Trucker wins decade-long struggle for North Carolina disability benefits

The North Carolina Court of Appeals has affirmed the award of full disability benefits to a truck driver who suffered a back injury in a North Carolina work accident.

The employee suffered a back injury shortly before Christmas 1996 and filed a claim after the first of the year. He received benefits until July 1998 as a result of the injury, which included a herniated disk. In late 1997 he had been cleared for six hours a day of light duty and in February 1998 his medical case manager wrote there was nothing more to do except pain management.

Having reached maximum improvement, he found a part-time job as a security guard. However, walking up and down stairs proved to be too much and he lasted just two weekends. But he did not properly comply with reporting procedures or fill out the necessary forms citing a medical inability to remain on the job.

The company moved to end the employee’s benefits. Despite knowing he was out of work, the company cited as a reason the fact that the employee had not submitted pay stubs for an adjustment in benefits.

The commission found that the defendant met his burden of showing ongoing disability and rejected the company’s assertion that he was able to complete light-duty tasks, saying the company presented no evidence that it had a suitable job available. They also ruled that the employee’s benefits were wrongfully terminated and rejected the company’s assertion that it should not have to pay the employee’s attorney’s fees.

While the employee ultimately prevailed in this case, it took a decade of legal action. And it is entirely possible that an experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney could have assisted with completing the necessary paperwork and ensuring that the employee remained in compliance with reporting requirements.

If you are seeking disability benefits in North Carolina or are dealing with a worker’s 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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