' compensation claims.

The study also looked at cases in the United Kingdom and Denmark and found a similar discrepancy.

Researchers suggested that the lower number of workers' compensation claims for this group may be attributed to a higher number of workers being self-employed or to workers fearing the loss of job, particularly apprentices and part-time workers.

North Carolina Workers' Compensation Lawyers

Though the study did not look at data from the United States, occupational contact dermatitis is a leading work-related health problem, and workers throughout the country are susceptible to it. If you suffer from occupational contact dermatitis or another health condition you believe was caused by work-related activities, you may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits.

Call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case and to find out if one of our North Carolina workers' compensation lawyers may be able to help you.

OSHA Releases Cadmium Biological Monitoring Advisor to Help Protect Workers

 The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released a Cadmium Biological Monitoring Advisor in conjunction with the Office of the Solicitor of Labor and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Policy.

The OSHA Cadmium Biological Monitoring Advisor is designed to help monitor the federal requirements of the general industry Cadmium Standard, 29 CFR 1910.1027. The online tool analyzes a series of questions and answers, as well as test results provided by the user, to determine if biological monitoring and medical surveillance requirements are being met.

TouchScreen_07312014The monitoring tool is intended primarily for medical professionals who will assess the cadmium exposure of employees. However, employers and their workers can use the tool for educational purposes, helping them to better understand overexposure to cadmium and how to prevent it.

Cadmium is a soft metal used in machinery, plastics, ceramics, paints and other industrial materials. The risk of exposure is high among employees who work with welding, smelting or refining of metals, or manufacturing batteries or plastics. Chronic exposure to cadmium can lead to serious health complications such as kidney damage, certain kinds of cancers, pulmonary emphysema and bone disease.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry reports that about 300,000 workers are exposed to cadmium each year in the United States.
OSHA's Cadmium Biological Monitoring Advisor is only meant to monitor cadmium exposure levels in industrial settings. There is a separate Cadmium Standard that protects workers in the construction industry.

North Carolina Workers' Compensation Lawyers

If you have suffered serious health complications that you believe were caused by your work, you may be entitled to workers' compensation benefits. Call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin at 1-866-900-7078 for a free evaluation of your case and to find out if one of our North Carolina workers' compensation lawyers may be able to help you.

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