North Carolina Supreme Court Considers Workers’ Compensation Claim Arising from Car Crash


landscape worker

Sometimes, a car accident case is just a car accident case. Other times, it may also (or instead) be a workers’ compensation case. Recently, the state supreme court considered several issues in a work injury case arising due to a car accident in which a worker was involved while he was on the job.

Not only did the worker have several physical injuries from the wreck, but also he claimed to have depression and other psychological ailments due to the accident.

Facts of the Case

In a recent case under consideration by the state’s highest court, the plaintiff was a man who was hurt in a motor vehicle wreck during the course and scope of his employment as a landscaper. After the accident (which happened in April 2010), the plaintiff was treated for injuries to his head, ribs, neck, back, pelvis, and hips. The defendant employer accepted the plaintiff’s workers’ compensation claim as compensable and paid him temporary total disability and medical benefits.

Later, a dispute arose between the parties as to whether certain of the plaintiff’s continuing medical and psychological complaints were related to the car accident. A deputy commissioner determined that the plaintiff’s complaints were work-related and ordered the defendant to continue paying him benefits. The defendant appealed to the full commission, which found the plaintiff’s medical complaints to be related to the work injury but determined that his anxiety and depression were unrelated to the on-the-job car accident. The commission further opined that the plaintiff was not entitled to any disability payments made after January 2011.

On appeal by the plaintiff, the court of appeals reversed, holding that the commission had erred in not applying a rebuttable presumption to the plaintiff’s anxiety and depression (instead, placing the burden of proof on the plaintiff to demonstrate the issue of causation as to those conditions).

Decision of the Supreme Court of North Carolina

The state supreme court granted the defendant’s petition for discretionary review, affirming in part, modifying in part, and remanding the case to the commission for further proceedings. According to the supreme court, the commission erred in not giving the plaintiff the benefit of a presumption that the additional medical treatment that he sought was related to his compensable, work-related injuries. The court also noted that there were factual issues regarding the effect of one of the plaintiff’s injuries (his tinnitus) on his ability to earn wages.

Do You Have a Question for a Knowledgeable Raleigh Car Accident Lawyer?

Car accident cases can present many different issues, especially when the accident victim was on the job at the time of the crash. If you or a family member needs legal advice about a Raleigh car accident, Nagle & Associates can help. For a free consultation, call us at 800-411-1583. We serve clients throughout the state of North Carolina. Please be mindful that claims not filed within the applicable statute of limitations are likely to be dismissed, so it is best to talk to a qualified personal injury attorney as soon as possible after a car accident.

Related Blog Posts:

North Carolina Court Rules That Workers’ Compensation Insurance Company Lacked Standing to Bring Third-Party Negligence Action to Recover Benefits Paid to Employee Hurt in Crash

North Carolina Court Holds that Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress Claim Should Not Have Been Dismissed

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