What Is the Family Medical Leave Act?

FMLA and North Carolina Worker’s Compensation Claims. What is the Family Medical Leave Act?

 

  • Am I required to make a claim?
  • Can my Employer require FMLA?
  • What is it?
  • How Does it Work?
  • What are my options?

 

 

The bottom line is that the return-to-work decision, whether or not you go back to work, is really, really important –  Kevin Jones 

 

 

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See More: FMLA Employer Notification Requirements

 

 

 

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How To File a Claim for an Injury at Work

 

 

 

Transcript for Hearing Impaired

Modified Transcript of “What Is the Family Medical Leave Act?” for the Hearing Impaired 

Hi. My name is Kevin Jones. I’m the Workers Comp Specialist with the Dodge Jones Injury Law Firm. We have offices all around Eastern North Carolina: New Bern, Morehead City, Beaufort, Jacksonville and Greenville. I’m here to talk to you about some frequently asked questions that I get in my practice as a Workers Comp lawyer.

One of those has to do with Family Medical Leave Act. Oftentimes, when someone goes out for a work-related injury, the employer, if that act applies to them, if they’re a big enough company where the FMLA applies to them, they will ask that employee, they will force that employee to go ahead and start their FMLA leave period. That causes a lot of concern with folks. They want to know why. They don’t understand. “I’m not on Workers Comp, why are they putting me on Family Medical Leave?”

The answer is, is they can do that and it can be for several reasons, but none of them are helpful to the injured worker. They want to keep their options open. When they start the FMLA and it gets used up, then they have the option to go ahead, if that person is still out of work on that resource because of the work-related injury, they have the option to then go ahead and terminate that person and fill their spot, and they sometimes do that. As soon as the leave period is over, boom, letter goes out. “We can’t accommodate your restrictions,” or “You’re still out of work. Unless you can give us a return-to-work note, you’re going to be let go” and, then, they replace that person with someone else on that job and the job’s gone.

Other employers will do the FMLA, get to the end of the FMLA and, then, they’ll extend it and sometimes indefinitely. The reason that those employers may do that sometimes is they, again, want to keep their options open. They want to be able to say, at any point in time, that they want to have a reason to put somebody back at work and get them off the Comp check and put them in a light duty job. They want to keep that option open.

Sometimes that can be a great thing for an injured worker and other times, it can be something that’s a problem. It really depends on the situation with the employer. One person going back to work light duty may be wonderful because, “Okay, now I’m back to working towards my retirement because I’m collecting a paycheck, instead of a Workers Comp check, so I’m counting up days that add to my overall period of employment which can help, plus all the other benefits stay in place. That can be a good thing for one employee. For other employees, it could be a bad thing because it could be an employer that’s just looking for a reason to get the Workers Comp check stopped and, then, come up with some other reason to then let that person go after the check had stopped.

One of the things about Workers Comp that a lot of people don’t realize is that when you are out of work receiving a check and it’s an admitted claim and when I say check, a disability check, what’s called a Temporary Total Disability Check, when you’re out of work, the employer and the Workers Comp adjuster, Workers Comp carrier, in order to stop that check, they have to have permission from the Industrial Commission. They have to file a motion. There’s an opportunity to respond. There’s a telephonic hearing with the lawyers on the phone and, then, there’s a decision that’s made as to whether they’re going to grant their request to either terminate or suspend those benefits.

That right is important to an injured worker in a situation where they may be walking into a very adversarial employment relationship when they go back to work light duty, where they may be getting picked on, where they may be getting confusing instructions, where they may be getting set up to be terminated, to take steps to terminate. A lot of those things can and do happen. When this is going on, you’ve got to understand the specifics of your situation and you’ve got to get advice about, in your case, what should you do.

I tell people it’s a case-by-case basis. People ask me a lot: “What if they want me to back to work light duty?” My answer is always this: It depends on what the offer is. It depends on what the doctor says. It depends on the circumstances of the case, where we are in the litigation, if there is litigation, what’s been filed with the commission and what has not. One case to the outside, it may look like, “Okay, Kevin said this person should go back to work in a light duty job,” and one that looks very similar, I may have different advice because of the specifics of that case.

The bottom line is that the return-to-work decision whether or you go back to work is really, really important and you really do need legal advice if there’s any concern at all about what might happen when you go back. Because circling back around to where I started, if you’re not at work and receiving a check, they have to file a motion to cut you off from your benefits. If you’ve actually gone back to work and clocked in even for a few minutes and, then, they decide that they don’t need you and they decide to let you go, and I’ve seen it happen more than once, they don’t need anybody’s permission to cut off that check. They simply file a return-to-work form, either a trial return-to-work form or a regular return-to-work form and that’s it, they’re done. You have to go to court and spend potentially years trying to get those benefits reinstated because you’ve gone back to work and they were legally allowed to cut the check off by filing a piece of paper without having to ask anyone’s permission.

If there is real concern that the only reason an employer is trying to get you back to work is so they can cut the check off and they’re very shortly thereafter going to let you go, then you really need to get legal advice about what to do. Because whether you go back or not can have drastic consequences because, on the flipside, if you refuse that job, they are going to file a motion to cut your check off and we better have good grounds to keep that from being approved if we’re going to say no to a job.

