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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 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.

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.

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.

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.

Things You Should Know About Your Workers’ Compensation Case

At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, our goal is to try to provide the absolute highest quality legal representation in your workers’ compensation case. The insurance companies already know we mean business. We want to let them know that you mean business too.

While we are fighting for you against the insurance company, we also want to provide you with first-rate customer service. The philosophy of the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin is time tested – treat our clients the way we want to be treated. In a workers’ compensation case, this means keeping you informed and giving you the same quality advice that we would give our loved ones. Many of our clients think of us first when they need quality legal representation for themselves, family, and friends. We are here to serve you. And we encourage you to contact us if you have any questions whatsoever.

We know that suffering a work-related injury can be a major irritant, even in the best circumstances. At worst, it can be a life-shattering event like it was for Christopher. Click here to read his inspiring story. For exactly this reason we strive for your complete satisfaction with our firm’s representation of your case.

Here are some things you should be aware of as we proceed through your workers’ comp case:

  • You are part of your workers’ comp team. The most important part, really. Your participation is key to a potentially successful outcome of your case.
  • Please keep the lines of communication open. We will strive to do the same from our end. We will explain the facets of a workers’ compensation case. For example, how some insurance companies may troll the social media accounts of a claimant to try to find a photo, a post, or other seemingly insignificant evidence and use it to deny medical treatment compensation.
  • Keep up with your medical appointments as best you can. Informing your doctors about all of your injuries is critical. It can mean the difference between an accepted or a denied workers’ compensation case.

Others on Your James Scott Farrin Workers’ Comp Team

Any number of attorneys and paralegals who may work on your case are on your team, as well as the numerous other resources our firm offers.

Several former defense attorneys and paralegals that worked for insurance companies. We’ve worked for the “other side,” so we know what you’re up against. We know some of their delay, deny, and defend strategies because we’ve seen it from the inside.

More than half our workers’ comp attorneys are NC Board Certified Specialists in Workers' Compensation law. This is the highest level of specialization available in North Carolina, 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.

Several recognized experts in workers’ compensation law. Several of our attorneys have more than 10 years of experience. Some speak at seminars for other workers’ compensation attorneys. Others have written books about various areas of law, and two have collected several coveted awards for workers’ compensation, including “Best Lawyer1” and “Rising Star2.” One was named “Super Lawyer3” three times and “Lawyer of the Year4” 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. Of our 13 workers' comp attorneys, 12 are members 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. Serving others is in the DNA of our firm’s culture.

While each workers’ compensation case carries its own unique set of facts and circumstances, the evolutionary process is similar. It can best be described by examining the distinct phases of our process.

The Investigation Phase

The initial phase is one of administration and investigation. This is when we begin to build your case by collecting information such as the NCIC incident reports, reports created by the insurance company’s case managers and adjusters, and in some cases, photographs of your injuries. During this phase, we are gathering information about your accident or injury that is critical for us to try to achieve success.

The Medical Treatment Phase

Next is the medical treatment phase, often called the “healing period.” This is perhaps the source of most frustration for clients. It’s the time when you will be receiving medical treatment for the injuries you sustained. The healing process can be a lengthy one. Patience is more than a virtue – it is a necessity during this phase. You will likely will be assigned a rehabilitation nurse case manager by the insurance company, and we will monitor the medical providers and the rehabilitation nurse to try to ensure that you receive the best treatment possible. The rehabilitation nurse is hired by the insurance company as an overseer, a case manager, or coordinator. These nurses do not work for you, yet they often go with you to your medical appointments and report back to the insurance company. Read more about their role here.

You will eventually reach maximum medical improvement (MMI), which is the end of the healing period. At that point your medical provider will assign you a disability rating and likely release you from treatment. Unless you have specifically requested otherwise, we will not begin to negotiate with the insurance company until you reach this point of your case. Before you reach MMI, we don’t know the extent of your permanent injuries, the permanent work restrictions you may have, and any future medical treatment you might need. Moreover, this is often the best time to seek a second opinion evaluation with a doctor who has not been hand-picked by the insurance company.

The Negotiation Phase

This phase is when we begin the process of resolving your case. Before we can begin negotiations with the insurance company, we make sure we have all of the necessary information:

  • Your disability rating
  • Your permanent physical limitations and work restrictions
  • The future medical treatment you will need as a direct result of your workplace injuries
  • Wage information – including overtime and bonuses – to try to ensure that you are receiving every penny of compensation to which you are entitled

When we have gathered the necessary information, we will perform a thorough and careful evaluation to determine what we believe is the settlement value of your case. We will then call or meet with you to discuss the case value and ensure that all of your questions are answered. During that meeting, we will ask for your authority to submit a settlement demand to the insurance company.

