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What Happens if You Can’t Recover From an On-the-Job Injury?

When you’re injured on the job, getting better becomes your job. What happens, though, if you can’t recover fully? Following medical treatment due to a work injury, a medical provider or physician will release an injured worker from treatment once he or she believes that they have reached “maximum medical improvement” or MMI. Basically, the worker is “as good as he or she can get.”

What Happens if I Reach MMI?

Often, despite this release from treatment, an injured worker has not necessarily made a full recovery and continues to suffer from some permanent partial impairment or disability. A medical provider will assign a percentage of impairment to the injured body part once the worker has reached MMI.

Previously, an injured worker could only recover a specified amount if the injury to their particular body part was listed in the WC statutes – and that was their only remedy. This was and is referred to as a “scheduled injury.”

This changed more than 30 years ago, and now, an injured worker may elect the most beneficial remedy available to them, depending on whether it makes more sense to either recover for the scheduled injury or receive partial or total disability benefits. The choice between recovering for the injury and the disability benefits is an important one to consider. For this reason, it is important to consult an attorney to make sure an injured worker is receiving the best outcome for their situation.

What Happens if I am Disfigured, or Have Permanent Scarring?

Sometimes there are instances of serious facial or head disfigurement or serious bodily disfigurement as a result of the work injury. The workers’ compensation law allows certain benefits to be “stacked” or combined.

For example, if an injured worker is assigned an impairment percentage rating to their arm following a surgical procedure, but the arm has permanent disfigurement due to surgical scarring, then he or she may be able to recover not only for the percentage that was assigned by their doctor upon reaching MMI, but also due to the disfigurement. The two benefits stack.

Here’s another example. Let’s say a worker sustains serious burn injuries to their leg, resulting in permanent impairment of the leg. That leg is also permanently disfigured due to the scars from the burns. In this case, he or she may be able to recover for the scheduled injury and percentage of disability that was assigned by their doctor in addition to recovery for disfigurement.

Who Decides How Am I Compensated for Being Disfigured?

Compensation for serious bodily disfigurement is discretionary. Prior case law has defined serious bodily disfigurement as “an outward or external, observable blemish, blot, scar, or mutilation” that is permanent and mars the appearance to the extent it is repulsive to others and it may reasonably impair that person’s ability to secure future employment considering their past work experience, age, and other factors.

There is wide discretion for the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) to determine awards for serious bodily disfigurement and no present loss of wages is required. Compensation for serious facial or head disfigurement, on the other hand, is not discretionary and it is mandatory.

Under the law, the determination of whether an injured worker has sustained serious facial or head disfigurement is a question of fact to be decided by the NCIC. The definition of facial disfigurement is similar to the previous definition for bodily disfigurement but it is slightly different with regard to the ability to obtain future employment. Under the law, the Industrial Commission may award proper and equitable one-time distribution not to exceed $20,000 for serious facial or head disfigurement or an amount not to exceed $10,000 in the case of serious bodily disfigurement.

When Is Permanent Disability Certain?

With regard to permanent disability, under the law, the loss of both hands, or both feet, or both legs, or both eyes, or any two thereof shall constitute total and permanent disability. Regarding vision loss, where there is 85% or more loss of vision in any eye, then this is deemed “industrial blindness” and the injured worker will be compensated for the total loss of vision of that eye.

If You’ve Been Injured at Work, Consult an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Being hurt on the job is tough situation, and some injuries can be truly life-altering. It’s important to know you’re getting the benefits to which you’re entitled, especially if your injury has long term effects. Contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin for a free case evaluation by calling 1-866-900-7078, or you can reach us online.

Can You Claim Workers’ Compensation If You Were Exposed to Coronavirus at Work?

If you haven’t heard of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, you’ve probably been living under a rock. And if that’s the case, you may want to stay there. We’ve all heard stories about people getting quarantined on cruise ships or at hotels due to the fear of the disease spreading. You may have seen someone walking around with a mask covering their face while out at a store or at an airport.

COVID-19 symptoms may manifest anywhere between 2 to 14 days after you’ve been exposed.* Moreover, the symptoms can closely resemble the common cold or flu, so it’s important to stay vigilant with washing your hands and staying home if you feel unwell.

*According to the CDC, this is based on what has been seen previously as the incubation period of MERS-CoV viruses.

What Happens If You Were Exposed to Coronavirus (COVID-19) or Another Dangerous Virus at Work?

Your work may have taken steps to help contain the spread, like asking employees to work from home and grounding all travel. But what happens if you were exposed to coronavirus at work anyway? What if your symptoms don’t show up until later? Does your employer have to cover your medical bills through their workers’ compensation coverage? Are you legally entitled to benefits if you can’t work due to the disease?

As with many things in law, there are no clear-cut black and white answers to whether an infectious disease contracted at work could be covered by workers’ compensation laws. In North Carolina, coverage for workers’ compensation injuries is divided into two broad categories:

  1. Injuries that occurred by an accident or sometimes a specific traumatic event (i.e. spinal injuries or hernias); and
  2. Those caused by an occupational disease

We focus on occupational diseases below, as it is the most directly related to a potential workers’ compensation claim for coronavirus.

North Carolina Workers' Compensation Occupational Diseases

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation: Occupational Diseases

In North Carolina, occupational diseases can be covered either by:

For example, certain conditions like asbestosis and silicosis are assumed to be occupational diseases in nature. They fall under a category that is listed and covered by state law.

