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Can My Worker’s Compensation Insurance Company Force Me to Settle?

Clients often ask me if the insurance company can force them to settle. That’s a good question, and one that, like many involving workers’ comp, does not have a simple yes or no answer. But let me try to simplify the answers.

There are two parts to this answer because there are generally two types of settlements in workers’ compensation claims in North Carolina.

Two Types of Workers’ Comp Settlements in North Carolina

The two types of settlement payments in North Carolina’s workers’ compensation statues are:

  • Payment of permanent partial disability benefits
  • Payment of a settlement that will close your workers’ comp case

A Clincher settlement means you would receive one payment to close out your case


Settling Your Workers’ Comp Case – the Clincher Settlement

Payment to close your case in North Carolina is called a “clincher” settlement. This type of settlement generally resolves the entire case so that further workers’ compensation benefits are not going to be owed once the settlement is paid and finalized. Essentially you would receive one payment closing out your case once the settlement is reached and approved.

This type of settlement must be approved by the North Carolina Industrial Commission (the workers’ comp “court”). However, your employer cannot force you to accept the settlement or go to the Industrial Commission to try to have them force you to accept a settlement of your entire claim.

But they certainly can try to bully you and back you into a corner so you will feel pressured to settle. We’ve seen this happen – over and over.

We had a workers’ compensation client whose insurance company told him that if he didn’t settle his case for the amount they were offering, they would discontinue his weekly checks. When he contacted us, he’d gone two weeks without being paid, and we immediately called the adjuster. She said he “fell off the system” and that she would mail his check that day. After that, we got him a second opinion on his injuries and he needed surgery, which meant his case was worth a lot more than what the insurance company was offering.3

It’s sad, but we often see adjusters try to bully our clients into a settlement. Bullying is wrong. But it can work in the early stages, before a client gets a good attorney.

Permanent partial disability may be possible if hurt at work enough to permanently damage a body part


Payment of Permanent Partial Disability (PPD) Benefits

If you have been injured on the job and the injury is significant enough to cause permanent damage to a specific body part, you may be entitled to benefits for permanent partial disability (PPD). These benefits are provided under Section 97-31 of the North Carolina General Statutes, and are generally paid once your medical treatment is complete and you have been able to return back to work earning wages similar to those before your injury.

Your treating doctor will generally assign you a PPD rating if your injury warrants one. The insurance carrier will then likely contact you and want you to accept payment based on that rating to “settle” your case. If you do not agree to settle, the insurance carrier may attempt to force you to accept payment by asking the North Carolina Industrial Commission to approve the rating which allows them to pay you the rating benefit.

There’s a reason they may want you to accept this type of settlement sooner rather than later. Once you are paid PPD benefits, your right to other benefits only lasts two more years. If nothing changes in your case after payment during the two-year period, your right to further benefits for medical treatment or time out of work will end. And they’re off the hook.

When considering PPD benefits, it’s important to know that you have a right to a second opinion by the medical provider of your choice at the insurance carrier’s expense. So if your treating doctor says your knee is only 10% disabled, and you feel like it’s more like 30%, you can ask for a different doctor’s opinion.

PPD does not necessarily have to mean your case is closed. What many people don’t realize is that PPD may be only a fraction of many final workers’ compensation settlements you may potentially be due.

If you’re in a situation where you have been assigned an impairment rating and the insurance company is trying to make you accept a settlement payment, my experience suggests it is prudent to contact a workers’ compensation attorney who may be able to help you understand your legal rights in an effort to potentially obtain the best outcome for your unique situation.

At our firm, we do these kinds of initial evaluations for free – 1-866-900-7078.

2016 U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms”

Here are just a handful of very good reasons we believe you should consider the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin to help you with your workers’ comp claim.

