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Workers’ compensation is an important and required part of many businesses in North Carolina and around the country. This system ensures that companies are able to take care of their employees in the event that something dangerous happens. It aims to protect workers from having to provide for themselves when they are hurt on the job.
Though many people hope that they never get hurt on the job, accidents happen fairly frequently. Depending on your industry, a single misstep can cause thousands of dollars of damage and a lifetime of pain. In some situations, an accident can even prevent a worker from being able to return to their job.
Fortunately, with the help of a workers’ compensation attorney, you can file a workers’ compensation claim with your employer. This claim goes through their workers’ compensation insurance, which in turn pays for your medical bills and lost wages. Though this system isn’t perfect, it provides some much-needed help for workers when they’ve been hurt.
If you’ve been injured on the job, it’s important to know your rights as well as the proper procedure to file a workers’ compensation claim. With a bit of background information, you can easily file your claim and protect your family from being financially responsible for the aftermath.
Our team at Acree Law has been helping injured employees with their workers’ compensation claims for over three decades. We understand the unique scenarios that arise when you’re hurt at work, and we do everything that we can to help the process go smoothly. We are ready to address and take on any roadblocks, issues, or questions that may arise during this process and ensure that you can focus on healing.
The vast majority of our clients come to us with workers’ compensation claims. We’ve seen every scenario, tackled every problem in the business, and have more direct experience with these claims than other firms. When it comes to your livelihood and your health, no firm will take better care of you than our team at Acree Law.
Many people are confused or overwhelmed when trying to file workers’ compensation claims. Until you’re in a situation where you need to file one, there’s no reason to understand the process and relevant laws. Fortunately, on paper, the system is fairly simple.
Most North Carolina businesses are required to have a workers’ compensation insurance policy. This policy works like other, more familiar types of insurance, such as car insurance or health insurance. The business pays its policy monthly, and the insurance company helps them to pay compensation to workers in the event of an accident or injury.
Workers’ compensation deals specifically with individuals who are injured at work. These policies do not apply to injuries that occur outside of work. In fact, not all workplace injuries qualify for support.
When you make a claim, you usually complete an injury report through your employer, who then files the claim. Your supervisor or HR representative will be able to tell you if there are any limitations on where you can receive exams and treatment, such as certain clinics or hospitals that are within their network.
The workers’ compensation system in North Carolina is fairly generous. Most of the time, workers get the support they need, and employers are protected from being sued by injured employees. However, as mentioned, there are certain limitations to what the policy will cover. If you encounter one of these limitations, it can put you in a financially vulnerable situation. Having an attorney can ensure that your case goes smoothly and you get the support that you need.
It’s also worth noting that you will be healing while this process is occurring. In some scenarios, this can mean recuperating from surgery, while in other situations, it may mean resting at home. No matter what the situation may be, you need the time and space to relax and recover. Without this kind of structure, you can easily make your injuries worse and lengthen your recovery process.
Having an attorney allows you to recover properly while ensuring that the process is going as it should. If there are any issues, we can solve them with ease rather than having you scramble to find a solution. Any paperwork deadlines that need to be met will be covered as well, giving you total peace of mind during the claims process.
North Carolina has a robust workers’ compensation system. It states that all injuries that occurred as a result of your job or profession are eligible for a workers’ compensation claim as long as you file the claim within two years of the incident. This encompasses most, but not all, injuries that happen at work.
The key to this system is that the injury must occur at work and as a result of your normal job duties. For example, if you work at a factory and your arm is caught in a machine while you’re performing your job, this injury qualifies for workers’ compensation. Similarly, if you are walking from the locker room to your station and fall and break your wrist, this would also qualify. Both running a machine and walking to your station are normal, expected parts of your job in this scenario.
However, if the accident occurred because you were doing something you should not have been doing, you will not qualify. For example, if you are messing around with your coworker and your arm gets caught in the machine, the insurance company may not have to pay compensation. This is because you were acting outside of your job responsibilities and against company policies.
Ultimately, if you are injured while you’re going about your normal business in the appropriate manner, you will have a claim if you get hurt. If you were breaking the rules, you may find yourself without workers’ compensation benefits.