Diseases that are not listed are only covered by workers’ comp if they are peculiar to a trade, occupation, or employment. The law goes on to exclude ordinary diseases of life when the public is equally exposed to the risk, like the common cold or flu.

COVID-19 is, for now, a relatively rare condition in the state, but there are already several confirmed cases in North Carolina. Exposure to the condition has been limited as those infected were told to self-quarantine in their homes. However, just because it is a rare condition does not mean it is an ordinary disease like the flu or a common cold.

Does the Nature of Your Work Put You More at Risk to Exposure to Coronavirus?

A person’s employment may put them in contact with the virus if they travel for work to an area where they are unwittingly exposed to other carriers of the virus. So if you travel for work and are exposed to coronavirus, do you automatically have a workers’ compensation claim? It depends. Simply being exposed in a work setting will not likely be sufficient for it to be covered under workers’ compensation laws. In North Carolina, for an injury to be covered by workers’ comp insurance, the person’s occupation would have to place them more at risk for contracting the virus than the general public. So you may want to ask yourself: Does the nature of my job place me more at risk of being exposed and contracting coronavirus than the general public? One large, and perhaps most obvious, example of a group that this may apply to is healthcare workers.

North Carolina Healthcare Workers, Coronavirus, and Workers’ Comp Laws

At the forefront of the battle against novel coronavirus, healthcare workers serve a vital role for diagnosis and treatment of the illness. Healthcare workers certainly would be a category of people who cannot avoid contact with a potentially infected person due to the nature of their work. We also know that more healthcare workers have contracted the virus than any other profession, and it has recently been reported that nearly 3,000 Chinese healthcare workers have gotten the coronavirus.

In North Carolina, simply being a healthcare worker may not be sufficient for employers to be required to extend coverage through workers’ compensation laws in the state. Even if a healthcare worker could prove that they were more at risk for contracting the disease, they would not necessarily be able to prove the claim.

A final element of proving you are entitled to coverage would be showing the work caused the condition. If a condition becomes commonplace, it is unlikely that you would be able to prove the condition arose at the employment. This may be a smaller hurdle due to the limited number of cases of coronavirus currently. However, it still could be a hurdle that would prevent a healthcare worker from obtaining necessary medical and disability coverage.

One fix for healthcare workers who are particularly at risk would be for the North Carolina legislature to mandate coverage for COVID-19 as a listed disease. It may be worth considering from a public policy standpoint to protect people who are placing their lives at risk to care for the injured and sick. Healthcare workers are in a demanding occupation with long hours and difficult jobs. Providing special protection for these workers would perhaps make sense given the nature of the risk we currently face.

NC Workers’ Compensation Lawyers: We’re Here for You

As we at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 pandemic, we also continue to serve our clients who were injured at work. We are committed to working with, and for, our clients, even as we remain vigilant of how this pandemic will affect our state.

If you were injured at work in North Carolina, please do not hesitate to call us at 1-866-900-7078 or contact us here.

¿Puede Usted Reclamar Compensación Laboral si Usted estuvo Expuesto al Coronavirus en su Trabajo?

Si no ha escuchado de la pandemia del coronavirus (COVID-19), usted probablemente ha estado viviendo bajo una roca. Si este es el caso, es preferible que se quede allí. Todos hemos escuchado historias de personas aisladas en cruceros o en hoteles por miedo a propagar la enfermedad. Usted puede haber visto a alguien caminando con una máscara cubriendo su rostro en una tienda o en un aeropuerto.

Los síntomas del COVID-19 pueden manifestarse en cualquier momento entre 2 a 14 días luego de haber estado expuesto.* Además, los síntomas son muy parecidos a los del resfriado o influenza, así que es importante mantenerse vigilante al lavarse las manos y quedarse en su casa si se siente enfermo.

*Según el CDC, esto se basa en lo que previamente se ha observado sobre el período de incubación del virus MERS-CoV.

¿Qué sucede si usted estuvo expuestos al Coronavirus (COVID-19) u otro Virus Peligroso en el Empleo?

Su empleo puede haber implementado medidas para contener el propago, como solicitar a los empleados que trabajen desde su casa y detener los viajes. Pero, ¿qué sucede si aun así usted estuvo expuesto al coronavirus en su empleo? ¿Qué tal si sus síntomas no se presentan hasta más tarde? ¿Tiene que su patrono cubrir sus cuentas médicas mediante su cubierta de compensación laboral? ¿Tiene usted derecho a recibir beneficios si no puede trabajar a raíz de la enfermedad?

Como en muchos otros casos, no existe una contestación clara sobre si contraer una enfermedad infecciosa en el trabajo estaría cubierto por las leyes de compensación laboral. En Carolina del Norte, la cubierta de lesiones bajo compensación laboral se divide en dos amplias categorías:

  1. Lesiones que ocurren por accidente o por eventos específicos traumáticos (ej lesiones de la espina o hernias); y
  2. Aquellas ocurridas por enfermedades ocupacionales

A continuación, nos enfocamos en las enfermedades ocupacionales, ya que es lo más directamente relacionado con a una potencial reclamación de compensación laboral por coronavirus.

Compensación Laboral en Carolina del Norte: Enfermedades Ocupacionales

En Carolina del Norte, una enfermedad ocupacional puede ser:

  • Una condición médica o enfermedad que los legisladores determinen esta comúnmente asociada con una ocupación y está incluida en la ley del Estado (vea aquí la lista completa y enumerada de las enfermedades ocupacionales), o
  • Cuando una ocupación pone a alguien en mayor riesgo, que al público en general, de contraer una enfermedad

Por ejemplo, ciertas condiciones como asbestosis y silicosis, se presumen son enfermedades ocupacionales por su naturaleza. Estas caen bajo una de las categorías enumeradas en la ley estatal.