The next step is actual negotiations with the insurance company or their attorney. This is sometimes done informally, but often takes place during a mediated settlement conference. Our clients attend and participate in these conferences. The pledge we make at this stage of your case is to use all our skills and experience to try to negotiate the best possible settlement for you and to help you make the best decision for you and your family.

The North Carolina Industrial Commission must approve all settlements. As such, if your case settles, it can take up to four to six weeks for your settlement check to arrive after the settlement has been reached. We try to shorten this period. We know that this money is critical for your future, and we work hard to try to make sure the settlement is paid expeditiously.

We have many people working behind the scenes on your case. We have dedicated, experienced, and caring professionals at every level working to ensure that we handle your case in a thorough, professional, and timely manner.

NC Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Offer FREE Case Evaluation

We hope this will give you some insight into your James Scott Farrin workers’ compensation team and what you might expect from us. We strive for your total satisfaction as you try to heal, return to work if you are able, and get on with your life.

If you have been injured on the job, contact us or call 1-866-900-7078. Your consultation is free.

 

1 Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers® has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Best Lawyers is based on an exhaustive peer-review survey. For the 24th edition of The Best Lawyers in America (2018) more than 58,000 leading attorneys cast more than 7.4 million votes on the legal abilities of other lawyers in their practice areas. 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 www.bestlawyers.com.

2 Published by Super Lawyers. 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 www.superlawyers.com.

3 Published by Super Lawyers. “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 www.superlawyers.com.

4 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 on the rules of inclusion visit www.bestlawyers.com.

Is Your Insurance Company Looking Out for You or for Their Profits?

I have been practicing workers’ compensation law for over 10 years and am Board Certified as a North Carolina Worker’s Compensation Specialist. Clients and prospective clients ask me all the time, “Can I trust the worker’s compensation insurance company?”

Can You Trust Your Insurance Company?

When I am asked this question, it is typically because the insurance adjuster or the employer that is responsible for providing workers’ compensation benefits to an injured worker has been exceedingly pleasant and easy to work within the workers’ compensation claim – up to a point. In that situation, my prospective client believes that the insurance company is working in their best interests. However, I have to remind them of a basic fact about insurance companies. The majority of insurance companies are for-profit businesses. I believe that for any insurance company seeking a profit, their primary motivation is probably that profit and not the insurance claimant. As such, even though an insurance company can be very pleasant to work with at times in a workers’ compensation matter, they may ultimately be more interested in doing what is best for their company.

If you have not read the book Delay Deny Defend by Rutgers School of Law Professor, Jay M. Feinman, it describes many of their devious tactics and truly bad behavior most people don’t know about. We believe every person who buys insurance should read this book. Delay Deny Defend offers this shocking but factual observation about claim payouts:

“A classic text used to train adjusters, James Markham’s The Claims Environment, states the principle: The essential function of a claim department is to fulfill the insurance company’s promise, as set forth in the insurance policy. . . . The claim function should ensure the prompt, fair, and efficient delivery of this promise.

Beginning in the 1990s, many major insurance companies reconsidered this understanding of the claims process. The insight was simple. An insurance company’s greatest expense is what it pays out in claims. If it pays out less in claims, it keeps more in profits. Therefore, the claims department became a profit center rather than the place that kept the company’s promise.

All insurance companies have an incentive to chisel their customers in order to increase profits. Unum, the largest seller of disability and long-term care insurance in the United States, became notorious for failing to pay what it owed to sick or injured workers. Numerous courts castigated the company for unscrupulous tactics, nonsensical legal arguments, and lack of objectivity amounting to bad faith in denying claims.

Employees who were especially aggressive in denying claims were recognized with the company’s “Hungry Vulture Award.”

Delay Deny Defend Tactics We Have Witnessed

We have seen so much bad behavior from some insurance companies, we produced our own booklet entitled Insurance Companies (and others) Behaving Badly. Here is one story from the booklet that shows how one of our paralegals discovered a very underhanded and ugly way a workers’ comp adjuster tried to save the insurance company money.

“I began working on a project that required me to delve into the case notes of clients who had suffered burn injuries. I remember reading the notes on a particular case and I was absolutely shocked at the insurance company’s aggressive efforts to keep our client from getting prescriptions filled or seeing the doctor. The height of disgust for me was when I read how the insurance company tried to force our client back to work, even though her doctors said she wasn’t ready yet. After reading her case notes, I realized how ugly some insurance adjusters are capable of behaving. Clients should never have to take that, and we will do everything we can to stop it.”

