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Is My Injury Compensable Under Workers' Compensation?

It was December 23 and Mr. Hill was having a bad morning.  It was the last business day before Christmas and Mr. Hill, a 59 year old delivery driver for FedEx had very little time to deliver a lot of packages.  On top of it all, the FedEx plane delivering the last Christmas shipment had been delayed.  Mr. Hill was so far behind schedule, and had so many deliveries piling up, that he had to stack packages on the floor of his truck.  The stress was giving Mr. Hill a severe headache, so he pulled his truck over outside a nearby firehouse.  The headache was so bad Mr. Hill was having trouble seeing out his window.  Then his arm went numb, as did his face.  When he tried to tell someone nearby what was wrong, the words just didn't seem to come out.  It was then that Mr. Hill realized he wasn't just having a bad morning - he was having a stroke. 

After a brief bout in the hospital and a stint in rehabilitative therapy, Mr. Hill began to make a recovery.  However, his bank account didn't bounce back the same way his health did.  The stroke left Mr. Hill unable to return to work at FedEx, so he filed for workers' compensation benefits, and was promptly denied.
 
What went wrong?  Well, not all workers' compensation claims are what the North Carolina Courts term "compensable."  Mr. Hill's claim was denied on the grounds that he had "experienced no work related accident resulting in injury."    That is to say, there is a chance you may be injured at work and not be able to recover your workers compensation benefits. 
 
How do you know if you run the risk of being denied benefits?  In North Carolina to show that an injury is "compensable" you must show, among other things, that your injury was "caused by an accident."  An accident is "an unlooked for and untoward event which is not expected or designed by the person who suffers the injury."  While it is true nobody looks for or expects to be spend Christmas in the hospital recovering from a stroke, it may not be enough to entitle you to the workers' compensation benefits you deserve.  An event causing an injury may not be considered an accident unless the event interrupts your work routine and is accompanied by unusual conditions that are likely to result in unexpected consequences.  Unfortunately for Mr. Hill, the rush of Christmas deliveries to be made by a FedEx driver on the last business day before Christmas was not considered to be an interruption of routine work or an unusual condition likely to result in an unexpected consequence, and thus Mr. Hill did not qualify for workers compensation benefits.
 
While Mr. Hill's situation is quite unfortunate, it highlights just how much of a chore it can be to navigate the world of Workers' Compensation Benefits. Under the laws governing Workers' Compensation you must meet certain criteria, and if you meet these criteria then you are entitled to certain benefits.  Sometimes navigating the lines of distinction between what is and is not a valid Workers' Compensation claim can be quite difficult, which is why it is always wise to seek help in the form of an experienced lawyer.
 
The holidays can be a stressful time, but filing a workers' compensation claim doesn't have to be.  If you have questions about whether an injury entitles you to workers' compensation benefits contact Miller Law Firm for a free consultation. 

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