Our Winston-Salem workers’ compensation lawyers understand that the effects of an on-the-job injury can become substantially worse as time passes. This can further complicate an already difficult situation due the two-year statute of limitations on applying for workers’ compensation benefits.
In Lenz v. Cent. Parking Sys. of Neb., Inc., a worker developed frostbite while working as an outdoor parking lot attendant. The frostbite was on his right foot, and he could no longer work while receiving treatment. He applied for and received workers’ compensation benefits under a temporary permanent disability rating and, later, a partial permanent disability rating of 20%.
During the course of treatment, the worker moved from Nebraska to Colorado and applied for additional benefits under the state indigent care program, rather than the company’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. The following year, he returned to Nebraska. The frostbite had still not healed, and he developed ulcers that became infected, and he was hospitalized.
Things continued to get worse, and eventually a partial amputation was required. After applying for additional workers’ compensation benefits, he was denied any further compensation on grounds that he had waited too long and was therefore time-barred.
It was without question that he waited more than two years after the on-the-job injury to apply for additional benefits, and that there was a two-year statute of limitations. However, the worker claimed that it been less than two years since he experienced a substantial worsening of his condition. As you could expect, his employer claimed that there had not been a substantial worsening of his health condition.
The workers’ compensation court found that the parts of his claims related to the ulcers were time-barred, but he could still receive additional benefits for injuries related to the amputation. The company appealed this ruling, and the Supreme Court of Nebraska affirmed the lower court’s order, finding that the worker did experience a substantial worsening of his condition and that worsening occurred within two years from the last payment of workers’ compensation benefits.
In North Carolina, Article One of the Workers’ Compensation Act, Section 97-47, entitled, “Change of condition; modification of award,” controls in this situation. In order to receive benefits applied for more than two years after the on-the-job injury, there must be a substantial worsening of the condition, and it must be within two years of the last payment of any benefits for that injury. In other words, if you are injured at work and applied for and are receiving benefits within two years after the accident, you can apply for additional benefits if your condition substantially worsens more than two years after the injury, so long as less than two years have passed since you last received any payment of workers’ compensation benefits.
As discussed above, this is a particularly complicated aspect of workers’ compensation claims. While every situation is different, an attorney who regularly represents clients in North Carolina with workplace injuries can often help to maximize your recovery.
If you have been injured at work in Winston-Salem, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.
Lenz v. Cent. Parking Sys. of Neb., Inc., June 27, 2014, Supreme Court of Nebraska
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