North Carolina Workers Compensation Lawyer

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When someone gets seriously hurt on the job, the damage is often a double hit because the victim loses the ability to work and has to pay for medical treatment on top of the pain they have suffered. Victims of workplace injuries are often entitled to multiple benefits, including medical expenses and coverage for a percentage of their lost wages.

Still, getting injured at work is very stressful for workers and their families. The best and simplest way to alleviate that stress is to hire a workers’ compensation attorney to take over all the legal complexities.

A workers' compensation lawyer clasping his hands at his desk looking over case documents.

Why Do I Need a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney?

Workers’ compensation should be a simple process as employers should take care of their employees as agreed upon in the benefits package. Unfortunately, some employers – or the insurance company itself – will try to delay, deny, or minimize benefits for injured employees.

The motive is often to prevent fraudulent claims, but innocent victims with valid claims are the ones who suffer. A workers’  compensation attorney will make sure the employee is treated fairly and gets the full benefits swiftly and smoothly.

What Is Workers’ Compensation?

When someone is entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits, they should receive payment for their medical expenses and lost wages. More specifically, when a worker with workers’ compensation benefits through their employment is injured on the job, that worker’s medical treatment for the work injury will be paid for by the employer or the applicable insurance company.

Workers should also receive compensation for any wages lost during recovery, but some benefits policies only cover a portion of lost wages.

How Do I Start a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

The best way to start a claim for workers’ compensation is to have a clear understanding of the process.

Your employer and the insurance company will be interested in protecting themselves. This means that they are not on your side.

You may have to prove that you were injured and that the injury happened at work during your scheduled work hours. Your workers’ compensation attorney will help you by answering all of your questions, providing high-quality advice, and guiding you throughout the entire process.

How Do I Know if My Injury Qualifies for Workers’ Compensation?

The majority of workers who get hurt while working at their jobs are entitled to receive workers’ compensation. Many people believe that they do not qualify for these benefits if the accident was their fault, and sometimes employers and insurance companies will use this misconception to deny a valid claim.

In order to qualify for workers’ compensation in North Carolina, the following must be true:

  • You must have been injured while working
  • Your injury must have been caused by doing your job
  • Your injury must have been accidental
  • Your place of employment must have at least three employees, according to the North Carolina Industrial Commission

What Are the Most Common Injuries Claimed for Workers’ Compensation?

Anyone with a job can potentially become injured while working. Some vocations carry more risks than others, but accidents can happen anywhere and at any time.

Some of the more common workplaces causing injuries include:

  • The healthcare industry: healthcare workers are exposed to harmful substances such as medications and bodily fluids; they are often injured while attempting to move patients or by violent attacks.
  • Construction workers: construction sites are notoriously dangerous with a multitude of different types of hazards.
  • Third-party claims: sometimes, people are injured by someone who is not a part of the workplace. For example, someone who has to travel for work may get into a car accident caused by someone else.

Common Types of Injuries Claimed for Workers’ Compensation Include:

  • Back injuries: typically caused by lifting or poor posture, back injuries are often debilitating and are extremely common in the workplace
  • Knee injuries: primarily affect mobility and are extremely painful
  • Shoulder injuries: often caused by repetitive movements of pulling or lifting
  • Wrist injuries: a common repetitive motion injury that also results from lifting or falls
  • Eye injuries: usually emergency situations to prevent blindness

What Happens if My Workplace Injury Was My Fault?

If you were injured while working, you are entitled to workers’ compensation regardless of fault. Unlike personal injury cases, workers’ compensation in North Carolina is not determined by negligence.

If your employer or the insurance company is attempting to use fault as a way to deny your claim, contact a workers’ compensation attorney right away.

How Do I Make a Claim for Workers’ Compensation in North Carolina?

The process of filing a claim for workers’ compensation is long and can be complicated. Thankfully, your attorney can handle the process for you.

There are some steps that you should follow to ensure a positive outcome.

  • Report your injury to a manager right away. The longer you wait to notify your supervisor about your injury increases the risk of the insurance company denying your claim. According to the law, you have 30 days to tell your employer about your injury, but it is best practice to alert them right away
  • Get medical attention, but be aware that seeking medical treatment independently may not be paid for by workers’ compensation. Unless you are in an emergency situation, you should follow the guidelines that your supervisor gives you to be sure you are covered
  • Submit a written claim for workers’ compensation. You should submit this claim as soon as possible, but you legally have two years from the date of your injury to file
  • Consult with a workers’ compensation attorney to make sure there are no mistakes or complications with your claim

What Should I Do If There is a Dispute During My Claim?

Your workers’ compensation lawyer will help you through any disputes that may appear during your claim.

All workers’ compensation claims are handled by the North Carolina Industrial Commission. They handle all disputes as well.

All issues are heard by administrative hearing officers, who then make a decision about the distribution of benefits. Your lawyer knows the process, and how the system works, so you can rest assured that you are in good hands.

How Much Can I Get Paid From Workers’ Compensation?

