Understanding Your Rights When You Have a Nurse Case Manager
Under NC Workers Compensation law, employers and their insurance carriers are allowed to hire nurse case managers to assist in coordinating medical treatment. Although the nurse case manager is paid by your employer, take comfort in knowing that they are expected to be impartial and exercise independent judgment. In fact, nurse case managers are required to adhere to the NC Industrial Commission Rules for Utilization of Rehabilitation Professionals in Workers Compensation Claims.
When working with a nurse case manager, make sure you know your rights. Here are a few key things to keep in mind:
- A nurse case manager is allowed to attend an injured worker’s doctor appointments; however, the worker has the right to a private exam. Usually the nurse case manager will join the injured worker and doctor after the examination to discuss treatment options.
- A nurse case manager is also required to prepare regular written reports on the injured worker’s treatment. These notes must be provided at the same time to all parties. You have a right to insist on this.
- Know that your communications with the nurse case manager are not protected and that they will likely will be reported back to the insurance carrier. Remember this every time you communicate with him or her.
- A nurse case manager is responsible for helping coordinate your medical treatment—but he or she should not attempt to direct medical treatment or influence your treatment in any way. Furthermore, a nurse case manager is not to be used as an investigator for your claim and may not give legal advice.
In most cases, nurse case managers are very helpful, and can help ensure a smooth road to recovery. Just be sure that you know how to protect your rights in every scenario, including when you are assigned a nurse case manager. We’re here for you throughout the workers’ compensation process because we believe in making wrongs, right.
How Soon After a Worker’s Comp Claim Should You Search for a Job?
If you are in the middle of a workers’ compensation claim, there may come a time when you realize that you cannot return to your job. Many of our clients can no longer perform the job they once had and so they need to begin thinking about what kind of work they can do once they are able. The question we most often hear in this case is whether or not they should be job searching during an active workman’s comp claim.
The answer is yes—absolutely.
Many clients don’t understand the importance of job searching because they think it is counterintuitive. They believe that having work restrictions means no work at all. The thing to remember is that the Workers’ Compensation Commission sees this very differently. They need to see that you are doing everything you can to get back on your feet. It is critical to your case that you start applying for jobs as soon as your attorney advises you to do so. At Oxner + Permar, we routinely recommend looking for at least three to five jobs per week. The goal is to demonstrate to the Commission that you are invested in getting back to work as soon as you are physically able. Your attorney can advise you on what types of jobs you should be looking for and how to best document your search.
If you need to change jobs following a work injury, don’t put your workers’ comp benefits at risk by delaying your search. Be prepared to demonstrate that you will be ready to begin working again as soon as you are physically able.
When Employers Refuse to Acknowledge Your Injury
Often, our clients call us concerned and seeking help because their employer refuses to acknowledge their work injury. They have told their supervisor verbally that they were injured. In some cases, they’ve even let their human resources representative know, but they aren’t getting anywhere. Meanwhile, they aren’t receiving the treatment they need to get better or the pay that they rightfully deserve.
What should you do if you find yourself in this unfortunate position? There ARE steps you can take to get the support you need:
- First, insist on putting your claim of injury in writing. To do this, write an explanation detailing how you were injured. Then send two copies—one to your supervisor and human resources representative.
- The next step is to call either an attorney or the North Carolina Industrial Commission to get a Form 18 filed. The Form 18 is formal notice to all important parties that you are claiming an injury due to your work. This form gets the process started and out of the hands of your employer. It will get the workers’ compensation carrier’s attention and should get your claim moving.
The Workers’ Compensation Act was created to protect employees like you. Don’t let your employer intimidate you out of pursuing your rights. Oxner + Permar attorneys specialize in workers’ comp. We’ve won more than $275m in awards and settlements for our clients—and we are dedicated to helping you get the treatment and pay you deserve.
Have you been injured on the job, and your employer refuses to help? File the Form 18 and get your claim moving forward.
How to Protect Your Rights by Documenting Your Work Injury
Injured workers want to trust that their employer will take care of them, and many can. Unfortunately, some employers don’t have their employees’ best interests in mind or they simply aren’t good at properly managing workers’ comp claims. It’s easy to believe that your employer will take care of you if you are injured, but it’s always important to be safe rather than sorry. To protect your rights, remember to take these important steps:
- Collect as much evidence about your injury as possible. Write down details you might soon forget such as date, time, circumstance, your employer’s response, your doctor’s report, etc. Be sure to take pictures of your injuries as well, even if you think there is a chance you won’t need them.
- Make a formal report of your injury to your supervisor. This report should be delivered both verbally and in writing.
- If there was another party or machine that caused your injury, collect evidence and write a report relating to that as well.
- Ask your attorney asses your report before you submit it. He or she can help you decide whether or not the documentation relating to your claim is helpful. Your attorney might not be involved right when your injury occurs, but taking these additional steps could be extremely important to your case down the road.
The Oxner + Permar team of 25 dedicated, knowledgeable attorneys have won more than $275m in workers’ comp awards and settlements for clients. We are here to ensure that you have someone on your side every step of the way.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Service Men and Women
The Oxner + Permar team supports our troops. We take time to remember and thank our service men and women on Memorial Day—and throughout the year. We support charities that help our service men and women lead safe, healthy lives. And when our service men and women have been injured during their civilian job or they are struggling on the job with injuries sustained during their service, we are there for them. In fact, our firm has assisted a number of soldiers who are working after being discharged from service.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for work injuries and service injuries to create too many obstacles for service men and women to return to gainful employment. If you (or someone you know) is in this same position, it is important to have an attorney on your side, fighting for your rights. Oxner + Permar helps servicemen and women coordinate workers’ compensation benefits as well as social security disability. There are more options available than you may realize. With our guidance and support, you’ll find a path forward to the quality of life you’ve worked so hard for—and that is so important, especially given the sacrifices you’ve made to help others.
Oxner + Permar is a proud supporter of our troops. We have the compassion, knowledge and experience to ensure that our service men and women get the workman’s comp and social security benefits they deserve.