North Carolina workers’ compensation law provides medical and disability compensation and assistance for individuals with work-related injuries or occupational diseases, such as asbestosis and hearing loss.
Workers’ compensation offers payment for medical expenses and a portion of lost wages.
If the worker can prove that the injury or disease was a direct result of the workplace, the worker has a right to compensation for significant wage loss and required medical treatment.
Workers who are injured while performing a task or an assignment at their places of employment may be entitled to workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation can also cover an illness or occupational disease contracted as a result of performing duties at the workplace.
A worker who is injured while working must inform the employer as soon as possible. After notifying the employer, the worker should immediately submit a claim to the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
If you have been injured on the job or have developed symptoms of an occupational illness, you have the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits. Contact Ward Black Law today for a no-cost case evaluation with one of our Greensboro workers’ compensation lawyers. You will learn more about the workers’ compensation benefits to which you may be entitled.
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When Do You Need a Lawyer for Workers’ Comp?
After you’ve suffered a work injury or illness, you may wonder whether you need an attorney to help you get workers’ compensation benefits. A Greensboro workers’ compensation lawyer from Ward Black Law can help you pursue your claim for benefits by:
- Securing evidence about your accident and injuries to prove them as work-related and establish your entitlement to workers’ comp.
- Filing the appropriate claim paperwork in a timely manner and ensuring that supporting information and documentation is submitted with your claim form so that you receive benefits as swiftly as possible.
- Helping you fight denials of your claim or denials of benefits, or petitions by your employer to terminate ongoing benefits.
- When appropriate, aggressively negotiating on your behalf for a settlement of your workers’ compensation benefits claim.
- Advocating on your behalf to reverse a denied claim.
What Do Workers’ Comp Benefits Cover?
The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act covers all employees in the state, as long as the employer employs three or more workers. Full-time, part-time, and temporary employees are covered under workers’ compensation. When filing a claim, North Carolina workers are not obligated to present proof of fault by the employer, but must show that the accident occurred in the course of employment.
Under North Carolina law, injured workers can receive wage loss benefits and compensation for medical bills. The employer and its insurance company are legally obligated to provide compensation for missed work and necessary treatment for long-term injuries.
In addition to covering the costs of all reasonable and necessary medical care for your work-related injury or illness, you may be entitled to these and other benefits:
- Temporary disability benefits – If you cannot return to work for seven or more days because of your injury, you can receive wage loss payments equal to two-thirds of your average weekly wage. The benefits payment is subject to a cap updated each year by the North Carolina Industrial Commission. These benefits end when you return to work or you reach maximum medical improvement (meaning your condition is unlikely to improve with any further treatment). You may receive partial benefits if you return to limited, modified duty.
- Permanent disability benefits – Once you reach maximum medical improvement, you will be evaluated for a permanent impairment rating. If you are rated as totally and permanently disabled, you may continue to receive disability payments for 500 weeks or potentially longer. However, if you are deemed partially disabled, you may receive an award of benefits according to the state’s schedule of disabilities, which sets the value of your claim depending on the type or severity of your disability.
- Partial disability benefits – If you can return to work but you are earning less that your pre-accident wage because of your injury, in some instances workers’ compensation benefits can make up that difference.
If a worker is killed on the job, his or her family may be entitled to death benefits, including temporary payments equal to two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage (subject to a maximum) and up to $10,000 in funeral and burial expenses. Those benefits can continue for 500 weeks (almost 10 years) after the death and in some instances longer.
What You Need to Know About Getting Medical Treatment
Under North Carolina’s workers’ compensation system, the employer is obligated to pay for your treatment for your work-related injury or illness. However, the employer can insist that you see one of the employer’s pre-approved medical providers.
You may be provided a list of medical providers from which to choose for treatment of your work injury. However, since the employer selects the list, the employer may choose providers that tend to make treatment decisions in the employer’s favor. The employer’s provider may downplay your disability, declare you fit to work even when you are still experiencing pain, and recommend conservative (and less expensive) treatments, such as rest or exercise rather than physical therapy or surgery.