If you have more specific questions about your claim, if you’re worried about a light duty job that’s being offered or that you’re already working and would like to talk to me about it, give us a call. I’m happy to sit down with you.

 

Kevin Jones, Attorney at Law

 

How To File a Claim for an Injury at Work

What Should I Do If I Was Hurt While Working?  Is There Insurance for Medical Expenses? How To File a Claim for an Injury at Work

If you don’t understand your rights or what to do, that’s ok.  It can be complicated.  That’s why it can help to have an attorney.  If you were injured on the job, we recommend you worry first about getting healthy.

 

If an injury takes place at work, it is important to let your boss know as soon as is reasonably possible – Kevin Jones 

 

Despite the best efforts to work safely or take precautions, accidents can and do happen at work.  It’s a fact of life.

While eventually it makes sense to figure out what caused the injury to avoid problems in the future, the most important thing is to take the steps necessary to get healthy and get back to work.

Obviously a lot depends on the type of injury.  More minor accidents may allow for a more progressive transition from the job site to medical provider, where the Employee has the opportunity to drive him or herself for care.

workers comp Outer banks North Carolina

 

Other instances may necessitate life saving techniques, where the passage of time can make the difference between life and death.

We encourage people to seek treatment immediately, whatever the cause or severity.

If you are injured and cannot work, waiting until things get worse does not help either the Employee or Employer.

No one wants to be laid up for work, even for a short period of time. The ultimate goal is to eventually get back to work, earning an income, and providing for your family.

What To Do:

  • Seek Medical Treatment in a Timely Manner
  • Do NOT Wait Until an Injury Worsens
  • Call 911 if it is an Emergency
  • If You Don’t Think You Can Move, Don’t Try
  • Ask Someone to Take Pictures, if it can be done so safely
  • Advise Your Employer When Able of Your Injury
  • Follow Doctor’s Orders
  • Complete Recommended Treatment and Physical Therapy
  • Take Prescribed Medications as Instructed

 

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How Do Lawyers Get Paid on Workplace Injury Cases?

You may have heard the term Contingency Fee when it comes to how lawyers charge fees.  You may not understand what that actually means.

At the Dodge Jones Law Firm, the only way we make a Legal Fee is if you recover from your injuries.  Our fees are “contingent” upon achieving a settlement or damages award.

If you do not recover damages, we do not get paid.

Now it’s important to understand some costs must ultimately be borne by the client; but, we’re more than willing to explain how that all works.

Things like deposition costs, fiing fees, and medical record copy charges may, when appropriate, be advanced by your attorney.

If you have questions, give us a ring.

We will put everything down in writing for you, just to make sure you understand how legal representation works and what it will cost you.

We are here to help!

MORE INFORMATION ON WORKERS’ COMPENSATION 

Transcript for Hearing Impaired

Modified Transcript of “How Do I File a Claim for an Injury at Work?” for the Hearing Impaired

 

Hi, I’m Kevin Jones with the Dodge Jones Injury Law Firm.

I’m a Workers’ Compensation specialist in Eastern North Carolina.

I’m going to talk to you about some frequently asked questions in workers’ comp claims, questions I get asked a lot.

One of those is: “If workers’ comp won’t pay for whatever medical treatment I need, can I file it on my health insurance?” and the answer is yes.

You absolutely can and you should if it’s something that the doctor says you need and it’s something that you want to get done so that you can get back to work.

Most people if they’ve never had a workers’ comp claim before will assume that workers’ comp works sort of like their health insurance always has. It gets filed; it get processed; and it basically gets paid, but workers’ comp often does not. What happens, however, is that oftentimes when it’s the employer’s health insurance, especially a larger employer, they will have control over that health insurance because sometimes it’s not really insurance.

It’s a health plan.

It’s really the employer’s own money, and that employer has the final say over whether they’re going to pay for that treatment.

The law in North Carolina states that if the injury, the entire claim, or the treatment that’s being recommended has been denied in writing by worker’s comp, then the health insurance provider must pay.

Let’s say the person comes in to see me and they’ve got a surgery that’s being recommended by the doctor, and it may be the doctor that workers’ comp sent that person to in the first place, but then they decide they’re going to deny that surgery.

If you have health insurance and workers’ comp has formally denied it in writing, yes, you can file it and proceed and get the treatment that you need. Next step, they’ve paid. You had your surgery.

The case is winding its way to the courtroom.

What happens if you’re working on trying to resolve the case and you’ve got health insurance out there and they’ve paid tens of thousands of dollars for a surgery, for example.

Do they have the right to be paid back? In many instances, they do, and some they don’t.

This is where it can get very confusing.

You don’t want to get in a situation where you have resolved your case and then come to find out that you owe a bunch of money back to that health plan that you didn’t know was owed at the time that you decided to settle the case.

Other times, you will actually have health plan or health insurance that will claim a right to recover money out of your settlement and they don’t have that right.

If you have any more questions, please give us a call. I’m happy to sit down and talk with you about your rights and what needs to be done in your case when you have denied treatment in your workers’ comp claim.

 

Kevin Jones, Attorney at Law

Call Now for a Confidential Consultation, Free of Charge:

252-631-9180

Email: kevin@dodgejones.com