North Carolina Appellate Court Upholds Denial of Temporary Total Benefits Extension due to No Change in Employee’s Condition

Workers’ compensation claims can take a long time to resolve and even if you have been awarded benefits something can change in your claim to deprive you of continued payments. One example of how this can happen is if there is a change in your condition. If you were hurt at work, retaining a seasoned Charlotte workers’ compensation attorney can help you ensure that your claim is being handled appropriately and that you are receiving the compensation that you deserve. Contact Maurer Law today to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

In a recent claim dispute, the worker suffered an injury to her wrist while working as a flight attendant in 2014. The injury required the plaintiff to stop working and continue receiving medical treatment for the injury over a long period of time. A year later, the plaintiff’s wrist was still tender, but a reviewing physician could not figure out why the pain was persisting. The next year, the plaintiff returned to work without restrictions, which required her to undergo training as a flight attendant. This training required the plaintiff to show that she could lift up to 55 pounds. The plaintiff passed the test and began working later that month.

During a hearing regarding her claim for benefits, however, the plaintiff testified that she experienced extreme pain in her wrist during the training but did not report it to anyone. The plaintiff was awarded a lump sum payment for her permanent partial disability, which she accepted, and continued working. Later that year, the plaintiff reported increasing pain to her employer and was authorized to return to her doctor for treatment. During the examination, plaintiff stated that she was able to perform all of her required job duties, but the doctor assigned temporary restrictions including not lifting more than five pounds. The plaintiff continued to work and did not request to be excused based on her injury.

Eventually, the adjuster assigned to her claim denied extending her temporary total disability benefits because the doctor did not show a change of condition. The plaintiff appealed and the deputy commissioner concluded that the plaintiff had suffered a change of condition in her left wrist injury. The defendant appealed and the Full Commission denied the plaintiff’s claim for a change in condition, so the plaintiff filed another appeal.

On review to the North Carolina Court of Appeal, the reviewing judges concluded that the plaintiff had not shown that she suffered a change in her earning capacity, her degree of disability, or a substantial change in the physical conditions that impacted her earning capacity. As a result, she was not entitled to additional benefits. The plaintiff continued working in a full-time capacity and her treating physician did not note any worsening of her symptoms or ability to perform her job duties.

Getting hurt at work can be a stressful and life-altering situation especially if you are left with a permanent disability. At Maurer Law, we know just how important it is for you to make sure that you are being treated fairly and receiving the outcomes that you deserve under the law. Our seasoned team of workers’ compensation lawyers are ready to evaluate your potential case and determine whether they can assist you. Call today at 1-888-258-1087 or contact us online to set up your free consultation.

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