Our firm received the highest ranking by the 2016 U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms” for workers’ compensation in the greater Raleigh area.4

Our workers’ comp attorneys include seven North Carolina Board Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialists. One is a former North Carolina state senator and former Deputy Commissioner at the North Carolina Industrial Commission. Others used to work for workers’ compensation defense firms for the insurance companies, and several of our paralegals and other administrative staff have worked for insurance companies, themselves.

Get a FREE Evaluation From North Carolina Workers’ Comp Attorneys

By having an experienced workers’ comp attorney fighting for you, we’ve seen these kinds of bullying tactics typically backfire. If you are in a situation where the insurance company is contacting you about settling your worker’s compensation claim, and you are confused or simply want an opinion about your options, contact us and we can evaluate your situation to try to help you determine your options. Call 1-866-900-7078 anytime 24/7.


3 Cases or matters referenced do not represent the law firm’s entire record. Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. The outcome of a particular case cannot be predicated upon a lawyer’s or a law firm’s past results. This description of the event is based upon the recollection of individual staff members. This does not necessarily represent any industry or employer as a whole. Client identity has been removed or changed to protect their privacy.

4 Visit www.usnews.com for more information about criteria for inclusion.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day – Most Dangerous Time to Drive

Before you go over the river and through the woods to grandma’s house this holiday season, make sure to be particularly cautious, attentive, and defensive on North Carolina’s highways.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving through January 1st (including New Year’s day) are some of the most dangerous and deadly times to be on the roads. In fact, Thanksgiving eve has become THE most dangerous night of the year to drive, particularly in more urban areas, says SCRAM, makers of alcohol monitoring technology. Known as “Blackout Wednesday,” this holiday has surpassed New Year’s Eve and St. Patrick’s Day as the biggest drinking night of the year.

Add to this more traffic, more distractions, aggressive drivers, and more social occasions involving alcohol. It is up to each of us to:

  • Practice safe, defensive driving
  • Buckle up and make sure all passengers are buckled too.
  • Make sure you, or your driver, are fit to drive – not tipsy or drowsy. If you are a passenger, help minimize distractions and help the driver stay awake and alert.

In general: If you see something, say something. If you see someone who has had too much to drink trying to get behind the wheel, say something. If you’re at a party, tell the host to take their keys, or call a designated driver for them.

If you are the party host, pay particular attention to how much alcohol you serve guests. If they injure someone while driving home, you could be liable under North Carolina law.


AAA reported that in 2015 more than 1.2 million people drove throughout North Carolina to their Thanksgiving destinations. No surprise, this family holiday ranks as one of the busiest travel periods just about every year. More cars on the roads too often translates to more accidents. Add alcohol to the equation, and this holiday weekend can turn deadly.


The Christmas holiday season can be stressful. Combine stress with busy roads and you can get aggressive drivers. A State Farm survey found that nearly one-third of drivers were more likely to show signs of aggression or road rage during the holidays.

New Year’s Day

A surprise to some, New Year’s Day (not New Year’s Eve) almost always ranks in the top five deadliest days of the year, and has been ranked the deadliest day. Alcohol – a primary culprit.

Alcohol Behind Nearly Half of Holiday Car Crash Deaths

There’s one thing each of these deadly days has in common: Drunk drivers. Over a 25-year period, according to a Forbes study that analyzed U.S. Department of Transportation data since 1982, nearly half the fatalities during these times were alcohol-related.

Tragic Consequences of North Carolina Drunk Driving

Here’s a tragic story the News & Observer reported on recently about a drunk driving collision which could result in the young 22-year-old driver spending 70 years in prison. He was charged with multiple felonies after a collision he caused in Raleigh, which led to three deaths and multiple injuries.

The crash happened at 2:30 on a Sunday morning. He was driving drunk and traveling about 50 mph in a 35-mph zone. He lost control of the car and it went off the road, struck a light pole, a street sign, and a tree before overturning.

There were seven people inside the car. One of the victims was sitting in the lap of the driver at the time of the accident. The victims were just 22, 21, and 18. Two of the victims were thrown from the vehicle.

