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

How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim

One of the most important parts of your workers’ compensation claim is the beginning.

Immediately reporting your injury and making sure all the correct forms are filed can help to try to ensure that your claim is accepted. So how do you go about filing a claim?

Report the Injury to Your Employer

As soon as you are aware that you have been injured at work you should inform your supervisor. Let them know the specifics of how, when, and where you were injured. Let them know about every body part that was injured. Fill out an accident report if your employer offers one, and if they don’t, write out a description of the accident and give it to your employer. This is important because insurance companies can use incomplete accident reports as a reason to deny all or part of a claim. We know. We have seen them use this denial tactic many times. Be detailed about how the injury occurred – particularly noting any unusual circumstances (falling, slipping, etc.).

File a Form 18 with the NC Industrial Commission

It is your responsibility to file your claim with the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

Do not assume that your employer will file your claim with the NC Industrial Commission for you.

To file your claim, you will need to complete a Form 18, which can be found on the Industrial Commission’s website.

Form 18 should be submitted to the Industrial Commission and to your employer within 30 days of your injury.

Include all the requested information, and again, be specific about how the injury occurred noting any unusual circumstances. Include the specific body parts involved. Body parts that are not included may be denied for treatment by the insurance company.

Mail or fax this form to the Industrial Commission at the address or fax number listed on the form. Make copies and give one to your employer. This form is what starts the ball rolling on your claim.

The Industrial Commission will send you an I.C. File Number for your case. The employer/insurer is then notified of a 30-day deadline by which to file a responsive form accepting or denying your claim.

There are a lot of moving parts to dealing with a workers’ compensation claim, and if not done correctly and within the timeframe required, your claim can become complex quickly – and it can even be denied.

Get a Free Case Evaluation From NC Workers’ Comp Lawyers

Notifying your employer and the Industrial Commission and filing a Form 18 is just the tip of the iceberg. If you are concerned about completing the form or dealing with the insurance company, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078. Don’t wait until the clock runs out. If your employer has no notice of the injury, the insurance company can likely use that as a reason to deny your claim when it otherwise might potentially have been accepted.

PS… if you think it is too expensive to hire a lawyer to help you, click here to learn more about our contingency fee. You may be surprised at the long-term consequences of not hiring an attorney.

What to Do When the At-Fault Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance

When involved in a car wreck, you might assume the other person has insurance to cover damages. (What is it they say about the word assume?)

Next time you’re sitting in traffic, count 10 cars around you. One in nine of those drivers does not have insurance coverage in North Carolina, according to carinsurance.com.

Viewed another way, North Carolina’s roads and highways carried 105 billion vehicle miles of travel in 2012 according to a 2014 NC Chamber Foundation report. That means uninsured drivers drove 9.45 billion miles across North Carolina’s highways.

So how does that affect you?

How Do Uninsured Drivers Hurt You?

Uninsured drivers affect all of us in a lot of ways. First, insurance rates for those of us who do have insurance tick up higher. Secondly if you are involved in a car wreck with an uninsured driver your uninsured motorist coverage doesn’t always protect you.

What Do I Do After an Accident Involving an Uninsured Driver?

Get as Much Information as You Can

Write down the driver’s name, contact information, driver’s license number, and license plate number whether they are insured or uninsured. Take pictures of your car, their car, and the scene of the wreck. It is important to have this information in order to show your side of the story, to have justification and liability on your side.

Call the police

Report the collision to the police, just as you would do in any other crash. Law enforcement officers will record that the motorist didn’t have insurance and cite them for breaking the law. This report will help your insurance claim later on.

Call Your Insurance Company

You must immediately report the accident to your insurance company. Some policies have time limits on when you can make a claim, so make sure to contact them immediately. Check your policy to see if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. (If you don’t have it, we highly advise that you get it.)

If you were at fault for the accident, your insurer should potentially cover your losses based on your collision coverage.

If you were not to blame and the uninsured or underinsured driver was, your insurer should potentially cover the losses based on either your uninsured or underinsured motorist’s coverage. The insurer will pay for your damages by standing in for the person who caused your crash and whose liability insurance should have paid.

Uninsured Motorist Insurance. Uninsured motorist insurance is designed to compensate you up to the policy limits for any injuries or damages that you sustain when the other party has no insurance.

Underinsured Motorist Insurance. Underinsured motorist insurance is designed to cover the difference up to the policy limits when the other party’s insurance coverage isn’t enough to cover the damages.

Other Insurance. Even if you do not have either of these insurance claims, you may still have coverage for your damages. Your collision and medical payments coverage may cover the damages to your car and medical bills. Your health insurance may also be used to cover the cost of medical treatment.