Enfermedades que no están enumeradas, estarán cubiertas por la compensación laboral, solo si son peculiares al oficio, ocupación o trabajo. La ley excluye enfermedades ordinarias de la vida cuando el público está igualmente expuesto al riesgo, como la gripe o influenza.

COVID-19, por ahora, es una condición relativamente rara en el estado, pero ya tenemos varios casos confirmados en Carolina del Norte. La exposición a esta condición ha sido limitada ya que se les ha solicitado a aquellos infectados que permanezcan aislados en sus hogares. No obstante, el que esta sea una condición rara no significa que es una enfermedad ordinaria como la influenza o la gripe.

¿La Naturaleza de su Trabajo lo Pone en Mayor Riesgo de Exponerse al Coronavirus?

El trabajo de una persona puede ponerlos en contacto con el virus si viajan por su trabajo a un área donde pueden estar expuestos a portadores del virus sin su conocimiento. Por tanto, si usted viaja por su trabajo y está expuesto al coronavirus, ¿tiene automáticamente una reclamación de compensación laboral? Depende. El simple hecho de estar expuesto en un escenario de trabajo probablemente no sea suficiente para que esté cubierto bajo las leyes de compensación laboral. En Carolina del Norte, para que una lesión esté cubierta por el seguro de compensación laboral, la ocupación de la persona debe ponerla en mayor riesgo de contraer el virus que al público en general. Así que debería preguntarse a sí mismo: ¿la naturaleza de mi lugar de trabajo me pone en mayor riesgo de estar expuesto y contraer el coronavirus que el público en general? El ejemplo más grande, y tal vez el más obvio, los son los trabajadores del campo de la salud.

Trabajadores del Campo de la Salud de Carolina del Norte, Coronavirus, y Leyes de Compensación Laboral

A la vanguardia de la batalla contra el coronavirus, los trabajadores del campo de la salud sirven un rol vital para el diagnóstico y tratamiento de la enfermedad. Los trabajadores de salud ciertamente pueden ser una categoría de personas que no pueden evitar contacto con sujetos potencialmente infectados, por la naturaleza de su trabajo. Además sabemos que más trabajadores de salud han contraído el virus que en cualquier otra profesión, y recientemente se ha reportado que cerca de 3,000 trabajadores de salud chinos contrajeron el coronavirus.

En Carolina del Norte, el solo hecho de ser un trabajador de salud, puede no ser suficiente para que se les requiera a los patronos extender la cubierta de la ley de compensación laboral en el estado. Aun cuando un trabajador de salud pueda probar que ellos estuvieron en mayor riesgo de contraer la enfermedad, no necesariamente podrán probar su reclamación.

Un elemento final para probar que se tiene derecho a la cubierta, es mostrar que el trabajo causó la condición. Si la condición se torna común, es poco probable que se pueda probar que la condición surgió en el empleo. Esto puede ser un pequeño obstáculo por la cantidad limitada de casos de coronavirus actualmente. No obstante, puede ser un obstáculo que prohíba que los trabajadores de salud puedan obtener la cubierta médica y de incapacidad necesaria.

Un arreglo para los trabajadores de salud que están particularmente en riesgo, sería que la legislatura de Carolina del Norte ordene cubierta para el COVID-19 como una enfermedad enumerada. Se debe considerar, desde el punto de vista de la política pública para proteger a las personas que están arriesgando sus vida para cuidar de los enfermos y lesionados. Los trabajadores de salud están en una ocupación exigente con largas horas y trabajos difíciles. Proveer una protección especial para estos trabajadores tendría sentido dada la naturaleza del riesgo al que actualmente nos enfrentamos.

Abogados de Compensación Laboral de NC: Estamos Aquí para Usted

Mientras nosotros, Las Oficinas Legales de James Scott Farrin, continuamos monitoreando la pandemia del COVID-19, continuamos sirviendo a nuestros clientes que se lesionaron en el empleo. Estamos comprometidos con trabajar con y para nuestros clientes, aun cuando permanecemos vigilantes de cómo esta pandemia afectara nuestro estado.

Si usted sufrió una lesión en el trabajo en Carolina del Norte, no dude en llamarnos al 1-866-900-7078 o contáctenos aquí.

El Sr. Harbin se unió a Las Oficinas Legales de James Scott Farrin en el 2003 y se convirtió en accionista de la Firma en el 2008. Practica en el Departamento de Compensación Laboral de la Firma y es un Especialista Certificado por la Junta de Carolina del Norte. El Sr. Harbin recibió su J.D. de la Escuela de Derecho de la Universidad de Carolina del Norte, y su B.A. de la Universidad de Carolina del Norte en Charlotte. Previo a unirse a la Firma, el Sr. Harbin trabajó en la Comisión Industrial como un SubComisionado Especial.

Learning From the Brier Creek Trench Collapse – a Workers’ Compensation Case

The trench collapse in Brier Creek, Durham, NC, on Wednesday, January, 15, 2020, was a tragedy in every sense of the word. The accident happened on a construction site where workers were digging for a new gas station. While the direct cause of the accident is unknown, the heartbreaking effects are. Two men were injured – one seriously. Another man lost his life.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who were injured, and especially to the loved ones of the man who was killed. Now, we want to understand the accident, the aftermath, and the actions they may be able to take.

What Happened in Brier Creek?

