At The Bollinger Law Firm, P.C., in Charlotte, North Carolina, we guide injured clients through the workers' compensation process. If you have suffered a work related injury, it is important to follow these steps:
- Report injury immediately to supervisors
- Get medical attention as needed - even if injury is minor
- Tell medical providers you got hurt at work
- Report the accident and injury to employer in writing within 30 days of injury (use employer's forms or North Carolina Industrial Commission "Form 18")
The insurance adjuster will want to take a "recorded oral statement" from you. The purpose is to develop evidence to justify denying your claim. You should get legal advice from a workers' compensation lawyer before giving a recorded statement. Contact us to arrange a free consultation.
Is Your Claim "Accepted" or "Denied"?
The law requires an employer or its insurance company to formally "admit" or "deny" liability for your accident, within 14 days of when you give notice of the accidental injury to the employer. If your worker's compensation claim is accepted you should receive a Form 60. If your claim is denied, you should receive a Form 61. If you receive a Form 63, the insurance company is reserving the right to deny your claim for 90 days.
If Your Claim Is Denied, Hire an Attorney
Do not discuss the case with your employer or the insurance company if your claim is denied or delayed. If you receive a Form 33 from the insurance company, you will need a lawyer, even if your claim has been accepted.
If Your Claim is Accepted
The employer and its insurance company must provide you with the medical care needed to cure your injury, lessen your period of disability and relieve your symptoms. They must pay your lost wage indemnity for the time you miss from work because of the injury. But, the first seven days out of work are the "waiting period" and you do not get paid for those unless you miss all or part of 21 days from work.
Out of Work Benefits
You get two-thirds of your "average weekly wage." This is your gross wages for the 52 weeks before your injury. If you are unable to do any work, you get "Temporary Total Disability" benefits. If you can return to work but make less money due to the injury, you get "Temporary Partial Disability" benefits.
Permanent Disability Benefits
If you can never return to any kind of work, you can get "Permanent Total Disability" benefits. If you can return to work but you make less than you did pre-injury, because of the injury, then you can get "Permanent Partial Disability" benefits for up to 300 weeks from the date of your injury. Or, if you return to work at full or pre-injury pay, then you can get "Permanent Partial Disability" based on the "impairment rating" assigned by the doctor. This amount varies depending on the body part and percentage assigned.
Settlement of Your Case
There are several options. Insurance companies like to offer a "clincher" settlement in which you give up your right to future workers' compensation benefits in return for a lump sum of money. How much you should get is a complex question. The insurance adjuster is unlikely to offer you "top dollar" if you do not have a knowledgeable workers' compensation lawyer working for you. The adjuster will not give you advice about your rights, such as your all-important "Gupton election of benefits" which allows you to choose the most lucrative benefit.
How to Choose a Lawyer
Many lawyers advertise that they are "workers' compensation" lawyers. However, there is a lot of difference in the knowledge and experience level of lawyers. The North Carolina State Bar certifies highly knowledgeable and experienced lawyers as "Specialists" in certain areas of the law. Becoming a specialist requires a lawyer to pass a special Bar exam in the area of specialty, to attend extra "continuing legal education" courses, to receive favorable endorsements by his peers and to show that he has practiced in that area at least 500 hours per year for each of the past five years.
Mr. Bollinger has been certified as a Specialist in workers' compensation law since 2000 and he was recertified in 2006. His track record of workers' compensation litigation results can be checked at the North Carolina LiveLink database Simply enter the "Livelink" search engine and his name "Bobby L. Bollinger, Jr." as your search term.
Mr. Bollinger does not win every case; no lawyer wins all the time. But Mr. Bollinger is willing to go to court for his clients, and fight for the right outcome when the insurance company is unwilling to do the right thing! Before you hire a lawyer, run his or her name through the Livelink search engine and see for yourself what kind of litigation records that lawyer has in workers' compensation cases.
The litigation record is important for another reason, too. The insurance companies know who always settles every case and who will go to court for his clients. Which type of lawyer do you think gets more respect and better settlements from the insurance companies - the attorney who rolls over and settles or the one who fights for his clients?
Contact The Bollinger Law Firm, P.C.
If you are in need of legal help with the workers' compensation claim process, do not hesitate to contact us to schedule a free consultation. Our office is easily accessible for those with disabilities. Free parking is available.