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Workers’ Compensation – Disability – Job Search – Reasonableness – Truck Driver

Workers’ Compensation – Disability – Job Search – Reasonableness – Truck Driver

Franklin v. Broyhill Furniture Industries (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-16-0944, 29 pp.) (Sam Ervin IV, J.) Appealed from the Industrial Commission. N.C. App. Unpub. Click here for the full-text opinion.

Holding: When a truck driver has limited his job search to truck-driving positions, before the Industrial Commission can conclude the truck driver is disabled, the Commission must make findings and conclusions explaining why the limitation on his job search was reasonable.

We affirm in part but reverse and remand on the issue of disability. Defendant argues that, when relying on an unsuccessful job search to prove disability, a claimant must produce evidence and the Commission must find that he unsuccessfully searched for employment in fields other than the one in which he was employed at the time he was injured. We disagree.

In Freeman v. Rothrock, 689 S.E.2d 569 (2010), we upheld a finding of disability based on a truck driver’s unsuccessful job search, which was limited to truck-driving positions. In Freeman, the Commission explained that the claimant “focused his job search on trucking jobs” because “those were the only ones in which he had any experience or qualifications.”

Here, the Commission’s finding that plaintiff had conducted a reasonable job search was not supported by sufficient factual findings. The Commission’s order contains no explanation for the Commission’s belief that plaintiff acted in an appropriate fashion by focusing his job search solely on other truck-driving positions instead of expanding his search for employment into other areas.

We conclude that the Commission was required to make findings of fact explaining the reason that it deemed plaintiff’s job search to be “reasonable” and that its failure to make such findings constituted an error of law requiring us to reverse this portion of the Commission’s order and remand this case to the Commission for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion, including the making of adequate findings of fact addressing the extent to which plaintiff is disabled.

As to the other issues defendant raises, we affirm the Commission’s rulings.

Affirmed in part; reversed and remanded in part.


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