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THE WORK COMP BLOG

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If You Are Collecting Workers Compensation Benefits and Are Out of Work, You May be Out of Luck

If you were laid off but are collecting workers compensation benefits, expect those payments to come under scrutiny. The state Appeals Court recently issued a decision (Medlin v. Weaver Cooke Construction) that could possibly result in the loss of those benefits.

Claude Medlin worked as a project manager and estimator for Weaver Cooke Construction. He was hired in 2006. He injured his right shoulder while moving furniture at a worksite in May 2008. He continued to work until being laid off in November 2008.

The following month Weaver accepted plaintiff’s injury as compensable and he began receiving medical treatment. In January 2009, Medlin started collecting unemployment benefits and in February 2009 he started collecting both workers compensation and temporary total disability benefits.

Medlin had surgery and physical therapy and was released to return to work. He subsequently felt more pain and a second physician assigned permanent work restrictions. He sought work but was not successful.

The need to prove work related disability is cause of unemployment.

Weaver sought to have Medlin’s workers compensation benefits ended in December 2010. It claimed Medlin couldn’t establish a work related disability and the poor economy was the reason he wasn’t working, not his injury. The full Commission agreed and Medlin appealed.

The Court of Appeals agreed with that decision, stating that an injured worker must prove that his injury caused his inability to find work. The judges ruled Medlin failed to do that because of evidence he was physically able to work, but couldn’t, because of the slow economy. Though he showed evidence of a diligent job search, it wasn’t relevant. In prior decisions, the Court has tended to consider extent of “diligent” job searches, economic conditions, and the actual job availability. If this decisions stands, these factors will have much less or no importance is reviews of ongoing disability.

A large part of my practice involves helping injured workers obtain and maintain workers compensation benefits. I believe that the Medlin case may encourage more insurance companies to move to cut off disability payments using the slow economy argument. If you find yourself in the same situation, or a similar situation as Mr. Medlin, where you’re collecting workers compensation benefits while you’re unemployed and your former employer wants to end those benefits, contact my office to discuss what’s going on and your legal options.

P: 828-252-2852

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FREQUENTLY ASKED WORKERS' COMPENSATION QUESTIONS

Q. What if I have problems after I settle my workers’ compensation claim?

A. Most insurance companies will try to “clinch” or close out the claim when they offer a settlement. This means you can never reopen your claim and cannot get any more medical treatment paid by the carrier. Other settlements can be reached that allow you to reopen the claim for at least a two (2) year period after settlement if your condition changes. Whether you should “clinch” or leave the case open for the two (2) year period is an important decision that should not be made without a complete evaluation of how any future medical expenses will be handled. Medicare and Medicaid have the right to question future medical expenses that result from you work injury.

What time limit do I have to file WC?

As soon as possible, you should file a Form 18, Notice of Accident, with the IC and employer, informing them that you wish to make a claim. While N.C. law requires this Form 18 to be filed within 30 days, an absolute time limit of 2 years may be applicable to your claim depending on the facts. After your claim is settled, time limits also exist for reopening the case. This form can be obtained by e-mailing our office or calling the IC at 828-348-4107.

Q. Who provides and directs medical treatment resulting from a workers’ compensation accident?

A. The employer or its insurance company, subject to any NC Industrial Commission orders, provides, and directs medical treatment. The NC Industrial Commission may permit the employee to change physicians or approve a physician of employee's selection when good grounds are shown. However, payment by the employer or carrier is not guaranteed unless written permission to change physicians is obtained from the employer, carrier, or Commission before the treatment is rendered.

Q. What if I am able to work after my workers’ compensation injury, but my earnings are significantly less than before my injury?

A. If you return to a job paying significantly less wages than pre-accident wages, you may be entitled to 66 2/3% of the wage differential. Since NC Law is based on actual earning capacity, a loss of ability to make money might be compensable. Claims based on lower earning capacity are difficult to prove and quantify. Most successful claims under this theory of WC Law require testimony from experts in the field of vocational analysis and labor markets.

Q. What injuries are covered by Workers’ Compensation?

A. Workers’ Compensation law covers any accident on the job. An “accident” covered by Workers’ Compensation law includes any unusual or unexpected injury, not only accidents in the sense most of us think of them. Health problems related to work conditions that are developed over time are also covered. Back injuries that can be traced to work are also covered under NC law. You should consult a qualified lawyer to determine whether your work injury is covered by Workers’ Compensation law.

Do I need a lawyer?

In order to make sure you have all the necessary facts and N.C. laws to make an intelligent decision on your WC case, it is important to consult an attorney who is both experienced and knowledgeable in WC law.

