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October 2014 Archives

Describing Your Restrictions

Physically, the major types of restrictions involve standing, walking, sitting, bending, use of your hands and fingers, and operation of foot or leg controls. When asked about these types of activities it is better to provide specific time periods rather than general statements such as "not very long." For example, better forms of testimony involve statements stating that "I can sit for 15 minutes before I have to change position," or, "I can walk partway through the grocery store before I have to leave and go back to the car." You may be asked how much you can lift. Once again, it is not a good idea to say "not much." Give some example from your day to day life indicating that you normally do not lift anything heavier than a pot or a gallon of milk or some other practical item.

North Carolina looks to end employer workers' compensation fraud

You've been hurt on the job. You can't go to work but the bills keep coming. You've heard that your employer owes you workers' compensation benefits, but they refuse to pay and even refuse your attempts to communicate with them. Or they may even tell you that you are not their "employee."

Describing Your Impairments

Either the attorney or the administrative law judge will ask you about your different impairments. Be prepared to provide a general idea of when the impairment started, the general medical treatment you have received and continue to receive, and your understanding of what the future holds. When describing pain, make sure you identify where it's located and describe it as sharp, aching, burning, etc. You may be asked to rate your pain on a scale of 0-10. Please be sure to discuss this with your attorney prior to the hearing since different administrative law judges have different perspectives on this type information.

How should I initiate a workers' compensation claim?

Workers' compensation laws are intended for the protection of North Carolina employees who are injured in a work accident. Protecting your right to receive benefits such as lost wages, reimbursement for the cost of medical treatment and compensation for a resulting disability requires you to take certain steps to notify others of your claim.

Earnings and Unemployment Benefits After Your Alleged Onset Date of Disability

Please make sure you notify your attorney if you have worked on even a part-time basis after your onset date of disability. It can be very damaging for this type of information to come out at the hearing as a surprise. If your attorney knows about this activity there are ways in which it can be presented that may not be as damaging to your case. In addition, make sure your attorney is aware if you have received unemployment benefits after the onset date of your disability. Judges have different opinions about how this affects their view of the case, and your attorney needs to be able to address this issue.

What happens when your workers' compensation claim is not paid?

Going to work when you are ill or injured does nothing but lower your productivity. An injured worker is a danger to other workers. There is always the chance you will not be able to handle dangerous equipment and materials safely, increasing risk to yourself and to others. Or your illness may be contagious.

Work Experience

Many judges want to ask questions about the type of work you have performed for the 15 years prior to the onset date of your disability. This is important information needed to evaluate whether you can return to any of your previous work or have any transferrable skills that would enable you to perform lighter or easier jobs. Most of the time you have already provided this information to the Social Security Administration as part of the application process; however, it is usually a good idea to jot down some notes about your previous jobs and discuss this with your attorney prior to the hearing. If you have a good work record this often helps your credibility before the administrative law judge; however, if you have had difficulty keeping jobs because of your disabling conditions, this also provides valuable information that can increase the possibility of a favorable decision.

Questioning at the Hearing

Most administrative law judges want to know your name, address, age, education, work experience, impairments, physical and mental limitations, daily activities and your understanding about your medical care. In most cases, your description of your daily activities and the way they are limited because of your disabling conditions is the most important testimony given. Practical examples of these types of limitations are powerful, and you may want to write some down to share with your attorney prior to the hearing.

Injured industrial workers deserve compensation

Industrial accidents are a serious risk for construction workers who face potential injury on the job practically every day. An injured worker could suffer problems in the aftermath that lead to serious medical expenses and significant rehabilitation treatment, not to mention pain and suffering. A traumatic brain, neck or back injury, paralysis, broken bones and concussions are all possible outcomes.

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