Change of Condition in Workers’ Compensation
Sometimes injuries get worse over time after your doctor releases you from care. And if you do get worse, workers’ compensation allows you to ask for additional medical treatment. But this can be difficult to prove sometimes. However, the new case Russell v. Wal-Mart shows what is necessary to prove a change of condition.
What Happened Here
Russell, an assistant store manager, worked at Wal-Mart for more than ten years. While lifting something at work, she injured her lower back. Because she was pregnant, her treatment was conservative with no diagnostic testing. However, after having her baby, Russell had an MRI scan. Earlier, her doctor did not recommend surgery. But several months later, that changed and Russell alleged a change of condition and new symptoms. Although the single Commissioner awarded additional benefits, the Full Commission reversed. Rather, they found her testimony “conclusory and self-serving.” Instead, they wanted to see more medical reports and tests to prove her claim. So they denied her claim for more treatment.
On appeal, the Court of Appeals reversed again and found you can prove a change of condition based on testimony. Further, the Court held you can prove your case even without medical tests and reports. Hence, the Court ruled the workers’ compensation Act does not require proof of a certain kind. Because courts have made awards based on both subjective and objective proof, either will do. Therefore, courts cannot ignore any one type of evidence.
So What Does It Mean?
Perhaps now it will be easier to prove a change of condition claim. After all, the goal in every workers comp case is full recovery. However, that is not always possible if seriously injured. And although you still need medical evidence, testimony is now also helpful. In addition, the Commission should give a claimant’s testimony more weight. Of course, the testimony must be credible and trustworthy. But now, getting more medical treatment is easier now. Given the restrictions of workers compensation, medical care is the most valuable part of any claim. Because the laws are so complex, it is important to hire an experienced workers comp attorney to help you. While we hope you never need us, we are here if you do. Call now and let’s start your road to recovery.
While many criminal lawyers charge, we offer a free consultation. Why? Because we are interviewing for a job. Consequently, we meet with clients at no charge in DUI and DWI cases.
Free Consultation for DUI and DWI
Because DUI defense is serious business, we first have to convince you to hire our firm. So how do we do that? First of all, we go over our professional credentials and DUI experience. Before you can trust our advice, you must first have confidence in what we tell you. Hence we want you to know that we focus our criminal practice on DUI and DWI defense. In addition, we work hard to stay current on effective trial strategies. Of course, every case is different, and DUI defense is very complex. However, this is what we do, and we do it every day.
After we tell you about us, we turn our focus to you and what happened. Because every fact is important, we listen very carefully and make detailed notes. While we see certain patterns in every case, little things can sometimes make a big difference in outcome. As a result, we look for particular facts that favor your case. In addition, we also look for things that are bad and then find a good reason to explain. However, juries don’t seem to focus on every detail. Rather, they decide guilt based on common sense and experience. And we all know what “drunk” or “impaired” looks like and sounds like.
Video Evidence Explained
During our free consultation, we talk about lots of things. But the most important part of DUI is what video evidence is available. While South Carolina requires video evidence, North Carolina does not. However, in either State, juries look hard at how you appear and how you sound. As a result, we focus on every detail but really concentrate on things you do on video. For example, how do you walk normally? Furthermore, how do you sound and stand while on video? While the State prefers to talk about their roadside tests, we talk about your normal behavior. In the end, juries decide on what they see and hear for themselves.
Because we practice DUI defense most every day, it is second nature to our attorneys. However, it is a lot of information to hear, especially for the first time. Try not to worry. After all, that is why you would hire us. Regardless, you are going to know much more about how we do our job by the end of our meeting. Then you will be in a good place to decide who is the best DUI attorney for your case. Call us now and let’s start your defense.
Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) and Disability
While you are still in treatment, you cannot resolve your workers compensation claim. Rather, you must be released from care and at maximum medical improvement. Because this phrase has both medical and legal significance, we discuss it more here. The recent case of McMahan v. SCDOE shows how a court decides issues about MMI.
While working on a bus, McMahan seriously injured his back and had to have two surgeries. However, he continued to have ongoing back pain and other problems. Although he continued to get treatment, he did not get better. Later on, he died while still receiving medical treatment. Because his doctor wrote he had reached MMI sometime earlier in 2012, McMahan’s estate sued for permanent disability benefits after his death.
