Are Workers’ Compensation Benefits Available When You Are Injured While on Break?
What happens if you are on break—in the washroom, outside smoking, on a short walk or simply taking a few minutes away from your desk—and you get injured? Will workers’ compensation cover such injuries, from falls to cuts and so on?
This type of work injury falls under the comfort rule and personal convenience doctrine. This doctrine states that activities during the workday that are important for your health and comfort are considered “part of the ‘circumstances’ element of the course of employment.” in other words, the chances are good that such injuries would be covered by workman’s comp.
How do you determine whether or not the comfort rule applies to your work injury? Several factors can be considered, including:
- The duration of the break period;
- Whether or not the employee is paid during the break period;
- Whether or not the employer provides a place for employees to take breaks, including where vending facilities are located;
- Whether or not the employer permits off-premises breaks; and
- The proximity of the employment site to the off-premises location where the employee was injured.
Most importantly, contact an attorney to describe your specific experience so that we can help you determine how workers’ compensation benefits will apply. Oxner + Permar is here to help. We’ve seen all varieties of workplace injury cases and we’ve won just about all of them.
Thanks to the comfort rule and the convenience doctrine, injuries that happen while on break often are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Can I Be Fired for Filing A Workers’ Comp Claim in South Carolina?
This question seems to come up more frequently than most. Often, I hear clients expressing concern about whether or not they can be fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim. And unfortunately it’s kind of a good news, bad news situation. The good news is that you cannot be fired for filing a workman’s compensation claim. The bad news is that you can be fired for just about anything else.
This is because South Carolina is a “Right to Work” State. This means that in South Carolina, an employer has the right to fire you for just about anything. Of course some things are protected. For instance, an employer is not allowed to fire you based on your age, sex, race, disability, or any other federally protected reason. However, they can fire you for leaving work five minutes early or not performing your job satisfactorily.
Your employer has the right to fire you even while you are receiving workman’s compensation benefits just so long as the cited reason is not because you filed for workers’ compensation. They can also terminate you if your injury causes you to no longer be able to perform your job. If you were terminated not long after filing workers’ compensation, or have any questions about your rights surrounding filing for workman’s compensation, feel free to contact an attorney at Oxner + Permar for a free consultation.
What to Expect When Attending a Social Security Disability Hearing
When dealing with a Social Security Disability hearing, many people aren’t actually sure what to expect out of the proceedings. You might be expecting the type of courtroom proceeding you see on television: big wood-paneled rooms, the judge sitting on an elevated platform, a jury, and an opposing lawyer. It’s an intimidating image to say the least.
In reality, a Social Security hearing is much more akin to a conference room meeting than an episode of Law and Order. Usually there are only a handful of people in the room. Other than yourself and your attorney there is also likely to be a court reporter—who is responsible for keeping a written transcript of the proceedings—and a judge. There may also be a vocational expert whose job is to be a resource for the judge. However, more often than not, they will be on speakerphone rather than in the hearing.
Compared to the courtroom you might see on TV, a social security hearing is likely going to feel very informal. The judge will likely ask you questions directly. They could be about anything ranging from your daily life to the nature of your injury to the type of work you were doing before the onset of your disability. There are very few limits to the kinds of questions the judge can ask you, so it’s best to be prepared for anything. You may be surprised about what kinds of evidence are allowed in a Social Security Disability hearing as the rules are very different than they are for other court proceedings.
The most important thing you can do when undergoing a Social Security Disability hearing is to find an experienced attorney who can help you through the process. The mish-mash of regulations surrounding a Social Security Disability hearing are complex and don’t follow a logical structure. Having an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process will ensure that you fully understand the proceedings. Don’t go into a hearing alone, make sure that you have an attorney who’s fighting for you and your rights.
Oxner + Permar’s experienced attorneys are passionate about fighting for their clients. Don’t go into a Social Security Disability hearing alone: go with an attorney who will fight for you and make sure that you are well informed every step of the way.
Is Not Wearing a Seatbelt Considered Contributory Negligence?
In North Carolina, it’s illegal to not wear a seat belt. Regardless of age, or whether you’re the driver or a passenger, everyone is required to wear a seat belt. We’ve all seen the ad campaigns and the “click it or ticket” slogan to encourage drivers to wear their seatbelts, and hopefully this is a law that we all take very seriously. Seat belts save lives: they protect not just you, but other passengers in your car as well.
However, let’s say one day you forgot to put on your seatbelt. And while you were driving through an intersection, a car coming from the other direction runs the light and crashes into your car. Your car is damaged and you’ve sustained more injuries because you weren’t wearing a seat belt. The accident was in no way your fault. Apart from not wearing your seat belt, you were obeying the laws of the road. Would you still be able to claim insurance money? Or would your lack of seat belt be considered contributory negligence?
It is important to know that North Carolina rejects what is known as the “seatbelt defense.” A case in 1968 (Miller v. Miller) ruled that failure to wear a seat belt might mean that the amount paid out could be lessened because your injuries could have been less substantial had you been wearing a seat belt. Again, no matter what, please be safe on the roads, and buckle up.
Oxner + Permar encourages all drivers to wear a seatbelt. If you have any questions regarding what constitutes contributory negligence in the instance in which a driver is not wearing a seatbelt, be sure to contact an attorney.
Will Returning to Work After an Injury Hurt My Case?
After a work injury, you might be chomping at the bit to return to work, and you’re not alone. Whether it’s because you’re ready for your regular paycheck, or because you’re bored with recovering at home or maybe simply because you miss your job, there are many reasons to want to head back to the workplace. I’ve had many clients who are worried about returning to work too soon. In terms of workers’ compensation, what does it mean to return to work? Will it hurt my case?
There are two ways you can return to work:
- Return to work (Form 28)
- Trial return to work (Form 28T)
The difference between these two has to do with restrictions. Return to work (Form 28) is when you return to work without work restrictions. On the other hand a trial return to work (Form 28T) is required when you’re returning to work with restrictions.
Each of these scenarios will have different implications on your case; therefore, we recommend you seek an experienced attorney for advice. We’ll be able to look at your case specifically and decide exactly which course of action is best for you. The attorneys at Oxner + Permar are dedicated to ensuring that you receive the benefits that you deserve. And with over $275m in awards and settlements, we have the experience to know exactly which steps are best for your case.
When it comes to returning to work after an injury, every situation is different. Sometimes it makes sense to return right away; other times it’s best to wait. If you have any questions, feel free to contact an attorney for a free consultation.