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Posts By: Stase Vonsiatsky

What is the Statute of Limitations on Occupational Diseases?

When you have an accident at work, knowing when to file an accident report is simple — you should file as soon after your accident as possible. This will ensure that there’s an account of your accident in the records, and help prove to the insurance company that there is a need for workers’ compensation coverage.


Keep in mind, workers’ compensation doesn’t cover just accidents; it also covers occupational diseases. The big difference here is that it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact time when the disease first develops. There is a time limit on how long after your disease develops, so it’s important to file for workers’ compensation as soon as you can.


For instance, there was a case in 2012 in which an automotive mechanic assistant visited his doctor with complaints of shoulder pain that was initially diagnosed in 2000. The doctor diagnosed him with severe osteoarthritis, most likely a result of his job, which required frequent use of his arms and shoulders. He was advised that his shoulder might need to be replaced and that he should modify his work in order not to further damage his shoulder.


However, the mechanic continued to work until his retirement in 2009 despite the persistent pain. He often needed his co-workers to complete certain tasks. It was his shoulder pain that caused him to retire.


In 2012, the mechanic visited a doctor for his shoulder pain and was told that he had developed end-stage arthritis in his left shoulder, and that it required surgery. So he followed the doctor’s orders and underwent a surgery to replace his shoulder at the beginning of November. By the end of the month, he filed for workers’ compensation.


Despite the fact that he had developed this condition as a result of the normal duties of his job, the court dismissed his claim because he had waited too long to make his claim. There is a two-year statute of limitation on worker’s comp cases. The good news is that that two years generally begins after your first diagnosis.


If the mechanic had filed for workers’ compensation in 2000 when he received his first diagnosis, it’s likely he would have been covered by workers’ compensation. That’s why if you develop any sort of condition due to your work, it’s important that you file for workman’s comp as soon as you get the diagnosis.


There is a two-year statute of limitations on workers’ comp in cases of occupational diseases. If you’ve developed a condition due to your work, contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.


What is Considered Suitable Employment?

If you’ve been injured at work, it’s not uncommon to be given work restrictions. Of course, these restrictions are going to limit which jobs you can take on. You may not be ready to return to your old job right away. However, if your employer has an available job within those restrictions, you must go back to work in order to maintain your benefits.


What if the job your employer offers you is located 50 miles away from where you live? Are you required to make that commute in order to keep your benefits? This situation was called into question in 2012. A man who lived in Tennessee but worked as an iron worker on a construction project in North Carolina suffered a fracture to his lower left leg. He applied for workers’ compensation and began receiving benefits.


While he was healing, he was given work restrictions. His company had no positions that met his work restrictions in North Carolina; instead they offered him a position in Charleston, South Carolina — more than 50 miles away. Despite the fact that he would have been making equal pay to his old job, he turned this position down. The distance made it unsuitable.
Instead he started working a number of minimum wage jobs to compensate. When the insurance company found out, they tried to revoke his workers’ compensation because he had refused suitable employment.


In the end, the court ruled that the man was in the right because the need for the job to be within 50 miles is a requirement rather than a guideline. There is no need to work a job that is an unreasonable distance away.


If you’ve been injured at work, be sure to contact Oxner + Permar so you can speak with an experienced attorney. With more than $275 million in awards and settlements, we have the experience to ensure that your rights are defended.

NC Partial Disability Benefits: Could You Be Leaving Money On The Table?

Without an excellent attorney by your side, you could be leaving valuable benefits on the table when it comes to your partial disability claim. It happens more than you may realize.

An employee is injured at work. A claim is accepted. Medical treatment is provided—and work restrictions are honored. Eventually, he or she reaches maximum medical improvement and heads back to work.

What most people don’t realize is that they may be eligible for scheduled benefits under N.C. Gen. Stat §97-31—a partial impairment rating that determines employees who are not fully healed may receive additional benefits. Weeding through all of the particulars to determine if you are eligible for partial disability benefits can be very tricky. Consult an experienced attorney who can direct you. Oxner & Permar knows exactly how to help you and will ensure that you receive all of the benefits you are due.

If you are cleared for work, but not yet fully recovered, you may be eligible for partial disability payments. Contact Oxner + Permar for expert consultation to determine if you are due more benefits than you’ve received.

Workers’ Comp Tip of the Day: Being Placed on Light Work Duty After an Injury at Work


You’ve been injured on the job, you’re out of work, and now you’re beginning to worry about your next paycheck. Did you know that when an employee becomes injured on the job, the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) encourages employers to offer a light-duty position?

Has your employer offered a light-duty position to help accommodate the fact that you’ve been hurt at work? As with every step of the workers’ comp process, make sure you handle this offer appropriately. As the injured worker, know that you are usually required to accept the light-duty position. If you don’t, you could put your workman’s comp benefits at risk.

It’s not always a cut and dry situation, though. What if your employer is unable to accommodate the restrictions placed on you because of your injury?

If you find yourself out of work—without the option of light duty employment—here is what you need to know:

  • If your workers’ comp claim is accepted and benefits are being paid, chances are strong that you will continue to receive your benefits with light-duty employment.
  • If you claim is d
    enied or benefits are not being paid, you may be faced with finding other employment—even though you are still technically employed by your current employer.
  • To help bolster your disability claim, conduct a reasonable job search for positions that fall within your restrictions.
  • Contact a workers’ comp attorney to help navigate you through this process and to ensure your future right to compensation is not hindered.

As always, the knowledgeable team at Oxner + Permar are here to support you through any and all phases of the workers’ compensation process. Don’t hesitate to call for guidance. We will place you with a workers’ comp expert who knows exactly how to fight for you and make wrongs, right.

Medical Miles: Can I Get Reimbursed For Travel Mileage When I Visit My Doctor?

When you are hurt at work, workers’ compensation plans put the employer in charge of a lot of decisions. Because their plan is footing most or all of the bill, your employer directs your care. This may mean that you, as the injured worker, will be required to travel farther than you normally would to seek medical treatment. If you need to see a  specialist, it may be that he or she is not in your hometown, which also means traveling a distance.

What many people don’t realize is that medical miles can be reimbursed. As you travel to and from the doctor, be sure to log your miles so that you can receive payment for your expenses. Note that this only applies if the round-trip distance is more than ten miles from your home.

How is reimbursement calculated? The 2016 per mile rate is $0.54. Take your mileage and multiple it by that figure to see what you are owed. The rate changes every year, however, so be sure to take note of the new rate when logging 2017 miles.

If you use public transportation, rest assured your expenses are covered as well. Just keep track of the actual costs of your fare.

Finally, in some instances, it may be necessary to incur costs for overnight lodging and meals. These, too, are reimbursed within reason.

If you have additional questions about reimbursement for medical travel expenses, reach out to an attorney so that you have the support you need and the care you deserve. At Oxner + Permar, we care a great deal about our clients, and we’re always here to help.

When your employer’s workman’s comp plan states that you must travel outside of your town to visit a physician or specialist, be sure you take the necessary steps to cover your travel costs.