At the initial hearing, the single commissioner ruled that McMahan had reached MMI before his death. As a result, the estate could get benefits and awarded permanent and total disability. However, SCDOE appealed, and the Full Commission Appellate Panel reversed. Consequently, the Court of Appeals heard the case.
After hearing the arguments, the Court of Appeals reversed again. More specifically, they found that McMahan did not have to be at MMI to receive benefits. Rather, even though McMahan died from unrelated causes, he can still make a claim. As a result, McMahan’s estate could receive the unpaid workers’ compensation benefits. Furthermore, the court found the only evidence presented was that he had reached MMI. Thus, the Appellate Panel committed legal error. So what does this decision show? That the only evidence presented was from the claimant. Looks like hard work and good lawyering made the difference here.
Moral of the Story
While most folks think workers comp is easy, it is not. Rather, serious injury cases are strongly defended. Furthermore, little facts and hard work can make a big difference in outcome. As a result, your workers compensation attorney must prepare every case for trial. Otherwise, you might get less benefits or even lose your case altogether. And one last point about this case. Serious injury cases can take years to finally end. Better make sure your workers comp lawyer is willing to go the distance and fight for you. After all, you are counting on them to do what is best for you and your family. If you hire us, we promise you our best efforts on your behalf. And that is a promise we keep.
While healing from a serious injury, the workers compensation insurance carrier may hire a nurse case manager to help. However, be aware that this person works for the insurance company.
Nurse Case Manager Role
Because most people think of nurses as being care givers, they think a nurse case manager is on their side. Certainly, most nurses are awesome caring individuals. And most clearly are just that. However, be aware that a nurse case manager works for the insurance company. Rather than take care of patients, they help coordinate treatment and procedures now. Although they are still there to help, their loyalty is to the company and not you. As a result, you must be careful about what you say to them. Furthermore, some NCM go beyond their role and try to direct medical care and treatment.
Private Medical Exam
Even though the workers comp insurance company is paying, you still have the right to private medical examinations. Consequently, you or your lawyer can demand the NCM stay outside during treatment. After the exam is over, the NCM can speak with the doctor. However, also keep in mind that whatever you say to the doctor and your medical records are not private. But you should be able to talk with the doctor outside the presence of the nurse case manager.
Improper NCM Actions
While helpful in coordinating care, some NCM will attempt to interfere with treatment. In fact, some will even try to tell doctors whether a procedure or test is really necessary. Also, they attempt to return a patient to light duty work too early. Because this is improper and outside of their role, we need to know about this behavior immediately. Rather the NCM should be replaced. If not, we will request a hearing before the SC Workers Compensation Commission. Since they are there to help, we want to work with them whenever we can. However, our main focus is always on you and getting you back on your feet.
While everyone knows about texting and driving, here’s something the phone makers could do.
Texting While Driving Dangers
Because we already know the dangers, this blog won’t remind you of the obvious. And it appears older adults are actually worse than teenagers this time. However, despite new laws and harsher penalties, people still keep texting and driving. Rather, no matter what, we just can’t seem to stop ourselves. So what else is there to do? While there are many ideas out there, here is one that actually would seem to work.
Technology Solutions and “Drivers Mode”
Currently, I own two vehicles. While I still love my 12 year old Lexus, it still has a cassette player. Certainly, it is “old school” but still rides like a dream. And if I have my key on me, it unlocks the doors as I approach. For years, I thought this was pretty fancy stuff. However, I recently bought a new Chevy truck which is pretty amazing. Now, once I plug in my phone, most things are by voice command. Furthermore, the truck resets most functions including BlueTooth and streaming music. So why not set my phone to “drivers mode” that would stop any texting while in motion? After all, technology already prevents other activities in the car. Finally, we may have a solution to stop ourselves.
In addition to serious personal injury claims, our firm also defends DUI charges. As part of that practice, we have learned the many physical and mental divided tasks needed to drive. Consequently, there are studies that show texting is actually more dangerous than driving impaired. While I initially questioned those findings, I now agree. Why? Because someone knows they are not safe, they at least try to focus on driving. However, people texting think they are fine and look away for “just a few seconds.” However, at highway speeds, they can go several hundred yards down the road without looking. And that’s when very bad things can happen. Consequently, lives are changed forever in an instant. Sadly, it’s too late then.