Workers' Compensation  

Disability

 

     Hilliard v. Apex Cabinet Company, 305 N.C. 593, 290 S.E. 2d 682 (1982)



          Along with Russell v. Lowes, this is the leading case on disability in North Carolina workers’ compensation law.  The Supreme Court held that injured workers have

          the burden of proving both the existence of disability and its degree, and the Court identified the criteria for establishing disability.



​     Russell v. Lowes Product Distribution108 N.C. App. 762, 425 S.E. 2d 454 (1993)



          The Court of Appeals held that it is the employee’s burden to establish his inability to earn, in the same or any other employment, the same wages he earned before his 

          injury, and it identified the four ways in which that burden can be met.



     Sims v. Charmes/Arby’s Roast Beef, 142 N.C. App. 154, 542 S.E. 2d 277 (2001)



          The Court of Appeals held that the presumption of continuing disability that arises from approval of a Form 21 Agreement for Compensation for Disability does not

          arise from the filing of a Form 60 Admission of Employee’s Right to Compensation.



     Watson v. Winston-Salem Transit Authority, 92 N.C. App. 473, 374 S.E. 2d 483 (1988)



          The Court of Appeals applied the Watkins v. Motor Lines presumption that disability continues until the injured employee returns to work at wages equal to   

          those earned before the date of injury.



     Bridges v. Linn-Corriher Corporation, 90 N.C. App 397, 368 S.E. 2d 388 (1988)



​     Cook v. Bladenboro Cotton Mills, 61 N.C. App. 562, 300 S.E. 2d 852 (1983)

 

          In each case, the Court of Appeals applied the Hilliard test for disability to the claim of a former textile worker diagnosed with chronic obstructive lung disease.



 

Apportionment of Disability

 

     Morrison v. Burlington Industries, 304 N.C. 1, 282 S.E. 2d 458 (1981)



          Established the apportionment principle, i.e., that when an employee becomes totally incapable of work and only a portion of her incapacity was caused, aggravated

          or accelerated by her occupational disease, with the remainder not having been so caused, aggravated or accelerated, the employee is only entitled to partial disability

          benefits under N.C.G.S. 97-30, rather than for total disability under N.C.G.S. 97-29.



     Pitman v. The Feldspar Corporation, 87 N.C. App. 208, 360 S.E. 2d 696 (1987)

          The Court of Appeals applied the Morrison apportionment concept to a claim in which the employee became totally disabled from a combination of 

          employment-related silicosis and an obstructive lung disease caused by cigarette smoking and asthma.

 

 

Occupational Disease 

 

     Huffman v. Moore County, 208 N.C. App. 471, 704 S.E. 2d 17 (2010)



          Issue raised:  Whether the evidence of record supported the Commission’s denial of “sick building syndrome” claims brought by seven former employees of Moore

          County.



​     Hendrix v. Linn-Corriher Corporation, 317 N.C. 179, 345 S.E. 2d 374 (1986)



          Applied the Hilliard test for disability to the claim of a former textile worker with byssinosis, holding that if a compensable occupational disease renders the employee

          only partially disabled, his award of benefits is limited to two-thirds of the difference between his average weekly wage while working for the defendant and the average

          weekly wage he was subsequently capable of earning.



​     Walston v. Burlington Industries, 304 N.C. 670, 285 S.E. 2d 822 (1982)



          The Supreme Court found medical testimony that the former textile worker’s employment “possibly” played a role in the etiology of his respiratory

          difficulties insufficient to establish the existence of a compensable occupational disease.



     ​Knight v. Cannon Mills Company, 82 N.C. App. 453, 347 S.E. 2d 832 (1986)



          Issue raised:  Whether the Commission erred in finding that the employee’s exposure to cotton dust did not cause or aggravate his chronic obstructive pulmonary 

          disease.



​     Dawkins v. Erwin Mills, 74 N.C. App. 712, 329 S.E. 2d 688 (1985)



          Issue raised:  Whether a former textile worker’s claim for benefits was barred by the two year statute of limitations contained in N.C.G.S. 97-58(c).

 

     Eller v. Porter-Hayden Company, 48 N.C. App. 610, 269 S.E. 2d 284 (1980)



          Issue raised:  Whether the employee’s disability began more than two years after his last injurious exposure to asbestosis, thereby barring his claim under N.C.G.S.

