Declaring injuries critical step in filing North Carolina workers’ compensation claim

A North Carolina workers’ compensation ruling issued Tuesday by the Court of Appeals illustrates the importance of documenting injuries in the wake of a work accident.

The case involved a High Point Central High School assistant principal who injured his left knee while breaking up a fight between several students. The employee indicated it was the only injury and his employer, the Guilford County School District, acknowledged its responsibility to pay for treatment under North Carolina’s workers’ compensation laws. However, following a total left-knee replacement, the assistant principal reported discomfort in his right knee as a result of a fall. He did not indicate whether the right-knee injury was a result of the work injury or the result of falling due to complications of his left knee.

When the assistant principal finally asserted the right-knee injury was a result of the work accident, nearly a year had passed. His doctor recommended a right knee arthroscopy. Additionally, the employee began experiencing significant back pain nearly three years after the accident and an MRI indicated injuries at L2-3 and L4-5. Back surgery was performed without assertion that the injury was the result of the workplace accident.

After nearly six years of pain, discomfort and surgery, the man sought compensation for medical expenses, permanent partial disability and permanent total disability as a result of his injuries. The school district countered that he was only eligible for permanent partial disability as a result of the left-knee injury he claimed as part of his original workers’ compensation case. The plaintiff was awarded permanent partial disability during the year he was dealing with the injury to his left knee and awarded a lift chair after the commission ruled he was eligible for a 10 percent disability as a result of the right knee. But the commission specifically found that he could not receive compensation for his back injuries as a result of the workers’ compensation claim.

The employee appealed, and the chair was taken away on appeal after the court ruled he was not entitled to eligible benefits in connection with the injury to his right knee.

Filing a work injury claim is a complex legal process and the outcome can impact your financial well-being for the rest of your life. Hiring an experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer can help ensure your rights are protected and that you are eligible for the compensation you deserve.

If you have been injured in a work accident in North Carolina or are dealing with a workers’ compensation or disability claim, contact the Law Offices of Lee & Smith today for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 800-887-1965.

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