In North Carolina, it is extremely important for employers to provide a safe working environment and to adhere to OSHA regulations and guidelines to reduce the risk of injuries, but accidents can still happen. When they do happen, North Carolina law provides for a system of compensation for employees who have been injured on the job.
Therefore, in order to understand your entitlement to benefits as an injured worker in North Carolina, it is critical to be able to differentiate what workers’ compensation does and does not cover.
What Workers’ Compensation Does Cover in North Carolina
In North Carolina, workers’ compensation covers a variety of benefits for employees who are injured or become ill as a result of their job. These benefits may include the following:
- Medical treatment. Workers’ compensation will cover the cost of medical treatment for the injury or illness, including doctor’s visits, hospital stays, surgeries, physical therapy, and medications.
- Temporary total disability payments. If an employee is unable to work as a result of the injury or illness, they may be eligible for financial support until the employee is able to return to work.
- Permanent partial disability payments. If an employee is unable to return to their previous job as a result of the injury or illness, they may be eligible for financial support for the duration of the disability.
- Permanent total disability payments. If an employee is permanently unable to work as a result of the injury or illness, they may be eligible for financial support for the duration of the disability.
- Vocational rehabilitation. Workers’ compensation may also cover the cost of vocational rehabilitation, which can help an employee regain the skills and abilities necessary to return to work after an injury or illness.
- Death benefits. In the case of death, the dependents of the employee may be eligible for death benefits, which provide financial support for the loss of their loved one.
It is important to note that the specific benefits an employee is eligible for will depend on the nature of the injury or illness, the extent of the disability, and the circumstances surrounding the injury or illness.
What Workers’ Compensation Does Not Cover in North Carolina
There are some things that workers’ compensation does not cover in North Carolina:
- Injuries or illnesses that are not job-related. If an employee is injured or becomes ill as a result of an activity that is not related to their job, such as a personal hobby, workers’ compensation will not cover the resulting expenses.
- Self-inflicted injuries or illnesses. If an employee intentionally causes their own injury or illness, such as by attempting suicide, workers’ compensation will not cover the resulting expenses.
- Injuries or illnesses that occur outside of the scope of employment. If an employee is injured or becomes ill as a result of an activity that is not within the scope of their employment, such as an injury that occurs during a lunch break, workers’ compensation will not cover the resulting expenses.
- Injuries or illnesses that are a result of employee misconduct, such as drug or alcohol abuse, fighting, horseplay, and more, may not be covered.
- Some conditions that are caused by stress, mental illnesses, or emotional distress may not be covered if they are not causally related to a specific event at the workplace.
It is important to note that the eligibility for benefits and the amount of compensation will be determined by the North Carolina Industrial Commission and can be disputed by the employer or the insurance carrier. It is always advisable to consult with a trusted workers’ compensation attorney to ensure that you are getting the benefits you deserve.
Q: Could I be Fired From my Job for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
A: Under North Carolina law, it is illegal for an employer to discharge or discriminate against an employee who has exercised or attempted to exercise any right provided under the Workers’ Compensation Act. This includes the right to file a claim, the right to medical treatment, the right to disability benefits, and the right to return to work.
Q: Can My Own Doctor Treat Me for my Work-Related Injury?
A: In North Carolina, an employee generally has the right to be treated by their own doctor for a work-related injury, as long as the doctor is authorized to provide treatment under the workers’ compensation system. After the employee reports the injury, the employer or the insurance company may require that the employee be examined by a doctor of their choosing, called an “authorized treating doctor.” However, the employee can choose to be treated by their own doctor if they prefer.
Q: Can I Sue my Employer in Court for my Work-Related Injury?
A: In North Carolina, as in many other states, the workers’ compensation system is typically the exclusive remedy for employees who are injured or become ill as a result of their job. This means that, in most cases, an employee cannot sue their employer in court for their injury or illness.
Q: Who Can Be Excluded from Workers’ Compensation in North Carolina?
A: In North Carolina, certain types of employees and employers are excluded from the Workers’ Compensation Act and, therefore, may not be covered by workers’ compensation benefits.
- Agricultural and domestic workers.
- Independent contractors.
- Casual employees. These employees are employed on a sporadic or irregular basis and are not considered to be regular employees.
- State employees. State employees are covered instead by other state legislation like the State Employees Workers’ Compensation Act.
- Federal employees. Federal employees are covered instead by the Federal Employees’ Compensation Program.
- Some small business employers.
Hardworking Attorneys That Will Understand Your Work Injury Case
The experienced team at M. Reid Acree, Jr. has years of experience protecting workers like you by understanding the North Carolina local and state laws that impact your entitlement to workers’ compensation benefits. Contact M. Reid Acree, Jr., today to work directly with our talented staff and learn more about how you can optimize the outcome of your specific work injury-related case.