The amount you get paid from workers’ compensation depends on the cost of your medical treatment and the amount of income you lost as a result of your injury. This compensation depends on the type and severity of your injury and can take different forms, such as the following:

  • Medical Care
  • Temporary Partial Disability
  • Temporary Permanent Disability
  • Permanent Partial Disability
  • Total and Permanent Disability
  • Death Benefits
  • Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Disfigurement Compensation
  • Travel Mileage Reimbursement

What Factors Surrounding My Workplace Injury Will Impact My Compensation?

There is a lot of confusion about what factors affect compensation and how impactful they are. The circumstances we are asked about the most include:

  • Fault
  • Intent
  • Safety Protocols
  • Location

Fault

According to North Carolina law, fault is not a factor in workers’ compensation claims. Whoever is at fault for the accident may be investigated for different reasons, but it does not matter for your claim.

Intent

Your injury must have been accidental; intentional injuries are not eligible for compensation. This law prevents people from taking advantage of the system.

Safety Protocols

Whether the safety protocols were properly followed during an accident can affect the amount of compensation an employee receives.

If the employee did not follow the safety protocols, their amount of compensation may be decreased. If the employer fails to adhere to safety protocols and an employee is injured as a result, that employee’s compensation may be increased.

Location

The majority of workplace injuries occur on the property of the employer. These injuries are typically compensable.

When an employee is working offsite, their injuries are also compensable as long as the work was approved and being done for the employer. When workers are injured during their commute to or from work, those injuries are not typically covered.

There are exceptions that depend on the circumstances of the accident and the worker’s situation. Your workers’ compensation lawyer will help you determine if your situation is eligible for compensation.

How Much Will I Get Paid for Lost Wages From Workers’ Compensation?

According to North Carolina law, workers are eligible to receive two-thirds of the weekly amount they earn on average every week. The insurance company may use different ways to calculate your average weekly income, but the law states that they must go back one year from the date of your injury and calculate how much you made before taxes, then divide that amount by the 52 weeks in the year in order to fairly calculate your average weekly pay.

For workers who have been employed for less than a year, the amount they have earned in their time employed will be divided by the number of weeks they have worked. Workers’ compensation is not taxed by the government in North Carolina.

How Long Can I Receive Weekly Wage Loss Benefits?

According to North Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Act, workers typically begin receiving wage loss benefits after missing seven days of work due to a workplace injury. These benefits may continue up to 500 weeks but typically discontinue much sooner when the employee returns to work.

There are times when wage loss benefits will go beyond 500 weeks. People with permanent disabilities caused by the accident who are no longer able to earn as much as they could before the accident may be eligible for supplemental wage loss benefits.

Your employer and the insurance company are responsible for making all payments for your medical treatment as long as you follow their guidelines and get treated by their approved medical provider or facility. For example, if you work in a hospital, you may be required to be treated onsite.

You will never be responsible for any copays or bill balances.

Can I Sue My Employer for Compensation for My Injury Instead of Using Workers’ Compensation?

North Carolina law requires all employers with three or more employees to have workers’ compensation insurance that is used if an employee is injured on the job.

This insurance removes the need for employees to sue their employers for compensation. However, if the accident occurred because of the negligence or intentional actions of the employer, the employee may be able to sue for damages.

Are the Medical Providers Chosen by My Employer Trustworthy?

The physician selected for your medical care provided under workers’ compensation is chosen by your employer or the insurance company in North Carolina. These physicians are obligated to treat you ethically, but they may feel pressured to release you from treatment before you feel ready.

If you feel like your treatment has not been as thorough as it should have been, consult with your workers’ compensation attorney. You do have the right to request treatment from a different doctor or to get a second opinion, but this change will have to be approved.

Your attorney will be able to help you with this process.

What Should I Do if the Insurance Company Does Not Approve Treatment for All of My Injuries?

When you have multiple injuries from a single accident, you should be covered for all of your injuries.

There are situations where serious injuries get all the attention, and minor injuries are ignored. For example, a broken bone takes precedence over a twisted knee or a strained shoulder.

Discussing all of your injuries with the medical provider is crucial, especially during the first visit but during subsequent visits as well. Also, be sure to list every injury in a written submission to the insurance company.

If your injuries are still being ignored, contact a workers’ compensation lawyer to pursue your claim. Your lawyer knows how to handle insurance companies and make sure that they treat you fairly.

Be sure to document everything. Clearly state all of your injuries, including how they have affected your life.

For example, mention how your twisted knee decreased your mobility and your strained shoulder left you unable to lift anything. The North Carolina Industrial Commission needs to understand the problems you have been experiencing since your workplace accident.

Call a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Law Firm to Handle Your Case Today

If you have been injured while doing your job, you should receive compensation for your damages. Call Tatum & Atkinson: The Heavy Hitters at (800) LAW-0804 for a free consultation to discuss how our attorneys can help make sure that you are treated fairly and that you receive everything you are owed.

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