Yearly Archives: 2017

Does the Future of Workers’ Comp Include Robotics?

Workers' Compensation

Does the Future of Workers’ Comp Include Robotics?

When people think of workers’ compensation, they don’t usually think of robotics. However, the US Food and Drug Administration has recently approved a device that could begin to open workman’s compensation to the world of robotics. Several companies are working to create exoskeletons for medical use. These exoskeletons are external full-body robotic devices that can make it possible for people with paraplegia or other mobility disabilities to walk.

It may sound like science fiction, but this technology is already being put to good use. The USFDA has already approved 3 exoskeleton devices. Two of the devices, ReWalk and Indego, have been evaluated and have received USFDA approval for both personal and medical facility use. This is a huge advancement in medical robotics. What does this have to do with workers’ compensation? 

Well, believe it or not, some workers’ comp insurers have already approved a few claims for these motorized devices and will cover both the device and the training. However, not all carriers have chosen to cover these devices — mainly because they are currently quite expensive.

In order to use these devices, patients need to be able to use the standing frame, have control of their hands, and their shoulders must be able to support the use of crutches or a walker. Each unit is custom fitted to each user. The control system is worn like a backpack, and the user can control power walking through wrist pad controllers. There is also a tilt sensor to help stabilize steps. These devices allow users to walk, sit, stand, and go up and down steps.

It certainly looks like these exoskeletons are the future of spinal cord injury treatment. Early research shows that these devices not only provide an improved quality of life, but also reduce the risk of secondary complications and are effective in allowing the user to navigate their community.

If you have sustained a spinal injury while on the job, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced attorney. At Oxner + Permar, we are dedicated to helping our clients and ensuring that their rights are protected.

My claim was denied – What now?

Workers' Compensation

My claim was denied – What now?

Having your claim denied can feel like a dead end. However, just because your claim has been denied, doesn’t mean your case is over. When your workers’ compensation insurance company denies your claim, they’re basically saying that they don’t think they are responsible for paying for your injuries.

A lot of workman’s compensation law is determined by laws that can be up for interpretation. That’s why attorneys are the best people to interpret relevant statutes and analyze claims. Because so much is open to interpretation, claims are denied for all sorts of reasons, and just because one law was interpreted one way for another case, doesn’t mean it’ll be interpreted the same way for your case.

When you receive a denial, your attorney will do two main things:

  1. Send a list of Interrogatories to the Defendants.
    Interrogatories really just means a list of questions. These questions are designed to help your attorney figure out why the claim was denied and discover any information that was not available before. Generally they have about 30 days to fill them out, though they can file for an extension. Chances are you and your attorney will receive a list of interrogatories from the defense as well.
  2. File a Hearing Request.
    This will allow the Deputy Commissioner to determine if your denial was improper – if so your case will go to court. It will also give you and the defendants a chance to go to mediation and settle your case outside of court. As it can take around 6 months to actually get a hearing, mediation is a good option in the meantime.

If you can afford it, we highly recommend that you continue seeking treatment until your hearing. Not only will it be beneficial to your health, but it gives us a better understanding of your medical condition, which gives us a better understanding of your case.

If your workers’ comp claim was denied, there are still plenty of opportunities to come to a settlement. Be sure to contact an experienced attorney who will help guide you through the process.


What Does it Mean to Settle on the Rating?

Workers' Compensation

What Does it Mean to Settle on the Rating?

This is an excellent question that I often hear from clients who were injured at work: “What does it mean to settle on the rating?” In order to understand what this means it’s important to first know what a rating is. Ratings are given to physical injuries to describe how much or little ability you’ve lost in your injured body part.

For instance, if you sustained a shoulder injury, your doctor may give you a 5% rating. This means that your shoulder is working at 95% of its original capacity. In other words, you’ve lost 5% of your original mobility in that shoulder. Typically, your rating will be assigned by your physician at the end of treatment.

