Can I Get Workers Compensation Benefits for a Slip and Fall Injury?

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A construction worker slips and falls.

In most cases, yes. The National Safety Council (NSC) and Bureau of Labor Statistics report that slips, trips, and falls comprise the third most common category of workplace injury.

(Previously, slips, trips, and falls had been the second most common injury category after overexertion, but the Covid-19 pandemic moved harmful substance exposure into first place.

The slips, trips, and falls category has an injury rate of 21.7 per 10,000 full-time workers. These injuries are most likely to happen to employees who are 55 or older, but they can occur at any age.

People who work in transportation, warehouses, or agriculture are also at higher risk. Sprains, strains, and tears are the most common injuries for this type of accident, resulting in about 14 missed days at work on average.

Fortunately, an employee who suffers a slip-and-fall injury should qualify for worker’s compensation (with certain exceptions that we will discuss later in this article).

Can I Sue My Employer for a Slip and Fall Accident?

No. The no-fault worker’s compensation system was designed to eliminate most workplace lawsuits so that neither employers nor employees would have to spend time and money proving fault in work accidents.

In short, worker’s compensation should provide the employee with a relatively quick and easy process for receiving medical benefits and lost wages. We say “should” because sometimes the process is slower and more complicated than expected, but it’s usually faster than a lawsuit, which can take months or even years to resolve.

If worker’s compensation benefits do not cover you, you might be able to sue your employer, but in some situations, you would not be successful with a lawsuit. For example, if you were denied benefits because you were intoxicated at work when the accident happened, you would probably have difficulty proving that you slipped and fell due to your employer’s negligence.

However, there are a few exceptions where a lawsuit might be possible.

One would be if your employer failed to purchase the legally required worker’s compensation insurance. Another might be if your employer intentionally committed reckless or violent acts against you.

If you believe one of these situations applies in your case, please contact a North Carolina worker’s compensation attorney immediately to discuss your options.

What Happens If I Fall at Work?

We recommend you take the following steps to protect your rights:

  • Take pictures of the scene and your injuries, if possible.
  • Write down the names of coworkers or others who witnessed your accident.
  • Seek medical care for your injuries – even if you think they aren’t serious. Sometimes people don’t feel pain immediately after an injury due to the adrenaline rush. Injuries may also be more painful after your body has had time to start the healing process, and the injured area becomes swollen and inflamed.
  • But before you go to the doctor, find out who/what your dedicated medical provider or care center is. Under North Carolina law, your employer can choose your doctor for worker’s compensation claims. Some companies (usually larger ones with hundreds of employees) have an on-site doctor available. Others may use a “dedicated care center.” The HR office should be able to direct you to an appropriate healthcare provider for your injuries.
  • If your situation is an emergency, you can go to the emergency room instead of waiting for an appointment with a dedicated provider.
  • Report the injury to your supervisor as soon as possible, preferably on the same day. You should do this in writing in a way that you can prove later. Generally, the best option is to email your supervisor from a personal email address so that you can always access the email in your Sent folder.
  • File a worker’s compensation claim as soon as possible. If you find the forms confusing or are told you don’t qualify, contact a workplace law attorney for help.

Your employer will probably investigate the injury. They may ask questions about what happened, who was present, etc. Answer their questions honestly, but don’t volunteer any extra information.

What Does Worker’s Compensation Cover?

Worker’s compensation is designed to pay for your medical care and some of the income you lose when you cannot work. In theory, it should cover all needed medical expenses, but sometimes the worker’s compensation insurance carrier may disagree with your doctor about what is “necessary.”

If you have difficulty accessing your medical benefits, you have a right to request a hearing with the North Carolina Industrial Commission. Your attorney can help you with this process.

For temporary disability benefits, lost wages are typically paid at a rate of two-thirds of your average weekly pay rate for up to 500 weeks. Most employees return to work long before then.

If you cannot work when you’re approaching 500 weeks, please speak with a lawyer about applying for permanent disability benefits. If you are able to work on reduced or light duty, but this causes you a reduction in pay, you can apply to receive two-thirds of the difference in pay for up to 500 weeks.

What About a Third-Party Claim?

While you can’t sue your employer for an injury that qualifies for worker’s compensation, you can sue a third party if their negligence caused your accident.

For instance, if a cleaning service mops or waxes the floors in your workplace, and its employees fail to put out a wet floor sign, you might slip and fall. Even if you receive worker’s compensation, you could still sue the cleaning company for additional damages, like the one-third of wages worker’s compensation didn’t cover, as well as your pain and suffering.

Your attorney can help you determine if you have enough evidence of negligence for a third-party claim.

Contact Tatum & Atkinson About Your Workplace Slip and Fall Injury

Many people struggle to access worker’s compensation benefits because the insurance company claims they are disqualified, not injured, or their medical care isn’t necessary. One of the experienced worker’s compensation attorneys at Tatum & Atkinson can evaluate your case, help you file a claim, or assist you in fighting a claim denial.

So call 800-LAW-0804 today. Your initial consultation is free, and we won’t charge you anything until we achieve a recovery.