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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.

Denied Treatment by Workers’ Comp? You Have More Rights Than You Know

Many people call in and tell me that the workers’ compensation insurance company is not paying for all their medical bills. Understandably, this is a very worrisome situation.

If a workers’ compensation claim has been accepted, the law requires that the employer and its workers’ compensation insurance company provide medical treatment and pay the bills for any treatment that is “medically necessary.” That same law, however, gives the employer and its insurance company the right to “direct” any employee’s medical care.

What I have seen happen is that the workers’ compensation carrier will not pay for visits to a doctor that they did not pre-approve. Certainly, the workers compensation carrier is typically liable for any medical bills incurred from EMS and emergency room visits. But outside of these general and necessary bills, my experience has been, you may have to fight for what you want.

Workers’ compensation is responsible for paying for medical visits, diagnostic tests, epidural steroid shots, physical therapy, surgery, and related rehabilitation services that are deemed medically necessary. If, for example, you want them to pay for home care by a relative, that is typically not compensated, unless the relative is a licensed medical provider.

What Is Covered Under NC Workers’ Compensation?

If you have an accepted workers' compensation claim in North Carolina, you are entitled to medical benefits. This usually includes things like doctor's appointments, physical therapy, prescriptions, and even surgery. To put it simply, medical benefits for any treatments that help you recover from your injury.

Compensation can include, in many instances:

  • Travel costs to and from medical appointments (if more than 20 miles round-trip)
  • Attendant care
  • Medical equipment
  • Home or vehicle modifications

The workers’ comp insurance company is responsible for 100% of your approved medical expenses, so you are not responsible for co-pays as with regular health insurance.

Who Controls Your Care Under Workers’ Comp?

In North Carolina, your workers’ comp insurance carrier has the right to choose which doctors you see, when you see them, and which treatments you receive. (They may even appoint one of their approved nurses to “watch over” you. Click here for more about who these nurses may really be watching out for.) If you refuse certain treatments, they can (and likely will) discontinue benefits.

If you want a second opinion, you have the right to request it. Be forewarned. The insurance company might deny your request or try to direct which doctor you see before they agree to pay for treatment.

You have the option of requesting to see your own doctor. Based on my experience, however, the insurance company is likely to refuse to pay for that. If your doctor makes any new treatment recommendations, they will probably refuse to pay for those too. If you choose to pay for the treatment on your own, they may not reimburse you.

Delay, Deny, Defend Schemes Do Not Deter Us

As you've probably guessed, these issues can (and usually do) lead to lots of problems for the injured worker who is only trying to heal so they can get back to work and get on with their life. Yet instead of moving on and healing, many of them find themselves wrestling with their insurance company over denied medical treatments.

We’ve seen so much of these denial tactics that we developed a book called Insurance Companies (and Others) Behaving Badly.

I have been a lawyer for more than 25 years and I’d like to be able to say I have seen it all when it comes to insurance company denials. Truth be known, they seem to never stop inventing new reasons to try to deny injured workers. But their denials don’t deter me or any of our other workers’ comp lawyers.

NC Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Offer FREE Case Evaluation

Based on our team’s 150 years of combined experience, it is almost always a good idea to speak with us about your workers’ comp questions and issues. Our confidential case evaluations are free, and you may learn that you’re entitled to more than the insurance company claims.

If workers’ compensation is refusing to pay for any medical treatment, or if they are denying approval of medical treatment, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078 to learn how a workers’ compensation lawyer from the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin could potentially benefit you.

Shocking Stats About NC’s Pedestrian Accidents

I heard an interesting story from a colleague recently about an older pedestrian who was struck by a car traveling at 45 MPH while she was crossing the street. According to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety if a car is going 46 MPH and strikes a pedestrian, there is a 90% chance the pedestrian will sustain a severe injury. The chance of death if struck by a car traveling 42 MPH is 50%.

The woman was in her 70s and was known in the area for her strict exercise regimen, which included lifting weights. Amazingly, she was only badly bruised and suffered no broken bones. Her doctor attributed this miracle to her weight lifting, which kept her bones strong.

This story got me to thinking about pedestrian accidents in North Carolina in general.

Speed Increases Likelihood of Severe Pedestrian Injury

AAA confirms what we all intuitively know – that speed is a major factor contributing to pedestrian accidents and injuries. In fact, increased speed can make a substantial impact on the chances a pedestrian will be killed or badly hurt when struck by a car. Here are the statistics of the potential for chances of serious injury as vehicle speed increases:

  • 16 MPH there is a 10% chance
  • 23 MPH, there is a 25% chance
  • 31 MPH, there is a 50% chance
  • 39 MPH, there is a 75% chance
  • 46 MPH, there is a 90% chance the pedestrian will be severely injured

Chances of Pedestrian Death Due to Speeding Cars

Here are the chances of the potential for death as vehicle speed increases:

  • 23 MPH, there is a 10% chance of death
  • 32 MPH, there is a 25% chance of death
  • 42 MPH, there is a 50% chance of death
  • 50 MPH, there is a 75% chance of death
  • 58 MPH, there is a 90% chance of death

NC Among the Least Safe States for Pedestrians

Over 3,000 pedestrians in North Carolina are hit by cars every year. In fact, North Carolina is one of the most unsafe states in the U.S. for pedestrians. On average, about 160 pedestrians are killed each year in North Carolina, representing about 15% of all traffic fatalities that occur on our roads.

Where Do Most Pedestrian Collisions Occur in NC?

According to a study by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, from 2008 through 2012, most pedestrian collisions, injuries, and deaths, occurred in our Piedmont region (where most people live), followed by the coastal regions and lastly, the mountain areas. (Although the city of Asheville had the most pedestrian collisions of any North Carolina city.)

More than two-thirds (71%) of North Carolina pedestrian collisions over the past ten years occurred within urban areas, and 29% in unincorporated areas.

Pedestrian Safety Tips

What can pedestrians do to try to stay safe? WatchformeNC.org offers these common-sense pedestrian safety tips:

  • Look for cars turning left or right before crossing the street. Don’t assume the driver will stop.
  • Before crossing multiple lanes, be sure each lane of traffic is clear before you cross.
  • Enhance your visibility at night. Walk in well-lighted areas, carry a flashlight, or wear something reflective, such as stickers or armbands.
  • PUT DOWN THE PHONE. Avoid distractions like texting and talking on your cell phone. This diminishes your ability to both hear and see.
  • Follow the rules of the road by obeying traffic signs and signals, including pedestrian traffic signals.
  • Watch for brake lights on a car, which means that a car is about to back up.
  • Cross the street where you have the best view of traffic.
  • At bus stops, cross behind the bus or at the nearest crosswalk.
  • Always walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic and as far from the roadway as you can.

What to Do if You Suffered a Pedestrian Injury

The most important thing is to seek immediate medical attention and follow doctor’s orders.

If you make a claim against the insurance company they will likely contact you to obtain a recorded statement of what happened at the scene. While this can be a necessary step in the investigative process, the recorded statement can sometimes be a trap. Insurance adjusters may try to use the recorded statement against you when it comes time to settle for monetary damages.

Your best course of action with regard to a recorded statement is to contact us first and see if we can help.

NC Pedestrian Accident Lawyers Offer Free Case Evaluation

If you or someone you love has been injured in a pedestrian accident, contact one of our personal injury attorneys as soon as possible. Click here to contact us right away (24/7) or call 1-866-900-7078.

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