Click here for more ways to try to protect yourself after a car accident.

Will My Insurance Rates Go Up?

It is important to know that if you were not at fault for the crash and you make an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim, your insurance rates typically should not rise. This is because an accident caused by another motorist should not count as an accident on your own driving record. Keep in mind there are always exceptions.

In situations like these we strongly urge you to contact a North Carolina car wreck attorney to try to help you obtain the compensation you potentially deserve. Click here for questions to consider asking attorneys before you hire one that suits you.

Why Call the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin Car Wreck Lawyers?

We have fought this fight for over 3,000 clients for whom we recovered over $100 million* in 2016 alone. Since 1997, over $700 million in gross has been recovered for over 30,000* clients. And these numbers don’t include the $1.25 billion* we helped recover against the U.S. government for 18,400 claimants in a historic class action case.

We’ve done this because we have lots of quality professionals. Nearly 200 staff including over 40 attorneys. Eight of these attorneys are North Carolina Board Certified Specialists in their fields (a distinction less than 4% of the 28,000 NC licensed attorneys can claim**).

North Carolina Personal Injury Attorneys Evaluate Your Claim For FREE

If you were involved in a North Carolina car wreck and the at-fault driver was uninsured or underinsured, or click here to contact us or call any time at 1-866-900-7078.

 

*Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. In Re Black Farmers Discrimination Litigation, the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin led a team of firms to recover $1.25 billion for African-American farmers from the U. S. government for discrimination.

**Figures from NC State Bar through December 2016.

How to Try to Be Safer on NC Highways

As economic recovery continues to lead to more vehicles and drivers on North Carolina roadways, the number of car accidents has also increased. And along with this increase follows an uptick in injuries and fatalities.

Data from the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles shows an overall trend toward more crashes from 2014 and 2015. The number of motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians killed in car accidents has increased. The number of accidents involving teen drivers increased. And the number of accident fatalities has increased.

Certain Cars Offer Better Protection

Information from safety tests can help North Carolina drivers select a vehicle that will best protect them in an accident.

  • The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently released data on fatality rates among vehicles in the 2014 model year and equivalent vehicles in the 2012–2015 model years. The 4-door minicars showed the highest overall death rate of 87, while 4-wheel-drive large luxury SUVs have the lowest with 6.

This data corroborates previous studies which have found that, overall, smaller cars are not as safe as some larger cars.

  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has examined the correlation between the age of the vehicle and the severity of injuries sustained in a collision. Not only were newer vehicles found to offer the best chances of survival in a fatal car accident, but the odds of survival decreased as the model years decreased. In fact, the driver of a car that was more than 18 years old was 71% more likely to be killed than the driver of a car that was three years old or newer. These studies indicate that newer vehicles are generally safer than older vehicles.

While it may seem as though we are stating the obvious, we are. You cannot emphasize enough the importance of being safe on the road.

Negligent Drivers, Responsibility, and Liability

North Carolina law prohibits specific behaviors in order to reduce driver negligence and potential car crashes. Some of these laws prohibit:

Every driver has a legal obligation to follow these and other safety guidelines. Besides, it is common courtesy. No matter what make, model, or year of car you are driving, each of us must accept personal responsibility for safe driving habits.

Sadly, when someone is negligent behind the wheel, not only could they potentially injure innocent victims, but they can also be injured themselves. Additionally, they may stand to lose a lot financially if found liable for the accident.

Get a Free Case Evaluation From NC Car Accident Lawyers

The experienced car accident attorneys at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin have decades of combined experience protecting the rights of accident victims in the Raleigh, Greensboro, Charlotte, Greenville – all areas across North Carolina. Truth be known, we are among the largest personal injury law firms in North Carolina.

If you were injured in a car accident, contact us right away or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation.

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

* Insurance Research Council 1999

What You Need to Know About NC Lake Electrocutions

Electrocutions by drowning in a lake or pool are considered by some to be “freak accidents.” The reality is that they happen a lot more often than you might think, and are often the result of someone’s negligence.

Potential for Electrocution in NC Lakes, Rivers, Pools

Being electrocuted while swimming in a lake, river, or pool is not something you might consider when taking a refreshing dip. But it happens. A 17-year-old Raleigh lifeguard was electrocuted and drowned in 2017 when she tested the water at a public pool where she worked. Negligence and “shoddy workmanship” was alleged to be the reason the water became charged, and the parents have filed a lawsuit.

How Does Drowning by Electrocution Occur?

When you are swimming in water that becomes charged, your body seizes up and you are unable to move or swim away. One of the reasons you see "No Swimming" signs at public docks and marinas is to prevent electrocution by keeping swimmers at least 150 feet away from the dock, which authorities claim is usually a safe distance.

