North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Claim Involving Kitchen Slip-and-Fall Denied Based on Failure to Link Additional Claim for Benefits with Original Injury

Filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits is merely the first step in receiving the financial support that you need and deserve after an accident at work. Your employer’s insurance carrier may contest your claim or seek a denial of certain benefits or items of compensation. Having a seasoned North Carolina work injury lawyer on your side can make a substantial difference when it comes to proceeding through the claims process smoothly and efficiently.In a recent court opinion, an injured employee appealed the denial of her workers’ compensation claim seeking benefits for her disability and compensation for her medical treatment. The plaintiff worked for an employer that contracted to provide food services to a nursing home. The plaintiff worked in the nursing home and was often required to lift up to 50 pounds and to replace or remove heavy items on a shelf overhead. The plaintiff suffered an injury after slipping on a wet floor and falling on her left knee, arm, and hand. The plaintiff was taken to the emergency room and diagnosed with an injury to these areas. She was prescribed pain medications and a sling for her left arm. She was also prohibited from lifting more than five pounds.

During a subsequent medical examination, the plaintiff was diagnosed with a probable rotator cuff tear and a bruised knee and wrist. The restriction on lifting was maintained, and she was prohibited from pushing or pulling more than 10 pounds. The plaintiff underwent more examinations and treatments, including surgery.

Some time later, the plaintiff returned to work. She was handing a patient a plate of food when she experienced severe pain in her shoulder. An emergency room x-ray showed that the screws from the surgery were intact. She returned to work but continued to seek medical treatment for her pain. Eventually, her treating physicians determined that she had reached maximum medical improvement and incurred a 22 percent partial impairment to her left arm. She was not assigned any work restrictions.

The plaintiff continued to seek medical treatment and eventually sought additional benefits for her knee and wrist injuries. The employer denied the compensability of some of these conditions, and the plaintiff sought a second opinion. The employer did not object, but the plaintiff was unable to find a doctor to perform the examination for the amount that the employer agreed to pay. The plaintiff sought compensation for the exam through the workers’ compensation system, and the Commissioner ordered the employer to pay for the examination and a second opinion. The examination report indicated that more treatments could be performed, but the Commissioner concluded that the injuries did not arise from the work-related injury and that there was insufficient evidence to suggest that additional treatment would improve her conditions.

The plaintiff appealed, arguing that the Commissioner made several errors, including failing to award compensation and ongoing disability benefits for her additional request for benefits. Reviewing the evidence in the record, the appellate court concluded that the plaintiff was unable to point to any facts showing that the Commissioner ignored evidence linking her additional claim for benefits to the original injury. As a result, the appellate court affirmed the Commissioner’s denial of benefits.

If you were hurt on the job, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. We understand how confusing and overwhelming this situation can be, which is why we offer a free consultation to help you learn more about the claims process and how we can help you seek the outcome that you deserve. To schedule your free consultation, call us now at 1-888-258-1087 or contact us online.

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