When workers are injured on the job, they can usually seek workers’ compensation benefits. North Carolina’s workers’ compensation system is designed to provide the worker with medical treatment for any injuries and wage loss benefit payments if those injuries keep the employee from working.
Unfortunately, workers’ compensation requirements in North Carolina are complex. Filing a claim for workers’ compensation can turn into a complicated process, especially if the injured worker’s employer denies a claim for benefits.
If you have been injured on the job, you need to understand the process of filing a workers’ compensation claim in North Carolina to protect yourself. If you have additional questions about the workers’ compensation claim process or need legal help filing a claim, contact Ward Black Law today.
Under North Carolina’s workers’ compensation system, an injured worker is expected to report an accident and injury to the employer as soon as possible after the accident, but no generally no later than 30 days after the event. A worker may submit a written report to his or her supervisor, or the worker may choose to file a Form 18 with the North Carolina Industrial Commission, then submit a copy of the form to the employer.
An injured worker should file a Form 18 – Notice of Accident to Employer and Claim of Employee, Representative, or Dependent for NC Workers’ Compensation Benefits with the North Carolina Industrial Commission, providing a copy of the filed form with his or her employer or its workers’ compensation insurer. The worker should also keep a copy of the submission.
A Form 18 is typically filed within 30 days of an injured worker’s accident. A claim for workers’ compensation benefits must be filed within two years of the date of injury.
Once a Form 18 is filed, the employer or its insurer will either accept the worker’s claim and begin paying benefits, or the employee will receive one of three forms if the employer decides to deny the claim.
An injured employee is entitled to a response from his or her employer within 14 days of receiving the employee’s notice of claim. The response either accepts the employee’s claim or sets forth the grounds of the denial. The employer may seek an extension to the 14-day deadline from the Industrial Commission.
The employee will receive one of these three forms in employer’s response:
If your employer denies your claim for workers’ compensation benefits, you have the right to request a hearing with the North Carolina Industrial Commission. To do so, you file a Form 33 – Request for Hearing with the North Carolina Industrial Commission. A Form 33 may also be used to seek a hearing to resolve other workers’ compensation disputes you may have with your employer. For example, the employer may not authorize medical treatment or may dispute your inability to return to work.
Requesting a hearing with the Industrial Commission does not mean you are filing a lawsuit against your employer. The Industrial Commission merely issues a formal decision on your entitlement to benefits. Before you proceed to a hearing, the Industrial Commission will typically require you and your employer to participate in mediation to try to reach a settlement.
Your attorney can answer all of your questions relating to your workers’ compensation rights. Below are answers to questions we are commonly asked.
You should file your workers’ compensation claim as soon as possible after your accident. Generally, you are expected to provide your employer with notice of your claim within 30 days of your accident. You can formally file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits with the North Carolina Industrial Commission by filing Form 18. That form must be filed within two years of the date of your work accident.
Ideally, you should hire an attorney to help you with the workers’ compensation claim process as soon as you are injured on the job. An attorney can help you prepare and file the Form 18. The attorney can include supporting documentation and information to greatly improve your chances of having your claim accepted. Many workers’ claims are initially denied due to a lack of supporting information.
Generally, if your Form 18 claim is denied by your employer, you should retain a workers’ compensation lawyer. A lawyer can help you ascertain the reasons for your employer’s denial of your claim. The lawyer can also help you gather additional information to have your claim approved by your employer. If the employer again denies the claim, the attorney can represent you in a hearing before the Industrial Commission.
If your employer accepts your initial claim, you can expect to have your workers’ compensation benefits approved within 14 days of filing your Form 18. If your claim is denied and you must request a hearing with the Industrial Commission, it can take several months to have your hearing scheduled and to receive an initial decision. The process can take even longer if you must appeal an adverse decision to the full Commission or to the courts.
If you have been injured in a work-related accident, don’t sit on your right to receive compensation and medical benefits for your injuries. Contact the workers’ compensation lawyers at Ward Black Law today for a free, no-obligation case review to discuss your rights and options in person, on the phone or online.
Learn how our firm can help ensure that you receive the maximum benefits you are entitled to under North Carolina’s workers’ compensation law. Contact us today.