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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 www.bestlawyers.com

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.

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.

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 www.bestlawyers.com.

For more information regarding the standards for peer review ratings, visit www.martindale.com.

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 www.bestlawyers.com. For more information regarding the standards for inclusion for Super Lawyers and Rising Stars, visit www.superlawyers.com.

Consequences of Not Hiring a Workers’ Comp Attorney

If you have been injured on the job, it can be very important to hire an attorney to try to protect your long-term financial well-being and that of your family.

The workers’ compensation system is meant to provide wage replacement benefits and medical treatment for injured workers. Those wage replacement benefits are crucial for a person’s financial health and the financial health of their family. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can try to make sure an injured worker receives the wage replacement benefits they are potentially entitled to.

In my 15 years of handling workers’ compensation claims, I have assisted numerous clients who have faced dire financial consequences – often because they waited too long to hire an experienced workers’ comp attorney to help them. In some of these cases, the workers’ compensation insurance company had inevitably not paid them the benefits to which they were entitled before my involvement.

Often that has to do with paying weekly benefits on a timely basis. In North Carolina, workers’ compensation law requires an employer to pay two-thirds of an injured person’s average wages on a weekly basis.

But that doesn’t always happen.

Withholding Your Benefits Checks

Workers’ compensation clients typically receive checks every week. But what some adjusters will do is try to keep our clients from getting on “repetitive pay,” which is when the checks are delivered on the same day each week. Instead, they’ll issue a check on one day one week and then another day on the next week, so our clients are, at times, forced to go almost two weeks without a check. Our hands are tied, though, because technically they’re getting a check every week. It’s not until there’s a 14-day lapse between checks that we’re able to do anything. In one case, we filed a motion to get the checks on repetitive pay because even though our client was only receiving around $100 per week, he was a single dad and needed the money. What’s the point of all this? It’s only going to make us more determined to make sure the client is treated right.*

An attorney can help try to ensure those payments are made in a timely manner and in conjunction with the law. Bringing in weekly payments, just as you had been doing with your weekly paycheck while you were working, is extremely important.

“Miscalculation” of Your Benefits Amount

In other situations, I have seen insurance companies fail to correctly calculate the weekly amount that is due to an injured worker. These miscalculations led to injured workers receiving substantially less benefits for several weeks or months while they were receiving medical care.

An experienced attorney can investigate what they think is the correct weekly amount and fight, if necessary, with the insurance company to try to get those benefits corrected and promptly paid to you.

Workers’ compensation cases with severe injuries, such as those involving the brain, spinal cord, or nervous system can be very complex and expensive to treat. The financial strain and stress as a result of your injury and your inability to work can compound rapidly. Hiring an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help to potentially minimize those financial consequences within the bounds of the law.

Your Biggest Risk – the Insurance Company

In our estimation, the biggest risk you face in attempting to recover benefits is to trust the insurance company to pay you the full amount of everything you may potentially be owed – and pay you in a timely manner.

Most insurance companies are for-profit businesses – their profit. That is not wrong – it’s just business. Insurance companies are so profitable, in fact, that in 2016, the insurance industry’s assets ($5.8 trillion) totaled more than the GDPs of all but two countries in the world – the United States and China.

The less they pay you, the more they keep. But what some people may not realize is the tactics some insurance companies may use to try to “spin” the facts in their favor so they can keep more of the compensation you may be owed.

Truth be known, insurance claims reps, investigators, adjusters, and many others in that business are expertly trained and highly skilled at finding ways to keep money that may be rightfully yours. We know firsthand. Several of our employees are former insurance company employees.

North Carolina Board Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation Law

I and several James Scott Farrin workers’ comp attorneys are also Board Certified Specialists in workers’ compensation law. There are only 148 of us out of the more than 28,000 attorneys licensed in North Carolina, – that’s less than 1%.**

Becoming board certified is a rigorous and lengthy endeavor. Candidates for board certification must devote a significant portion of their legal practice to workers’ compensation for at least five years. Additionally, they must meet Continuing Legal Education requirements and be favorably evaluated and recommended for certification by other lawyers and/or judges. There’s also a lengthy written exam, which lasts six hours and covers many aspects of North Carolina’s workers’ compensation law, including nuanced details from decades of court decisions.

Get a Free Case Evaluation from NC Workers’ Comp Attorneys

If workers’ compensation is delaying or refusing to pay for work benefits, or if they are denying approval of medical treatment or compensation, 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. The sooner the better.

Our confidential case evaluations are free, and you may learn that you’re entitled to more than the insurance company claims.