Our Video Library is not closed-captioned.  Instead of embedding our videos, we have created posts for them, where full transcripts of can be found.
Click on the links below to view the video and its transcript.

Workers’ Compensation Overview on Vimeo

Workers Compensation Overview

Workers’ Compensation Injuries and the Complex nature of the law on Vimeo

Workers’ Compensation Injuries and the Complex Nature of the Law

Waiting Periods for Workers’ Compensation Benefit Payments

Waiting Periods for Workers’ Compensation Benefits

NC Workers’ Compensation Elements of Settlement

NC Workers’ Compensation Elements of Settlement

Settlements of Workers’ Compensation Claims on Vimeo

Settlement of Workers’ Compensation Claims in North Carolina

Pre Existing Conditions and Work Comp in North Carolina

Pre-existing Conditions and Workers’ Compensation Claims

NC Workers’ Comp Covers Many Different Kinds of Injuries

NC Workers’ Comp Covers Many Different Kinds of Injuries

Reopening Workers’ Compensation Cases

Reopening Workers’ Compensation Cases

Can’t Return To Work After an Injury

Workers’ Compensation Benefits When You Cannot Return to Work

Specific Traumatic Injuries

Specific Traumatic Injuries Under Workers’ Compensation

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November 27, 2019

Amazing! When my husband was injured, we didn’t know who to turn to. I started googling to find a attorney, I called Mr. Gantt, I couldn’t be more thankful! The nightmare was over as Mr. Gantt and his amazing team handled everything from that very moment! Not only was professional but extremely caring, taking time…

November 2019 AVVO Review

November 27, 2019

David Gantt and his staff handled my disability claim and they were excellent. I highly recommend him, he is the best in Western North Carolina. Mrs. Kelly Reaves 5.0 stars November 5, 2019

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October 29, 2019

David is clear, precise, and delivers as promises.

2019 Google Review

August 7, 2019

The entire staff were welcoming, knowledgeable, helpful, and nice people! David was professional. He knew exactly what he was talking about and did what he said he was going to do. I have had a wonderful experience with this firm and will not hesitate to use them in the future.

2019 AVVO Review “Get ‘er done Gantt!”

July 10, 2019

I was very satisfied with David Gantt’s expertise and knowledge in all aspects handling my case. He dealt with all the paperwork and contacted all necessary providers to get my medical history – it was extremely hassle free! He communicated and counseled me on what to expect – being very forthcoming (he’s a straight shooter)!…

2019 Facebook review

June 5, 2019

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2019 Google Review

May 28, 2019

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2019 Google Review

May 10, 2019

David and his entire staff are so nice and show compassion to everybody. He was there when I had any questions. David Gantt is the best attorney in his field, he goes above and beyond. I am extremely grateful to him and his staff. ~M.H.

2019 Google Review

May 9, 2019

Very nice and friendly service. They always answered any of my questions. Had a great experience working with them on my disability case. I highly recommend there services! After trying for 6 years and 2 unfavorable decisions, David and his team did a great job representing my case and won. I appreciate there time and…

2019 Google Review

May 9, 2019

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2019 Google Review

May 9, 2019

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Avvo Review 2019

May 7, 2019

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Google Review 2019

April 10, 2019

Wonderful client services..very friendly and willing to go the extra mile to help clients. highly recommend him for anyone needing assistance for the Disability SSI. ~T.D.

2019 Google Review

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I am so grateful to Mr. Gantt & his staff. They have been so professional and knowledgeable. They’ve answered all of my questions and made a very stressful situation, bearable. I would not hesitate to recommend Mr. Gantt. He is knowledgeable, professional & caring. ~J.H.

Avvo Review 2019

April 8, 2019

Linda Calloway Mundy David Gantt is an outstanding Lawyer. I highly recommend him. He was beside me all the way and I would like to thank him. ~Linda 5 Stars

2019 Google Review

March 9, 2019

David Gantt and his staff are very professional, upfront, honest and nice. They made me feel at ease discussing my case. They helped me with every step of the way towards my disability approval. I would recommend them to anyone. They kept me updated on everything. Just wish I had contacted them sooner. ~D.P.S.

2019 Google Review

February 10, 2019

When I applied for Social Security Disability I saw no reason that I would need a lawyer since my case seemed clear. It wasn’t until the second rejection that I realized that I had no idea how the system worked. A couple of local lawyers I had contacted suggested that I talked to David Gantt…

2019 Google Review

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Martindale Review 2019

January 21, 2019

5.0/5.0 in Social Security. David was very professional, pleasant and focused on me and my situation while I was in his office. He did not allow interruptions. His office staff was helpful and readily available when I had questions.

Martindale Review 2018

October 8, 2018

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