The construction company in charge of the project is D R Mozeley out of Charlotte. Their subcontractor, J Squared Plumbing out of Georgia, was performing the work. The company reported that workers were scheduled to be performing work in a three foot well, not a deeper trench. However, a worker on site stated that the hole they were working in was deeper. Durham Fire Chief Iannuzzi said he did not know how deep the trench was originally, but it was six- to eight-feet deep after the collapse.

A supervisor for a construction team that was not working on the site, but was nearby, mentioned that the recent period of rainfall made conditions more difficult, adding the weight of water to the earth being excavated.

Once the truth is known, more legal proceedings may come. One thing that is not in doubt, however, is that the workers involved need help.

What’s Next: Taking Care of Injured Workers

In the aftermath of a work-related accident, there are investigations and often the shifting of blame. In the meantime, the injured workers and their families are likely entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. For the worker who lost his life, the process and benefits are slightly different.

For the injured workers, they’ll need to file a workers’ compensation claim. You can learn how to file and possible benefits by clicking here. There are time limits involved, and a specific order in which to do things.

For workers killed on the job, a wrongful death claim must be entered. You can learn more about wrongful death claims and survivor benefits by clicking here. There are still time limits involved, so it is important to act as soon as possible.

It’s worth noting that workers may also be able to file third party liability claim in addition to a workers’ compensation claim. Third party liability claims are levied against someone besides the employer whose negligence or recklessness may have contributed to the worker’s injury.

What Is Trenching and Who Makes the Safety Rules?

Construction work is one of the more dangerous day-to-day jobs. Opportunities for injury are present throughout the working day, from tools, to vehicles, to environmental hazards.

Construction sites have strict safety regulations and protocols in place to keep workers safe, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) enforces those rules. There are specific safety rules for excavation and trenching. OSHA defines excavation as “any man-made cut, cavity, trench, or depression in the earth’s surface formed by earth removal. A trench is defined as a narrow underground excavation that is deeper than it is wide, and is no wider than 15 feet (4.5 meters).”

Federal regulations applicable to trenching and excavation operations are located in Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations (29 CFR) States may have similar, stricter codes in place.

In the case of the Brier Creek trench collapse, an investigation will likely be conducted to see if proper safety protocols were followed, and if not, who was negligent in their omission.

Tragedies and Trends in Excavation Work

After a spike in trench-related construction deaths in the early 2000s, OSHA performed an investigation, which led to an emphasis campaign to highlight ways to trench safely. At the time, the study showed that proper protective systems were only used 24% of the time. In 68% of the accidents, environmental factors played a role, but in 86% of the accidents, the supervisor was not on-site at the time the accident occurred.

A report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that, between 2014 and 2016, trench-related deaths rose dramatically. In 2013, there were 13 deaths. In 2016, there were 36.

An additional complication for workers’ compensation claims in cases of trench collapse is that there are often multiple contractors or companies working the same site. This may complicate the workers’ compensation claim, but there also may be reason to file a third party liability claim. An experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney can analyze the facts and explain your options.

Contact an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney

For victims of workplace injuries and their families, that weekly paycheck is a lifeline. Medical benefits can keep the bills from piling up as well. Some insurance companies may try to deny benefits when possible, so it’s important to have someone working for your best interest.

Call 1-866-900-7078 or contact the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin by clicking here. We’ll fight to protect your rights, your benefits, and try to help ensure you’re treated fairly.

Shocking Story of Denied Workers’ Comp Claim

Jolene* was a 32-year-old beautician when she suffered a significant wrist injury working for her employer. Her wrist was hurt so badly that within a few months of her injury, she needed surgery to get better. Then she spent a lot of time out of work and couldn’t earn wages.

The workers’ compensation insurance company should have accepted responsibility for Jolene’s injury and paid her benefits, but it didn’t. Instead, the insurance company denied the claim. (Shockingly, this happens more than you might realize.)

This is the story of how the workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin successfully* fought the insurance company on Jolene’s behalf.

Workers’ Comp Insurance Company Pretends to Do the Right Thing

In the early weeks after Jolene was hurt at work, the insurance company acted like it was going to do the right thing. It sent Jolene to the doctor to see why her wrist hurt and why she couldn’t lift anything with her arm. An honest individual, Jolene told the doctor that during her freshman year in college, she had a few minor problems with her other wrist, but nothing that ever required medical treatment.

That was all the insurance company needed to know. Even though Jolene’s prior wrist issues happened over a decade earlier and never required medical treatment, the insurance company used this irrelevant medical history to deny responsibility for the recent work-related injury to the wrist.

Workers’ Comp Insurance Company Denies Rightful Claim

By the time Jolene got to the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, her claim had already been denied. We see this a lot. Some people may not consider hiring a workers’ comp attorney until their claim is denied. Waiting until the claim is denied, however, is often a mistake for many reasons – not the least of which are medical considerations.

As we typically do, we went right to work and filed a hearing request to challenge the denial. This would get us in front of a judge so we could plead Jolene’s case. But, as sometimes happens, this can take time. Meanwhile, Jolene got medical treatment using her husband’s health insurance – treatment that included wrist surgery, numerous follow-up visits with the doctor, and extensive physical therapy.

Before an injured worker can make their case to a judge, they and their attorney have to meet with the attorney for the workers’ compensation insurance company to try to reach a settlement. This is called mediation. At Jolene’s mediation, the workers’ compensation insurance company tried to lowball Jolene and pressure her to accept an insultingly low settlement. We told Jolene we should take the fight to court, and she agreed.