Sadly, you simply cannot trust some insurance companies to act in your best interest. Too much money is at stake.

The Real Reason Adjusters Say You Shouldn’t Hire an Attorney

I have had clients tell me that an insurance adjuster told them that hiring an attorney will only hurt their case and the attorney will only be seeking to take money out of their pocket. I understand why some insurance companies would make such a claim, given their profit motives. They do not want an attorney to become involved. Why? Because they know we are potentially able to point out deficiencies in the way they are assisting in the claim or any additional benefits the injured worker may be entitled to that the insurance company may not be providing in the claim.

When an injured worker has an attorney who can try to make sure they receive what they may be entitled to, then that can affect an insurance company’s bottom line – and not for the better. Insurance companies are keenly aware of this.

In short, it would be prudent to be highly suspicious of trusting an insurance company whose main goal is profit. Some are going to be motivated to speak with an injured worker in the manner that best meets that goal. Despite what they might otherwise say to an injured worker, many are ultimately interested in what is best for the insurance company and only the insurance company.

Why Choose James Scott Farrin Workers’ Comp Attorneys?

Our firm was named one of the “Best Law Firms” for workers’ compensation by U.S. News – Best Lawyers® for the greater Raleigh area* in 2018. That doesn’t happen by accident. Who is on our workers’ compensation team?

Former defense attorneys and paralegals for insurance companies who have worked inside the insurance companies (they know what you’re up against).

More than half our workers’ comp attorneys are NC Board Certified Specialists in Workers' Compensation law. This is an NC State Bar certification denoting a high level of proficiency in a particular practice area. Of the more than 28,000 attorneys licensed in North Carolina, less than 1% (148)** of them are North Carolina board certified specialists in workers’ compensation law.

We have two former North Carolina Industrial Commissioners. The North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) is the impartial agency that administers and enforces workers' compensation laws.

We have a former North Carolina State Senator who was elected to serve four terms. He also helped write some of North Carolina’s workers’ compensation laws.

Many of our attorneys have been acknowledged by colleagues and peers. They are often asked to speak at seminars for other workers’ compensation attorneys. Others are accomplished authors of scholarly articles and two have received coveted awards for workers’ compensation, including Best Lawyers “Best Lawyer*” and NC Super Lawyers Magazine’s “Rising Star*.” One was named NC Super Lawyers Magazine’s “Super Lawyer*” three times and Best Lawyers “Lawyer of the Year*” for Raleigh twice.

Our attorneys are givers and champions of the underdog. Many of them join our side because they are advocates for those without a voice. And that is often the injured worker. Of our 13 workers’ comp attorneys, 12 are members of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of legal representation in our state. Many are active members in their communities – from teaching at local colleges, to counseling the Hispanic/Latino community.

NC Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Offer FREE Case Evaluation

All of our attorneys are advocates dedicated to fighting tooth and nail for each and every client to try to make sure you get the compensation and benefits you may be entitled to under the law. Insurance companies don’t like attorneys like us because they suspect we will find out how they may be working against you. And we often do.

Contact us today or call 1-866-900-7078.

 

* For more information regarding the standards for inclusion for “Best Law Firms” visit www.usnews.com; “Best Lawyers” and “Lawyer of the Year” visit www.bestlawyers.com; “Rising Star” and “Super Lawyers” visit www.superlawyers.com.

  • “Best Lawyers”: Matthew Healey, 2013–2018; Barry Jennings, 2015–2018.
  • “Lawyer of the Year”: Matthew Healey, 2015 and 2017.
  • “Rising Star”: Matthew Healey, 2010–2013; Barry Jennings, 2011–2013.
  • “Super Lawyer”: Matthew Healey, 2014–2016.

** Figures from the N.C. State Bar as of December 31, 2017.

I Got Fired After I Filed for Workers’ Comp. Now What?

Employees in North Carolina are considered “at will” employees. What this means is that your employer can fire you at any time for any reason unless that reason is against the law.

Rightly or wrongly some employees are fired because they file a workers’ compensation claim. This is illegal.

Even so, what we have experienced is that many employers are crafty enough to come up with another explanation for why they are terminating an injured worker that coincidentally filed for a workers’ comp claim. Unless you have a contract of employment, such as through a union, your employer can terminate you even while you are out of work recovering from a work injury. But they won’t admit they are firing you because you filed for a workers’ comp claim.

