North Carolina Appellate Court Upholds Denial of Benefits in Workers’ Compensation Case involving Pre-Existing Hip Injury

Workers’ compensation claims involve accidents that took place while you were at work. The system is designed to provide injured workers with benefits for their missed wages and related medical expenses. Although this seems straightforward, there are instances where disputes arise regarding whether a claimant is entitled to benefits, the type of benefits they should receive, or whether the injury they suffered was related to the course and scope of their employment. One of the best ways you can ensure that you receive the fair treatment you deserve after a work injury is by retaining an experienced Charlotte workers’ compensation attorney.

In a recent claim, the North Carolina Court of Appeal considered a claim involving a nurse who appealed the denial of compensation for her workers’ compensation claim. Plaintiff slipped and fell on her right side in her home in July 2015 and did not seek treatment until September 2015. She did not have health insurance when she fell. Her employer offered her a job as a licensed practical nurse. She met the physical criteria for the job, and she was hired in September 2015 and promoted to full-time status in October 2015. She received health benefits three months after being hired. She received medical treatment for her slip and fall injury and the doctor recommended a total hip replacement as the treatment of choice, but plaintiff opted to manage it conservatively until she was eligible for leave under FMLA.

In March 2016, plaintiff was working in a patient’s room when her feet became tangled in oxygen tubing and she fell on her left side. She sought medical treatment during which the doctor observed issues with her hip. She was assigned work restrictions, which her employer acknowledged. Plaintiff then sought workers’ compensation benefits and the defendant employer challenged the claim on the basis that her work injury was not the primary cause of her need for treatment. The court agreed with the defendant finding that the plaintiff had failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that her fall aggravated her pre-existing injury and was the causal factor in her need for a total right hip replacement.

On appeal, the reviewing court upheld the denial of the claim. The plaintiff argued that the lower court relied too heavily on a legal conclusion in a medical report stating that the doctor would not expect workers’ compensation to cover her hip replacement because the issues she was experiencing predated the injury in March. The appellate court noted that the remaining evidence in the record was sufficient to support the lower court’s finding that her most recent fall did not aggravate her right hip injury and was not the causal need of a hip replacement.

If you were injured at work, the diligent workers’ compensation attorneys at Maurer Law are prepared to assist you with seeking the compensation that you deserve and protecting your rights. This is an incredibly stressful and overwhelming situation, which is why we offer a free consultation to discuss your legal options and how we can help you. Call us today at 1-888-258-1087 or contact us online to get started.

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