I recently spoke with a client who suffered a workplace injury, and they asked me a question that comes up frequently. “My human resources person said that I have to use my vacation and sick time before they will pay me anything. Is that true?” I’m always shocked at how often I hear this question, especially from state and local employees.
The answer to whether or not you’re required to use your vacation time or sick time is a definitive no. According to North Carolina law, you do not get paid for missing the first week of work after your injury. Instead you begin receiving payments the second week. If you are unable to work a third week — or if you get a disability rating due to an injured body part— then they have to go back and pay you for the first week.
Even if you use vacation days or sick days for your first week, the insurance company is still required to pay you for that first week. While your employer might try to claim that this is great for you because you get paid twice, that’s not how the law sees it. You are using a limited resource that you’ve earned — your vacation time, sick time, or personal time off — so you didn’t really get it for free.
Oftentimes, when you’ve been off work due to a workplace injury, getting the go-ahead from your doctor to return to work is a huge relief. It can be a sign that things are starting to return to normalcy. But what happens if you feel your doctor has made a mistake? What if you don’t feel ready to return to work?
There are several reasons why your doctor may have cleared you despite the fact that you’re not yet feeling 100%. First, your doctor may have a standing agreement with your adjuster or your employer that he won’t keep you from work as long as your employer can find something for you to do. In this case, you may not be returning to your regular job, but at least it will start easing you back into work.
That brings us to the second reason your doctor may have cleared you. Many doctors believe that there is a healing power in being active and out of the house. While this definitely isn’t true in every case, there are plenty of instances of clients who were worse off sitting in the house than getting back into shape.
However, it is also possible that your doctor may not have a good idea of what your job entails. While that could be down to the fact that your doctor just isn’t familiar with your line of work, it’s also possible that your Rehabilitation Professional gave your doctor an edited job description. Sometimes this happens by choice of the RP; sometimes the employer makes the edits. However, if the doctor doesn’t have a clear picture of what you do, they might clear you for a job you’re not actually ready to do yet.
If you have concerns, be sure to take them up with your doctor. Communication is key for making sure that they have a clear idea of your injury and your ability to work.
Oxner + Permar has multiple offices across North and South Carolina, so it’s always exciting when our different branches can give back. Recently two offices had the opportunity to participate in a couple of outstanding events in their communities.
The Greensboro office participated in La Batella Kids, a fun-filled day of music, entertainment, talent shows, and more! The Oxner + Permar team set up a tent and gave away a ton of candy to the kids and their families. This event also gave us the opportunity to speak with families in the community. We were able to share a lot of good advice and tips. We had a blast, and it seemed like everyone in attendance did too!
Over in Raleigh, the office attended La Fiesta del Pueblo 2017. As with the event in Greensboro, we were able to give out candy to attendees. We also had the pleasure of being able to chat with families all day. This was a wonderful opportunity to get to talk with members of the community.
We understand that it can be intimidating to approach an attorney; that’s why we believe it’s important for us to get involved and show that we care about the communities that we represent. We want people to feel that they can come to us with challenges they face in their lives whether they’re dealing with a workers’ compensation case, a family law case, a personal injury case, or something else. An experienced attorney can make all the difference, and we want to make a positive difference in our communities.
When applying for Social Security Disability benefits, it can be difficult to think about also having to hire an attorney. The good news is that it is possible to apply for Social Security Disability benefits on your own. You’ll just need to jump through quite a few hoops to make it happen.
First you’ll need to contact your local Social Security representative. You can get the application by phone, by mail, online or in person. The form will ask you to provide information about your injuries, disabilities, treatments and any other information that may be applicable.
Your local representative will be responsible for confirming your basic information. For instance, they’ll be checking your age, employment status, and other general information.
Once your application passes through the local office, your case will go on to Disability Determination Services, commonly abbreviated as DDS. The DDS is a state run agency that determines whether or not your claim is valid. They will use the information that you provided in your application for their initial review. They will then conduct a consultative examination usually with your physician; however, they may also choose to work with an independent source.
After these examinations are complete, the DDS will determine whether or not to grant you benefits. If they decline your claim, you can appeal.
While it is completely possible to file for Social Security Disability benefits on your own, it can be difficult. Claims that are filed without the assistance of an attorney are often initially denied. Working with an experienced attorney can not only save you time, but help you start receiving the benefits you’re owed as soon as possible.
When it comes to our health, we want to be able to trust our doctors. Especially when dealing with a workers’ compensation case. You want to make sure your doctor truly has your best interests at heart. So is it legal for your employer talk to your doctor behind your back? Doesn’t that seem like a breach of trust?
It’s an unfortunate truth, but yes, it is legal. And they do — all the time. It wasn’t always allowed, but very often it happened anyway. However, successful lobbying with Governor McCrory lead to a huge change in the law. Thanks to these new laws, employers can talk to your doctor, and are not required to tell you that the conversation occurred or what they talked about.
Under the old laws, the adjuster or employer had to not only submit their inquiries in writing, but also had to share a copy with you before they sent it to your doctor. This would give you a chance to look it over and ask any questions you might have. You could even ask for something to be added — which seems like a very fair arrangement. They could communicate with your doctor, and you still knew what was going on.
So why did insurance adjusters and employers want this changed? Well, based on the fact that they lobbied the government to change the law, it doesn’t seem like a huge leap to infer that they had a motive. And that motive seems to be their desire to communicate with your doctor without you knowing.