The North Carolina Court of Appeals has ruled that an employer must pay the adaptive housing expenses of a worker who was paralyzed in a workplace accident. Attorney Andrea Fowler of Hyland + Padilla PLLC represented the worker.
RALEIGH, N.C., Aug. 31, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The North Carolina Court of Appeals has ruled that the opinion of the N.C. Industrial Commission is reasonable and will stand regarding the adaptive housing costs of a worker who was paralyzed in a workplace accident. In that opinion, which is now supported by the appellate court, it was determined that the employer, Mabe Steel Co, and its insurance provider, Bridgefield Casualty Insurance Co, must compensate the injured worker for any changes in living expenses made necessary due to a workplace accident that was covered by the employer’s workers’ compensation policy. The employer and the insurance company had argued that living arrangements should be paid for by the worker. Attorney Andrea Fowler of Hyland + Padilla PLLC represented the injured worker.
Luis Rodriguez was struck in the head by a steel beam in January 2021 while working for Mabe Steel Co. The workplace accident left him paralyzed due to spinal cord damage, among other injuries. He was able to make a respectable recovery through physical rehabilitation but remains a paraplegic today. The medical professionals attending to Luis determined that he would need housing that complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), such as one that allowed wheelchair access or that had specialized fixtures and grab bars throughout the home.
At the time of the accident, Luis was paying his brother $400 in monthly rent to stay in his mobile home. He would also sometimes earn daily stipends for hotel and travel expenses through his employer, too. Luis’s medical team found that the mobile home could not be adjusted to meet his new needs as a disabled person. Thus, he moved into a wheelchair-accessible hotel room that could accommodate him and would later need accessible long-term housing of his own, which would ultimately raise his monthly housing costs.
The Commission found that it was reasonable for the employer to pay for the adaptive housing expenses when the injured employee’s current housing is not satisfactory. The defendants challenged the opinion and filed an appeal, eventually sending it to the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Attorney Fowler’s continued representation and arguments on behalf of Luis convinced the appellate court that the Commission had not erred in its decision, and the prior opinion was allowed to stand.
The case result marks an important decision for future worker disability cases in North Carolina. Future claimants who need to change their housing situation to an ADA-compliant dwelling might be able to point to the appellate court’s ruling.
Interested parties can read a full article from the Winston-Salem Journal for more information: https://journalnow.com/news/local/kernersville-company-has-to-pay-housing-expenses-for-worker-paralyzed-in-work-accident/article_b93e9d28-1c2c-11ee-8f34-6f60f1e9206f.html. More information about Attorney Andrea Fowler and the attorneys of Hyland + Padilla PLLC at www.hylandandpadilla.com.
SOURCE Hyland + Padilla PLLC
Originally published at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/north-carolina-court-of-appeals-rules-employer-must-pay-adaptive-housing-expenses-of-paralyzed-worker-301915229.html
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