Yearly Archives: 2016

Don’t Let Your Insurance Company Control Your Care

Workers' Compensation

Don’t Let Your Insurance Company Control Your Care
Unfortunately, insurance companies nowadays often intimidate injured workers by reminding them that they—not you—have the “right to direct medical care.” In other words, your employer and the health insurance company on their plan have the power to decide which physician you should see.

To some extent, this is true, but there are exceptions. Keep in mind that in some circumstances employees can select the physician of his or her choice. You just need the right attorney to help you navigate the workers’ compensation process and understand what those exceptions are. If you’ve been injured on the job and need to see a physician, here are a few key points to consider:

Your insurance company is not your physician. Don’t empower them; empower yourself and your doctor. After all, you know best about your injury, and your doctor knows how to help you get better. He or she is the one who went to medical school, received the proper training, and understands the practice of medicine. Not your insurance company.
You have a right to the best medical care. If your doctor believes certain treatment is appropriate for you and the workman’s comp insurance company is refusing to pay, you and your doctor need to fight for the proper course of treatment.
Team up with your doctor to fight for your rights. Have your doctor detail in writing why he or she feels you need a particular treatment. Your attorney can then use this documentation to file a motion with the Industrial Commission, seeking approval for the recommended care.
Don’t allow yourself or your physician to get frustrated and give up. If the care you need is not being authorized or is being denied by an internal utilization review conducted in-house at the insurance company, keep fighting. Your health is worth the fight!

Oxner + Permar has won case after case in which it seemed that the employee was going to be bullied by the insurance company. We don’t let that happen. In workers’ compensation cases, we care about the employee who has been hurt on the job, and we know how to make sure that their rights are protected. And insurance companies know our reputation—as attorneys who don’t give up until they get the care that they deserve.

Could Living with a Partner Negatively Affect or Terminate Alimony Payments?

Could Living with a Partner Negatively Affect or Terminate Alimony Payments?

Dealing with a separation is always difficult. As you are trying to sort out the emotional strain, the financial burden might be the last thing you want to think about. Alimony payments can help alleviate the financial stress of a separation, but are you aware of the things that could cause alimony payments to cease? It’s important to make sure you are in the know.

There are two major factors that cause the termination of alimony payment:
1. The death of either the supporting or dependent spouse.
2. The remarriage or cohabitation of the dependent spouse.

These terms seem pretty straightforward—death and remarriage are both easily defined, but what about cohabitation? At what point does a couple’s relationship fall under the definition of cohabitation?

In order to prove that a couple is cohabitating, there must be evidence that they are living together continuously and habitually. They must also take on the lifestyle of a married couple: e.g. sharing duties and obligations that would be expected of married couple. This can include a sexual relationship, but that is not always necessary.

It’s also important to note that a couple’s intent isn’t the deciding factor in whether or not a couple is determined to be cohabitating. A couple can claim that they’re not cohabitating, but if their relationship and lifestyle clearly falls under the umbrella of cohabitation, then they are cohabiting in the eyes of the law. However, if a couple’s cohabitation status is difficult to determine based purely on objective factors, then a couple’s intent will be considered.

Of course the court will base their ruling on fact-driven analysis, weighing several factors to determine a couple’s cohabitation status. Some of these factors are fairly obvious and things you might have considered such as length of time they’ve stayed at the partner’s residence; whether or not the dependent spouse has another residence that they maintain or continue to use; or whether they participate in their partner’s childcare routine (e.g. picking up kids from school).

If you are living with someone and are concerned that cohabitation can affect your alimony payments, here are a few factors to consider:
Whether or not you drive each other’s vehicles.
Whether or not you or your partner moved in furniture.
Whether or not you cook meals together.
Whether or not you answer the home phone at the residence.
Whether or not you attend church together.
Whether or not you drive around town together.
Whether others have observed you and your partner showing any display of love and affection.

These are only a handful of the factors used to determine cohabitation. If you have any questions about cohabitation or what factors could lead to the termination of alimony payments, be sure to contact an attorney.

If you or your ex-spouse receives alimony payments and is in a new relationship, be aware that cohabitation can cause termination of alimony payments. It’s important to know what situations can lead to the termination of alimony.

The Xarelto Bellweather Trials

Dangerous Drugs & Devices

The Xarelto Bellweather Trials
We all hope that pharmaceutical drug companies have our best interest at heart. We put our trust in them and trust that they are looking out for our health and our wellbeing. Though the unfortunate truth is that sometimes profits are put before patients and drugs that aren’t properly tested make it onto the market, often to disastrous results. One such unsafe drug that appeared recently was a blood thinner produced by Bayer called Xarelto.

When Xarelto appeared on the market it was fast selling, making $567 million in the first quarter alone. In 2015, the drug earned $2 billion worth of revenue. With earnings like that, it’s easy to see why Bayer was so keen to get this drug into pharmacies across the nation. However, the drug had deadly side effects, the worst of which was uncontrollable bleeding.

As one might imagine, this led to more than 4,500 lawsuits being filed against Xarelto’s makers for grievances ranging from financial hardships caused by hospital bills and extended medical care to funeral costs and wrongful deaths.

