Who Is the Nurse Case Manager In A Workers’ Compensation Case?

The job of the nurse case manager is to work directly with the individual patient in order to coordinate patient care. The nurse case manager is a registered nurse employed by the insurance carrier. The nurse case manager will often coordinate treatments between multiple doctors, and also keep the insurance carrier up-to-date about ongoing treatments, as well as when you will be medically cleared to return to work.

Workers' Compensation Nurse Case ManagerSince the insurance company pays the nurse case manager it is important that you and your workers’ compensation attorney scrutinize their efforts on your behalf. Too often nurse case managers try to push a treating physician into releasing an injured employee before the doctor should release them. We have also seen them try to convince a doctor not to provide certain types of treatment due to the fear it would cost too much money for the insurance company.

To try an avoid any improper actions by the nurse case manager the North Carolina Industrial Commission has set up guideline and rules they are required to follow. The North Carolina Industrial Commission Rules for Utilization of Rehabilitation Professionals in Workers’ Compensation Claims guides the conduct of nurse case managers.

Because the nurse case manager is an employee of your insurance carrier, it is advisable to discuss any questions about the role of your nurse case manager with your workers’ compensation attorney.

Can I Withdraw Or Take Out A Loan From My Retirement After Filing Bankruptcy?

Regardless of whether you have filed a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you cannot withdraw money OR take out a loan from your retirement account without court permission.

Senior coupleIf you are in a Chapter 7 case, it is usually best to just wait until the bankruptcy case is completed and then if you need to withdraw funds or take out a loan, you can do so. If you request court permission during your bankruptcy, there will be attorney fees involved and it could lengthen your time in the bankruptcy case.

If you are in a Chapter 13 case, you need to contact your attorney as soon as you realize you may need a loan or withdrawal. The process takes some time, and usually your income and expenses have to be reviewed along with drafting the motion, filing the motion, and waiting for a court hearing. This whole process can take at least a month. Your attorney will also ask you specific questions about why you need to do the withdrawal or loan. The court will only approve withdrawals or loans if they are necessary, such as to fix your air conditioning unit, pay for a medical procedure, etc. The court will not approve the withdrawal or loan for unnecessary reasons such as taking a vacation or installing a swimming pool in your backyard.

Remember, communication with your attorney during your bankruptcy case is the key to a successful case. If you are ever in doubt, contact your attorney to find out how to proceed, but remember you cannot touch your retirement account during your bankruptcy case without getting court permission.

Are Part-Time Employees Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?

In North Carolina, employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance if they have three or more employees. If you work for a company with three or more employees, you should be covered under your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance if you are injured on the job, even if you are a part-time or temporary employee.

Father and Daughter on ComputerIf you are a part-time or temporary employee, the calculation of your workers’ compensation benefits will be the same as if you were a full-time or permanent employee. Your average weekly wage will be calculated to determine the amount of weekly benefits you should receive while your workers’ compensation case is pending.

For more information on how the average weekly wage is calculated, read our blog post explaining the process.

What You Need to Know Before Your Chapter 13 Phone Interview

If you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy in the Middle District of North Carolina (Greensboro, Winston-Salem and surrounding areas), you will be required to have a phone interview with the Chapter 13 Trustee’s office.

You will need to call the Trustee’s office to schedule your phone interview. Be sure to call in on the date and time it is scheduled for – if you do not call for your phone interview, the Court can dismiss your bankruptcy case!

Submit the Necessary Documents

TelephoneAnother important note: the Trustee’s office cannot do the phone interview with you if they have not received all of the necessary documentation from you beforehand. It is important to submit all of the documents they have requested before the interview!

Review Your Bankruptcy Paperwork

The night before your phone interview, sit down with the copy of your bankruptcy petition you were given after your signing appointment. Remember: you came to our office for your signing appointment, we reviewed the petition together, and then we gave you a copy of the paperwork after the appointment was done.

During your phone interview, the staff from the Trustee’s office will be looking at the same paperwork that you have a copy of. You need to review it the night before just to refresh your memory on everything we reviewed together.

We Want Their Support, Be Nice!

