Legal Question in Workers Comp in North Carolina

Injured on job but can't pinpoint specific incident

I recently injured my back on the job but because I cannot pinpoint a specific incident I am being denied worker's compensation benefits. My job requires heavy lifting and we have been understaffed for a good while, placing more physical burden on me. What are my rights to receive worker's compensation?

Asked on 8/02/06, 8:19 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

George Lennon Lennon, Camak & Bertics, PLLC
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Re: Injured on job but can't pinpoint specific incident

So long as you can identify the onset of work related symptoms within a reasonable period of time, your injury should be compensable as a specific traumatic incident under multiple decisions of the courts including my Zimmerman case which addressed similar issues. Get a lawyer ASAP. Good luck.

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8/03/06, 12:45 pm
Stephen Camak Lennon, Camak & Bertics, PLLC
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Re: Injured on job but can't pinpoint specific incident

There are 3 ways to prove a back injury under NC workers' compensation law: specific traumatic incident, occupational disease, and by accident.

If you are able to pinpoint a "judicially cognizable" time period during which you hurt your back, you can prevail on the STI theory (not actually necessary to have a specific event or even onset of pain). Howeever, STIs are usually proven within several days of a specific activity or series of events. There is one case that says showing you were injured within a 30 day period is close enough, but this is unusual. You must be able to overcome the defense that you had a "gradual onset" of low back pain.

If the evidence shows a gradual onset, you may be left trying to prove you contracted an occupational disease to your back via exposure to harmful repetitive motions.

Last, if being short-handed was a real uncommon, maybe first-time, experience... you may be able to prove it was an injury "by accident". Must prove it was an interruption of YOUR normal job duties to be doing so much lifting.

In any event, file a Form 18 with the NC Industrial Commission within 2 years of your date of injury to preserve your rights. May also want to obtain a Bulletin from the Commission, as well as Form 33 to Request a Hearing to challenge the denial. A link to the Commission can be found on our website at ncdisability.com. Good luck!

S. Neal Camak, Esq.

Law Offices of George W. Lennon

Raleigh, NC

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8/03/06, 12:57 pm

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