North Carolina Reviewing Court Upholds Award of Benefits to Man Requiring Amputation Following Work Accident

The North Carolina workers’ compensation system can be intimidating for injured workers. This is especially true if you are coping with painful conditions or facing a lifetime of disabilities. At Maurer Law, we have guided many North Carolina workers through the claims process and helped them ensure that they receive the full amount of compensation that they deserve.

In a recent claim, an employer appealed from an opinion that awarded an injured worker benefits and compensation for an injury that she sustained on the job. The man suffered a devastating injury when he was pinned between his delivery vehicle and another vehicle. The employer did not dispute that the injury arose from his work duties, nor did it dispute his claim that he suffered injuries to his right leg and back. The defendant provided workers’ compensation wage loss benefits to the man in addition to medical benefits for treatment that he received following the accident. The man continued to suffer serious health problems stemming from the accident, involving a staggering 390 surgical procedures and the amputation of his leg up to the buttock. He also experienced kidney failure and other medical issues, such as depression, dental problems, elevated cholesterol, and diabetes.

In its appeal, the employer argued that the North Carolina Industrial Commission did not have appropriate jurisdiction over the injured worker’s benefits claim and that it was a reversible error for the Commission to award benefits to the worker. More specifically, the employer argued that the court erred in awarding benefits for attendant care costs that he received prior to the date upon which he initiated his workers’ compensation claim.

The plaintiff also appealed, arguing that the award of benefits was improper because it only allotted payment for attendant care for eight hours per day, it failed to include a per diem allowance that the employer had previously paid to his wife, and it required him to provide $400 each month toward the rental of an apartment that was handicap-accessible.

In affirming the lower court’s ruling, the appellate court noted that an employer can be required to provide payment toward the cost of providing a handicap-accessible house for an employee who suffered a disability at work. Also, the Commission has the authority and discretion to require an injured worker to provide a reasonable contribution toward rent, such as the amount of rent the worker paid prior to becoming disabled. As a result, there was no error in requiring the plaintiff to contribute to the rent of his apartment. Additionally, the appellate court found that the employer was not required to continue paying per diem allowances to the man’s wife and that the man failed to offer evidence showing that he had detrimentally relied on any statements from the employer indicating that the payments would continue.

Finally, the appellate court affirmed the lower court’s finding that the man was entitled to eight hours of attendant care each day and noted that the Commission’s factual findings regarding the amount of attendant care required were conclusive because they were supported by competent evidence in the record.

If you suffered a devastating and traumatic injury while at work, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. The seasoned North Carolina work injury lawyers at Maurer Law are prepared to help you navigate the claims process and ensure that your rights are protected at all times. To schedule your free consultation, call us at 1-888-258-1087 or contact us online.

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