The purpose of the phone interview is to review the file and ask you any clarification questions the court may have. Remember, our office has had a lot of interaction with you – we’ve asked you a lot of questions, received a lot of paperwork from you, and spent a lot of time with you. The only information the Trustee’s office has is the petition that was filed with the Court and the paperwork you submitted to them. It is important to be patient on the phone during the interview. They are asking questions so they have accurate information about your case. If you get frustrated or impatient, it will not help your case!

Ask Us Your Questions, Not the Chapter 13 Trustee’s Office

Finally, be sure to keep a note pad near you during the interview. If you think of any questions during the phone interview, jot them down and call our office afterwards to talk to us about your questions.

The Dangers of Cosigning On A Debt

Should you cosign on a debt for a friend or family?

Cosigning on a debt is almost never recommended. However, it’s a tough decision sometimes when you have friends or family that need you to cosign on a debt to receive the necessary loan. Typically, though, it’s not a good idea to cosign on a debt. Let’s find out why.

What is a cosigner?

Filling out paperworkWhen someone is trying to obtain financing and they do not have the FICO credit score necessary to receive financing on their own, the creditor may request someone else cosign on the debt to receive the desired financing. So what exactly does cosigning mean? If someone cosigns on a debt it means they are agreeing to be responsible for that debt if the original debtor is unable to pay it.

The problem is, if the person who originally needed the loan can no longer pay it then the creditor can go after the cosigner for the debt. The creditor has the same rights to go after the cosigner as they do the primary debtor. It is not uncommon at all to see a codebtor be sued for an uncollectable debt.

Lets take a look at an example:

Dana the daughter needs to get a new vehicle. Her old vehicle has broken down and without a new vehicle she cannot get to her minimum wage job. She goes to a car dealership and after sitting down to sign all of the final paperwork the finance director at the car dealership they tell her they cannot give her financing due to her low credit score. Dana had a repossession three years ago that appears on her credit. They tell her she will need to get a a cosigner to receive the necessary financing. Stressed and needing a vehicle Dana calls Molly, her mother, to explain the situation. Molly the mom wants the best for her daughter Dana and knows she has to have a vehicle. Dana promises her mom that she will make the payments. Hesitantly Molly cosigns on a car loan for $30,000.

Fast forward and a year later Dana has made all of the payments on the vehicle. Molly barely even remembers that she cosigned on the debt. Unfortunately though, Dana ends up losing her job and can no longer afford the monthly car payment. To ensure the car is not repossessed again Molly, Dana’s mother, agrees to make the payment until Dana gets a new job. Months and months pass by and Dana is unable to find a job. Molly has used her savings and even pulled from her retirement account to try to continue to make the payments. Eventually Dana’s moved back in with her mother and Molly has exhausted all of her savings and retirement funds and they get behind on the car. The financing company eventually repossesses the vehicle and sells it at an auction for $5,000. The problem is, they still owed $20,000 on the vehicle. The finance company then tried, unsuccessfully, to collect on the deficiency balance of $15,000. Because of that, they filed a lawsuit against both Dana and Molly and eventually place a lien on Molly’s house and add interest, late fees, penalties and attorney’s fees to the amount owed.

The creditor could potentially try to repossess Molly’s other vehicle (which is paid off), go after money in her bank accounts and even foreclose on her house (which has a lot of equity). As time passes the creditor continues to add extra fees to the amount that is owed. Eventually, Molly has to file bankruptcy because she owes on the deficiency on the vehicle that she cosigned on and owes a lot in taxes because she had to withdraw a lot from her retirement account.

So what have we learned?

Don’t cosign on a debt with someone else. The person needing a cosigner may have the best of intentions. In our example above, Dana certainly did not want her mother to go through the stress and worry of having creditors come after her. The reason a finance company requires a cosigner is because they believe there is a good chance the person seeking the financing won’t be able to make the necessary payments. If this were to happen, creditors don’t care that you cosigned just to help out. Instead, they will come after you as if you were the one who originally failed to make the payments.

Will Bankruptcy Wipe Out My Student Loans?

While technically you do have the ability to discharge student loans in a bankruptcy, in almost every case the courts do not allow you to discharge your loans.  Declaring bankruptcy does clearly show financial hardship, but the federal government will still not allow you to completely discharge your student loan debt.  The only way to rid oneself of student loans in a bankruptcy is if the payment of the loans would “cause undue hardship.”   While most people would say having to pay high student loan payments when filing bankruptcy is an undue hardship, the federal government has a different opinion of this phrase.

