Binding Arbitration: When Not to Go to Court
I find that many clients assume the best way to win their case is to take it to court and make sure that it is heard by a judge and jury. The truth of the matter is that a trial isn’t always the best (or fastest) way to go about it.
For instance, I recently worked with a client who was injured by an uninsured driver and made a claim for underinsured motorist coverage. Our first step was to submit a demand to the insurance companies. They made an offer of $20,000. That might seem like a fair amount of money, but the reality of the situation was that it only covered the medical bills.
Rather than taking the matter to court, we demanded arbitration with the insurance carriers. They agreed to meet for voluntary mediation. During the mediation, the insurance carriers upped their offer to $30,000. However, they refused to negotiate any further.
I knew that my client deserved more than this, so we went to binding arbitration. Binding arbitration is like a very informal, mini trial in which the rules of evidence don’t apply. Instead, an impartial third party is brought in to hear both sides and decide on a ruling. In this case, the arbitrators came back with an award of $50,000 — $20,000 more than the insurance companies had offered us!
It just goes to show that sometimes the best course of action is to utilize binding arbitration when it is allowed. This kind of hearing can be efficient for settling claims and can result in rewards that are substantially higher than the original offers.
If you or someone you know has been wrongfully injured, be sure to contact an experienced lawyer at Oxner + Permar. With more than $275 million in awards and settlements, we know how to make wrongs, right.
Oxner + Permar Gives Back: A Simple Gesture
We talked last month about a couple of charities that Oxner + Permar is proud to work with, and this month we thought we’d share another. A Simple Gesture is a wonderful program dedicated to making sure that food banks and pantries are fully stocked with everything they need to help serve the community. While this program has a national reach, we work directly with the Greensboro branch to ensure that we’re doing our part for our community.
Participation is, as the name suggests, simple. But it makes a huge difference! Every month we give our employees little green bags. When they go to the grocery store, the just need to buy an additional nonperishable food item to fill the bag. Then, once a month, a volunteer comes to collect all of our full green bags. They distribute the bags to organizations such as Out of the Garden, The Greensboro Urban Ministry, Backpack Beginnings and Jewish Family Services.
All of the organizations that A Simple Gesture donates to have waiting lists to fill. It makes us happy to know that we’re helping to alleviate some of that need. If you’re interested in helping out or donating to A Simple Gesture, get your company involved, or sign up as an individual! Volunteers will drive to your house to collect your green bag, which means you can give without having to take time out of your busy routine.
If you have any questions about volunteering or donating to A Simple Gesture, be sure to visit their website for more details.
What Happens When Uniforms Cause Injuries?
I’ve heard a lot of different opinions about uniforms. Some workers don’t enjoy wearing them: They say they’re not comfortable or that they lack individuality. One client mentioned to me that they didn’t like their uniform because it was just plain ugly. Other people love their uniforms: They say they’re comfy, that they make them look professional, or that it allows them to not have to think about what to wear. Regardless of how you feel about uniforms, we can all agree that none of us want our uniforms to make us sick.
Unfortunately, that’s what seems to be happening with American Airlines’ new uniforms. The airline company rolled out their new uniforms in September to more than 70,000 employees. Since then there are reports that as many as 2,000 employees have complained of sickness. With symptoms such as rashes, itching, headaches, and eye irritation, the union is already calling for a recall of the uniforms.
Although around 350 employees have already filed formal complaints, so far the uniform manufacturer’s response has been to offer uniforms made in different materials. They’re apparently working on a 100% cotton alternative uniform.
While irritation from a uniform may not strike you as something that needs a workers’ compensation claim, this is a type of injury covered by workers’ compensation. If you or someone you know has a uniform-related workers’ compensation claim, don’t hesitate to reach out to us with questions.
If you or someone you know has a uniform-related workers’ comp claim, feel free to give the experienced attorneys at Oxner + Permar a call for a free consultation.
If My Appointed Doctor is Far Away, Do I Have to See Them?
So you’ve been injured at work. You file for workers’ compensation, and you receive a doctor appointed by the insurance company. You’re thinking, “Great! My workers’ compensation process is going smoothly so far!” But then you notice the address of your doctor. They live in Raleigh, and you live in Wilmington. That’s a solid two-hour drive away, possibly longer if there’s a lot of traffic (and let’s face it, there’s probably going to be traffic). Are they allowed to do that? Do you have to see this doctor?
Here’s the thing: The workers’ compensation carrier is allowed to appoint whichever doctor they see fit; however, there are a couple of steps you can take to make this process less of a hassle.
- You can request to see a different doctor. If you appeal to your employer and their insurance company, they may choose to change doctors. If that fails, you can then appeal to the Industrial Commission. They will take your case into consideration and decide whether or not to allow you to change doctors.
- You can seek reimbursement for travel expenses. In some cases, you may have to travel a great distance in order to seek the best care for your injury. In this case, it’s good to know that if you travel more than 20 miles round trip to visit your doctor, you can be reimbursed at a rate of 54 cents per mile. (These rates differ year-by-year. Be sure to find out the rate for the year in which you traveled).
Don’t let the insurance company push you around. If you’re appointed a doctor who lives far away, make sure you are taking the proper steps to receive reimbursement or to be assigned a doctor who is closer. Working with an experienced attorney can help make sure you’re on the right track and that someone is on your side fighting for your rights.
If you’re appointed a doctor whose office is far away from you, there are steps you can take to ensure that your doctor is reassigned or that you’re being reimbursed. Talk to an experienced attorney at Oxner + Permar for a free consultation.
What Are My Chances of Winning an Appeal?
If you’ve filed for Social Security Disability, it can be devastating to find out your claim has been denied. Especially if you believe your claim has been denied unfairly. But denial is not necessarily the end of the road. There are steps you can take to appeal this decision. At this point, however, you might be wondering: Is it really worth the effort? What are my chances of winning an appeal?
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to say for certain. Every situation is different, and therefore, there will be factors and variables that affect everyone’s chances differently. I’ll give you a few statistics. When an appeal claim is at the reconsideration level, there’s an 85% chance it will be rejected. At the hearing level, there’s a 50/50 chance a claim will be rejected. However, there are things you can do to increase your chances. For one, hiring an attorney will increase the chance of your appeal succeeding.
There are many factors that are taken into consideration when reviewing your case — such as whether or not your condition has worsened over time. They will also likely look at whether or not you’ve been following the proper procedures. For instance, did you let Social Security know of any changes to your condition when you filed your appeal? Have you been keeping your files up-to-date, making notes of appointments and procedures? Have you complied with all requests made by the Disability Determination Services?
It is important to make sure that you are keeping your records up-to-date, and an attorney can help make sure that you’re staying on the right track. The presence of an attorney can increase your chances of your appeal succeeding, but it’s also a good idea to work with an attorney because we can help you navigate your claim and make sure that you’re doing everything to receive the benefits that you deserve.
At Oxner + Permar, we’re dedicated to making sure that you receive the care and compensation you need — and with more than $275 million in awards and settlements, we have the experience to protect your rights.