At The Bollinger Law Firm, helping injured people obtain the benefits they deserve is what we do. To discuss legal and financial aspects of your workplace injury with an experienced, dedicated and determined workers’ compensation attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina, contact The Bollinger Law Firm, P.C., and ask to speak to attorney Bob Bollinger.
After a workplace injury, an employee is naturally concerned about pain, recovery, rehabilitation and healing. Workers’ compensation insurance (once called “workman’s comp”) is a safeguard that is intended to provide for the medical and financial needs of employees while protecting employers from excessive liability. It is your right, and it is important, to file a workers’ comp claim after an injury on the job.
A claim must be filed promptly by the injured worker. There are time limits involved — you have 30 days to give your employer written notice of the accident and your injury, and two years to file the claim with the North Carolina Industrial Commission. There is no need for you to feel that you are in any way betraying your employer. Providing for you after an on-the-job injury is the reason that workers’ comp exists. But before giving the insurance company a recorded statement, call Bob Bollinger for free legal advice. A lot of people lose their cases because they don’t know what’s important to tell the adjusters. The adjusters trick people into not telling the whole story, and they deny the claim after getting recorded statement. Get advice before you give statement!
Workers’ compensation is a system in the United States that benefits workers who are injured at work. State governments typically are responsible for the programs for the welfare of workers.
Workers’ compensation laws vary from state to state. Still, the general principle is that workers who are injured or who contract an illness at work are entitled to certain benefits, including medical expenses and a portion of their lost wages. In some cases, workers may also be entitled to vocational rehabilitation benefits if they cannot return to their previous job.
A workers’ compensation claim has nothing to do with fault. Any injury that takes place within the scope of your employment may qualify you to make a claim for medical benefits, and if you are out of work long enough to miss out on pay, workers’ compensation provides for wage replacement as well. Catastrophic injuries may result in a need for “attendant care.”
Examples of incidents resulting in covered or “compensable” workplace injuries include the following:
An accident or specific traumatic incident at work which accelerates, aggravates or exacerbates a pre-existing condition is also cause for a workers’ compensation claim. The fact that you have a pre-existing condition does not mean that you cannot be covered, but many insurance adjusters mistakenly deny claims on that basis.
In general, you can earn compensation for any injury or illness caused by your job or at your workplace. This includes both physical and mental injuries.
Physical injuries can include anything from a slip and fall to a back injury caused by lifting heavy objects.
To earn compensation, you will need to show that your job caused your injury or illness or that it occurred at your workplace. Unexpected costs associated with your injury or illness that workers’ compensation can cover include:
Clear-cut as they may be, claims for accidental injuries at the workplace are often mishandled by workers’ compensation insurers. It is common for insurance adjusters to deny claims for no good reason. Our treatment of your workers’ compensation case will depend greatly upon whether your work injury claim was accepted or denied.
Delay and denial tactics often appear to be intended to encourage the injured worker to seek coverage elsewhere, such as through group medical insurance. If your claim is denied, you can use your health insurance for treatment, but you should contact Bob Bollinger to help with the denied claim. Bob knows how to cut through the delays and get the ball rolling for you.
When injured employees in Charlotte, North Carolina, get caught in the middle between workers’ compensation insurers and group medical insurers that seek to cast responsibility on each other, Bob Bollinger is ready to intervene on their behalf. We can help you make sure the correct insurance company is paying the bills.
Our experience has given us knowledge and tools that enable us to get claims properly paid. We are well aware of the strategies they often use that can put injured workers in a bind — such as filing a “form 63, block 2 medical only” acceptance of the claim, which is not really an acceptance of the claim at all. Sometimes a letter from our attorneys resolves a dispute. When necessary, we are prepared to represent our clients in administrative hearings to ensure that claims are paid. Bob Bollinger has successfully handled hundreds of workers’ compensation claims, including side issues such as unlawful termination related to his or her work injury. Although most workers’ compensation cases settle without going to trial, Bob will go to court for you.
In North Carolina, you can’t sue your employer for more compensation outside of worker’s comp. Workers’ compensation is supposed to be the “exclusive remedy” for an employee who is injured on the job. This means that, in most cases, you cannot sue your employer (or anyone else) for more money outside of the workers’ compensation system.
The only time you might be able to sue for more money is if a third party, not associated with your employer, caused your injury.
In these cases, you may be able to sue for more money outside of the workers’ compensation system. However, it is important to speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer before taking any legal action.
If you are injured at work, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Once you have been seen by a medical professional, you should then notify your employer of your injury. The law requires you to notify your employer of your injury in writing within 30 days.
Your employer will then have a certain amount of time to provide you with the necessary paperwork to report a workers’ compensation claim. Once you have reported your claim, you should receive a notice from the workers’ compensation insurance company informing you of whether your claim has been approved. Reporting the claim to your employer and their insurance company is not the same as “filing” the claim with the NC Industrial Commission. The claim also has to be “filed.”
If approved, you will then begin receiving benefits. If it is denied, it is your right to appeal the decision if you choose to. Experienced workers’ compensation lawyers can help you with this process.