We Convinced Judge to Order Insurance Company to Pay Up*

After the first hearing in Jolene’s case, the judge ruled that she was indeed hurt on the job and that the insurance company was responsible for her injury. The judge ordered the insurance company to pay Jolene medical and wage benefits. Jolene had waited a long time for this decision – two years after her injury, in fact.

The insurance company wouldn’t stop fighting. It appealed to a panel of several judges. Again, the judges ordered the insurance company to accept responsibility for Jolene’s injury and to pay medical and wage benefits. By this time, Jolene was on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills and was owed tens of thousands of dollars in wage benefits.

The insurance company in Jolene’s case hoped she would just go away or accept a lowball offer.

But Jolene didn’t do either. With the help of her workers’ comp attorney and the worker’s comp team, Jolene had her day in court and got several different judges to tell the insurance company that they were wrong to deny her any longer.

Insurance Company Ignores Judge – Still Wont’ Pay

Alas… the fight isn’t over. As sometimes happens, work injuries (any injury) can require subsequent medical treatment. Jolene was recommended to undergo another surgery, and the insurance company started its old tricks again – refusing to pay for the surgery. And just like last time, Jolene and the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin went back to court to fight them, so she could get the treatment she needed to get better, get back to work, and support her family.

Free Workers’ Comp Case Evaluation From James Scott Farrin

This story could be any one of a hundred cases we handle at any given time.

It is not until some injured workers realize that they may not be in good hands with their workers’ comp insurance company that they come to us.

If you have been injured on the job, contact us immediately or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation. We’ll let you know what we can potentially do to help you try to get maximum benefits for your injury.

*Name and personal information have been changed to protect privacy. Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.


Will workers’ comp pay for new injuries that develop after my initial work injury?

“I injured my left knee at work, but now my right knee is hurting because I am putting more weight on it. Will workers’ compensation pay for treatment to my right knee?”

I guess some insurance company adjusters never learned the kids song, Dry Bones … “The foot bone’s connected to the leg bone…and the leg bone’s connected to the hip bone…”

While I mention this example in jest, there’s nothing to joke about when another part of your body starts hurting after your initial work injury. While this can happen quite often, just as often I have found that many insurance adjusters try to refuse to pay for medical treatment for other body parts that start hurting after the initial injury.

The good news is our experienced workers’ comp lawyers know how to try not to let them get away with this one-sided tactic.

Common Examples of Referred Pain

Referred pain is common. For example:

  • Joe injures his right foot. After using a cane for month or so, he starts having pain in the left hand from the pressure of leaning on the cane. Will the insurance company pay for left hand treatment?
  • After a shoulder injury, Mary starts feeling pain in her neck which radiates down her arm. Will the insurance company pay for her to have an MRI of her neck?
  • Martin hurts his knee at work. After a few months of limping, he starts having low back pain because of an altered gait. Is the insurance company going to pay for back treatment?

In each of these instances, my experience has been that some insurance companies will do everything they can to deny new treatment. Here’s why.

The majority of insurance companies are for-profit businesses. They may try very hard to pay as little as possible on claims because this is more money they get to keep. That is why when you report your work injury, you had better tell them about every single body part you injured. If you fail to mention a body part at the beginning of a claim, it can often be difficult to get the insurance company to pay for any medical treatment for it. (That is why we suggest injured workers to contact us immediately after an injury. We can help frame initial injuries in a way that may potentially help get other parts paid for if they stem from the work injury.)

Will Workers’ Comp Pay for New Medical Issues?

It is difficult to get insurance companies to pay for new medical problems that arise while your body is recovering from the initial work injury. Let’s say an infection set in after surgery from a work injury, and you had to take strong antibiotics, which resulted in severe ulcerative colitis. According to workers’ compensation law, a subsequent injury, whether an aggravation of the original injury or a new and distinct injury, is compensable if it is the direct and natural result of a prior compensable injury.

In order to get the insurance company to accept responsibility for the new medical problems that crop up after a work injury, you must have medical evidence from doctors that the new problems are the direct and natural result of the work injury. But don’t think that the hand-picked workers’ comp doctor will simply agree that subsequent issues are indeed the direct result of your initial injury. I have often seen the opposite to be the case.

Contact NC Workers’ Comp Attorneys Soon After Your Work Injury

Err on the side of caution and contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin as soon as possible after your work injury. Our experienced and formidable lawyers will fight for your right to get medical treatment, not only for your immediate work injuries, but also for all the medical conditions that you may develop as a result.

There is a lot to know about workers’ compensation law, and the system is difficult, if not nearly impossible, to navigate successfully on your own. The sooner you hire the professional legal team at James Scott Farrin, the better we can fight to protect your rights.

Even if you don’t think you may need a lawyer, contact us anyway, or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation. Sometimes we are able to offer simple and direct advice even if we don’t think you need a lawyer.

Does Workers’ Comp Pay for Pain & Suffering?

You’ve been hurt at work, and the pain and suffering you’ve experienced have been real. Physical pain and mental suffering, strains on your finances and personal relationships, and a general sense that your life is spinning out of control are often part of recovering from a work injury.

So when it comes time to settle your workers’ compensation case, you might think you’ll be paid for all the pain and suffering you’ve gone through. Unfortunately, that is incorrect.

Workers’ Comp Will not Pay You for Pain & Suffering

Fair or not, the law doesn’t require insurance companies to pay you for pain and suffering when you are hurt on the job. So it’s important to try to make sure the insurance company is paying you the full benefits the law does require. Sadly, we have seen some insurance companies seemingly work overtime just to save themselves money by denying you the benefits you are owed. Here are actual stories of this type of bad behavior.

