Patience Pays Off In Workplace Injury Appeal

DISCLAIMER: The results are specific to the facts and legal circumstances of each of the clients’ cases and should not be used to form an expectation that the same results could be obtained for other clients in similar matters without reference to the specific factual and legal circumstances of each client’s case.

Patience Pays Off In Workplace Injury Appeal

Bob Bollinger won another case at the NC Court of Appeals in April 2018. Bob’s client was the cheese specialist at a local supermarket chain, and not long after he started that job, he ruptured his biceps tendon when he picked up a large box of bulk cheese in July 2015. The box weighed 40 to 50 pounds. This was at least twice as much as he usually lifted in his job in the cheese department. He was not expecting the box to be so heavy when he picked it up off a pallet. Due to its weight, his bicep tendon was overwhelmed, and it snapped. This is a very painful injury that results in a “Popeye arm” deformity and a substantial loss of strength. However, it can usually be repaired surgically and the client had surgery to put it back together and repair a torn rotator cuff that occurred at the same time.

Now, you would think that since he clearly got hurt at work doing his job, that he would be covered by workers’ compensation. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. In order to have this type of arm injury covered, you generally need to have suffered an “injury by accident.” An “accident” is some event that causes your injury that is untoward or unusual, that you are not expecting and is not part of your regular job routine. In this case, the insurance company denied the claim on the basis of “no injury by accident.” We were unable to settle the case at mediation, so we proceeded to hearing.

We tried the case on March 15, 2016 in front of Deputy Commissioner Hullender in Charlotte, and he ruled against us, agreeing with the insurance company’s arguments. Bob believed that he got it wrong, so Bob appealed the case to the Full Commission. The Commission, after reading the Briefs of the lawyers and hearing the oral arguments, determined that the man did have an “injury by accident.” They overturned the Deputy Commissioner and ruled for Bob’s client in a 3-0 decision.

But the case did not end there. The insurance company appealed the Full Commission decision to the NC Court of Appeals. The lawyers filed new Briefs to the Court, and in a 3-0 decision, Bob won the case on behalf of his client on April 3, 2018. The Court of Appeals case number is 17COA-836. Bob will be happy to send you a copy of the decision upon request.

As you can see, it took nearly three years to get from the date of the accident to the final decision of the Court. If your case has been denied by the insurance carrier, it is possible to win in court, but it will take a while! There is rarely a quick resolution.

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