If you work for a North Carolina company that has at least three employees, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation after a work-related injury. Navigating the application process can be a challenge, especially when struggling with a serious medical problem.
Follow these steps to report an injury and apply for workers’ compensation coverage in North Carolina:
Report the injury and seek treatment
Tell your employer right away if you experience a work injury or learn that a medical issue arose from your employment duties. If you become incapacitated and cannot report an injury to your employer, have a trusted friend or family member do so on your behalf.
Some employers have an on-site doctor to treat employees after an injury at work. Most employers will direct you to see a designated local health care facility for workers’ compensation claims, typically some kind of Urgent Care or Occupational Medicine Clinic.
Here in North Carolina, if the employer and its insurance company accept liability (responsibility) for your injury, then they get to “direct the medical care.” That means they are allowed to choose which doctors and facilities you can see for treatment of your injury, and you have no choice in the matter.
If they deny the case, or have not yet accepted liability, then you can visit the emergency room or see your own doctor. But you will have to be able to pay for it initially, and fight with the employer about the bills later.
Regardless of the provider you see, make sure to tell the provider that the injury is work-related. Be sure to indicate on the intake sheet that the injury is work-related. Telling the story of how you got hurt in the same way every time you tell it, is also very important.
Most injuries require an “injury by accident” and you need to understand what that is BEFORE you give any statements about how you got hurt. That information can be found here on our website.
Provide written injury notice within 30 days
The law requires you to give your employer written notice of the incident and the injury within 30 days of the injury. This document should include a statement with the injury description and accident date. Many employers have a form for this purpose. If not, do it by email or text message, and save a copy of your written notice for your own protection. If your employer does not get the written notice from you, or your lawyer, withing 30 days, then they have a defense to your claim and can prevent you from ever getting benefits.
File your claim properly with the State
There is a time limit for you to file a workplace injury claim with the North Carolina Industrial Commission. The basic rule is this — you have two years from the date of your injury or diagnosis of a work-related illness, or last payment of work comp benefits, to file the paperwork with the Industrial Commission. To preserve your claim and trigger the legal processes, file the Form 18 Notice of Accident with the Commission and send a copy to both the insurance company and your employer’s human resources department. Keep a copy of the filed Form 18 for your own protection.
Missing deadlines associated with workers’ compensation can result in permanent denial of your claim and all benefits. Act quickly to preserve workers’ compensation benefits when you or a loved one experiences a workplace injury.
If you have any questions or concerns, get in touch with us here at the Bollinger Law Firm.