If you own a dock on Lake Norman, Lake Gaston, Kerr Lake, or on any NC waterway, or if you run electricity to any body of water, make sure a licensed electrician checks the wiring at least every two years. Incidentally electric shock can occur in any body of water, however, experts say fresh is more of a conductor than salt water.

Safety Tips to Help Deter Electrocutions in NC Lakes

  • Use a plastic ladder, rather than a metal one, so it won’t help to facilitate transfer electricity into the water
  • If you start to feel a tingle in the water, swim away from the dock, which is where most electrical issues occur
  • Check all of the wiring around your dock, including your ground fault circuit breaker.
  • Purchase a Dock Lifeguard, a device that detects electricity on your dock and in the water around your dock.

Electrocutions Can Happen Near Boats

Boats can have faulty wiring too, which can charge the water around it.  Two boys were electrocuted in a large lake while swimming between houseboats. It was determined that the wiring was faulty on one of the houseboats and it charged the water, killing one boy and severely injuring the other.

If you are a boat owner, you should have a marine electrician periodically check your boat’s wiring and fix any problems.

Electrocution Accidents, Injuries, Deaths

Electrocution is generally classified as death by electric shock. Yet, it also encompasses a wide range of injuries from contact with electricity. Here are the four primary types of electrocution injuries, as defined by the U.S. National Library of Medicine:

  • Cardiac arrest
  • Muscle, nerve, and tissue destruction
  • Thermal burns from contact with an electrical source
  • Falling or other similar injuries associated from an electrical shock

If a person is electrocuted in the water and survives, they could potentially suffer long-term effects, including:

  • Headaches
  • Amnesia or short-term memory loss
  • Mood swings
  • Mental illnesses including depression, anxiety, aggression, and schizophrenia

Drowning by Electrocution Liability

Drownings by electrocution are almost always a result of negligence, including faulty equipment and poor maintenance, human error, poor workmanship. Potentially liable parties may include:

  • Property owners
  • Power companies
  • Equipment and boat operators
  • Contractors or operators responsible for repairs and past maintenance

North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers Offer Free Case Evaluation

If your loved one drowned by electrocution or was injured by an electrical shock of any kind, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation. You could be compensated for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, or wrongful death.

What You can do if Worker’s Comp Has You Under Surveillance

Some insurance companies may hate sending you a weekly check while you’re recovering from your on-the-job injury. They’re in business to make money, not give it away.

Every time you receive workers’ compensation benefits, that is money coming out of the insurance company’s pocket and going into yours instead. That’s why some insurance companies may try to find ways to avoid paying you benefits. Sometimes that means an insurance company may completely deny responsibility to pay for your injury. When this happens, they pay you no benefits at all, while you fight (sometimes for years) for what you potentially deserve.

Worker’s Comp Insurance Tactics to Pay You Less

Delay

This is what we refer to as their “delay” tactic. We have seen some insurance companies try to wait out the injured worker while they’re hurt, out of work, and in financial distress. We believe they are waiting you out. The longer they wait, the more urgent your need for money becomes, and the less compensation you may be likely to settle for. And that means less money they have to pay out.

Deny

But shortchanging you is not the only way some insurance companies may try to help themselves. Even when an insurance company accepts responsibility for your work injury, they can at any time, try to reduce or even stop paying you benefits.

We have seen them try to cut off injured workers’ weekly checks. Other times they may try to avoid paying for a recommended medical procedure.

No matter how the insurance company may try to keep money for themselves, it is you, the injured worker, who is simply trying to get better and go back to work, that ends up paying the price.

Surveillance

Do insurance companies randomly decide one day that they are not going to pay you? Of course not. They must have “proof” that they don’t have to pay you. To help enlist them in their efforts, they will try to piece together “evidence” to prove your benefits should be decreased or stopped altogether.

We have seen some insurance companies resort to hiring a private investigator to spy on you to try to gain the evidence they need against you.

They may hire investigators to follow you to the gas station or the grocery store or any errand. They may watch you pick up your kids at school. They may stake out your house and neighborhood at all hours of the day and night. The goal is always the same: to create reports, photographs, and video that make it appear that you are not as badly injured as you claim. Then, if the insurance company can create that impression in the mind of a doctor or judge, they may be able to cut you off or shortchange you – even if they have previously admitted responsibility for your injury.

5 Ways to Handle Insurance Company Spying

You cannot stop the insurance company from hiring an investigator to watch you. But you can be smart about your behavior so that you aren’t making it easy for them to avoid paying you benefits.