* Cases or matters referenced do not represent the law firm’s entire record. Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. The outcome of a particular case cannot be predicated upon a lawyer’s or a law firm’s past results. This is a specific example of an experience we had with an insurance company. This story does not necessarily represent any industry or employer as a whole. These descriptions of events are based upon the recollections of individual staff members. Client identities have been removed or changed to protect their privacy.

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

I was injured on the job as a result of Hurricane Florence. Now what?

Hurricane Florence recently dealt a severe blow to the state of North Carolina. This storm interrupted many people’s livelihoods and presented severe health hazards in many areas. In the process, there were increased risks of job-related injuries. If you were injured on the job as a result of the unusual hazards presented by Hurricane Florence, or as the result of other forms of work accidents, there are two important benefits provided under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act for job-related injuries:

  • Medical treatments to help you recover from your injuries
  • Payments if you are not able to work because of your injury

3 Steps to Hurricane Florence Workers’ Comp Benefits

Medical treatments and workers’ comp payments can help injured workers try to avoid financial ruin and more severe health consequences. If you are not careful, the requirements of the Workers’ Compensation Act could result in you losing eligibility for these benefits.

If you are hurt on the job, there are three important steps to remember to protect your workers’ compensation rights:

1.      Report your injury to your employer

After even very serious injuries, many workers attempt to “tough it out” and avoid immediately reporting their job injury to their employer. This can be the result of many factors, such as job dedication or concern that the employer may retaliate after the report of a job injury. However, it is very important that prompt documentation be completed, such as by an incident report, in a timely manner after a job injury.

The Workers’ Compensation Act has certain forms that need to be completed in a timely manner. The Form 18 is the injured employee’s report of injury to the employer and should be filed with the North Carolina Industrial Commission as soon as possible, including within 30 days of your injury. This form lets the North Carolina Industrial Commission and your employer know that you are requesting to receive workers’ compensation benefits for your injuries. If you do not file the claim within 30 days after the work injury, then your employer and the workers’ compensation insurance company may create additional obstacles as you attempt to receive workers’ compensation benefits.

There is also another form, called a Form 19, which should be promptly filed by the employer after their knowledge that an employee was injured. However, an injured employee should not assume that the employer will file their claim.

We have seen many instances where an employer may be aware of an employee’s job injury for a long while, but never report the claim to the workers’ compensation insurance company or even to the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

We have also seen instances when an employer may then deny, after the claim is filed, that they even had knowledge of the job accident in the first place. These are all issues that an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, like those with the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, is prepared to handle.

2.      Get medical treatment

If you are injured on the job, obtaining prompt medical care is the best way to try to avoid your injury becoming even worse. We have seen many situations where an injured employee may believe that a condition, such as a sore back, is hopefully not that serious, but then becomes much more severe than the employee originally thought. We have seen many instances where clients initially hoped they could “tough it out” and continue to work, only to realize that they only made their health condition worse by delaying treatment. We have also seen situations where the workers’ compensation insurance company then pointed to delay in obtaining treatment as a reason to attempt to avoid paying workers’ compensation benefits. Timely reporting of job-related injuries and obtaining prompt medical treatment are important factors in preserving your health as well as your rights to workers’ compensation benefits.

3.      Consult an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney

Of the more than 28,000 attorneys who are licensed to practice law in North Carolina, only a small fraction are North Carolina Board Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation law. At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we have six attorneys who are Board Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation law.

Some of our workers’ compensation attorneys include former Deputy Commissioners from the North Carolina Industrial Commission and a former state senator who helped write some of the workers’ compensation laws in North Carolina.

Our workers’ compensation attorneys are compensated on a contingency fee basis, which means that there is no attorney fee unless a recovery is obtained for the client.

For that reason, there is no increased attorney fee if someone obtains legal representation at an early stage, middle stage, or late stage of their case. In light of the complexity of these issues and the important timeframes that apply after job-related injuries, over 20 years of experience has taught us that it is in the best interest of an injured worker to obtain experienced legal representation as soon as possible after a work accident.

Get a Free Case Evaluation From NC Workers’ Comp Lawyers

Don’t become another Hurricane Florence statistic if you were injured as a result of the hurricane. When it comes to trying to get the benefits you may deserve from the workers’ comp insurance company, there is a lot at stake. That is why we urge anyone who has been injured on the job to contact us or call 1-866-900-7078.

We will fight hard for you to try to ensure that all the necessary measures are taken to try to prove your right to benefits.

How Safe Are You at the NC State Fair?

If you are thinking of going to the 2018 North Carolina State Fair you will, quite literally, be one in a million. Over one million guests are expected to line up at the fairgrounds during those 10 days. Many will get their fix of deep fried Oreos before getting tossed and turned upside down by one of the thrilling attractions the NC State Fair offers.

