Category: Workers’ Compensation

I’ve Been Denied Unemployment Benefits And Need Help

Workers' Compensation

When you’ve been fired or laid off, you may (incorrectly) assume that you’re entitled to unemployment benefits. You’re shocked when the claim you submit to the Employment Security Commission is denied. How can that be? Your former employer has the right to block your benefits if you were fired with cause — if, for example, you ignored multiple performance warnings. Timing is everything when trying to obtain unemployment benefits. Generally you should file for benefits within the first week after any severance pay, vacation pay and/or separation pay are exhausted. BUT, if you have an active or pending workers’ comp claim when you are terminated, then see the blog below on that subject. That could change everything! Remember, if you want to file for unemployment benefits, you must be able to work and be available for work.

If you have filed for unemployment and have been denied, you have only 15 days to appeal the decision! That’s not a lot of time. If you’d like the help of an experienced attorney, you need to call us as soon as you can. We’ll try our best to stop the battle and get your unemployment compensation rolling along — or perhaps find a compromise with your former employer that will get you at least a partial benefit, depending on the circumstances. You can find further information about filing for unemployment benefits on the NC Employment Security Commission’s website.

This article was written by Todd P. Oxner

Were you fired while you had an open or pending workers’ comp claim?

Workers' Compensation

Have you been fired from your job while you have an open or pending workers’ comp claim? If so, you’re probably eager to file for unemployment benefits. After all, you’ve been fired and you’ve heard you are entitled to those benefits. But remember, when you file a claim for unemployment benefits, you must be “able to work.” That means you must be physically able to perform some type of work that you are qualified to perform. Now don’t get us wrong. Just because you could no longer perform your OLD job does not mean you are not eligible for unemployment. As long as there is some other work you can do, you may still be eligible for benefits. But if you are represented by an attorney in your workers’ comp claim, you should speak with them. You may be under a doctor’s restrictions and you don’t want to do anything that could jeopardize your worker’s comp claim. So if you are represented by a workers’ compensation attorney, be sure to discuss the impact an unemployment claim can have on your WC case. And as always if we can help answer any workers’ compensation or unemployment claims questions, don’t hesitate to call. We’ll see if we can help you sort this out.

This article was written by Todd P. Oxner

Let’s Talk About Board-Certified Specialists

Workers' Compensation

Oxner + Permar has more board-certified specialists than any other firm representing injured workers. North Carolina is one of 18 states that has a process by which an attorney can demonstrate a mastery of the law and be officially labeled a board-certified specialist in a particular field. You probably didn’t realize this, but lawyers are not ethically permitted to use terms like “expert” or “best” to describe themselves. Such terms are so subjective that just about any one can call themselves the best. So the North Carolina State Bar created a very difficult system for letting an attorney prove they really know the law.

There are three steps to becoming board certified.

First, an attorney must apply for permission to be considered. We must have several years of experience, we must dedicate a sizable amount of our time to the specific field, we must complete a detailed questionnaire explaining our experience (that we have taken extra training in this field), we must show that we have handled a large number of cases, show that we have had mediations, hearings, Full Commission appeals and cases in the Court of Appeals.

Second, the State Bar interviews ten or more attorneys who work against us. These are not our partners — they are either our competitors or attorneys on the other side of us. Attorneys anonymously grade others in terms of competency, success and understanding of the law.

If an attorney passes the first two steps then we are invited to sit for a day-long written examination (the Third step). This test covers the entire breadth of workers comp law, the Industrial Commission rules, the regulations governing vocational and medical rehabilitation, and is generally just an awful experience. Many attorneys have to repeat the examination the next year before passing it.

So why is it important to hire a firm with board-certified specialists? You’ve only got one crack at your case. Do you really want to trust it to a firm that hasn’t demonstrated that it really understands and succeeds at the law? Anyone can buy the back of the phone book or put an ad on television. Only a few attorneys are board-certified specialists.

Were You Injured by Someone’s Negligence?

Workers' Compensation

If the answer to that question is yes, then we either have very frustrating news or great news for you. We wish it were just good news all the time but it never is… Here’s the follow up question: if you were injured by someone else’s negligence was that person employed by your employer?

If you were injured by the negligence of a coworker it is essentially impossible to bring anything but a workers compensation claim against your employer. On the other hand, if you were injured by the negligence someone outside of your company you can bring a lawsuit against them – in addition to your workers comp claim.

Here is where it gets tricky… Because your employer lost out due to that other persons negligence your employer can also bring a claim against that negligent person. But only one claim can be brought. We’ve seen situations where the employer slips in and tries to collect all the available money without ever telling the injured worker about it.

Another problem area occurs when the injured worker does all the work to recover money from the negligent party and then the workers comp adjuster swoops in and tries to take most or all of it. Can she do that? As awful as it seems under North Carolina’s anti-injured worker leanings, yes she can. there are certain things which you can do to protect yourself from that.

At Oxner + Permar we have substantial experience is coordinating the workers compensation and personal injury cases so that you get the maximum combined recovery. This is a very tricky area of the law. So, if you believe you were injured due to someone else’s negligence give us a call so that we can help explain your options.

This article was written by Chip Permar

If your employer is trying to bring you back to work

Workers' Compensation

If you haven’t reached maximum medical improvement your employer can force you to do ANYTHING and cut off your weekly checks.

A few years ago Chip Permar handled a case where the employer called an injured person back to work and had him sitting in an unheated, unlit trailer on a construction site doing absolutely nothing in the middle of winter. The scenario was so over-the-top that it became almost an urban legend in terms of how illegal it was. Not any more.

The court of appeals recently permitted an employer to return an injured employee to a make-work position if it was therapeutic; that is, if performing the light-duty job would help the injured worker get better then it was acceptable. The new law takes this idea and eliminates any need for a positive benefit to the injured person. The law explicitly states that prior to maximum medical improvement the injured worker may be forced to return to “noncompetitive employment.” What does that mean? It means sitting in an unheated, unlit trailer on a construction site doing absolutely nothing in the middle of winter.

You might ask yourself; well I’m going to get paid aren’t I? The answer to that is “yes.” You will get paid. But the danger – and one that we have seen occur literally hundreds of times – is that as soon as you go back to work the employer finds an excuse to fire you. They can claim you were late to work, had a poor attitude, or were incompetent, and they will fire you. Will the adjuster turn your checks back on? Don’t count on it.

If your employer is trying to bring you back to work before you have reached maximum medical improvement it is almost imperative that you have an attorney representing you. That offers basically the only layer of protection between you and almost certain disaster. In our experience employers are much less likely to play games when you already have an attorney. They normally rely on your ignorance of the law to help them implement their plans. Thus having a lawyer on your case will make them pause. It isn’t a guarantee but it certainly increases your odds of survival.