  1. Always follow your doctor’s orders. Your doctor knows best what activities you should avoid while you heal. If the doctor tells you not to lift more than 10 pounds, don’t lift more than 10 pounds. The biggest risk of surveillance is that the investigator will see you doing something outside the restrictions put on you by the doctor. If that happens and the doctor is allowed to see the surveillance, the doctor may think you have been exaggerating your symptoms. In a worst-case scenario, the doctor may decide to no longer treat you.
  2. Be thoughtful. If you aren’t following your doctor’s orders about activity restriction, it may not necessarily be because you are not injured. More likely it might be because you weren’t thinking about what you were doing, or you were in a hurry, or distracted. Life happens, and you have to lift your 20-lb toddler out of her car seat. That happens to all of us. But when you have a work injury, and an insurance company may be paying someone to watch you, the cost of being thoughtless can be significant. Violating your doctor’s restrictions just a handful of times could suggest to the insurance company and the doctor that you’re not as injured as you claim to be.
  3. Remember: appearances count. Sometimes surveillance can be harmful even when you are not caught doing something against your doctor’s wishes. Even simple appearances can be enough to cause problems. For example, let’s say your doctor told you not to push more than 10 pounds. And let’s say you’re mowing your lawn with a self-propelled lawnmower that doesn’t require pushing more than 10 pounds. And let’s further say there’s an investigator recording you. All the doctor may see when he watches this video is someone who is well enough to do yard work, including pushing a potentially heavy lawnmower. You can explain to the doctor that the mower is self-propelled, but the damage may already be done. We are not suggesting you become paranoid, but it is important to be aware of how your activity may look to an outsider.
  4. Don’t talk to a suspected investigator. If you think an investigator is watching you, don’t confront them or interact with them. They will not be intimidated by you, and they will only use the interaction to gather information from you that the insurance company may later try to use against you.
  5. Hire a workers’ compensation lawyer. When you try to take on the insurance company yourself, it is not a fair fight. History tells us that many insurance companies may try to figure out ways to maximize their profits and minimize your They have adjusters and lawyers, many of whom spend their time trying to determine the best ways to do this. Surveillance is just one tactic they sometimes rely on.

Get Your Free Case Evaluation From NC Workers’ Comp Lawyers

To try to make sure the insurance companies do not use surveillance or any other self-serving tactic to deny you benefits, call the Law offices of James Scott Farrin. Our workers’ comp attorneys represent clients throughout North Carolina and have the knowledge, experience, and dedication needed to try to see to it that the insurance company doesn’t get away with painting your injuries to be less than they really are, just to save a few bucks. Contact us today or call 1-866-900-7078. Your initial case evaluation is absolutely free.

Shocking Video Emphasizes Elder Abuse at Raleigh Nursing Home

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words.

I admit that I had a few choice words when I viewed the WRAL video that caught Raleigh nursing home “caregivers” abusing a defenseless stroke patient.

This video needs no explanation. The actions it portrays can’t be “justified.” If I hadn’t been practicing law and developed a strong belief that most people are fundamentally good and well intention, this video may have put me over the edge.

Click here to view it. Fair warning: You may find the actions extremely disturbing.

30% of Nursing Homes Cited for Abuse

Nursing home abuse is real. So is neglect.

Reports of serious, physical, sexual, and verbal abuse are widespread among the nation’s nursing homes, according to a two-year congressional study. The study found that 30% of nursing homes in the United States, more than 5,000 facilities, were cited for nearly 9,000 instances of abuse during that time.

Worse, much of the abuse and neglect often go under reported because some patients are too frightened of repercussions and live in fear of retaliation from staff, management, even other patients. In one case, the report noted, attendants bribed a brain-damaged patient with cigarettes to attack another resident, then watched the two fight.

A National Institutes of Health report entitled Abuse, Neglect, and Exploitation in an Aging America, quotes a certified nursing assistant justifying abuse:

“Oh, yeah. I've seen abuse. Things like rough handling, pinching, pulling too hard on a resident to make them do what you want. Slapping, that too. People get so tired, working mandatory overtime, short-staffed. It's not an excuse, but it makes it so hard for them to respond right.”

Signs of Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect

Some well-meaning loved ones may not recognize signs of abuse. We urge you – if you have a parent or loved one in a nursing home or with a caregiver, please take note of the following signs of potential neglect to look for:

Negligent Hiring of Nursing Home Staff

Nursing homes are obligated to hire qualified staff with the appropriate academic and other credentials for their particular position. Background checks are required and there should be no record of abuse or violence found in that background check. Yet, in many cases, we have discovered this has not always been the case.

Nursing Home Understaffing

Many nursing homes and senior care facilities are notoriously understaffed. They can potentially be liable if a resident suffers an injury or dies because of an inadequate number of caretakers to properly care for residents.