In some cases, your employer may try to deny responsibility for your personal injury. They may say that your injury was caused by something other than your job or that it occurred outside of work.
It is important to remember that you do not need to prove that your employer is at fault for your injury in order to receive workers’ compensation benefits. As long as you can prove that you were injured on the job in a way that is legally compensable, you should be eligible for benefits. To be compensable your injury must occur “by accident” or due to a “specific traumatic incident.” Or, an injury that occurs over time can be an “occupational disease.”
If your employer denies responsibility for your injury, you may want to speak with a Charlotte workers’ compensation attorney. They can help you gather the evidence you need to prove that your injury was caused by your job and ensure that you receive the benefits to which you are entitled.
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you in a number of ways. This includes:
When looking for a workers’ compensation attorney, you should consider:
There are several different types of evidence that you can use to prove that your job caused your injury. This includes:
When working with a workers’ compensation attorney, there are a few things you can do to make the process go smoothly. These tips include:
Finally, you should work with an attorney who has a track record of success in North Carolina for these types of cases.
If your claim is denied, there is only one thing to do:
What If I Am Fired After Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
If you are fired after filing a workers’ compensation claim, you may be able to file a wrongful termination lawsuit, under North Carolina’s Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act or “REDA.” You will need to prove that your employer fired you because you filed a claim.
You may also be able to file a discrimination claim if you are fired because of your race, religion, gender, or national origin. You will need to prove that you were treated differently than other employees who were not injured.
You may also be able to file a “REDA” claim if you are fired because you complained about your working conditions or reported an injury. You will need to prove that you were fired because you took action to protect your rights.
More than 30 years ago, the North Carolina Court of Appeals stated that:
“In contested workers’ compensation cases today, access to competent legal counsel is a virtual necessity … Leaving injured employees without the representation they need to obtain the complete and total amount of their workers’ compensation award would defeat the purposes of the [Workers’ Compensation] Act. In fact, employers would be encouraged to contest liability and meanwhile make voluntary payments less than that required by the Workers’ Compensation Act.” Church v. Baxter Travenol, 104 N.C. App. 411, 416 (1991) (bold emphasis added).
On June 24, 2011, Gov. Perdue signed a bill that made significant changes to our Workers’ Compensation Act, and these were the biggest changes in the law we have had since 1994. The court’s warning in 1991 that injured workers need competent legal counsel has just become even more important and meaningful because of the 2011 changes to the law.
Firm founder Bobby L. Bollinger Jr. is a Board-Certified Specialist in North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Law. A Board-Certified Specialist has been tested and vetted by the North Carolina State Bar in order to assure the public that the lawyer has a high level of competence in the specialty area of law. As the Court of Appeals said in Church, an injured employee needs a “competent” attorney on a workers’ compensation case. An injured worker can be assured that a certified specialist in workers’ compensation law is indeed competent to handle the case properly. Unlike some law firms, our office does not dabble in workers’ comp law; it is the main area in which we work.
Workers’ compensation attorney Bobby L. Bollinger Jr. grew up in Newton, North Carolina, which was primarily a furniture and textiles town at the time. He enjoys handling workers’ compensation cases for injured workers, partly because he worked in “blue collar” jobs as a young man. He worked in retail stores in Newton and Hickory, in a Conover furniture factory (tailing the rip saws), in a Claremont foam rubber factory (on the “Baumer slitter” cutting carpet cushion) and for a nursery and landscaping business in Newton. Mr. Bollinger is always happy to accept workers’ compensation cases from the Catawba County towns of Newton, Conover, Hickory and Claremont.
Attorney Chad Winebarger grew up in Elkin, North Carolina, and his family still lives there. He is happy to accept workers’ compensation cases and disability cases from Surry County and the surrounding area, including Elkin, Mount Airy, Dobson, Yadkinville, Wilkesboro and Pilot Mountain.
Our lawyers give injured workers a level playing field with the rich and powerful insurance company that is responsible for paying the workers’ compensation benefits. There is nothing we like better than taking on the big insurance companies and self-insured employers and winning a good award in court, or negotiating a good settlement, for a client who has been injured at work and still has children to feed and bills to pay.
Our clients are not lawyers, and they usually don’t know how to navigate the workers’ compensation system. Without a good lawyer, they would be at the mercy of the insurance companies, just as the Court of Appeals predicted back in 1991. Our workers’ compensation lawyers enjoy being advocates for the hardworking people of North Carolina who need our help. Our philosophy is simple: Your best interests always come first.
If you have a question about your North Carolina workers’ compensation claim, then get in touch with Bob Bollinger. Consultations are always free, and we will answer your questions on the phone or by email. There is no obligation on your part. We are happy to answer questions because we hate to see a hardworking citizen get taken advantage of by the big insurance company or employer. So don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for a free strategy session about your claim! Bob Bollinger will even provide you with a free written evaluation of your workers’ compensation claim. Just ask him for it.
Contact us to learn about our contingency fee structure and the steps we will take to help get your workers’ comp claim paid fully and on time.