Posts By: Oxner

Email : [email protected] Todd Oxner is a founder and managing partner of Oxner + Permar , a North Carolina workers’ compensation firm. Since 1994 Todd has been known statewide for his success in handling workers’ compensation claims.

Can the Insurance Company Use My Social Media Accounts as Evidence?

Workers' Compensation

 

Can the Insurance Company Use My Social Media Accounts as Evidence?

After you’re injured at work, the last thing you want to worry about is whether or not a photo you post on social media is going to damage your case. Unfortunately, that’s the world we live in. Defense attorneys know that most of us share every aspect of our lives online, so they will absolutely dig through any social media account they can find to gather evidence on why they shouldn’t pay you.

 

It can be hard to believe that the insurance companies would stoop this low, but one of our clients experienced it first hand. She had a 10-second video, shot by her child, of her hugging her spouse after returning from seeing her mother who was terminally ill.

 

The defense attorneys took that video and tore it apart for evidence. Soon they were asking questions such as “You seem to be moving okay, are you sure you’re hurt?” and “You seem to be carrying a bag, how much did it weigh?” These questions have the potential to save their client tons of money — which is why it’s important not to give them anything to work with in the first place.

 

This may feel like a huge invasion of privacy, but the truth is they don’t see it that way because you are volunteering this information. Regardless of whether or not your profile is public, there’s still a good chance an attorney will find it. That’s why the best course of action is to simply temporary disable your social media accounts while your case is ongoing.

 

Be cautious with your social media, and don’t volunteer information that could be construed as incriminating. If you have any questions about your case, contact Oxner + Permar for a free consultation. 

After a Work Injury, Do I Have to Use My Vacation and Sick Time?

Workers' Compensation

After a Work Injury, Do I Have to Use My Vacation and Sick Time?

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.

 

You are in no way obligated to take your vacation or sick time in order to cover your first week off. Don’t let your employer force you to use what is yours. Work with an experienced attorney who will help you stand up for your rights.

My Doctor Has Released Me to Return to Work, but I’m Not Ready!

Workers' Compensation

My Doctor Has Released Me to Return to Work, but I’m Not Ready!

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.

 

If you believe your doctor has cleared you for work that you’re not ready to do, it’s a good idea to speak with your attorney. They can help you take the next steps and speak to the right people so that you can focus on your recovery.

If I Settle My Case, Do I Have to Quit My Job?

Workers' Compensation

If I Settle My Case, Do I Have to Quit My Job?

This is a question that often comes up when clients are dealing with a workers’ compensation case. Many are concerned that they’ll have to add searching for employment to their list of things to worry about while recovering from their injury. While there is no requirement that says you have to quit your job if you settle, it’s still possible you may find yourself unemployed after your settlement.

Quite often an employer will ask you to resign as part of a certain type of settlement. These settlements are usually for significantly more money than what would cover your disability rating. If you take a settlement that matches your rating, it is extremely unlikely that your employer will ask you to resign.

 

The reason this could happen is that when you’re offered a bigger settlement, the insurance company is paying to give up their obligation for your future medical care. So for example, let’s say you were allowed to return to work after being awarded $50,000 for your shoulder injury. If six weeks later you returned to work and re-injured your shoulder, not only would you have the $50,000 from your first claim, you’d also be able to start a new claim.

 

By asking you to resign as part of the settlement, the insurance company can ensure that they won’t have to pay you twice. In fact, if you hear about someone who was fired after a workers’ comp claim, it’s more likely that they were offered money in order to resign. But their boss would have encouraged the rumor that they were fired…or at least, they won’t do anything to correct the rumor.

 

This is because if employees think that the claim caused a coworker to be fired, it will prevent other employees from filing a claim themselves — which means that the employer will save money. You shouldn’t let these rumors prevent you from submitting your workers’ compensation claim. While you can be asked to resign, it is illegal for an employer to fire you for filing for workers’ comp.

 

If you’ve been injured at work don’t hesitate to contact an attorney to help guide you through the process. With more than $275 million in awards and settlements, Oxner + Permar has the experience to get you the benefits you deserve.

Can I Sue My Employer for Negligence?

Workers' Compensation

Can I Sue My Employer for Negligence?

We understand that after you’ve been injured on the job, you’ll want to do everything in your power to make that wrong right. And sometimes, simply receiving workers’ compensation for your injury doesn’t feel like enough. However, according to workman’s comp law, you are not allowed to sue your employer for negligence. The only avenue is through workers’ compensation.

As a follow up question, I frequently have clients ask, “But what if I can prove that my employer was negligent?” Even if they were somehow negligent, you still cannot sue.

 

It IS possible to get an additional 10% penalty against your employer if you can prove that they willfully failed to comply with any statutory requirement; however, cases of the Industrial Commission enforcing this penalty are very rare. “Willful Failure” is a very high standard to meet. Generally the employer would have to be at fault for something far more serious.

 

The only exception to being able to sue your employer in the case of an injury is if your employer was required by law to carry workers’ compensation and failed to do so. In this case, your employer cannot claim the Workers’ Compensation Act as a defense in a lawsuit. In this case, you would be able to sue.

 

In the vast majority of cases, you may not sue your employer for negligence. When it comes to workers’ comp cases, it’s always a good idea to work with an experienced attorney who has a good understanding of what you can or can’t do with your case.

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