Oftentimes when you injure one part of your body and overcompensate for that injury it can result in another injured body part. And sometimes it can be difficult to get your workers’ comp insurance company to pay for the other injury.
Our workers’ compensation attorneys deal with this issue frequently and it is an area where we strongly urge you to enlist the help of an experienced North Carolina workers’ comp lawyer.
Here are some questions I hear frequently on this subject which I believe warrants sharing.
Will I be compensated for injuring another part of my body as a result of overcompensating for my original work injury?
The answer to this question is probably, yes.
If your workers’ compensation claim was accepted, and a new injury or condition to another body part came about by overcompensating for the original injury, every “natural and probable consequence” that comes from that original injury “arises out of employment,” and you would likely have a right to compensation. So, for example, if your authorized doctor (the one the workers’ comp carrier sent you to) says your overcompensation comes from your original injury, then you likely would have a claim to compensation for that new injury.
What does this mean for me?
If an insurance adjuster tells you they can’t provide you medical care for your new condition, we strongly urge you to contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. There have been new laws passed recently that state that if a new body part was not listed on the initial acceptance form then you may now have to prove that the new injury is related to your original injury. Proving this can be very challenging. It has been my experience that some workers’ comp insurance companies will sometimes do everything in their power to try to deny or at the very least minimize the initial claim, much less an additional claim. One common example is that after a serious knee injury, some patients develop pain in the opposite knee or back due to an altered gate. Some insurance companies will sometimes deny the opposite knee or back conditions as unrelated or claim they are degenerative conditions related to age.
How do I show that my injury for overcompensating is related?
It may be necessary to hire an attorney to help you explain to the insurance company how your new medical condition is related to your original injury.
We can speak with authority on how these issues have been handled in other cases. If the adjuster doesn’t understand, or simply disagrees, it may be necessary to request relief with the NC Industrial Commission by filing a Medical Motion with the Executive Secretary’s office, which involves presenting evidence to a judge about how the new medical condition is related to your original medical condition. Sometimes we will even have to request a full evidentiary hearing on these disputes about medical care. The most important thing you can do is get medical evidence that your new injury is related. It is key to let your doctor know about any condition that arises from overcompensation.
A doctor who treats you would need to promptly document your new condition and provide their opinion about whether the new condition is being caused by the original injury. This medical documentation is also extremely important, as this is in large part what the insurance company will rely on when deciding whether to pay for your new injury. Even with a doctor’s documentation, we have seen some insurance companies fight back in an effort to deny the new claim.
That can be frustrating having an insurance company adding insult to injury by saying your new injury is not related, when your doctor even says that it’s related! Having an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you try to overcome these obstacles that injured workers’ sometimes face.
6 NC Board Certified Specialists in Workers’ Comp Law
More than half of our workers’ comp attorneys are NC Board Certified Specialists in workers’ compensation law. Of the approximately 28,000 North Carolina licensed attorneys only 140 are North Carolina Board Certified Specialists in workers’ compensation law. Seven of them practice at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin.*
What does it mean to be board certified? It means you have an attorney who shows special knowledge and proficiency in their specific area of law, having undergone additional training (and other intense analysis) to become certified as a specialist.
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Workers’ compensation law is highly complex and the system is extremely difficult to navigate successfully on your own. That is why we urge anyone who has been injured on the job to contact us or call 1-866-900-7078 immediately after their injury. Whether it’s for the original injury or one that stemmed from overcompensation, we will try to ensure that all the necessary measures are taken to preserve your right to workers’ compensation benefits.
*Figures provided by the N.C. State Bar as of December 2016.