Category: Workers’ Compensation

Does the Future of Workers’ Comp Include Robotics?

Workers' Compensation

Does the Future of Workers’ Comp Include Robotics?

When people think of workers’ compensation, they don’t usually think of robotics. However, the US Food and Drug Administration has recently approved a device that could begin to open workman’s compensation to the world of robotics. Several companies are working to create exoskeletons for medical use. These exoskeletons are external full-body robotic devices that can make it possible for people with paraplegia or other mobility disabilities to walk.

It may sound like science fiction, but this technology is already being put to good use. The USFDA has already approved 3 exoskeleton devices. Two of the devices, ReWalk and Indego, have been evaluated and have received USFDA approval for both personal and medical facility use. This is a huge advancement in medical robotics. What does this have to do with workers’ compensation? 

Well, believe it or not, some workers’ comp insurers have already approved a few claims for these motorized devices and will cover both the device and the training. However, not all carriers have chosen to cover these devices — mainly because they are currently quite expensive.

In order to use these devices, patients need to be able to use the standing frame, have control of their hands, and their shoulders must be able to support the use of crutches or a walker. Each unit is custom fitted to each user. The control system is worn like a backpack, and the user can control power walking through wrist pad controllers. There is also a tilt sensor to help stabilize steps. These devices allow users to walk, sit, stand, and go up and down steps.

It certainly looks like these exoskeletons are the future of spinal cord injury treatment. Early research shows that these devices not only provide an improved quality of life, but also reduce the risk of secondary complications and are effective in allowing the user to navigate their community.

If you have sustained a spinal injury while on the job, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced attorney. At Oxner + Permar, we are dedicated to helping our clients and ensuring that their rights are protected.

My claim was denied – What now?

Workers' Compensation

My claim was denied – What now?

Having your claim denied can feel like a dead end. However, just because your claim has been denied, doesn’t mean your case is over. When your workers’ compensation insurance company denies your claim, they’re basically saying that they don’t think they are responsible for paying for your injuries.

A lot of workman’s compensation law is determined by laws that can be up for interpretation. That’s why attorneys are the best people to interpret relevant statutes and analyze claims. Because so much is open to interpretation, claims are denied for all sorts of reasons, and just because one law was interpreted one way for another case, doesn’t mean it’ll be interpreted the same way for your case.

When you receive a denial, your attorney will do two main things:

  1. Send a list of Interrogatories to the Defendants.
    Interrogatories really just means a list of questions. These questions are designed to help your attorney figure out why the claim was denied and discover any information that was not available before. Generally they have about 30 days to fill them out, though they can file for an extension. Chances are you and your attorney will receive a list of interrogatories from the defense as well.
  2. File a Hearing Request.
    This will allow the Deputy Commissioner to determine if your denial was improper – if so your case will go to court. It will also give you and the defendants a chance to go to mediation and settle your case outside of court. As it can take around 6 months to actually get a hearing, mediation is a good option in the meantime.

If you can afford it, we highly recommend that you continue seeking treatment until your hearing. Not only will it be beneficial to your health, but it gives us a better understanding of your medical condition, which gives us a better understanding of your case.

If your workers’ comp claim was denied, there are still plenty of opportunities to come to a settlement. Be sure to contact an experienced attorney who will help guide you through the process.


What Does it Mean to Settle on the Rating?

Workers' Compensation

What Does it Mean to Settle on the Rating?

This is an excellent question that I often hear from clients who were injured at work: “What does it mean to settle on the rating?” In order to understand what this means it’s important to first know what a rating is. Ratings are given to physical injuries to describe how much or little ability you’ve lost in your injured body part.

For instance, if you sustained a shoulder injury, your doctor may give you a 5% rating. This means that your shoulder is working at 95% of its original capacity. In other words, you’ve lost 5% of your original mobility in that shoulder. Typically, your rating will be assigned by your physician at the end of treatment.

So how does that rating affect your settlement? Your rating is equal to a particular dollar amount that you are owed. There is a specific calculation for determining this amount. Each body part is assigned a number of weeks. Then, they multiply that number by the rating percentage and workers’ compensation rate.

Let’s say you have injured your back and received a 10% rating. A back injury is worth 300 weeks. If your workers’ compensation rate is $300, you’d multiply 10% x 300 x 300. So if you settled on the rating, your settlement would be $9,000.

It’s always a good idea to speak with an attorney who is experienced in workers’ compensation to help you navigate terms such as this. It can take a huge headache out of trying to figure out what you need to know for your case. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced attorney.

To “settle on rating” means that you will receive a sum of money determined by the degree of your injury and where you were injured. If you’ve been injured at work, contact an experienced attorney to find out if this is relevant to your case.

What is the Statute of Limitations on Occupational Diseases?


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?

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.