You should be able to complete your job safely. It’s not just your expectation; it’s the law. When you get hurt at work, your employer and their insurance company should pay you fair compensation. At DeMayo Law Offices, our Charlotte personal injury lawyers can help you demand it.
If you got sick or hurt on the job or while performing work duties, you might be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits can cover a portion of your lost wages, medical expenses, and other costs. The Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyers from DeMayo Law Offices understand North Carolina state workers’ comp laws that so we can help workers get the compensation they deserve.
We dedicate our time to helping our clients pursue the money their employer’s insurer owes them for their work-related injury or illness. It’s an unfortunate fact that insurance companies often don’t want to pay out money to people who need support. They’ll do whatever they can to deny your claim or provide a low settlement offer. At DeMayo Law Offices, it’s our job to make them treat you fairly, so you receive the maximum benefits available. Call us today to find out more in a free, no-obligation consultation.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits
North Carolina legally requires all business owners employing at least three workers to carry workers’ comp insurance. They can either provide it to their employees by making the monthly premium payments themselves or offer it as an optional coverage that their employees pay.
There are two main benefits available under a workers’ compensation policy: medical bills and disability.
Workers’ comp insurance typically covers all expenses related to the treatment of your work-related injury or illness. That includes physician bills, prescription medications, and medical devices like wheelchairs.
The insurer will provide you with authorized doctors for your care. The policy will only cover the providers they list. You’re allowed to go to a doctor of your own choosing, but if they’re not on the approved list, you’ll have to pay for it yourself.
If you see a doctor you were referred to by the insurer, and you decide you want to see someone else, you have to notify the insurer or representative. They’ll let you know if you’re allowed to switch physicians. If they deny your request, you can petition the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
If you’re unable to return to work for more than seven days because of your injury, disability benefits provide compensation for a percentage of your lost wages. North Carolina’s formula is roughly two-thirds of the gross weekly pay you made before the injury occurred. If you can’t work for longer than 21 days, you can collect benefits for the first week of missed work as well.
Disability benefits are not taxable. The tax exemption applies to both weekly benefits and settlement payments. If you return to work, even just part-time, then your wages are taxable. You can collect disability for up to 500 weeks. It lasts as long as you can prove you remain disabled from work (i.e. totally written out of work by your doctor or unable to find work within your temporary or permanent work restrictions from your doctor depending on whether you are pre- or post-maximum medical improvement per your doctor’s findings).
In some circumstances, the 500-week cap doesn’t apply. If a sick or hurt employee can prove they will continue to have a lost earning capacity beyond 500 weeks, their benefits could be extended. Catastrophically injured workers who suffer injuries like paralysis, amputation, or brain injury, can receive benefits for life.
Unlike personal injury claims, workers’ comp doesn’t cover damages for physical or emotional pain. Even if your employer’s actions were reckless, negligent, or egregious, you still can’t sue them for punitive damages. However, you can report their behavior to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which regulates workplace safety and health standards.
Injuries and Illness Suffered at Work
Workers’ comp can cover any work-related injury. Some of the common injuries and diseases workers suffer include:
- Spinal cord and other back injuries
- Occupational illness, such as mesothelioma from asbestos exposure
- Loss of limb
- Injury from heavy machinery or dangerous equipment
- Traumatic brain injury
- Overexertion or repetitive motion injury
- Electrocution or burns
- Broken bones
Whether you sit in front of a computer all day or work on a construction site, you put yourself at risk of physical, emotional, and psychological harm. Someone sitting at a desk can suffer injury from repetitive motion. A forklift operator could drop a steel beam and suffer crush injuries.
Anyone performing the duties of their job could get hurt, but there are reasonable steps to take to minimize danger and prevent injury. Follow all safety and health standards at your job. If you’re unsure what they are, ask your employer for a copy of the company handbook or look up regulations online.
What to Do After an Injury On the Job
If you suffer an injury while performing your job, take these steps to help maximize your workers’ compensation benefits:
- Notify your employer. You must let your boss know, in writing, that there was an accident and you sustained an injury within 30 days. The letter you write should include your name, the date, time, and location of the accident and how it happened. Give it to your employer and keep a copy for yourself.
- Fill out Form 18. Your employer should give you this form to fill out and submit it to their insurance carrier for you. If they don’t, you can fill it out and submit it to the North Carolina Industrial Commission and forward a copy to your employer’s insurer or representative. If you’re filing a claim for work-related lung disease, you’ll need Form 18B.
- Request a copy of the workers’ comp policy. Ask your employer for a copy of their workers’ compensation policy, so you know about important deadlines, the benefits you’re entitled to, and which doctors are approved.
- Seek medical treatment. Go to the doctor as soon as possible. Make sure they’re on the approved list the insurer provided. You should follow all recommendations and referrals for testing, imaging, and additional treatment. Continue to follow up with all your physicians until they release you from care.
- Keep records of everything. Keep all doctor notes, medical bills and records, prescriptions, surgical reports, medical device receipts, and other documentation. If you speak to the insurance adjuster or your employer about your workers’ comp claim, follow up the conversation with an email documenting what was said.
- Get a note from your doctor. If your doctor tells you that your injury will prevent you from performing your regular job duties, you’ll need a note specifying that. To qualify for disability benefits, you must provide documentation of the injury or illness. If none of your medical records state what your injury is and that you can’t work, your claim will likely be denied.
- Hire a Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyer, like ours at DeMayo Law Offices. You need an experienced attorney by your side to help you file a claim, perform an investigation, collect evidence, and confirm your right to benefits. If the insurance company or your employer denies your claim or provides less money than you’re entitled to, we can file an appeal on your behalf.
Frequently Asked Workers’ Compensation Questions
If my spouse died on the job, would I file a wrongful death claim or workers’ compensation claim?
To qualify for death benefits under the employer’s workers’ compensation policy, the death must happen during a specific period and be the result of a compensable illness or injury. When you file a claim, you must be able to prove that their death occurred due to an occupational disease or injury that the policy lists it as covered.
What if I’m able to work but can’t perform my regular job?
If you can return to work, but your injury prevents you from completing your usual tasks, you could receive temporary partial disability benefits. This type of benefit provides payments at two-thirds the difference between the average weekly wages before and after the injury.
How long will it take to process my claim?
You should receive a letter from your employer or their insurer within fourteen days of filing your claim letting you know if they accepted or denied it. The North Carolina Industrial Commission often extends the period if the employer requests it. If your claim gets approved, you’ll receive the completed Form 60 or Form 63. A denied claim will result in receiving a Denial of Workers’ Compensation Claim form.
DeMayo Law Offices Will Fight for Your Rights
If you got hurt or sick while performing your job and need help filing for workers’ compensation benefits, contact our Charlotte workers’ compensation law firm. We have decades of experience protecting our clients’ rights to the benefits they’re owed for their occupational injury or disease.
The attorneys at DeMayo Law Offices have the knowledge, skills, and resources to handle each step of the process on your behalf so you can focus on your recovery. We’ll fight hard for you to help you recover the payments you need so you can pay for your medical care, support yourself financially, and have the time you need to heal.
To schedule your free consultation and find out more about our workers’ compensation services, call us today at (704) 333-1000.