If you require emergency medical treatment for your work-related injury or illness, the employer must cover the costs regardless of who provides the treatment.
Under North Carolina workers’ compensation law, you may have the right to request a second opinion from a physician of your choosing, at your employer’s expense. If your employer denies your request for a second opinion or objects to your choice of physician, you may file a claim with the North Carolina Industrial Commission asking the Commission to authorize a second opinion. The results of the second opinion exam must be disclosed to your employer.
Based on a second opinion or any other difficulties you may be having with your treating physician, you may file a claim with the Industrial Commission. You may ask the Commission to approve a transfer of your care to a physician of your choice. To succeed, you must show that switching physicians is reasonably necessary to fully treat, provide relief or lessen the period of your disability.
What to Do After an Injury at Work
After you’ve suffered an injury at work, consider taking the following steps as soon as possible. Doing so may protect your right to seek workers’ compensation benefits and ensure you receive the maximum benefits under the law.
- Report your accident and injury to your employer as soon as possible.
- Document the accident scene by taking photographs or video, if possible. Get the name and contact information for any witnesses.
- Seek emergency medical treatment or treatment from an employer-approved health care provider.
- Follow the treatment instructions and recommendation of your treating provider. Failure to do so may lead to the termination of your benefits and the employer’s insistence that you can return to full duty.
- Speak to a Greensboro workers’ compensation attorney to discuss what kinds of workers’ compensation benefits are appropriate in your case and whether your weekly compensation check is the full amount to which you are entitled.
How Long Do You Have to File a Work Injury Claim?
After you suffer an injury in a work-related accident, you are expected to provide your employer with notice of your accident and injury as soon as possible. In any event, you must notify the employer no later than 30 days after your accident and injury. You can usually report your accident and injury by filing the appropriate form with the North Carolina Industrial Commission. You will also submit a copy to your employer. Your employer may also have procedures for reporting a work-related accident.
If you must pursue a claim for compensation with the Industrial Commission, you must generally file your claim within two years of the date you were injured.
If you believe you have developed an occupational disease or illness, you must generally file a claim with the North Carolina Industrial Commission within two years of the later of: (1) the date on which you are diagnosed with an occupational disease or illness and informed by that physician that the illness or disease is related to your employment, or (2) the date on which you are first disabled by your disease or illness.
If your employer has terminated medical benefits, you have two years from the last medical treatment paid for by your employer to file a claim with the Industrial Commission.
What to Do If Your Workers’ Comp Claim Is Denied
If your employer denies your workers’ compensation claim, you will receive notice of the reasons for the denial. You should review the reasons so that you can secure evidence to refute those reasons if appropriate. Getting an attorney to represent you as early in the process as possible can be crucial if you have been wrongly denied benefits.
If you wish to appeal the denial of your claim, you must file a request for a hearing. Before you receive a hearing, you must participate in a mediation conference with a mutually-selected mediator or one appointed by the Industrial Commission. Mediation of workers’ compensation claims in North Carolina has been a very successful means to resolve claims.
Common Workplace Injuries
Common examples of injuries that workers frequently suffer in Greensboro include:
- Cuts (lacerations)
- Bruises (contusions)
- Broken bones
- Soft-tissue injuries such as sprains or tears of muscles, tendons, and ligaments
- Neck and back injuries like herniated or ruptured discs
- Repetitive stress injuries, like carpal tunnel syndrome
- Electrocution injuries
- Crush injuries
- Internal organ damage and internal bleeding
- Head injuries, including eye and ear trauma
- Knee injuries including torn ACLs or MCLs
- Shoulder injuries including torn rotator cuffs
- Traumatic brain injury
- Hearing loss
- Toxic exposure
- Exposure to communicable diseases
Talk to a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Greensboro, NC, Now
If you have been injured on the job in Greensboro or anywhere in North Carolina, you can move quickly to ensure you receive your full workers’ compensation benefits. Contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation by calling us or contacting us online.
You can talk with a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney at Ward Black Law in Greensboro, North Carolina in person, by phone or on-line at no charge. You can discuss the details of your case and learn more about your entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits for your work-related injury or illness.