Bills in MailboxCourts use various tests to determine what is undue hardship but the overall attitude is your specific situation must be so extreme there is no way you could ever pay off the loans.  An example would be someone who has extremely high loans such as graduate, medical, or law loans and because of some circumstance they are no longer able to work.  This person can likely never pay off their student loans in their lifetime.  They must also show they have made a good faith effort to pay off their student loans in the past.  The federal government says this normally means you should have been attempting to pay off your loan for at least five years.  The idea is that this person has been attempting to pay off their loan in the past, but if they are forced to continue paying off the loan, this will force them into a minimum standard of living or poverty.

Doctor Looking at an X-Ray of a Patient

Lets look at an example of when student loans might be dischargeable. John Doe went to school to become a surgeon. He completed medical school and his residency and now has close to $550,000 of student loan debt. Although he has a lot of student loans he makes approximately $250,000 a year of income as a brain surgeon. He makes payments each month for a five-year period. Then, one day while out on the lake, John Doe dives into the lake from his boat and he failed to realize the water was shallow. He breaks his neck and becomes a paraplegic. In other words, he is paralyzed from his neck down. At the time of his student loans John Doe owes approximately $300,000. Due to his injury he will never be a surgeon again and is not likely going to find a job that will allow him to pay off his student loans. In this situation, the courts may determine that an extreme circumstance exists allowing for the discharge of student loans.

The courts are hesitant to discharge student loans because while it may be hard to pay your loans now, someday in the future you will be back on your feet and capable of making payments again.  Many people believe they qualify for student loan discharge in bankruptcy but it cannot be stressed enough how extremely rare it is that someone is able to discharge their student loan payments in bankruptcy.  This is a situation where you have the burden to prove to the court why you should be the exception and why your situation is different.  The courts very rarely grant someone a discharge of their student loan debts.

Who Selects the Mediator in a NC Workers’ Compensation Case?

The short answer is the attorneys for both sides in a North Carolina workers’ compensation case will usually mutually agree upon a mediator. If not, the North Carolina Industrial Commission can appoint a mediator.

Mediator | North Carolina Workers' CompensationA mediator is a person, usually another attorney, who helps negotiate an agreeable outcome between two different parties. Mediators have been used in the legal system for an incredibly long time and usually help parties reach a mutually agreeable outcome without having to go to court or in front of a “finder of fact.”

If you have a North Carolina workers’ compensation case then you too will likely use a mediator at some point in time. The North Carolina Industrial Commission requires that a case go through mediation if a Form 33 is filed. Additionally, the plaintiff(s) and defendants can agree to have a voluntary mediation as well. The chances of having a successful mediation can, often times, depend upon the mediator. A good mediator can explain to both sides that neither will get everything they want out of a case and having a mutual agreement where neither party gets everything they want is sometimes better than running the risk of not receiving anything at all. An experienced mediator can also help both parties in a dispute get a better understanding of what the opposing party is thinking and arguing. Knowing this will allow you to better understand the other sides position and really allow the sides to focus on the areas in dispute versus every facet of a case.

In a North Carolina workers’ compensation claim, attorneys for both the plaintiff(s) and defendants will try to pick a mediator that both sides can agree upon. Experienced work injury lawyers know which mediators are best in their area. The two sides almost always agree upon a mediator. However, if the plaintiff(s) and defendants cannot agree upon a mediator for a required mediation then they would notify the North Carolina Industrial Commission and the Industrial Commission would appoint a mediator.

Most workers’ comp cases are settled at a mediation. Therefore, it is important that you have a good mediator. An experienced attorney for your injury at work will know who the best mediators in your area are and will fight to ensure you have someone that can help you resolve your case in the most efficient and fairest manner possible.

What Is A Form 63 in Workers’ Compensation?

North Carolina Industrial Commission Form 63 is the Notice to Employee of Payment of Compensation Without Prejudice or Payment of Medical Benefits Only Without Prejudice.

This form is submitted to the NCIC when an employer provides payments and/or medical benefits to an employee.  By filing this form, the receipt of payment or medical benefits from the employer does not necessarily end the investigative process or mean that the employer accepts liability. The benefits can be provided while an investigation is still ongoing. By submitting this form, an employer is not automatically accepting guilt or liability by providing benefits to the employee.