3 Things Workers’ Comp Will Pay For

Workers’ compensation pays you for three kinds of benefits: a partial wage benefit, the cost of medical treatment, and the value of any permanent loss of use of your injured body part. Click here to find out more about your benefits payments.

Weekly Wage Benefits

When you’re hurt on the job and are unable to work while you recover, the law requires the insurance company to pay you a weekly wage benefit. The benefit is supposed to be two thirds of your average weekly wage. Often, some insurance companies will drag their feet in sending you these checks. Other times, some insurance companies may pay you less than you are entitled to receive.

Medical Benefits

Some insurance companies may also try to delay your medical treatment. The law is clear that if you are hurt on the job, the insurance company must pay for treatment that your authorized doctor recommends. But some insurance companies have been known to try to dodge this responsibility. We have seen many simply refuse to authorize treatment or attempt to send you to another doctor who they think will be more conservative about your treatment.

Permanent Disability

At the end of your claim, a doctor may decide that you suffer from some permanent disability. You are entitled to payment for this disability. Again, some insurance companies may try to save money by sending you to a doctor who they think may give an opinion about your disability that is more favorable to the insurance company.

Why You Need an NC Workers’ Comp Lawyer

The workers’ compensation laws in North Carolina are very complex. Because you can receive only limited damages in a workers’ compensation case, it’s important to seek the advice of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. With over 20 years of experience handling workers’ comp claims, the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin can work with you to try to maximize your recovery and push the insurance company to pay everything required under the law.

Why choose us over the hundreds of other workers’ compensation attorneys
throughout NC? Click here for some very good reasons.

Get a Free Case Evaluation From NC Workers’ Comp Attorneys

Sad but true, the insurance companies do not have to pay you for pain and suffering, and the law lets them get away with that. But that is not good enough for the insurance companies. They may try to add insult to injury by trying to deny you the benefits the law does allow you.

We fight to try to make sure that doesn’t happen. Contact us or call 1-866-900-7078 if you have been hurt on the job, and we can discuss the benefits you may be owed and the best way to try to make the insurance company pay.


What Does it Mean When You Hire an Attorney Who’s a North Carolina Board Certified Specialist?

There are about 29,000 North Carolina licensed attorneys*.

Less than 4%* are North Carolina Board Certified Specialists, and ten of them practice right here at our firm.

While N.C. board certification isn't offered for personal injury/car accident practice areas (or many other types of practice areas), it is offered for workers' compensation and Social Security disability law.

N.C. State Bar Board Certification Explained

So what exactly 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.

It's a little like commercial pilot training. Certain airports with particularly dangerous runways or topography require specialized pilot training and certification to fly into. Think Princess Juliana International Airport in St. Martin in the Caribbean.

Would you want a pilot without certified experience and specialized skill landing this plane?

Now unlike pilot certifications, a lack of specialization does not prevent an attorney from practicing, but it does indicate a certain level of expertise and accomplishment.

The North Carolina State Bar puts it another way: "Certification of lawyers as specialists by an objective entity and according to objective criteria fulfills the mission of the State Bar to protect the public by providing relevant, truthful, and reliable information to consumers of legal services. Certification helps consumers to identify lawyers who have experience and skill in a certain area of practice. Certification also helps lawyers by encouraging them to improve their expertise in particular areas of practice and providing them with a legitimate way of informing the public and other lawyers of this expertise."

North Carolina State Board Certification Requirements

North Carolina is one of only 18 states that offer a legal certification program. Although requirements vary from one specialty area to the next, to meet the minimum requirements, the applicant must:

  • Be licensed and in good standing to practice law in North Carolina
  • Be substantially involved in the practice area, usually for a minimum of five years
  • Take a certain number of continuing legal education credits in the specialty area during the three years prior to application
  • Be reviewed satisfactorily by their peers
  • Achieve a satisfactory score on a written examination in the practice area

10 N.C. Board Certified Specialists at James Scott Farrin

If you are looking for an attorney who is a NC Board Certified specialist in workers’ compensation law or Social Security disability law, you won’t find many. Less than 1% of all North Carolina licensed attorneys are Board Certified Specialists in workers’ compensation law*. There are even fewer in Social Security disability law – about 0.1%*, in fact. We have ten of those specialists here at our firm. Click here or call us toll free at 1-866-900-7078 to speak to one of them for FREE.

9 Workers' Compensation Specialists

Doug Berger joined us in 2005 and is a shareholder of the firm. Doug is a former North Carolina Senator and also served as a Deputy Commissioner at the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) for 10 years.

Ryan Bliss joined the firm in 2012 after having been a worker's compensation defense attorney representing insurance companies. This experience allowed him to see how workers' compensation law is practiced from both sides. Super Lawyers magazine listed Ryan as a "Rising Star"3 in workers’ compensation law in 2018.

Matt Harbin joined the firm in 2003 and became a shareholder in 2008. Matt was appointed by (former) North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue to a two-and-a-half-year term on the North Carolina Commission for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Substance Abuse Services, which he recently completed.

Matthew Healey ran a workers' compensation department at another N.C. firm prior to joining our firm. He has been selected to Best Lawyers in America's2 annual list of workers' compensation lawyers every year since 2013. North Carolina Super Lawyers listed him as a "Rising Star"3 from 2010–2013 and a "Super Lawyer"4 from 2014–2016. Best Lawyers went a step further and named Matthew as a workers' compensation "Lawyer of the Year"5 for Raleigh in 2015 and 2017.

