The workers’ compensation system of North Carolina aims to ensure injured workers have the financial support they need to recover from workplace injuries. Virtually every employer in the state is legally required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, and all eligible employees may file claims after sustaining injuries while performing their work duties.
Employers have further legal obligations pertaining to their employees’ injuries beyond maintaining workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Therefore, if you or a loved one recently suffered an injury at work and anticipate filing for workers’ compensation benefits in North Carolina, you should know your employer’s legal duties and what you can expect from them as your case unfolds. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney is invaluable in this situation and may help you recover more substantial compensation than a workers’ compensation claim can provide.
If you sustain any injury at work, you should report it immediately, even if you believe it will only require minor medical care. Your employer must create a formal incident report of the injury and report it to their workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
The injured employer can then request the claim forms they will need to submit to seek compensation for the injury. Employers are legally prohibited from interfering with employees’ claims in any way. If you believe your employer has violated this standard, your attorney can help you determine the best options for holding them accountable. Illegal retaliation in response to a request for workers’ compensation claim forms can lead to severe penalties for the employer.
Ideally, you should report your workplace injury immediately after it happens, and your employer should direct you to seek medical attention. You should see the first available doctor for the care you need in an emergency. Otherwise, you should plan to see a workers’ compensation physician. If you needed to see another doctor for emergency treatment, you would need to see an approved workers’ compensation physician after stabilizing. After addressing any immediate medical needs, your employer should provide you with the forms you must submit to the insurance carrier and the approved list of local physicians you can see for your medical examination.
Filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits is like filing any other insurance claim. The insurance carrier has a legal obligation to review and investigate the claim to assess its legitimacy and process it in good faith. Unfortunately, many people encounter unexpected difficulties with their workers’ compensation claims. Forgetting critical information, making a clerical error on a claim form, or missing other procedural requirements could lead to delays or outright denials of claims.
If the workers’ compensation insurance carrier has all the required information and the claim is straightforward, the claimant could receive their benefits within a few days or weeks of filing their claim. Generally, injured workers in North Carolina can expect to receive medical expense coverage and disability benefits if they cannot work until they recover. The amount the claimant receives in benefits depends on how much they earned before their injury. Most claimants will be eligible for up to two-thirds of their average weekly wage in disability benefits. The length of time their benefits continue hinges on the severity of their injury and how long it will take them to recover.
The workers’ compensation system of North Carolina aims to ensure injured workers have the financial support they need after workplace injuries. It also protects employers from most civil liability for their employees’ injuries. You typically cannot sue your employer in North Carolina for a workplace injury if they have workers’ compensation insurance. However, if they do not have insurance as required, if your employer intentionally caused your injury, or if they interfere with your claim, you may have grounds for civil action against them in addition to your workers’ compensation claim.
If a third party caused your workplace injury, you could seek accountability for damages that workers’ compensation won’t cover through a personal injury suit. A successful third-party personal injury claim can yield compensation for lost income and lost earning power that workers’ compensation doesn’t repay, along with compensation for the victim’s pain and suffering. If you think there are grounds for a personal injury suit in tandem with your workers’ compensation claim, you must speak with an attorney with expertise as quickly as possible about your legal options.
In North Carolina, an injured worker who is out of work due to a workplace injury and covered by workers’ compensation cannot be fired. Unless the employer has a legitimate and non-discriminatory reason to terminate the employee, the employee’s job should be waiting for them when and if they can resume their work duties after recovery.
Your employer may have to hire a temporary replacement if your job duties are critical, and your employer would suffer a significant loss in productivity due to your prolonged absence. When you return to work, they are legally required to offer you the same or similar position that offers equivalent compensation. If you have concerns about how an employer has handled your return to work after a workplace injury, consult your attorney to determine your best options for addressing the issue.
The right attorney can make a tremendous difference in the outcome of any workplace injury case, whether you need to file a workers’ compensation claim, a personal injury claim, or both in response to a recent injury at work. While you may think that hiring legal counsel is beyond the scope of affordability in your situation, the reality is that hiring legal counsel can yield much better results than it would be possible to obtain on your own. In addition, a good attorney can potentially reveal avenues of recovery you may have overlooked entirely, enhancing your final recovery by a substantial margin.
The Bollinger Law Firm, PC, has years of experience helping clients in North Carolina with difficult workers’ compensation claims, and we are thoroughly familiar with the responsibilities of employers regarding their employees’ workplace injuries. If you have concerns about how your employer has responded to your recent workplace injury or simply need professional assistance with your workers’ compensation claim, contact us today to schedule a consultation with our team.