Inadequate Caregiver Training

Nursing homes and other senior care facilities can potentially be held accountable for injuries if their staff has not been provided proper training and a resident suffers an injury as a result.

Get a Free Case Evaluation from Experienced North Carolina Lawyers

If you feel your loved one has suffered elder abuse of any kind, contact us immediately or call 1-866-900-7078. Our North Carolina nursing home abuse lawyers can offer a free case evaluation for your unique circumstances.

Categories: Personal Injury

Don’t Let an FCE Derail Your Right to Workers’ Comp Benefits

Is your workers’ compensation doctor recommending a Functional Capacity Evaluation, often referred to as an FCE? If so, I’m sure you have lots of questions. While an FCE can be a useful tool to explore your physical limitations after a work-related injury, there are certain things you need to know before moving forward.

What is an FCE?

I like to think of an FCE as a physical therapy session on steroids.

FCE’s are typically scheduled at a physical therapist’s office where you will be asked to perform a number of physical tasks over a designated period of time. You should expect to spend approximately three to four hours completing the testing. While all evaluators conduct their FCE’s differently, you will likely be asked to walk, lift, stretch, push, pull, bend, and possibly do other exercises. The evaluator will record each task you complete and the extent to which you are able (or unable) to complete it.

However, an FCE is not a simulation of the actual work you were performing when you were injured. For that reason, the results of an FCE may not provide a definitive answer as to whether or not you are able to return to your pre-injury job. In a workers’ compensation context, the FCE report is typically forwarded to, and interpreted by, your authorized treating physician.

Why does my doctor want me to complete an FCE?

FCE’s are commonly used to determine return‐to‐work readiness and quantify your functional limitations after a work-related injury. Most doctors are not trained to make comprehensive determinations regarding your physical abilities. Therefore, they require a little outside help. That’s where the FCE comes in.

However, sometimes it may not be in your best interest for a doctor to rely too heavily on an FCE to determine which jobs you are physical capable of performing. While FCE’s are often treated as the best way to determine your work abilities, that’s probably not the case.

As noted above, the data from your FCE must be interpreted by your treating physician and applied to real world jobs. Unfortunately, they don’t take into account the day-to-day rigors of your actual occupation. For that reason, it’s very important for you to educate your doctor about the essential functions and physical demands of your job before they make a determination about your readiness to return to work.

What do I need to know before I perform my FCE?

Most FCE facilities believe they are able to determine when someone is exaggerating their symptoms or failing to give 100% effort during testing. In my opinion, the “science” behind these methods is shaky at best. Even so, the evaluator’s findings will often make it into the FCE report, which is likely to be seen by your doctor. For this reason, it’s important for you to talk to the FCE evaluator prior to testing about their expectations of you. Ideally, you should plan to at least attempt any task you believe you are physically capable of performing and give the maximum amount of safe effort.

FCE’s are just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to your overall physical limitations and ability to return to the workforce. You should always discuss the results with your doctor and be sure to address any issues you encountered during testing.

Enlist the help of workers’ comp specialists

If you have additional questions about FCE’s, please feel free to contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin. Six of us are NC Board Certified Specialists in workers’ compensation law. Of the approximately 28,000 North Carolina licensed attorneys* only 148 (less than 1%) are North Carolina Board Certified Specialists in workers’ compensation law.

What does it mean to be board certified? It means you have an attorney who shows special knowledge and proficiency in their specific area of law, having undergone additional training (and other intense analysis) to become certified as a specialist.

Get a FREE Case Evaluation from NC Workers’ Comp Lawyers

If you are asked to get an FCE, I urge you to get legal advice by contacting us or calling 1-866-900-7078. If we are able to take your case, we will try to ensure that you are well prepared for your FCE in your efforts to preserve your rights to workers’ compensation benefits.

 

*Figures provided by the N.C. State Bar as of December 2017.

Potential Lawsuits Grow as GenX Concerns Escalate

If the increasing number of inquiries we have been getting from NC property owners are an indication of what’s to come, there’s a potentially massive property value issue in the southeastern portion of our state. And a potentially massive health crisis.

Property owners have been contacting us over fears of water contamination from GenX.

GenX is in the molecularly close-knit family of super toxins known as perfluoroalkyls and polyfluoroalkyls (PFAS), which are used to make Teflon-type products. The toxin has seeped from the DuPont Chemours Fayetteville plant into the Cape Fear River and has infiltrated wells and municipal water supplies in at least three counties. No one knows how to filter it out.

GenX is said to be so toxic that even one drop
dissolved into 20 Olympic sized pools may pose health risks. 