Barry Jennings joined us in 2006 and is a shareholder of the firm. Barry has earned the designation of "Rising Star"3 by North Carolina Super Lawyers in 2011, 2012, and 2013. He was selected to Best Lawyers in America's2 annual list of workers' compensation lawyers every year since 2015. Additionally, he received the 2015 6Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ designation — the gold standard in attorney ratings.

Daniel Lehrer joined the firm in 2019 handling workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Daniel’s background also includes Social Security disability law.

Michael Mackay joined the firm in 2001 and is head of the firm's workers' compensation department as well as a shareholder of the firm. After having worked for one of the largest insurance defense firms in North Carolina, Mike had a change of heart. He resolved to try to protect the rights of individuals and those of their families instead of representing corporate interests.

Michael Roessler joined the firm in 2015, after having represented personal injury and workers’ compensation clients for more than five years. He is passionate about representing marginalized members of the community and is an advocate of individuals’ rights.

Susan Vanderweert represented insurance companies and employers for more than 12 years before joining our firm. Susan has received the 2016 6Martindale-Hubbell® Peer Review Ratings™ designation — the gold standard in attorney ratings.

Social Security Disability Specialist at James Scott Farrin

Rick Fleming joined the firm in 2002 and is a shareholder and head of the firm's Social Security disability department. He is admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States. Rick is also the Fourth and DC Circuits representative for the National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives (NOSSCR) Board of Directors, and serves on the Nominations and Elections Committee for the NOSSCR. Additionally, he is vice chair of the N.C. State Bar's Social Security Disability Law Specialty Committee.

North Carolina Worker's Comp and Social Security Disability Specialists

While you probably would not want these attorneys piloting your Airbus A340 as it approaches the St. Martin runway, these board certified specialists have been highly trained and vetted to try to guide clients through what can sometimes be a turbulent battle for just compensation.

Get a FREE Case Evaluation from NC Lawyers

If you think you can't afford them (or any of our attorneys), think again. All of our attorneys work on a contingency fee basis to try to help our clients navigate the best course of action for their specific situation.

Feel free to contact us by clicking here or calling us toll free at 1-866-900-7078. We'll have an attorney evaluate your case for FREE.

* Figures and percentages provided by the N.C. State Bar as of December 31, 2018.

Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers® has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Best Lawyers lists are compiled based on an exhaustive peer-review evaluation. Almost 87,000 industry leading lawyers are eligible to vote (from around the world), and Best Lawyers has received almost 10 million evaluations on the legal abilities of other lawyers based on their specific practice areas around the world. For the 2019 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America©, 7.8 million votes were analyzed, which resulted in almost 60,000 leading lawyers being included in the new edition. Lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed; therefore inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor. Corporate Counsel magazine has called Best Lawyers "the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice." For more information regarding the standards for inclusion, visit

To be eligible for inclusion in Rising Stars, a candidate must be either 40 years old or younger or in practice for 10 years or less. Rising Stars undergo a rigorous, multiphase process which combines peer nominations with third-party research. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are made annually on a state by state basis. While up to 5% of the lawyers in any state are named "Super Lawyers," by Super Lawyers magazine, no more than 2.5% are named to the Rising Stars list. For more information regarding the standards for inclusion, visit

Super Lawyers undergo a rigorous, multiphase process which combines peer nominations with third-party research. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are made annually on a state-by-state basis. For more information regarding the standards for inclusion, visit

5 Only a single lawyer in each practice area and designated metropolitan area is honored as the "Lawyer of the Year," making this accolade particularly significant. Lawyers being honored as "Lawyer of the Year" are selected based on particularly impressive voting averages received during the exhaustive peer-review assessments conducted with thousands of leading lawyers each year. Receiving this designation reflects the high level of respect a lawyer has earned among other leading lawyers in the same communities and the same practice areas for their abilities, their professionalism, and their integrity. For more information regarding the standards for inclusion, visit

For more information regarding the standards for peer review ratings, visit

Work Injury? Report it Immediately (and in Writing)

If you sustain an injury on the job, it’s extremely important for you to notify your employer as quickly as possible.

If you don’t tell someone, you might lose your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits altogether. Here are some general rules of thumb for North Carolina workers’ compensation claims.

When should I report my injury?

The sooner, the better! And do it in writing.

Our workers’ compensation laws require us to provide written notice to our employer within 30 days of the injury. The primary exception to this rule would be if the employer had “actual notice” of the injury (i.e., they witnessed the injury as it happened). Just to be safe, you should always provide written notice of your injury to your employer as soon as possible, regardless of the circumstances. If you’re physically unable to do so, ask a friend or family member to report the injury to your employer, in writing, on your behalf.

How should I report my injury?

As long as the report of the injury is in writing, the sky’s the limit. You can complete a formal accident report, deliver a handwritten letter, type out an email, or even send a text message to your employer. It all counts. However, there are a few important pieces of information you’ll want to include:

  1. Your name and address
  2. The time, place, nature, and cause of the accident
  3. The nature of the resulting injury

Make sure you indicate very clearly that the injury happened at work or while on the job. Also, save a copy of the correspondence just in case you need to prove at some point down the road that you reported your injury.

Who should I report my injury to?

If your employer doesn’t have a formal reporting process in place, the best practice would be to report your injury, in writing, to someone in a position of authority. Does your company have a human resources department? Are you able to reach your direct supervisor or general manager?