The young driver, who is the son of a pastor, is accused of six felony charges which could potentially carry a prison sentence of nearly 70 years total. He faces 17 years for each death and seven years for each serious injury.

Three lives ended. Another potentially behind bars for life. This deadly and totally preventable collision is just one of many fatal accidents that occur throughout North Carolina. The three young people who died will never enjoy another holiday with their families. And sadly, neither will the driver who killed them. He will likely be behind bars because he made the wrong choice to drink and drive.

Most Traffic Fatalities Preventable

A different News & Observer article pointed out that of 793 deaths so far in 2016, all but two of them could have possibly been prevented! Consider this:

  • Alcohol was involved in 168 deaths
  • 368 of those killed weren’t wearing seat belts
  • Speeding proved a factor in 155 deaths
  • Distracted driving was a factor in 100 deaths

The story above checks every one of those boxes. Alcohol. Speed. Distracted driving. No seat belts.

Sadly, all were preventable.

Designate a Driver – It’s Easier Than Ever

As you head into the holiday party season, keep in mind there are many more options today than ever for a sober ride home. Uber, Lyft, a North Carolina Designated Driver service, a taxi – and of course, a sober companion. Many of these services are as convenient as clicking on an app, and some are more affordable than a taxi. Some will even drive you and your car home.

There are just no more excuses to get behind the wheel when you’ve been drinking.

Get a FREE Case Evaluation From North Carolina Car Wreck Lawyers

If you do find yourself injured in an accident because of someone else’s negligence – whether during the holidays or any other time – contact an experienced car wreck lawyer – contact us now for a free case evaluation to see if we can help or call us at 1-866-900-7078.


P.S. Since the holiday season is also football season, click here for ways to tailgate safely.


Will My Case Settle or Go to Trial?

If you’re like most of my clients, you probably would like to avoid going to court. The good news is most cases don’t. They’re settled out of court instead.

But sometimes, if it’s in our clients’ best interests to tell their story to a judge and jury because the insurance company and the defendant aren’t playing nice and won’t give them a fair offer, that’s exactly what we’ll do.

One question clients often ask us is: How do we decide whether to settle or go to court?

Insurance Companies Don’t Want to Go to Court Any More than You Do

The vast majority of personal injury cases settle. Some of the most appealing reasons for both sides to want to reach a settlement are:

  • Jury uncertainty – You can pick a jury, but you cannot control them once they are seated in the juror’s box.
  • Compensation assurance – Settling allows you to eliminate the variable of not knowing how much a court may or may not award the plaintiff (you).
  • Public image – Who knows what ripple effects the jury’s decision could potentially have on how the plaintiff is portrayed by the insurance company’s lawyers?
  • Most insurance companies are for-profit businesses – Jury trial expenses can add up fast. Likewise, the plaintiff’s court expenses are paid out of any settlement money.

With that said, the insurance company should know your attorney is 100% willing and able to take your case to trial.

The willingness to take cases to trial affords us the ability to try to negotiate your case from a position of power. If the insurance company is under the impression that you and your attorney have any hesitation about presenting a strong case to a jury and judge, they might feel they have the upper hand and withhold some of the compensation you may deserve.

Understanding Your Options for Settlement or Trial

Whether it’s in your best interest to try to settle or go to court, we do our homework. And from day one, we involve each and every client in their case. We try to keep you informed and we ask that you do the same with your legal team.

We ask a lot of questions. We want to know what happened, who was involved, and how you were impacted. We research how the law applies. If necessary, we speak with doctors, insurance companies, state agencies, witnesses, and experts to try to determine all the facts of your case, not just what may be favorable to you. We’re not looking for quick easy answers. Our goal is to try to obtain the most compensation that our clients may deserve. The more we know, the better we can represent you.

As we said, insurance companies typically don’t want to go to court any more than you do. But if we feel they are not being fair, and we believe a jury trial is in your best interest, we won’t hesitate to go.

