Q: I recently broke my foot at work and now the workmans comp adjuster wants a recorded statement. What do I do?
I told her I needed to consult with an atty 1st.
A: You should speak with an experienced Workers' Compensation lawyer before making any recorded statement. NC law does not automatically recognize and accept injuries just because they happen at work. The law also requires an accident or very specific occupational disease (not applicable to a foot injury) for a work injury to be recognized. While "accident" is liberally construed, you must be very careful to understand the law and make sure your statement is accurate and legally sound. The adjuster knows the law and will ask the questions in a manner that benefits his/her employer, the insurance company.
A: We recommend that our client’s consult with an attorney before giving a recorded statement. Why? North Carolina has a requirement that an work injury be considered an accident- something that is unusual or unexpected. Most people believe that workers’ compensation requires proof that you were doing your regular job in the regular fashion to get benefits. Wrong! If nothing unusual happened, then is it likely your case will be denied.
Insurance companies prey on this misunderstanding of the law by asking in recorded statements if the workers was doing their usual job. Who wants to say that they weren’t doing their job? However, you can be doing your usual job and have something unusual happen.
Insurance companies also like to ask questions in the recorded statement with the phrase- “ever”. Such as, have you ever had an injury to your foot/ankle? Most folks say no because they think the question is whether they had any serious surgery or disabling condition in the foot that continues today. But that is not the question. It is so hard to recall if you EVER complained or had pain in your foot that the best answer is- nothing really serious that I can recall.
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