Don’t assume that your employer has received notice of your injury just because you texted one of your coworkers about it. Try to get your written report into the hands of someone higher up the chain than you.

Don’t be denied just because you were unfamiliar with workers’ comp laws

The nuances in workers’ compensation law are many and varied – and they can be complicated to the uninitiated. When reporting your accident and describing how it happened, we have seen many people denied simply because they unwittingly described the accident in a manner that pit the laws against them. They told the truth, but were unfamiliar with how workers’ comp laws view certain types of accidents.

Click here for precautions to take to try to prevent an unwarranted denial from happening to you.

Free Case Evaluation from NC Workers’ Comp Lawyers

That is why we always urge injured workers to contact us immediately after a work injury for a free case evaluation. (We are sometimes able to offer advice on your situation, even if you don’t hire us.) If you have been injured in a work accident, contact us immediately or call 1-866-900-7078.

P.S. Here are lots of good reasons we believe you should hire us to handle your workers’ compensation claim.

Does Your Company Put Your Safety First?

Employers have two very important issues they must constantly balance: the safety of their employees and the demanding productivity to meet the needs of consumers.

In an attempt to meet consumer demands, this balance can sometimes favor productivity too heavily. When this happens, it puts employees at risk. And that can, according to a recent report, harm overall productivity.

Fewer Injuries Beget Greater Company Profit

According to a 2017 report by the Lockton Companies  (the world’s largest privately-held insurance firm), a culture that emphasizes safety first will reduce employee injuries and increase profits. The report notes a number of direct and indirect effects that emphasizing productivity can cause at the expense of employee safety.

For example, a company with a 3% profit margin and that suffers 10 employee strain injuries may have to increase their sales by more than $20 million just to cover the costs associated with those 10 injuries. (It’s little wonder, some insurance companies may try to pay as little as possible to injured workers.) This figure reflects direct costs, such as medical costs and indemnity payments. There are indirect costs, too, like lost time from work, increasing insurance premiums, costs associated with training new employees, and legal issues.

Lockton insists that companies should create a culture of safety in the workplace by establishing detailed rules and visibly enforcing and practicing them.

US Workplace Fatalities Trending Upward

But not all employers establish and enforce safety rules, and the report illuminates this concern. Many companies and managers talk the talk, but don’t necessarily walk the walk. This failure to establish and carry out appropriate safety practices not only harms productivity but can sometimes cost employees their lives.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of employees who die on the clock nationwide has been inching upward since 2013, and North Carolina’s rise in workplace deaths parallels this alarming trend.

Accidents happen, and there is always the possibility of injuries that cannot be prevented through safety training. But when North Carolina workers suffer preventable injuries or deaths, they need an advocate who can stand up and fight on their behalf.

Why James Scott Farrin Workers’ Comp Attorneys?

We are committed to trying to help North Carolina workers and their families find justice in every potential nook and cranny the law allows. Our workers’ comp attorneys are experienced, tough on adversaries, and care about their clients. Who’s on the team?

  • Several former insurance company defense attorneys and paralegals.
    We’ve worked for the “other side,” so we know what you’re up against.
  • More than half of our workers’ comp attorneys are NC Board Certified Specialists in Workers' Compensation law.
    This is the highest level of specialization available in NC, and only a small percentage of NC attorneys can make that claim. Very small.
  • Two former North Carolina Industrial Commissioners
    The North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) is the impartial agency that administers and enforces workers' compensation laws.
  • A former North Carolina State Senator
    He was elected to serve the seventh district of North Carolina for four terms. And he helped write some of North Carolina’s workers’ compensation laws.
  • Several recognized experts in workers’ compensation
    Several of our attorneys have more than 10 years of experience. Some speak at seminars for other workers’ compensation attorneys. Others have authored books about other areas of law, and two have collected coveted awards for workers’ compensation, including “Best Lawyer*” and “Rising Star”*. One was named “Super Lawyer”* three times and “Lawyer of the Year”* for Raleigh twice.
  • Attorneys who give back
    Attorneys who join our side do it because they want to be advocates. This takes a certain mindset and special heart for service. And service to others is not something we take lightly. Nearly every one of our workers' comp attorneys is a member of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of legal representation in our state. Many are very active members in their communities – from teaching at local colleges to counseling the Spanish-speaking community.

Get a Free Case Evaluation by NC Job Injury Lawyers

Show management that you mean business by contacting us online or calling 1-866-900-7078 to discuss your workers’ compensation claim today.


* For more information regarding the standards for inclusion for Best Lawyers and Lawyer of the Year, visit For more information regarding the standards for inclusion for Super Lawyers and Rising Stars, visit

Contact Information

Asheville Law Office

300 Ridgefield Court Suite 309
Asheville, NC 28806
Phone: 828-552-8215
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Charlotte Law Office

301 S McDowell St, Suite 900
Charlotte, NC 28204
Phone: 704-599-1078
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

2915 Raeford Road, Suite 204
Fayetteville, NC 28303
Phone: 910-488-0611
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Goldsboro Law Office

1308 Wayne Memorial Drive, Suite B
Goldsboro, NC 27534
Phone: 919-731-2581
Toll Free: 1-866-900-7078

Greensboro Law Office

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

Greenville Law Office

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

Henderson Law Office

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

Morganton Law Office

216 N. Sterling Street, Suite B
Morganton, NC 28655
Phone: 828-219-3080
Toll Free: 1-844-520-2894

New Bern Law Office

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

Raleigh Law Office

4325 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 100
Raleigh, NC 27607
Phone: 919-834-1184
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

144 Woodridge Court
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