While most of our cases are settled out of court, if your case does go to court, we will try to prepare you every step of the way.

Get a FREE Case Evaluation from North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyers

Our law firm is one of the largest personal injury firms in North Carolina. And we have vast resources to draw from. Some of our best resources, in my opinion, are our paralegals, administrators, and others who work “behind the scenes” with our lawyers to help research and prepare your case – for a possible settlement or trial.

Some of our staff members previously worked for the very same insurance companies we deal with day in and day out. So they know their negotiation tactics.

When there’s no doubt on the insurance company’s part that we are ready, willing, and able to challenge them in court, often a settlement may look very good to them. Whatever the course, we are with you all the way.

If you were involved in a car wreck, don’t worry about whether your case will settle or go to court. Let our experienced car accident lawyers discuss this with you once we have the facts.

Contact us or call 1-866-900-7078. We will evaluate your situation for FREE and let you know if we think we can help you.


What should you do if you were injured on the job, and your boss says the company doesn’t have workers’ compensation coverage?

I would strongly urge you to contact us. Immediately. Based on my experience, they’re probably lying.

As a worker’s compensation lawyer who fights for injured workers, I’ve seen companies:

  • Lie about the company not having workers’ comp insurance, when in fact they did
  • Cheat workers out of compensation and medical attention because the company didn’t report their injuries to their workers’ comp company
  • Steal their right to compensation by not carrying workers’ comp insurance, but should have under NC law
  • Sneak injured workers just enough hush money “under the table” to keep them quiet, so the employer would not have to report the injury to their workers’ comp carrier

Sadly, these are not isolated incidents. Fighting this type of bad behavior can be all in a day’s work in workers’ compensation law.

When it comes to a work-related injury, don’t take at face value what your employer claims they may or may not owe you. As we’ve seen, some will do whatever it takes to avoid paying. Even lie, cheat, and steal.

Providing Workers’ Comp Is the Law for Most NC Companies

North Carolina requires nearly all employers with three or more employees to carry workers’ compensation coverage. It is considered a crime if they don’t. According to a News & Observer article, in 2012 up to 30,000 employers in North Carolina were not covering their workers. And over 11,000 businesses canceled policies or let them lapse that year.

Since 2012, the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC), which is the workers’ comp “court,” has been taking names and numbers of companies who are falling short of North Carolina’s workers’ compensation laws. Progress has been made, but there’s still a long way to go.

File Form 18 With the NCIC No Matter What Your Employer Says

You can file a workers’ comp claim even if you don’t know whether or not your employer carries workers’ comp insurance. You don’t necessarily need information about insurance coverage to submit a claim to the NCIC. Just file an NCIC Form 18, and they will send you an acknowledgment letter with information about your employer’s insurance coverage.

Your employer could be guilty of insurance fraud if it turns out that they don’t have workers’ compensation coverage and the exemptions do not fall under one of the narrow legal exceptions.

TIP! To find out if your employer has workers’ comp coverage click here to do an online search through the NCIC’s website.

Get a FREE Case Evaluation From NC Workers’ Comp Lawyers

You could do these things yourself, but I don’t recommend it. Workers’ compensation law is complicated and one mistake could be very costly. If you’ve been injured on the job, I encourage you to contact us right away.

We will try to make sure no stone is left unturned to help you fight for the compensation you may deserve. There is a lot to know about workers’ compensation law, and the system can be difficult to navigate on your own. And because we are paid on a contingency basis2 (meaning you pay us no attorney’s fee unless we get compensation for you), it costs you nothing more to hire us sooner rather than later.

No matter what your employer tells you or if you don’t know where the truth is, if you’ve been injured at work, click here to contact us right away. Or call 1-866-900-7078.  One of our workers’ comp attorneys  – six of whom are North Carolina Board Certified Specialists in workers’ compensation law – will evaluate your situation for free!