          97-58(a).



     ​Taylor v. J.P. Stevens and Company, 300 N.C. 94, 265 S.E. 2d 144 (1980)



          Issue raised:  Whether a worker claiming disability from an occupational disease must prove that she became disabled within one year after her last injurious exposure.

​     Taylor v. J.P. Stevens and Company, 307 N.C. 392, 298 S.E. 2d 681 (1983)



          Issue raised:  Whether the maximum weekly compensation rate increase adopted by the General Assembly for persons entitled to benefits before July 1, 1973 also

          increased the ceiling on total disability benefits set forth in N.C.G.S. 97-29.



​      Wood v. J.P. Stevens & Company, 297 N.C. 636, 256 S.E. 2d 692 (1979)

          Held that an employee’s right to compensation is governed by the law in effect on the date of disability, not the date of last injurious exposure.

 

 

Employee/ Independant Contractor

 

     Youngblood v. North State Ford Truck Sales, 321 N.C. 380, 364 S.E. 2d 433 (1988)



          Issue raised:  Whether the injured worker, who was hired to teach North State Ford’s employees how to use truck frame straightening equipment purchased

          secondhand, was an employee or independent contractor.

 

 

Death Benefits

 

     Tucker v. City of Clinton, 120 N.C. App. 776, 463 S.E. 2d 806 (1995)



          Issue raised:  Whether the deceased employee acknowledged his paternity of the minor plaintiff so as to entitle the child to death benefits under N.C.G.S. 97-38.



     Lennon v. Cumberland County, 119 N.C. App. 319, 458 S.E. 2d 240 (1995)



          Issue raised:  Whether an infant who was in the process of being adopted at the time of the deceased employee’s injury and death qualifies as a “dependent child” for

          purposes of receiving extended death benefits under N.C.G.S. 97-38.



​     Rogers v. University Motor Inn, 103 N.C. App. 456, 405 S.E. 2d 770 (1991)



          Issue raised:  Whether the widow of the deceased employee was entitled to death benefits because, on the date of accident, she was living apart from him for

          “justifiable cause.”

 

 

Average Weekly Wage

 

     Baldwin v. Piedmont Woodyards, Inc., 58 N.C. App. 602, 293 S.E. 2d 814 (1982)



          Held that the business expenses of a pulpwood producer should be considered in determining his average weekly wage.



​     Mabry v. Bowers Implement Company, 48 N.C. App. 139, 269 S.E. 2d 165 (1980)

          Issue raised:  How to calculate the average weekly wage of a distributive education worker employed full-time for eleven weeks and part-time for forty-one weeks.

 

 

Estoppel

 

     Godley v. County of Pitt306 N.C. 357, 293 S.E. 2d 167 (1982)



          The Supreme Court applied the doctrine of “quasi” estoppel to bar a governmental agency that had paid and an insurer that had received workers’ compensation

          premiums on the earnings of the injured employee from denying liability for the employee’s claim.



     Belfield v. Weyerhaeuser Company, 77 N.C. App. 332, 335 S.E. 2d 44 (1985)

 

          Issue raised:  Whether the doctrine of equitable estoppel can be invoked to bar an employer from raising the two year statute of limitations contained in N.C.G.S.

          97-24.

 

 

Mutual Mistake

 

     Buchanan v. Mitchell County, 38 N.C. App. 596, 248 S.E. 2d 399 (1978)

 

          Issue raised:  Whether to set aside the parties’ Form 21 agreement for compensation because it was entered into as the result of a “mutual mistake” under N.C.G.S. 97-  

          17.

 

 

Dual Purpose Doctrine

 

     Murray v. Associated Insurers, Inc., 341 N.C. 712, 462 S.E. 2d 490 (1995)

 

          Issue raised:  Whether the “dual purpose doctrine” rendered compensable the deceased employee’s injuries and death, suffered while traveling out of town.

 

 

Res Judicata

 

     Stanley v. Gore Brothers, 82 N.C. App. 511, 347 S.E. 2d 49 (1986)

 

          Held that the doctrine of res judicata applies to workers’ compensation claims.

 

 

Credibility

 

     Clodfelter v. United Furniture Company, 38 N.C. App. 45, 247 S.E. 2d 263 (1978)



           Held that the Industrial Commission is the sole judge of the credibility of witnesses.