Contamination by the same family of chemicals may date back as far as 1980, according to a DuPont spokesperson. Experts are only scraping the surface of the potential for widespread harms after decades of contamination.

Just recently, additional testing by the state and Chemours has expanded contamination concerns to include air, rainwater, honey, wild game, and fruits and vegetables grown in the area.

Diminished Property Values in Wilmington, Pender, Brunswick, New Hanover

If you own property in the Wilmington area, or Pender, Brunswick, or New Hanover counties, your property values may be diminished 10% to 30% due to contaminated drinking water discovered in wells and municipal water treatment plants. You may not even be able to sell your property at all.

GenX. Same Toxic Chemical. Benign New Name.

GenX is the chemical cousin to DuPont’s C8, which poisoned tens of thousands of residents and livestock along the Ohio River Valley. DuPont recently settled lawsuits for over $670 million for knowingly releasing C8 into mid-Ohio Valley streams and tributaries that flowed into the Ohio River.

The U.S. government has since banned C8 from being produced in the U.S. because of its extreme toxicity and its ability to exist indefinitely in the environment. DuPont complied by discontinuing production of C8. Instead, they tinkered with its molecular structure to create a similar chemical, and gave it a new benign-sounding name – GenX.

You say potato, I say potaahto. No matter what you call it, this chemical is in the same toxic family of perfluoroalkyls and polyfluoroalkyls.

Is History Repeating Itself?

Is GenX to the Cape Fear River what C8 was to the Ohio River?

This is a thought-provoking question and no one knows the answer at this point. Studies are proliferating on the potential harms GenX may have already posed or could potentially pose to humans, animals, and the environment.

Here is what we do know. Many North Carolina residents may have been drinking and bathing in extremely contaminated water, potentially since 1980. Not only has this created a potential health issue, but property values may potentially be affected.

As a result, many North Carolina residents are suing the Chemours Company and DuPont.

 

Categories: Personal Injury

3 Ways Your Workers’ Comp “Recorded Statement” Can Trap You

After an injured worker reports or files a claim for a work injury, the employer has to promptly investigate and respond to the claim “at the earliest practicable time...”

As part of that prompt response, the law allows the employer or insurance company to request a statement directly from the employee about the facts surrounding how the work injury occurred. This is called a recorded statement.

Sometimes the recorded statement is a straightforward process where an injured worker is allowed to simply recount how they were injured. Other times I have seen some insurance adjusters use the recorded statement as a way to lead an injured worker to say something that may be damaging to their case so the insurance company can deny their claim.

3 Ways Recorded Statements Can Trap You

  1. The state of North Carolina requires employers to pay only for injuries that occur as a result of an accident or occupational disease.

    An accident can be a slip, trip, or fall and it can also be an untoward, unusual, or unexpected event. Based on my experience, employees typically do not want to damage their relationship with their employer even after they have suffered injuries. Yet some adjusters will throw phrases at them like “normal job duties” or “doing your job in your regular way” as a way of trying to prevent the employee from explaining what actually happened to cause their injury. When employees hear these types of phrases, some may feel that it is pointing toward faulting the employer. Typically the clients I have dealt with do not want to cast blame on their employer for their injury nor do they want to get the employer in trouble even if the employer was to blame. These clients typically want to assure their employer and the employer’s insurance company that no one was at fault. Yet I’ve seen some insurance adjusters take advantage of this mindset to lead these employees to state that there was nothing unusual that occurred when they were injured. They may ask leading questions to the employee so they provide an account of events which may not be entirely accurate. Sometimes they won’t allow the employee to provide an open-ended account of events – as this often leads to acceptance of needed medical and disability benefits. Instead, they may be more likely to ask specific questions that might potentially lead to denied benefits.

  1. Another tactic I have seen some insurance adjusters use, is to try to limit the nature of the injury that occurred. Workers’ compensation is designed to cover any injury that occurs as a result of an accident. If someone is involved in a highly traumatic event, they may have injuries to multiple body parts. I have seen some adjusters ask leading questions to try to limit what an employee can later claim as being injured in the accident. Again, it is a process of putting words into the claimant’s mouth. An adjuster I deal with quite often frequently asks questions like, “So you only injured your knee?” When in fact, more than the knee was injured. Again, this puts the employee in a difficult spot. They do not want to claim conditions that are unrelated to the accident. They only want what is fair and necessary to heal and return to work. This leaves some injured employees minimizing their symptoms in order to “go along” with the process.
  1. Some insurance companies we have dealt with have also occasionally used the recorded statement to attack the injured employee by asking irrelevant and offensive questions. This might include asking employees about other health conditions which are unrelated to the injury, personal information which may be uncomfortable for an employee to provide, and prior health information which an employee wishes to keep private. It puts the injured worker, who is simply trying to get treatment for their work injury, in an uncomfortable position.