It can be challenging for a single person to stand up to a major pharmaceutical company such as this, which is why it’s useful to utilize Multidistrict Litigation (MDL)—when a number of cases are brought before a single judge who has a specialized knowledge relevant to the cases. This is exactly the route being taken by those looking to bring litigation against the makers of Xarelto. The cases will be brought before Judge Eldon Fallon in the Eastern District of Louisiana.

The first trials of a MDL are referred to as the “Bellweather Trials.” The Bellweather trials are cases specifically chosen to set the tone for all subsequent cases. They help the plaintiff and defense counsel gauge how juries will respond to such cases, and give them a good idea of how similar cases are likely to play out. They can help set precedents and allow a large number of cases pass through the system quickly, yet justly.

The dates for the first four Bellweather trials in the Xarelto litigation have already been set for early 2017. The dates are:

February 6, 2017
March 13, 2017
April 24, 2017
May 30, 2017

Standing up to a large corporation such as a major pharmaceutical company alone can be a challenge. But having someone on your side, whether it’s an experienced, knowledgeable attorney, or thousands of other people who are in your situation and understand what you’re going through, can give you the power to take a stand. Don’t go it alone. Seek help from an attorney to find out what you can do to make sure that your rights are protected.

Kids Chance of North Carolina|College Scholarships for Families Who’ve Experienced Catastrophic Work Injuries

Workers' Compensation

Kids Chance of North Carolina—College Scholarships for Families Who’ve Experienced Catastrophic Work Injuries

When a person is injured at work, the impact to the worker is huge, but the effects it can have on the family can be just as devastating. The income that you expected to earn is compromised, often making it difficult to pay rent and bills and to fund retirement and college savings. The financial loss to the family simply isn’t well compensated in the Workers’ Compensation system. This is particularly true for catastrophic injury and death cases in which the victims are unlikely to ever work again.

It is devastating to have your dreams and goals derailed by an injury. It is ten times worse when you feel your injury is hurting the future of your children. That’s why Oxner + Permar supports Kids’ Chance, a charitable organization offering college scholarships to the children of workers who were killed or catastrophically injured at work. As attorneys who care deeply about our clients’ well-being, we want to do everything we can to get the word out there about this important charity—especially because workers who suffer these types of injuries (and their families) have so many other things weighing on their minds.

If you know of a family who might qualify for a Kids’ Chance scholarship, please join us in spreading the word so that we can help as many people as possible through this wonderful charity. As a member of the board for Kids’ Chance of NC, Oxner + Permar is committed to getting the applications into the hands of those who need them. Please visit the Kids’ Chance website for more details.

Hezekiah Hardee’s father was seriously injured on the job, but through Kids’ Chance of NC, Hezekiah was able to earn a scholarship that made his dreams of attending college come true. Read his storyFullSizeRender

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Seamon v. Remington Arms Company, llc

Personal Injury

In a closely watched case, a Federal Appeals Court has reversed a decision from a lower court, which threw out an expert’s opinion because the court said it was unreliable. The case, Seamon v. Remington Arms Company, LLC, is a tragic case surrounding the mysterious death of the plaintiff’s husband who was shot by his own Remington Model 700 rifle. The decedent, Mr. Seamon, went deer hunting and when he didn’t return, his family went looking for him and found him dead in his elevated tree stand with a single gunshot wound to his chest. Mr. Seamon’s Remington Model 700 rifle was found on the ground thirteen feet below attached to a rope that wrapped around the rifle’s scope and safety. The safety mechanism was off and there was a spent cartridge in the chamber, but there was no gunshot residue on Mr. Seamon’s body or clothing, leading law enforcement to conclude that the rifle was at least five to ten feet away from Mr. Seamon when it fired. Moreover, Mr. Seamon’s left hand was clenched around the front rail of the tree stand and his right hand was positioned as if he had been grasping something. The obvious question was how was Mr. Seamon shot?

Mrs. Seamon, the plaintiff, alleged that her husband died when the rifle accidently discharged because of defects with the trigger system. The Remington Model 700 contains the Walker fire control system, which is different than other trigger systems in that even a very slight movement of one of the parts allows the rifle to fire accidently. According to Ms. Seamon’s expert, Mr. Powell, rifles with Walker triggers have fired unexpectedly a number of times in testing reported by Remington Arms. According to Mr. Powell, little things like dirt, corrosion deposits, moisture, firing deposits and manufacturing residue can prevent the trigger parts from engaging correctly, making the rifle subject to unexpected firing. During testing, Mr. Powell found particles and deposits in the fire control housing, which he said have been show to cause interference in the Walker system and cause rifles to fire without interaction with the trigger. Mr. Powell concluded that the rifle might have gone off unexpectedly when it came into contact with the tree, rope or the ground.

The trial court struck Mr. Powell’s opinion as to why the Remington Model 700 discharged, because it said that his opinion was “speculative” and therefore, unreliable, and dismissed Ms. Seamon’s lawsuit against Remington. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s ruling and reinstated the case. The appellate court concluded that Mr. Powell had provided sufficient factual support for his opinion and that the trial court had “manifestly erred by mischaracterizing Powell’s opinion and the evidence supporting it . . . .”

Seamon v. Remington Arms Company, LLC demonstrates once again how complicated the law can be, and how important it is to have on your side experienced and knowledgeable legal representation like the lawyers at Oxner + Permar ,PLLC. If you find yourself with a complicated legal question, call us and take advantage of our decades of legal experience. You will be glad you did!