While this may be a family tradition for many, one mishap could quickly turn tragic.

How Safe Are You at the NC State Fair?

Though rare, injuries on carnival rides do occur, and the North Carolina State Fair has not been immune to mishaps.

  • In 2017, a 2-year-old boy was injured after falling off a ride due to user error, as reported by ABC11.
  • In 2013, five fairgoers were hospitalized after falling approximately 30 feet from “The Vortex” due to ride malfunctioning.
  • In 1998, three riders suffered injuries after a roller coaster’s cars collided.

NC State Fair employees, too, must deal with the uncertainty of the carnival rides they operate.

  • In 2013, a worker was taken to the ICU after a ride he was disassembling fell on top of him, WRAL
  • In 2009, a similar incident occurred with an employee attempting to break down the “Flying Bobs” ride, according to ABC11.
  • In 2004, a worker was struck and injured by a steel beam.
  • In 2002, a ride attendant was killed after being struck by the ride and thrown from his platform.

How to Have Fun & Try to Be Safe

A 2010 ABC report attributes the 7,000 annual emergency room visits due to carnival ride injuries in America primarily to three reasons: equipment malfunctions, varying inspection regulations, and user error.

The federal government oversees only the manufacturing of these rides – set-up and maintenance is left to state regulation. North Carolina requires semi-annual unannounced inspections of stationary rides, as well as inspections of mobile rides at the time of set-up.

As a preventative measure, fairgoers should strictly obey the safety guidelines provided by fair attendants. The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) provides further recommendations when riding carnival rides:

  • Don’t try to cheat the system: follow the rider age, height, weight and health restrictions.
  • Keep all body parts inside the ride’s vehicle at all times.
  • Secure any loose items (wallets, change, sunglasses, cell phones, hats, etc.) before getting on the ride.
  • Use the safety equipment as it is intended to be used – don’t try to loosen or remove restraints even if they’re uncomfortable.
  • Never force anyone to ride attractions they’re hesitant or weary of.
  • Report any behavior or conditions you believe to be unsafe to authorities immediately.
  • Talk to your children to make sure they understand the importance of following these rules.

These attractions are meant to create an amusing, thrilling, and overall positive experience. The safety measures are incredibly important in order to maintain this light-hearted atmosphere, rather than turning it into a scene of fear and tragedy.

Thank Your NC State Fair Ride Attendants

Behind the scenes of the fun and games are employees who strive to ensure your NC State Fair experience is as safe and enjoyable as possible. When you think of jobs that put their employees’ lives on the line, a carnival ride attendant may not come to mind. However, if they lose control of their rides, they are potentially placed in a very dangerous situation.

Just as passengers cannot predict a ride malfunction, operators may not necessarily know if or when their machine will malfunction. Because of the close contact employees maintain with their rides, they face the same uncertain dangers riders do. They have a lot of responsibility to try to keep you safe. Thank them for helping to keep you safe and for an enjoyable experience.

Get a Free Case Evaluation from NC Personal Injury Lawyers

If you or someone you know was injured at the NC State Fair (or any NC carnival, water park, or similar attraction) contact us immediately or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation.

Would You Know if Your NC Workers’ Comp Injury Was Incorrectly Denied?

In North Carolina, there are three basic types of workers’ compensation claims. Each has its own nuances and special circumstances to try to prove to the workers’ comp insurance company that they owe you benefits.

  1. Injury by Accident describes an external factor that caused your injury. Perhaps you tripped and fell or coworker dropped a computer on your foot. Were you injured while driving a company truck? North Carolina law says that you likely must be compensated for injuries that are caused by an accident. Without the help of an attorney we have seen instances where injured workers were denied compensation.
  2. Specific Traumatic Incident occurs when you are able to determine exactly when and where your injury occurred, yet it did not result from an accident. You may have lifted something and your back locked up. Or did you reach for a tool and pull your shoulder? From a workers’ compensation standpoint, specific traumatic incidents typically only apply to spine injuries. Some things that may at first look like a specific traumatic incident can fall under the definition of injury by accident. And many times, a carrier will wrongfully deny a claim (when the injury is to a body part other than your back) based on their argument that no accident occurred. This is one of the many reasons we urge folks to consult an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. There are so many nuances as to whether an injury is or is not the result of a specific traumatic injury. How would you know these nuances? You can bet the insurance company knows them. And they know how to try to deny your claim based on what they suspect you don’t know!
  3. Occupational Disease typically refers to a condition that develops over time as a result of your job duties and/or your work environment. Most people are familiar with carpel tunnel syndrome or exposure to mold, asbestos, or hazardous chemicals. Some workers’ compensation insurance companies will sometimes try to deny these claims and refuse to cover treatment. It is up to you to show that your job elevated your risk of injury. For someone who is not an experienced workers’ comp lawyer, this can be a tough claim to prove. We try to do this every day for our clients. That is another reason we urge injured workers to contact us. These claims can be a very tricky to prove.