They may not want to share past details of their life – nor are they legally obligated to in a recorded statement. Some have confided to us that they are worried the employer will find out about their private health conditions. Those details have no bearing on what occurred at work. It’s a Catch 22. If the injured worker declines to answer these unfair and invasive questions, some insurance companies may use that as a basis to deny needed benefits. If they do answer them, the insurance company may find reasons to deny the claim.

Benefits of a Workers’ Comp Lawyer in Recorded Statements

Answering recorded statements can be tricky for some injured workers to answer. If they are not answered in the precise manner that is clear to the adjuster that workers’ comp benefits should be covered, the statement can result in unfounded denial of benefits.

I take these statements very seriously for my clients.

I will only allow my clients to give a recorded statement with my guidance. And I do not allow an insurance adjuster to ask unfair, leading, or inappropriate questions.

I have had many, many clients come to me with denied claims simply because they did not seek the assistance of an attorney before giving their recorded statement. These statements can be a mine field for claimants. They are frequently used in evidence by employers and insurance companies in court to support a denial of a claim. It is only by adequate and thorough preparation that a claimant is in the best position to give a statement. It is also with the guidance of experienced legal counsel that they can try to avoid providing an incorrect account of events.

As stated earlier, I always advise my clients not to give any statement whatsoever to the insurance company before consulting with me and without me present. There are so many ways we’ve seen injured employees hurt their workers’ comp claim by talking to an insurance adjuster, without realizing how some of their statements may be misinterpreted in the best interest of the insurer.

I, or any of our workers’ compensation attorneys, can help you prepare to speak truthfully about your claim, and in ways that do not harm your case. We will be on the call with you to make sure the adjuster does not take advantage of you or twist your words. If a written statement about the events of your injury is the best option, we will coordinate with you to prepare a truthful statement to help protect your right to benefits.

Get a FREE Case Evaluation From NC Workers’ Comp Lawyers

If you are faced with giving a recorded statement to a workers’ comp insurance adjuster, contact an experienced North Carolina workers’ comp lawyer at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin before saying anything. You don’t want to inadvertently damage your case before getting a professional evaluation.

Contact us or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation.

Hard Knocks Lawyer, Rosa Antunez, Knows How to Stand Up to Adversity for Clients

Personal injury attorney Rosa Antunez has been described as soft-spoken and even quiet at times. In a social setting she may come across as somewhat reserved. Don’t be fooled. She is anything but when fighting for her clients. Or when negotiating with insurance companies to try to get the maximum that her clients potentially deserve.

Rosa learned to fight for what she wanted early in life when her family was abruptly uprooted from their upper class Honduras lifestyle to relocate to America under much different circumstances.

Some people may have given up when faced with the obstacles Rosa has faced. Not Rosa – it is part of what has made her a highly effective attorney and tenacious client advocate. It is what has given her a heart to serve others – to try to bring justice to her clients who have been wronged.

We recently had an opportunity to sit down with Rosa to talk about what led her from Honduras to North Carolina, and what led her to want to become an attorney after working as a paralegal for many years.

What drove you to become an attorney?

I had worked as a paralegal since 2005, and it was so rewarding because you are in the trenches with the clients daily. You are doing much of the research, dealing with the medical providers and insurance companies. And you are a sounding board for injured people who really need a shoulder to lean on, sometimes to cry on.

I have a B.A. in psychology, and I grew up in a home with a mother who was a psychologist. Psychology was my first love, and to some extent still is. I've always loved to work with and help people try to overcome their struggles. Having that psychology background, I felt I was more equipped professionally to help people through their issues – which is a lot of what many paralegals I know face every day.

The more I worked with the attorneys, the more I realized how much of a difference I could make as an attorney with my unique background as a paralegal with a degree in psychology.

Once I began to go through law school, I understood the dynamics of why an attorney would make certain decisions that didn’t seem to make sense to me as a paralegal. It all started coming together in law school. Those puzzle pieces I was piecing together as a paralegal came together to give me the bigger picture as an attorney.

One of my professors in law school once confided, "Maybe we can't personally go out and change the laws as an attorney, but the way we change the entire system is by being an advocate for the people." As you're doing that, as you're actively taking these cases and advocating for them, fighting for them, then you're changing the system one client at a time rather than letting the system take them over.

I feel this is especially the case for women and immigrants. I immigrated from Honduras as a teenage girl, and I understand firsthand how the system can derail your plans.

What brought you to America from Honduras?