Top 8 Questions Our Clients Ask Us Before Their Social Security Disability Hearings

We understand that going to a Social Security Disability hearing can be intimidating. More than two-thirds of those who file for Social Security Disability the first time are denied, according to the Social Security Administration. And 88% are denied a second time.

A lot is at stake.

Understandably, our clients have all kinds of questions before a hearing. Most of them are about paperwork and what they can do to get ready for their hearing.

There is really only one main thing we ask that our clients do themselves to help support their case. Keep up their medical treatments.

We can handle the paperwork side of things, since we know what the Social Security Administration is looking for in most instances.

Here are eight of the most common questions our clients ask us before we go into a hearing together.*

8 Common Questions Our Clients Ask Before Social Security Disability Hearings

  1. How long will it take for a decision to be issued and for benefits to be paid?
    After the hearing, it often takes two to five months for a decision to be issued.
    If approved

    • Current benefits: it can take a month or two for current benefits payments to begin.
    • Back due benefits: it can take from one to six months for all back benefits payouts to begin.

    If denied

    • Your attorney will discuss the judge’s decision with you to help determine the next course of action.
  2. Do I need to get medical records or reports for my representative?
    No.  You do not have to get any medical records or reports yourself unless your lawyer asks you to.
  3. But what if my doctor gives me a report?
    If you happen to get something, such as a disability form, completed by your doctor for an insurance company, etc., be sure to forward a copy to your lawyer.
  4. What if the judge sends me a form that needs to be completed by my doctor?
    Sometimes you may be sent a form to be completed by a doctor. If the judge sends you a form for your doctor to complete, call your attorney immediately so he or she can discuss and decide how to address this issue.
  5. Should I send my attorney the “acknowledgement” that comes with a Notice of Hearing?
    No. There will be a document included with your Notice of Hearing that you must mark to let the judge’s office know you will attend the hearing. This document is called an Acknowledgement of Notice of Hearing. Ordinarily, this acknowledgement notice should be sent directly back to the judge. Your lawyer shouldn’t need a copy.
  6. Should I send anything else to the judge?
    No. Your attorney is responsible for all evidence submission. You should talk with your attorney before submitting anything to ensure you’re not sending duplicates of what is already in your file.
  7. What will my attorney do to prepare for the hearing?
    Your attorney has a lot to do on your behalf to prepare for your hearing. Much of it is working behind the scenes obtaining and reviewing your files and medical history. Your attorney will review your social security file and research the laws and facts of your case to plan what he or she believes is the best course of action to try to prove your case and potentially win your claim for benefits.He or she will obtain necessary medical records and any other records needed, including reports from your doctors. Prior to your hearing, your attorney will speak with you to help prepare you to testify.
  8. What can I do to help get ready for my hearing?
    The most important aspect of your case is medical evidence. No matter how severe your condition is, the Social Security Administration is required to have well-documented and current medical evidence on file. That is why we emphasize to our clients that they make every effort to maintain steady treatment with their doctors. This medical evidence is crucial to ensuring the potential for a successful outcome of their trial.

We understand maintaining medical treatment is sometimes difficult due to financial limitations and the cost of insurance. If our clients are having trouble paying for medical treatment, we ask them to contact us for a list of low-cost clinics in their area.

NC Social Security Disability Lawyers Give FREE Case Evaluations

We hope this information offers a bit of insight into how we endeavor to work together with our clients to try to present the best case possible at their hearing. If you are considering applying for Social Security Disability or if you’ve been denied, give us a call. We’ll give you a FREE case evaluation.

And don’t worry about paying us an attorney’s fee up front. We work on contingency, which means we do not get an attorney’s fee unless you receive benefits. Second – and very good news for our Social Security Disability clients – the federal government caps that fee. They know money is tight for people on Social Security Disability. That Social Security Disability fee is limited to 25% of back-due benefits, or $6,000, whichever is less.

Contact us right now or call 1-866-900-7078.


* Each case is unique, and this information may not be applicable in all situations.