Exceptions to Injury by Accident

Different rules apply for injuries to the neck and back, hernias, and repetitious motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.

In North Carolina, it is generally understood that for an injury to be deemed compensable (in other words, it was an injury by accident), it must occur by accident, and in the course and scope of employment. This definition applies to injuries that result from accidents that are unexpected or unanticipated. You can also think of an accident as an event or interruption that’s not part of the normal, everyday, performance of your job. Were you performing your normal work routine, or did you, for example, have to apply an excessive or unanticipated amount of force to open a stubborn crate?

Unfortunately, this means that not every injury that occurred at work will be considered the result of an accident. In other words, it may not be compensable. Here are some exceptions.

In order to be deemed compensable, spinal injuries must occur as the result of a “specific traumatic incident,” which is a more flexible standard and does not necessarily require an unexpected event. For example, if you sustain a herniated disc while lifting a box at work, even though you may have been performing a routine part of your job in the normal manner, you may very well have a compensable workers’ compensation claim.

Like back injuries, hernia injuries may also be compensable if they are the direct result of a specific traumatic incident of the work assigned. However, a stricter application of the rule applies to hernia injuries compared to back injuries. For a hernia injury to possibly be compensable it must appear suddenly following the injury and it must be a new hernia, and not one that had developed prior to the accident.

Finally, repetitive motion injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome may be (or may not be) a compensable occupational disease. Unlike an injury by accident or specific traumatic incident, an occupational disease typically develops more slowly, through prolonged workplace exposure to a particular agent or action. While certain medical conditions are expressly identified as an occupational disease in North Carolina, many are not. I have seen some insurance companies try to deny those that NC workers’ compensation laws state are compensable. These types of injuries represent a very grey area and can be difficult to prove for the uninitiated. One insurance carrier tried to blame an employee’s tendonitis on her pregnancy, claiming that tendonitis is common during pregnancy. For that reason they tried to deny her claim.

While not every work-related injury will be compensable under North Carolina workers’ compensation laws, many injuries are, and may likely entitle you to benefits. But how would you know your injury is compensable? We know. And we know how to try and prove it.

What Makes James Scott Farrin Workers’ Comp Lawyers Different?

We will often use a team approach when handling workers’ compensation cases. Any number of attorneys and paralegals may work on your case in addition to firm resources. (You, incidentally, are part of that team.)

We may consult with any one of our attorneys and paralegals that previously worked for insurance companies. They know first-hand how some insurance companies may try to delay, deny, and defend your claim because they have seen this happen from the inside.

Nearly half our workers’ comp attorneys are NC Board Certified Specialists in Workers' Compensation law. We think this is a pretty big deal as it is the highest level of specialization available in North Carolina, and only a small percentage of NC attorneys can make that claim. Very small.

We may consult with one or both of our two former North Carolina Industrial Commissioners on your case. (The North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) is the impartial agency that administers and enforces workers' compensation laws.)

We may seek the counsel of our former North Carolina state senator who helped write some of North Carolina’s worker’s compensation laws.

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 three have received coveted awards for workers’ compensation, including:

  • Best Lawyers in America “Best Lawyer1” and “Lawyer of the Year2” for Raleigh (twice)
  • North Carolina Super Lawyers Magazine “Rising Star3 ” and “Super Lawyer4” (three times)

Get a Free Case Evaluation From NC Workers’ Comp Lawyers

When it comes to trying to get the benefits you may deserve from the workers’ comp insurance company, there is a lot at stake. That is why we urge anyone who has been injured on the job to contact us or call 1-866-900-7078. We will try to ensure that all the necessary measures are taken to try to prove your right to benefits.

 

1 “Best Lawyer” Matt Healey from 2013–2018; Barry Jennings from 2015–2018
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 “Lawyer of the Year”: Matt Healey in 2015 and 2017.
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.

3 “Rising Star”: Ryan Bliss in 2018; Matt Healey from 2010–2013; Barry Jennings from 2011–2013.
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.

4 “Super Lawyers”: Matt Healey from 2014–2016.
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.

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

1001 Morehead Square Drive, Suite 350
Charlotte, NC 28203
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

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