Workers’ Compensation Denies Claim of Employee Blinded on the Job 

It is a sad fact, but the Workers’ Compensation Commission denies more claims than it approves. One recent story coming out of North Carolina proved though, that workers injured on the job should never stop trying to claim the benefits that are rightfully owed to them.  

“This is definitely a sad story,” says Whit Whitley of Whitley Law Firm, “and it is a shocking one, too. The fact that the Commission would deny someone that is going to have trouble finding work for the rest of his life is unconscionable.”  

It was in July of 2016 when George King was working at a rest stop in Dunn, North Carolina. DTH Contract Services had hired King, and the very scope of his employment showed just how dangerous his job was. His duties included keeping the restrooms clean, emptying the garbage, and looking for criminal activity to report to the police. He worked at the rest stop from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. When he was not making his rounds, he was to stay in his office with the door locked.  

On this particular summer night, King was just finishing his rounds when a former employee attacked him, stabbing him in both eyes with a screwdriver. King was rendered permanently blind from the attack.  

King applied for workers’ compensation benefits after the attack, just as anyone should do after being injured on the job. Unfortunately, his claim was initially denied due to the fact that it was a former employee that attacked him. The Commission stated that the two knew each other and therefore, King could not prove the attack was due to personal reasons and not employment. The Commission made this argument even though King had stated previously that he did not recognize his attacker.  

It is a discouraging story for anyone wishing to file a workers’ compensation claim. This insurance is available to any worker injured on the job performing duties within the scope of their employment. Both of these factors apply to King’s situation. Even more so, the Commission could not prove that the motive for the attack had nothing to do with King’s employment.  

An appeals court in Virginia came to the same conclusion. They discredited the Commission’s denial based on the sole fact that the attack could have been personal. The court also determined that the Commission had not considered any other evidence. The court reversed the decision of the Commission and sent the request back to the Commission.  

King’s story is a good reminder for anyone applying for workers’ compensation benefits. Workers applying for workers’ compensation are far more likely to be denied on a first attempt than they are approved. King’s case just proves that any decision made is not necessarily final, and there are steps that can be taken to fight claims upon denial.  

 

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