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August 2015 Archives

Workers’ compensation: All fun and games until someone gets hurt

When an employer considers whether to pay a workers’ compensation claim, three factors that come into play are: (1) was the injury or illness work-related?; (2) did it happen during the course of business?; and (3) did the employee contribute to it through some of his or her own behavior that was not work-related? Of course, the employer, and its insurer, wants to prove these factors in the negative to avoid, or mitigate, the payment of benefits. One recent case filed by a North Carolina man involved all three of these questions – and he won his claim.

What are the Listings of Impairments?

Social Security Administration has developed a complex list of guidelines related to various medical conditions. If your condition meets one of these criteria it can result in an automatic approval of disability benefits. Some of the areas include musculoskeletal conditions, cardiac disease and mental illness. One important job of a social security disability attorney is to determine if your condition meets one of these criteria so that this can be confirmed by your treating physicians. Even if your condition does not meet a specific requirement of the law, there is a possibility that it can be considered "medically equivalent" to the regulatory requirements and result in a finding of disability.

Does the "dual capacity" theory apply to workers' compensation?

Workers' compensation offers what can broadly be thought of as a "win-win" outcome for injured workers and their employers: the worker benefits from having a relatively speedy forum through which to receive benefits for lost income and for medical expenses, while the employer has a way to avoid being the subject of lawsuits by workers who are hurt on the job. This outcome is the product of what can be called the "exclusivity rule": for work-related injury claims, under North Carolina law workers' compensation is the sole remedy for monetary recompense.

Should you be "Mirandized" in a workers' compensation claim?

"You have the right to remain silent. If you choose to give up that right, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." If you have ever watched a television police drama, you probably already know those words by heart as you have watched the suspect being arrested. "But Miranda rights are for criminal suspects," you might think. "What does that have to do with a workers' compensation claim in North Carolina?"

State Agency Physicians

During the preliminary stages of a social security disability claim, an individual's medical records will be evaluated by a physician retained by the Social Security Administration to assist in deciding whether an individual is disabled. For this reason, it is very important that your treating physicians provide as much information as possible regarding your functional limitations imposed by your impairments to hopefully influence this state agency physician's opinion. A lawyer familiar with the Social Security Guidelines can assist in this aspect of the process.

Recent court decision highlights scope of workers’ compensation

Most people associate workers’ compensation benefits with injuries suffered in a workplace accident. Fewer people might associate a claim under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act with compensation for being wrongfully convicted in a criminal case, but that issue was recently in front of the Court of Appeals.

What is a Severe Impairment?

Social Security Ruling 96-3(p) states that impairment is considered severe if it "significantly limits an individual's physical or mental ability to do basic work activities." To be "non-severe," an impairment must be a slight abnormality that has no more than a minimal effect on the ability to do basic work activities. Making sure that all severe impairments are included for social security disability purposes can be the difference between winning and losing a case.

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