Sustaining any type of injury while at work can be a devastating and painful ordeal. North Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Act was instituted to protect workers and justly compensate for their injuries, resulting medical bills, and time off work. Unfortunately, the letter of North Carolina’s law can prove more of a hindrance than a help when covering work injuries, especially shoulder injuries, which can be harder to definitively prove.
If you’ve recently suffered a shoulder or other type of work injury, contact a skilled and qualified attorney who can review the details of your case and work to ensure that you receive proper and just compensation for your injury.
The team at The Bollinger Law Firm, PC, has been dutifully representing Charlotte, NC workers for many years. We believe in fighting for our clients, which is why we choose to charge a relatively low contingency fee to represent workers’ cases. By charging a mere 25% contingent fee and offering initial consultations, our hope is that more workers will fight for the compensation they deserve, trusting us to represent them.
While we continue to hope and fight for North Carolina legislation to justly provide for its workers, we believe that the current workers’ compensation system is not always fair. For this reason, we work hard to develop an effective strategy to secure compensation for those who are hurt at work.
The United States established the workers’ compensation system to benefit workers who are injured at work. State programs, however, are responsible for implementing and administering benefits to workers. For this reason, specific benefits can vary between states. Nevertheless, workers’ compensation is ideally intended to provide workers who have suffered an injury or contracted an illness at work with benefits, including:
Settlements for workers’ compensation can be paid out in one of two ways:
The Department of Labor cites shoulder injuries as the musculoskeletal disorder that keeps workers off the job for the longest amount of time. On average, workers suffering shoulder injuries are unable to return to work for 21 days. Before filing a claim with your employer, it is important to assess the injury. If you are experiencing any of the following, you should visit a doctor as soon as possible:
Experiencing these or other similar symptoms can be a sign of a shoulder injury. If any of these symptoms are present, you should seek immediate medical attention.
Injuries in the shoulder occur when excess strain is applied to the muscles, tendons, ligaments, or bones that make up the shoulder. This can happen at a workplace when any of the following occurs:
The shoulder can be damaged in several ways, ranging from mild to severe injuries, especially when performing work tasks. While certainly not exhaustive, the following constitute the most common shoulder injuries that can arise at work:
A torn rotator cuff is one of the most common shoulder injuries in the workplace. As it is such a common workplace injury, it is also a leading cause of workers’ compensation claims. The rotator cuff itself is the sleeve that holds the four tendons attaching your upper arm to your shoulder blade and rib muscles. You risk injuring this part of the body when you push or lift your shoulder beyond its natural range of motion.
The inflammation caused by an injury to your rotator cuff can lead to further problems, such as rotator cuff tendonitis, shoulder bursitis, and rotator cuff tears. Without seeking proper medical treatment, these problems can last between a couple of months to several years. Thankfully, most rotator cuff injuries respond very well to physical therapy, and they can even heal within weeks if properly cared for. Workers who are covered under workers’ compensation will qualify regardless of whether the injury is permanent or temporary.
Several movements have a tendency to cause rotator cuff injuries. The following kinds of motion cause tendon trauma if not properly avoided:
Unfortunately, these are common movements at many workplaces, requiring workers to pay careful attention at all times to prevent injury when doing these types of movements.
Because of North Carolina’s strict stance on “injury by accident,” it can be difficult and involve a complicated claims case to have this injury covered. Torn rotator cuffs generally fall under repetitive stress injuries, but a skilled attorney can argue the grounds for covering this type of injury. In fact, Bob Bollinger and his team have secured coverage for many clients who have suffered torn rotator cuffs as a result of their time at work.
For shoulder injuries in the workplace, North Carolina law requires that the injury occur as the result of an accident to qualify for workers’ compensation coverage. In other words, the injury must be the result of an interruption of a normal work routine. Therefore, the following must be true to qualify as a covered workplace accident:
This “injury by accident” (IBA) rule institutes a narrow and strict definition of what constitutes a workplace accident injury. Unfortunately, this unique and unusual rule leads to many workers having their coverage denied because they describe the issue under the wrong terminology, failing to demonstrate the injury as occurring in an act that is a break from routine. Without reporting something out of the ordinary or unusual happening, individuals can lose their case when reporting to their employer or insurance company, as the injury is misclassified.
Repetitive stress injuries, also called repetitive motion injuries, occur as the result of repetitive motion of the joint or extremity over time. These types of injuries would not classify as an IBA, but they may still be covered. Falling under what is called “occupational disease,” repetitive stress injuries can still be covered, even without an accident occurring.
Back injuries are almost always covered by workers’ compensation automatically, even if the injury occurred while performing routine duties. The laws regarding injuries to other parts of the body differ significantly, however. The IBA rule in North Carolina means that any injury to the shoulder requires careful reporting to get covered.
For example, if a worker suffers a hernia while moving a box up on a high shelf, it is highly likely that their case will be accepted and paid out, even if moving the box was a normal task in their daily work routine, simply because it was a back injury. However, if the same worker had injured their shoulder during the same task, they would more likely be denied coverage.
Because these cases can be tricky and complicated, requiring an extensive knowledge of current North Carolina law, it is vital that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible after sustaining a shoulder injury. A Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyer understands how to communicate the incident from the beginning in ways that can better ensure proper and just coverage for the injury.
Bob Bollinger has successfully argued in previous cases, for instance, that an accident could be anything that causes an unexpected event in your normal work routine, including being injured by performing new duties. By tactfully presenting the facts of the case, he has secured for countless workers the compensation they deserve for injuries sustained on the job.
If you’ve suffered any kind of injury at work, including a shoulder injury, reach out to The Bollinger Law Firm, PC, as soon as possible to begin discussing and arranging your case. It takes an experienced and skilled worker injury attorney to navigate claims, and helping injured Charlotte workers obtain the benefits they deserve is why we do what we do.
For questions about your case, what to expect, or what next steps to take, contact our office today. We are always happy to answer questions and offer guidance for your claim. Learn more about how we can help you today.