Be Safe This Summer on the Job!
Summertime means it’s also time for tourists to flock to the Coast, seeking sun, sand, and a bit of relaxation. With the influx of tourists comes an increased need for workers. In Wilmington, the workforce almost doubles in the summertime. Workers’ compensation might not be your first thought when it comes to summer, but the reality is, with as many additional workers as there are, the risk of workplace injury also increases, especially in restaurants and the service industry.
As attorneys who specialize in workmans’ comp, we often see an increase in work injuries over the summer. For instance, we recently helped a Wilmington native who was injured while servicing a pool rental. As a result of his work injury, he required a full knee replacement. Fortunately, we were able to help him get the medical assistance that he needed, and the settlement he deserved.
From all of us at Oxner + Permar, enjoy your summer and the increased wages it brings, but be safe! And if you or someone you know is injured on the job, please be sure to contact an attorney for free advice.
Can Existing Injuries Be Covered by Workers’ Comp?
Often we hear clients ask questions such as, “I’ve always had problems with my shoulder, but my existing problems have been made worse by my work injury. Can I get workman’s comp to cover my worsened condition?”
The answer is: Yes you can! The fact of the matter is, we all live real lives, and very few of us will go through life without incurring some kind of injury. Whether it be a back injury, shoulder injury, or knee injury, if you are hurt on the job and your existing condition is made worse by your work injury, then you should still be covered by workers’ comp.
Don’t allow someone to convince you that just because you have an existing problem, you should be denied workers’ comp. Cases relating to workers’ comp are clear on the issue. When a workplace injury makes a pre-existing but non-disabling condition become a disabling condition, you are eligible for workers’ comp benefits.
Be aware that it’s not uncommon to experience resistance from your insurance company. They’re not going to want to cover a condition that they view as potentially pre-existing. But you are entitled to your rights. If you have a pre-existing injury that has been made worse by a workplace injury, don’t hesitate to call an attorney.
Existing injuries that have been aggravated by a work injury may be covered by workers’ comp. Be sure to speak to an attorney to make sure you’re getting the benefits you deserve.
Is it Okay to Return to Work While You Are Waiting for Social Security Benefits?
Many of my Social Security disability clients express their desire to return to work while they are waiting for their hearing. This is understandable because hearing wait times can be very long, with many claimants forced to wait two years or more. Some clients want to work part-time out of dire financial need. Others feel a strong desire to get out of the house and re-discover a sense of purpose.
It’s not easy to know what to do—and I certain empathize with my clients’ reasons for wanting to return to work. But I always caution them: Such a decision can be perilous to a disability claim.
Why is this?
First, if you get a new job and earn more than $1,130 a month, you are engaging in what is known as “Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)”. If you earn more than the allotted SGA amount in any nine months of a 60-month period, this automatically disqualifies you from receiving Social Security Disability benefits.
For claimants who earns less than $1,130, the decision to get a job still can jeopardize the claim. In fact, if a judge has reason to believe that a claimant could be earning more than the SGA amount but is intentionally working less they can, and often will, use that as a basis for denying the claim. So is important to be careful and make informed decisions about employment.
All in all, the decision to return to work is a difficult one and varies from client to client. When clients come to me for guidance, they are confused and unsure how to move forward. I help them understand all that is at risk and all that they have to gain in the decision of whether or not to return to work. It is my job—and the job of my colleagues at Oxner + Permar—to help you feel knowledgeable and confident about all of the steps involved in your Social Security disability claim.
Getting a Second Opinion
When something as important as your workers’ compensation benefits is based on the evaluation of one doctor, we understand the desire of many of our clients to get a second opinion. It can give you the security and peace of mind to know that you’re receiving workman’s comp benefits and work restrictions that are most appropriate for you and your recovery. So after a work injury, is it possible to receive an evaluation from a second doctor to assess your case?
The good news is: in most cases, yes! In South Carolina everyone is permitted to ask for a second opinion, and in most cases, the Commission finds these requests reasonable. More often than not, insurance companies are willing to work with us to get you a second opinion without the hassle of litigation.
Of course your insurance company is going to want some say in which doctor you choose to give you a second opinion. However, we have experience working with insurance companies to help pick a physician that is agreeable not only to them, but you as well.
When it comes to your care, it’s best to have as many people on your side as possible. Whether it’s your doctors or your attorney, it’s good to know that your worker’s compensation benefits are fair and that your work restrictions are fair. At Oxner + Permar we’re passionate about ensuring that our clients are given the best tools to make their recovery process as easy as possible.
Never hesitate to ask for a second opinion when it comes to your work injury. Insurance companies are often willing to work with us to make sure your health evaluation is as accurate as possible. For more frequently asked questions be sure to visit our FAQ page.
Join Us for the 9th Annual Run, Walk and Roll for Rehab—and Help People Reclaim Their Lives!
Oxner + Permar believes in taking care of injured workers and their families—and our support reaches far beyond the courtroom. One way we help those injured on the job is to sponsor community support services like those offered to adults and children whose lives have been altered by serious injury or disease. Oxner + Permar is a proud “Gold Level” supporter of Vidant Health Rehabilitation Service’s Rehab Road Race. The Run, Walk and Roll for Rehab 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk will be held on September 24, 2016, and we hope you’ll join us for this fun and touching event.
In addition to raising critical funds, this Run, Walk and Roll for Rehab promotes outdoor recreation for people of all levels of physical abilities with a course that accommodates racing wheelchairs, sport chairs and hand-crank bicycles. The net proceeds benefit important programs and services for patients. For example, donations from previous races have been used to further expand Vidant’s specialty equipment that helps improve muscle strength and balance, and promotes independence in daily living. Such equipment and services enables Vidant to fulfill their mission of helping people reclaim their lives.
The team at Oxner + Permar is passionate about helping injured workers make a recovery after an injury. Please consider sponsoring and/or registering for the Run, Walk and Roll event. Support from community members and sponsors is essential. Contact Kathy Garren, Chair of Rehab Road Race Committee, at 252-847-0207 for additional information.
Together, we can make an incredible difference in the lives of countless patients and families who depend on Vidant Health Rehabilitation Services. Hope to see you on the course in September!
Join the team at Oxner + Permar in making a difference in the lives of injured workers. Register for the Run, Walk and Roll event in September for a fun way to make a big impact!