Based on my nearly 15 years litigating workers’ compensation cases, I have seen some employers make up all kinds of “reasons” why they had to fire an employee.

One employer actually told an employee that he was being fired because he “took too long to heal.” Click here to find out how that employee turned this situation into an inspiring story after he contacted us for help.

You Can Still Get Workers’ Comp Checks if You Were Fired

Even if you are terminated, and you are receiving workers’ compensation, you will still be entitled to receive weekly wage loss checks from workers’ compensation until your doctor says you are able to return to work.

File a Complaint if You’ve Been Fired

If you believe that you have been terminated, suspended, or demoted solely because you filed a workers’ compensation claim, you may file a written complaint with the Commissioner of Labor under the Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA). Your complaint must be filed within 180 days of the alleged violation. Click here for more information.

You can also contact us. If we believe you have a case, we will handle nearly everything for you, so you can focus on trying to heal and go back to work.

Contact James Scott Farrin if You Think You May Have a Claim

If you believe you may have a claim contact the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin to see if one of our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys can help. We will discuss your case with you initially for free. We strive to listen patiently and intently to what has happened to you. We investigate and try to find the facts. We use the skills of our remarkable and caring staff to follow up. If we join forces, we advise you on what we believe is the best course for you. Our firm fights for a fair recovery and for the benefits you may deserve. We fight for you and your family’s future. We don’t back down and we don’t frighten. We stay with it.

If you have the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin on your side, the other side had better be prepared.

6 NC Board Certified Specialists in Workers’ Comp Law

More than half of our workers’ comp attorneys are North Carolina Board Certified in workers’ compensation law. That’s a pretty big deal. Of the more than 28,000 attorneys licensed in North Carolina, less than 1% (148) of them 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

Some employers know their way around the law and may be betting that you do not. Maybe you don’t (why should you?). But we do know the law – we know how to try to make sure your employer keeps it legal so that you are not caught on the defensive just because you were injured on the job.

We strongly urge anyone who has been injured on the job to contact us or call 1-866-900-7078 immediately after their injury. If we can help, we will try to ensure that you get the compensation and benefits you may be entitled to – despite what your employer may try to pull.

 

*Figures provided by the N.C. State Bar as of December 31, 2017.

 

Moving Your Workers’ Comp Claim Forward

You were injured at work. Now you have a workers’ compensation claim. How do you move your claim forward in an effort to try to recover from your injury?

The answer, hands down, is to get medical treatment and provide all necessary medical documentation to show evidence of the medical treatment you are receiving.

Without medical treatment, not only do you risk not getting better, but you also run the risk of stalling your workers’ compensation claim. (In my experience, that’s just what some insurers hope for.) If you do not have proper medical documentation, it makes it easier for the workers’ compensation insurance company to try to deny you the benefits you may be entitled to.

So it is important that when the insurance company is sending you for medical treatment, you follow the doctor’s orders. This means:

  • Attending all appointments as scheduled
  • Taking medication as prescribed
  • Communicating with the doctor about your injuries
  • Following all restrictions the doctor puts you under

These things are important for two reasons. First, the doctor is the medical expert. If he thinks you need to do something to get better, then you need to do it. Second, if you don’t follow your doctor’s orders, the insurance company can try to use that against you. This can mean trying to deny you benefits, potentially short-changing you in settlement discussions, or asking that your weekly checks be suspended, for example. Any of these things could potentially be bad for you (but good for the insurance company.)

The law is clear. When you are hurt on the job and the insurance company admits it is responsible for paying for your treatment, you are entitled to whatever medical treatment your authorized treating doctors recommend for you. That includes not only office visits to be evaluated by the doctors, but whatever tests, prescriptions, therapy, and other treatments they think you need to get better. You can even get paid for mileage in some instances.

That doesn’t mean the insurance company will always voluntarily follow the law.

We have seen some insurance companies responsible for providing treatment try to deny the medical treatment injured workers need to get better and go back to work. They might do this by arguing that the treatment is unrelated to your work injury, or it is a result of a pre-existing condition (we see that one a lot). Some insurance companies may try to tell you it has closed your file. They cannot just abruptly close your file without your knowledge. And other times, we have seen some insurance companies ignore requests for medical treatment in an effort to try to get the injured worker to simply give up the fight and go away. Meanwhile, you won’t be getting any better.

We’ve seen and experienced our share of insurance horror stories – the deceptions, delay and deny tactics, even outright lies in some cases. So many in fact that we developed a book called Insurance Companies (and Others) Behaving Badly.