I loved growing up in Honduras. We had a very happy family life. My father owned a candy factory and my mother was a psychologist and full-time mom and she ran other businesses. Like many upper class families in Central America, we had live-in maids, chauffeurs, bodyguards. I never had to do chores! Although we did go down to my father’s candy factory to “help” wrap the candies – meaning we would wrap one, eat one.

In 1998, Hurricane Mitch tore through Honduras. It was one of the deadliest hurricanes in history and destroyed most the infrastructure of Honduras – the economy, and thousands of businesses. Within a couple of years, my father lost his candy factory as a result of the widespread economic struggles the hurricane set into motion, and we could not pay our bills.

I’ll never forget how my parents faced this life altering devastation. They knew they had lost everything. There was no choice for us but to pack up what little we had left and move to Florida near relatives to start a new life.

Life as we had known it was over.

My parents’ attitude was “this too shall pass.” That kind of strength was ingrained in me my entire life, but to see my parents live it in real time really had an effect on how I would live my life.

When we arrived in Florida, my formerly wealthy, highly educated parents cleaned houses to make ends meet. My father used to always do a little something extra for his candy customers in Honduras. My parents did the same when they cleaned houses in Florida.  My father would leave flowers behind and my mother would engage with the customers. The customers appreciated the effort my parents gave and the caring they showed. Word of mouth spread and within just a couple of months, they were able to start their own cleaning business, which is very successful today.

Those are two things that have been engrained in me – never despair or give up, and always give that extra effort. And I definitely try to do that with my clients – even talking to people who call in and do not become clients. I often find myself offering them legal advice. Who knows, maybe they will need us one day for another legal matter.

How were things different for you in the U.S.?

Very different. I was a junior in high school when I first moved here. Fortunately I knew English, so I was able to graduate high school. But even though my parents had the money to send me to college, I was not legally allowed to attend college in the U.S. at that time because I was considered an “overstayed visitor.”

I took some classes, got married, moved to North Carolina, and eventually attended undergrad at UNC, which is where I got my psychology degree. I worked during college, so it took me twice as long to get my degree.

With a psychology degree, how did your path evolve to becoming a lawyer?

It was a tough road. Although it didn’t start out that way.

I got a full scholarship to law school. Then I became pregnant with my daughter. Two very happy moments in my life! I maintained my grades, but my daughter was born prematurely in the middle of my spring semester. Unfortunately, she was in the NICU for three weeks.  Plus, I had to have a blood transfusion, which kept me in the hospital for a week. I lost the scholarship because I was away from school for about a month. Not too long afterward, my husband and I divorced.

I needed a job and had experience as a paralegal. So I applied here at James Scott Farrin. I was very blessed to be able to find this law firm. I worked as a paralegal and was able to go back to law school and finish my law degree. For the first time in my life, I feel as though I am where I was meant to be.

What are you to your clients? How do you connect?

I thrive off being a no-nonsense advocate for my clients. Especially when some insurance companies try to play semantics’ games, and belittle my client’s situation, as in this case I handled for a client injured by a drunk driver.

My client was hit by a drunk driver, but thankfully escaped with relatively minor injuries. The drunk driver was charged with a DUI. However, that driver was not convicted due to a technicality (despite being several times over the legal limit). As expected, the insurance adjuster low-balled my client on the recovery offer. While a low offer is expected, what got to me was that the adjuster had the unmitigated gall to laugh about my client’s injury claims. Actually laughed at the suffering of another human being! When I subsequently demanded policy limits because of the egregious behavior of the drunk driver, the defense attorney’s response was, “We all have bad days.” Suffice it to say that the defense attorney had a bad day, too – when I forced the insurance company’s hand to pay my client the policy limits*.

Don’t disrespect another human being. And don’t laugh at the expense of my client’s misfortune.

What are some encouraging words you have lived by?

My parents used to always tell us, “This too shall pass.” And that is what I try to impart to my clients. No matter how bad a situation they may find themselves in, it will eventually pass.

Who or what has influenced you most?

I would have to say my parents. They have taught me to always strive to do better. I am the third of four children. My parents have told me my whole life that ... their first kid was a girl, their second kid was a boy, so they were learning how to be parents with them. I'm the first one they really got to relax with and enjoy. I grew up being their sweetheart. But they were (and still are) very strict. They have always pushed me to do better. I would get A's, and I would get a 96, and my dad would say, "You could have gotten a 100." Not enough.

I watched them hold fast in the face of major adversity and disaster. They didn’t miss a beat. They just kept on faithfully believing that “this too shall pass.”

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

Contact Information

Raleigh Law Office

4325 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 100
Raleigh, NC 27607
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