So how does that rating affect your settlement? Your rating is equal to a particular dollar amount that you are owed. There is a specific calculation for determining this amount. Each body part is assigned a number of weeks. Then, they multiply that number by the rating percentage and workers’ compensation rate.

Let’s say you have injured your back and received a 10% rating. A back injury is worth 300 weeks. If your workers’ compensation rate is $300, you’d multiply 10% x 300 x 300. So if you settled on the rating, your settlement would be $9,000.

It’s always a good idea to speak with an attorney who is experienced in workers’ compensation to help you navigate terms such as this. It can take a huge headache out of trying to figure out what you need to know for your case. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced attorney.

To “settle on rating” means that you will receive a sum of money determined by the degree of your injury and where you were injured. If you’ve been injured at work, contact an experienced attorney to find out if this is relevant to your case.

How Does Drug Addiction Affect Social Security?

How Does Drug Addiction Affect Social Security?

It is important to know that social security benefits do not cover drug addiction. If you are seeking social security benefits because of a drug addiction, you will be denied. However, if you are — or were in the past — addicted to drugs, you can still receive benefits. Below are some things you’ll want to keep in mind should you decide to apply for social security benefits while also having a diagnosed drug addiction.

When you file your social security claim, you’ll need to make sure you meet the following requirements:

  1. You must make a working salary of less than $1,170 a month.
  2. Your condition must be long term (expecting to last at least a year).
  3. Your condition must be damaging your ability to work.

Applying for Social Security if You’ve Had Past Drug Use

If you’ve suffered from permanent changes to your physical or mental health due to a past drug addiction, you can qualify for social security benefits. Your condition will have to meet certain criteria depending on how it affects you. It’s best to speak with an attorney directly to discuss your specific case.

Applying for Social Security with a Current Drug Addiction

While you can’t receive social security benefits for your drug addiction, it’s still possible to receive benefits for a different condition while also dealing with a drug addiction. However, if the Social Security Administration determines that your condition would go away if you were to stop using drugs, your claim will be denied.

Do You Need Medical Evidence?

If you’re claiming social security benefits due to a condition caused by past drug use, you’ll need to provide medical evidence through psychiatric reports, names and addresses of your doctors, and a full history of your medical records (including hospitalizations and medications).

If you have additional questions about claiming benefits while dealing with a current or past drug addiction, be sure to speak with an experienced attorney. We can help you determine whether or not your case is likely to qualify and help guide you through the process.

Applying for social security benefits? Don’t go it alone. Speak with an experienced attorney to help guide you through the process. Give us a call — at Oxner + Permar we offer a free consultation.

Is My Landlord Responsible for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Personal Injury

Is My Landlord Responsible for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?

Generally, landlords are responsible for making sure that their tenants’ homes are well maintained and up to safety regulations. So if your landlord failed to meet these standards, and you were injured as a result, he or she may be accountable. The problem is, with something like carbon monoxide poisoning, there can be some grey area about who’s responsible.

If your exposure was caused by something like a broken furnace, pipe, or anything else a landlord is responsible for fixing or maintaining, the landlord is likely to be held accountable — especially if you notified them that there was a problem. If they refuse to fix a problem that you pointed out to them, and you end up getting hurt as a result, they will almost certainly be held accountable.

Things can start getting tricky when the carbon monoxide exposure happens because of an appliance or device that was not broken when you moved in. For example, let’s say you have a gas stove that was properly inspected right before you moved in. Everything was fine with the stove, but a few months later you accidentally damage the stove which causes it to begin leaking carbon monoxide. In this case, your landlord probably won’t be considered responsible.

The same is true if your stove was leaking due to a manufacturing problem. In this instance, you might have a case against the manufacturer instead.

North Carolina law requires that homes have carbon monoxide detectors. If your landlord did not install a carbon monoxide detector and you suffered carbon monoxide exposure, your landlord could be liable.

If you’ve suffered from carbon monoxide exposure, be sure to contact an experienced attorney to help handle your case. At Oxner + Permar, we offer a free consultation. We’ll help evaluate your case and decide your next steps.