Our North Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin have the knowledge and experience to fight for you if the insurance company tries to deny you the medical treatment you need to get better. Based on our team’s 150 years of combined experience, it is almost always a good idea to speak with us about your circumstances. Our confidential case evaluations are free, and you may learn that you’re entitled to more than the insurance company claims.

But don’t wait until it is too late. The sooner you contact us after your job injury the better. We can try to answer your questions about your situation. If you wait to contact us, and the insurance company tries to deny you medical treatment, then you may face delays in your recovery.

Get a Free Case Evaluation from North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers

The workers’ compensation attorneys at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin can help you fight the insurance company if they try to pull any of these stunts. We know the law, we know how to try to protect your rights to medical treatment, and we have the tools, technology, financial resources, and know-how to try to get you the medial treatment you need.

But don’t wait to see if the insurance company tries to deny your care. You need medical treatment when your doctor orders it, not after insurance company delays.

One way to show the insurance company that you mean business when it comes to medical treatment is to contact us today or call 1-866-900-7078 so we can discuss working together to try to protect your rights.

P.S. Click here for more reasons to contact us about your workers’ comp claims.

Will Workers’ Comp Pay for Additional Injuries From Overcompensation?

Oftentimes when you injure one part of your body and overcompensate for that injury it can result in another injured body part. And sometimes it can be difficult to get your workers’ comp insurance company to pay for the other injury.

Our workers’ compensation attorneys deal with this issue frequently and it is an area where we strongly urge you to enlist the help of an experienced North Carolina workers’ comp lawyer.

Here are some questions I hear frequently on this subject which I believe warrants sharing.

Will I be compensated for injuring another part of my body as a result of overcompensating for my original work injury?

The answer to this question is probably, yes.

If your workers’ compensation claim was accepted, and a new injury or condition to another body part came about by overcompensating for the original injury, every “natural and probable consequence” that comes from that original injury “arises out of employment,” and you would likely have a right to compensation. So, for example, if your authorized doctor (the one the workers’ comp carrier sent you to) says your overcompensation comes from your original injury, then you likely would have a claim to compensation for that new injury.

What does this mean for me?

If an insurance adjuster tells you they can’t provide you medical care for your new condition, we strongly urge you to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. There have been new laws passed recently that state that if a new body part was not listed on the initial acceptance form then you may now have to prove that the new injury is related to your original injury. Proving this can be very challenging. It has been my experience that some workers’ comp insurance companies will sometimes do everything in their power to try to deny or at the very least minimize the initial claim, much less an additional claim. One common example is that after a serious knee injury, some patients develop pain in the opposite knee or back due to an altered gate. Some insurance companies will sometimes deny the opposite knee or back conditions as unrelated or claim they are degenerative conditions related to age.

How do I show that my injury for overcompensating is related?

It may be necessary to hire an attorney to help you explain to the insurance company how your new medical condition is related to your original injury.

We can speak with authority on how these issues have been handled in other cases. If the adjuster doesn’t understand, or simply disagrees, it may be necessary to request relief with the NC Industrial Commission by filing a Medical Motion with the Executive Secretary’s office, which involves presenting evidence to a judge about how the new medical condition is related to your original medical condition.  Sometimes we will even have to request a full evidentiary hearing on these disputes about medical care. The most important thing you can do is get medical evidence that your new injury is related. It is key to let your doctor know about any condition that arises from overcompensation.

A doctor who treats you would need to promptly document your new condition and provide their opinion about whether the new condition is being caused by the original injury. This medical documentation is also extremely important, as this is in large part what the insurance company will rely on when deciding whether to pay for your new injury. Even with a doctor’s documentation, we have seen some insurance companies fight back in an effort to deny the new claim.

That can be frustrating having an insurance company adding insult to injury by saying your new injury is not related, when your doctor even says that it’s related! Having an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you try to overcome these obstacles that injured workers’ sometimes face.

6 NC Board Certified Specialists in Workers’ Comp Law

More than half of our workers’ comp attorneys are NC Board Certified Specialists in workers’ compensation law. Of the approximately 28,000 North Carolina licensed attorneys* only 140 are North Carolina Board Certified Specialists in workers’ compensation law. Seven of them practice at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin.

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

Workers’ compensation law is highly complex and the system is extremely difficult to navigate successfully on your own. That is why we urge anyone who has been injured on the job to contact us or call 1-866-900-7078 immediately after their injury. Whether it’s for the original injury or one that stemmed from overcompensation, we will try to ensure that all the necessary measures are taken to preserve your right to workers’ compensation benefits.

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

 

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