Posted on Friday, September 16th, 2016 at 2:00 pm
Many workers lose their benefits because they fail to follow the proper North Carolina Workers’ Compensation laws. They may also lose their benefits if they are able to return to their pre-injury work. Employers and their insurers are always on the lookout for a way to terminate employee benefits. For this reason, injured employees should work with an experienced North Carolina work injury lawyer who understands what employers can and cannot do.
For starters, a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer will explain that the employer has to follow proper procedures. The employer cannot terminate earned benefits without the approval of the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
(Note: This is very different from Virginia Workers Compensation Procedure, wherein benefits are immediately cut off upon the mere filing by the employer or carrier of an Application to Terminate Benefits.)
The correct procedure in North Carolina is for the employer to file an Application to Suspend or Terminate Compensation. This is otherwise known as a Form 24 Motion. The Motion is completed by the employer and must include the reason(s) for the termination or suspension request, which are all set out on the form itself. The form has a place where the employee must file his or her response within 14 days after the date the Form 24 is filed (or a later time if warranted). The employee does have the right to contest the termination, and you will note that there is space provided for that response on the form itself.
A Form 24 filing should be treated as a nuclear bomb dropped on your case. If you do not spring into action quickly and create a proper response within the 14 days, that could very well be the end of your case.
The hearing on the Motion is often done informally – through a telephone conference or through an informal hearing. In the case of an informal hearing, the hearing is usually conducted within 25 days of the date of the filing. A decision should be made within 5 days of the hearing. The decision can either approve or disapprove the termination or suspension of benefits request. The decision can also hold that a formal hearing is needed.
Either side, employer or employee, can request a formal hearing after the informal hearing decision. At the formal hearing, documentary evidence is submitted and questions can be asked of the worker, a vocational rehabilitation expert, and other necessary witnesses. The formal hearing is “de novo.” – which means the hearing officer does need to consider the results of the formal hearing. In laymen’s terms, it means the formal hearing is a fresh start – a do-over.
Some of the common reasons an employer will try to cut off your benefits include:
The employer can also argue that an employee who is physically fit could find suitable work elsewhere if his/her prior job is no longer available. The argument of job availability can be defeated if the employee can show that he/she has actively looked for work in the same general geographical location and that there are no available jobs that meet the worker’s skill sets.
The employee can also argue that he/she is still physically disabled. This argument usually becomes a battle between a company doctor and the doctor that is currently treating the worker. An experienced North Carolina work injury lawyer reviews and may be able to bolster the medical evidence to help persuade the Industrial Commission that the worker is still disabled.
North Carolina does permit workers to return to work on a trial basis – to see if the worker can physically do the job.
Worker refusal to cooperate. If an employee fails to cooperate when informed that cooperation is required, the failure to cooperate can be used to terminate benefits. Some of the ways a worker can fail to cooperate are:
Similar termination and suspension reasoning applies if the worker has a total or partial disability. If the total or partial disability ends, the worker will lose his or her benefits.
If the hearing decision ultimately favors the employer, then benefits are terminated retroactive to the date the petition was filed. This means that employer is entitled to a credit for any overpayment. Termination proceedings usually terminate the wage benefits only and not the medical benefits. If the worker has not fully healed, the worker should be able to continue medical treatment through the North Carolina Worker’s Compensation system.
Don’t delay. If you get a notice of a termination or suspension proceeding, it is crucial that you speak with an experienced work injury lawyer as soon as possible. You ONLY HAVE 14 DAYS TO RESPOND TO THE MOTION. You can lose your income and even your medical benefits if you don’t respond to the termination or suspension petition. You may have strong defenses. For help now, contact Joe Miller Esq. to discuss your case and make an appointment. He can be reached at 888-694-1671. He’s been fighting for injured workers for over 25 years.
Posted on Monday, June 20th, 2016 at 2:00 pm
The Virginia Workers’ Commission recognizes the difficulties workers have in trying to get healthy enough to work again. One of those difficulties is advancing a lot of funds that they do not really have. Workers who keep accurate records should get reimbursement for the following vocational rehabilitation related expenses, if they are reasonable:
“If the claimant does not have access to transportation, it is the responsibility of the employee to notify the vocational rehabilitation provider. The vocational rehabilitation provider should contact the carrier regarding the issue and make appropriate arrangements as directed/approved by the carrier to insure the employee’s attendance at meetings and interviews. This may include the carrier forwarding mileage payments in advance or arranging appropriate alternative transportation. The employee must provide information explaining why transportation is/is not available.”
Virginia Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Joe Miller understands that every penny counts. He explains all the benefits that workers are allowed including what expenses can be reimbursed. Attorney Miller advises clients on how to keep proper records so reimbursement will be approved. For help with any aspect of you Virginia work injury claim, call attorney Joe Miller at the Work Injury Center at 888-694-1671 or complete his contact form. He is ready to help you now.
Posted on Wednesday, June 8th, 2016 at 2:00 pm
The families of employees who die due to a workplace accident or occupational illness are entitled to the following death benefits under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act:
Which family members can get benefits?
Death benefits include:
Joe Miller, Esq. has been helping injured workers get justice when work injuries or work illnesses happen. His work includes representing the families of loved ones who died due to a workplace accident or illness. He fights for spouse, children, and even parents to get payment for lost wages, funeral expenses, and transportation costs. Call attorney Joe Miller at 888-694-1671 and ask for Joe Miller, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.