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.
The Danger of Working Near Water with Heavy Equipment
No matter how experienced you are, there’s always a danger when working with heavy machinery. Even when you follow all of the safety guidelines, there are variables outside of our control that can cause accidents.
You may have heard last month about the death of a local Fayetteville construction worker who was tragically killed during the flooding from Hurricane Matthew. He was driving a construction vehicle along the banks of a river while repairing a sewer line, when the earth along the water gave way, and caused his vehicle to tip into the water.
While nothing could have been done to prepare for this scenario, it’s always best to follow safety protocols in order to minimize the risk of injury. Make sure you are wearing proper safety equipment, and always be aware of your surroundings.
It’s good to know that if you are injured at work as a result of a natural disaster (for instance flooding), that injury should be covered by workers’ compensation. Work-related deaths are also covered under workers’ compensation. The death of a loved one is a difficult time no matter the circumstances. The last thing you need is to have to wade through the nuances of a workers’ compensation claim. Let an experienced attorney help guide you through this difficult time.
If you or someone you know has been injured at work as a result of a natural disaster, be sure to contact an experienced attorney at Oxner + Permar for a free consultation. With more than $275 million in awards and settlements, our attorneys have the experience to get you the benefits you deserve.
Protect Yourself from Wintry Weather Conditions at Work
Building snowmen, going sledding, snowball fights, and days off from school might make some look forward to winter weather. But those who have to work in a winter wonderland might not embrace snow in the forecast with such joy. If this pertains to you, there are things you can do to protect yourself and your work station from the hazards of winter weather.
- Avoid icy conditions. If you don’t have to go into work when there’s ice or snow on the roads, don’t! If it’s unavoidable, drive carefully and slowly. If you have snow tires, be sure to use them. Work on scaffolding should be suspended if at all possible. Watch out for black ice and places that might freeze before the ground does.
- Be mindful of frozen pipes. We know it’s not always possible to protect exposed pipes from the elements. If your pipes freeze, make sure they are thawed by a trained employee using approved methods (such as space heaters or a heat gun).
- Maintain machinery. Always check to make sure that heavy machinery has not been affected by the cold — especially equipment such as cranes that might require climbing. If ice accumulates on the ladder, it could cause you to slip and fall.
- Dress appropriately. If you work outside, be sure to dress warmly: coat, hat, gloves, boots.
- Take breaks to warm up. If you find yourself unable to feel your hands or feet, are having difficulty moving them, or are unable to stop shivering, take a break to go warm up! Hypothermia and frostbite are serious conditions, and you should take precautions against them. If you develop hypothermia or frostbite while on the job, you could be eligible for workers’ compensation.
When it comes to winter weather, don’t take chances. The best thing is to use precaution and your best judgment. If something seems unsafe, don’t do it. Your health and safety is more important than any job. If you have any questions, feel free to contact one of our experienced attorneys for a free consultation.
Winter weather increases the risk of an on-the-job injury. Be sure to stay safe, and don’t take unnecessary risks.
The Future of Workers’ Compensation under Trump
It’s 2017. New year, new president. And with the inauguration of the president last month, it’s worth taking the time to take a look at what Trump’s policies mean for workers’ compensation. Whenever there’s a change of power, there’s bound to be a change in policies. So far, Trump’s policies seem like they’re going to impact workers’ comp in a much different way than Obama’s did.
Of course, it’s really too early to tell exactly how Trump’s policies will affect workman’s comp. There’s always a disconnect between what a candidate promises on the campaign trail and the reality of what they can achieve while in office. But based on what Trump has said, there are a few concerns regarding the future of workers’ compensation.
One of the main concerns is Trump’s desire to repeal the Affordable Care Act (more commonly referred to as “Obamacare”). The ACA goes a long way to ensure that workers’ comp costs are kept low and affordable. Thanks to the ACA, people are able to visit the doctor for less serious injuries knowing they will be covered by their health insurance. In that way workman’s comp money is saved for those who truly need it.
Moreover, Trump’s desire to cut back on funds for national health insurance programs such as medicare and medicaid will also put a strain on workers’ comp. Premiums are likely to go up as medical costs increase.
Only time will tell exactly how the Trump presidency will affect workers’ compensation. Regardless of how things might change, it’s always best to follow work safety guidelines. If you are injured at work, file for workers’ compensation and contact an attorney to help you through the process. If you sustain a work related injury, you are entitled to compensation. Make sure you have someone on your side to defend your rights.
At Oxner + Permar we are passionate about protecting our clients and their rights. No one should go it alone. Make sure you have someone fighting for you.
Former NFL Players Are Suing the NFL Over Workers’ Compensation
If you’re a nurse who got injured while lifting a patient, chances are your injury would be covered by workers’ comp. If you’re a construction worker and you broke your arm while working at a construction site, you’d expect this to be covered by workers’ comp as well. But what if you were a professional football player who sustained brain injury from multiple concussions? Should that also be covered under workers’ compensation?
When you think of “injured on the job” and “workers’ compensation,” football isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. Fair enough: Playing a sport doesn’t exactly seem like work, does it?
But let’s look at the law. In North Carolina, you are generally eligible for workers’ compensation if you are injured while “performing the duties of employment.” Technically, for a professional football player, taking the brunt of a head-on collision from a defensive lineman is what they’re hired to do — they’re performing a duty of employment.
This is the argument that’s being made by several former NFL players. Tony Gaiter (formerly of the New England Patriots and the San Diego Chargers) and 141 other former NFL players are suing the NFL for damages from brain injuries. Currently, NFL players affected by brain injuries are not covered by workers’ compensation despite the fact that these injuries occurred as a result of their profession. The hope is that this case will bring about reform to the way the NFL handles brain injuries and the treatment of the players.
Regardless of your profession, you deserve to be covered by workers’ compensation. If you are injured on the job, contact an experienced lawyer at Oxner + Permar for a free consultation.