One key area that needs to be discussed is the presence of drugs and alcohol. If your workplace discovers that you were under the influence at the time of the incident, then you will be on your own. This kind of behavior is considered gross negligence when it comes to your job, removing fault and liability from your employer. In fact, most employee handbooks stress the importance of refraining from drugs and alcohol while at work.
This is why most workplaces and/or medical facilities processing workers’ comp cases are required to take a urine or blood sample from the injured employee. It ensures that the individual was not responsible for their own injuries.
Many people believe that in order to qualify for workers’ compensation, one must have suffered a traumatic injury. This is to say that the injury happened all at once from a single traumatic event. However, repeated exposure or repetitive motion injuries also qualify for workers’ compensation support. Some examples of workers’ compensation injuries include:
There are many more injuries and illnesses that qualify a person for workers’ compensation. Ultimately, any condition that you obtain at work while performing your normal activities but that you are not regularly exposed to outside of the workplace will likely qualify.
North Carolina law allows individuals filing for workers’ compensation to also file for disability or social security disability support. This can help to support you while you’re out of work and recovering. There are many different kinds of disability payments that you may qualify for, depending on your situation. All disability payments are based on the worker’s average weekly wage.
You may qualify for partial or full disability coverage, which can be temporary or permanent. Partial disability payments cover only a portion of your weekly wages, while full coverage gives you your entire weekly average. Temporary benefits last for up to 500 weeks, or about 9.5 years, maximum.
If a doctor orders you to stay home from work for more than seven days, you qualify for workers’ compensation. With an attorney’s help, you can file the paperwork quickly, correctly, and efficiently. This system is outside of the workers’ compensation support, and you do not automatically get it when you file a workers’ compensation claim. You must go through a separate process for disability.
The North Carolina workers’ compensation system does not allow you to sue your employer. This is one of the protective measures outlined in the laws. In return, most claims are approved, and it is relatively easy to get support.
The laws also outline that emotional distress is not covered under workers’ compensation. Instead, the system provides for medical treatment and lost wages.
Though you cannot sue your employer under workers’ compensation in NC, you can potentially sue a fellow employee, vendor, or patron if they caused the accident. Keep in mind that this is not necessarily easy to do, but it can provide you with more robust financial support if you win.
Personal injury cases are generally based upon negligence. Therefore, the only time you may be able to press charges against a coworker is if they were acting irresponsibly and caused your injury. For example, if your coworker was drunk and started a machine while you were cleaning it, you may be able to file a personal injury case against them.
However, if both you and your coworker were going about your tasks in the proper manner when the accident occurred, workers’ compensation would cover what you need. A personal injury case would not be necessary.
Having an attorney on hand ensures that you understand all avenues available to you after your workers’ compensation case.
It’s difficult to say how much you might receive from a workers’ compensation claim. It depends on the nature of your injury, how long you are away from work, and whether it prevents you from doing your job in the long term. If you are permanently unable to recover the entire use of a limb or body part because of the injury, the payment will be much larger.
The average national settlement is about $41,000. However, this is not necessarily an indication of what will be on the table in your case. This sum also includes medical bills and related support; not all of this will go into your pocket.
Every firm and attorney has a different way of charging for their services. Some charge a percentage of the case’s earnings, while many others charge hourly for their services. In the latter situation, the ultimate sum will depend on how much time the attorney spends working with you and how involved your case ends up being.
No matter the situation, it’s absolutely imperative that you speak with any potential attorneys about their pricing systems. Some people feel awkward or anxious about discussing finances, but it’s very important that you do. If you don’t have this conversation, you may only progress partially through the workers’ compensation process to find that you can no longer afford your attorney. This leaves you vulnerable in the middle of a complicated process that’s already rife with stress.
For over 30 years, our team at Acree Law has been helping North Carolina workers get the compensation they need and deserve after they’re injured. We believe that no one should have to sacrifice their health and wellbeing for their job, which is why we work so diligently to ensure that the system works for all of our clients.
Though the process to file for workers’ compensation may seem daunting, our team has the resources to guide you through. With our help and expert hand, you can protect your family from lost wages, expensive medical bills, and having to care for your health as well. Don’t leave this situation to chance. Legal help can give you essential protection during this time.
For more information on what we do or how we can help you, please schedule a consultation online.