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Review whether partially disabled employees can be removed from workers’ comp

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in Compensation and Benefits,Human Resources

Do you have former employees collecting both workers’ compensation and partial disability benefits for an on-the-job injury?

Thanks to a recent Court of Appeals of North Carolina decision, now is a good time to see if they may no longer be eligible for those workers’ comp benefits.

If the employee continued unemployment has nothing to do with his injury, he’s no longer entitled to receive benefits.

Recent case: Claude, who has an engineering degree and worked as a construction estimator, injured his shoulder at work. He was placed on partial workers’ compensation benefits and continued to work.

Then the company underwent a large downsizing due to declining business in the construction industry. It made the decision to lay off half its estimators; Claude was among those who received pink slips.

Eventually, the company petitioned for an end to Claude’s benefits, arguing that it wasn’t the injury that prevented him from working, but the poor economy.

The case worked its way through the court system. Claude’s ­doctors testified that he was capable of working despite his injury. Claude claimed he couldn’t find a job and deserved continued benefits.

The court disagreed and cut his workers’ compensation benefits. It reasoned that if Claude wasn’t working because of the poor economy, he wasn’t eligible for benefits predicated on not working because of an injury. (Medlin v. Weaver Cooke Construction, No. COA13-159, Court of Appeals of North Carolina, 2013)

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