Nobody wants to get hurt, especially at work! The initial pain of a work place injury is quickly followed by uncertainty, frustration with the claims process, and substantial disruptions to everyday life (often including long-term disability or suffering).
Worst of all, you’re enduring all of this because you’re working hard to earn a living. You dedicate your time, talent, and effort to your job, and you expect your workplace to be safe in return.
North Carolina personal injury law requires employers to maintain safe working conditions for their employees. If they fail to do so, injured workers are entitled to financial compensation for their damages.
Most often, claims for damages are handled through the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation system, which provides certain benefits but also certain limitations for injured workers in our state. The claims process is very complicated, and it’s possible for employees to end up receiving less than they deserve without the help of an experienced Charlotte workers’ compensation attorney.
In some cases, injured workers may also be able to seek compensation outside of (or in addition to) the Workers’ Compensation system — either from their employer or from an additional third party. In these cases, the injury claims would be based on traditional personal injury grounds (similar to claims or lawsuits that happen when someone is not injured on the job).
Of course, if you’ve been hurt in the workplace and aren’t sure what to do next, all of this talk about claims and compensation might seem a bit “pie in the sky.” You need to figure out your very next steps before you start to wade into the deep waters of North Carolina Workers’ Compensation.
We understand. At the DeMayo Law Offices, L.L.P.®, we know how difficult workplace injuries can be. We also take your rights very seriously. Protecting those rights is a lot easier if you take the proper steps from day one, and that’s why we’ve put together this article, which features helpful hints for what to do after being hurt at work.
While the following should provide some useful general information, please do not hesitate to contact a Charlotte workers compensation attorney in our office (or any of our other offices around the state) to talk about your specific situation and learn more about your options.
Step 1: Notify Your Employer Right Away
The very first thing you need to do after being hurt at work is notify your employer — preferably in writing. Type or email a letter explaining what happened, and be sure that you keep a copy for yourself.
If you’ve already reported the injury orally, make a note of the date, the time, the name of the person you talked to, their position in the company, and their exact response. Then, follow up with a written letter to the employer, confirming the oral report. The sooner you have something in writing, the better.
This step is crucial, as claims are often denied because the injured worker waited too long to report the injury. Insurance companies are frequently unwilling to issue payment for accidents that weren’t reported right away.
That being said, if some time has passed since the injury and you haven’t yet made a report, please don’t assume that it’s too late! Go ahead and notify your employer anyway — right now. Time matters!
Step 2: File Necessary Paperwork
In North Carolina, Workers’ Compensation is handled by the N.C. Industrial Commission. Employees have a responsibility to file a claim with the Commission soon after being hurt at work. Failure to do so in a timely manner can cause you to permanently lose your rights to compensation under the system.
The workers’ compensation claims process can be very confusing and frustrating. Also, please remember and understand that there are important time limits that govern your ability to file a workers’ compensation claim. If you need help with filing a claim after being hurt at work, or would like to speak to someone about the process of making a workers’ compensation claim please contact our office by calling toll free 1-877-529-1222.
Step 3: Seek Medical Attention as Soon as Possible
If your workplace accident caused severe or life-threatening injuries, you may have already been rushed to an Emergency Room for urgent medical care. Otherwise, you’ll need to arrange for medical attention on your own.
Remember: you are not a doctor. Do not assume that you can diagnose the extent of your injuries on your own. Often, pain and complications may not occur until after an accident has happened; a doctor will be able to determine the true nature of your work place injuries and the treatment(s) necessary for your recovery.
Documented doctor’s visits are very important to your workers’ compensation claim as they are evidence of your injuries. By visiting a doctor and getting treatment for your work place injury, you are able to take the necessary steps to get yourself better while creating an accurate record of your work place injuries.
Step 4: Contact a Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney
Workplace injury victims often misunderstand their rights under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation system. Claims are often unfairly reduced or denied because injured parties may not have realize what they are entitled to under the laws of North Carolina workers’ compensation system.
Working with a Charlotte personal injury attorney will ensure that you understand your case and your legal rights. Your lawyers can handle all of the complications for you, taking the headache and hassle out of your workers’ comp case. Your employer and their insurance company have lawyers working for them. Having an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer on your side can help you make sure that your rights are protected.
In summary, there are a lot of pieces to a workers’ compensation case. Documenting the injury, getting necessary medical treatment, filing paperwork and following procedures (often involving insurance companies and lawyers) can make for a difficult time; especially when you are injured and you don’t understand your rights. Please remember that very strict time limits are in place concerning work place injuries and if you wait too long, you can lose your right to the compensation that you may be entitled to.
Schedule a Free Consultation After Being Hurt at Work
At DeMayo Law Offices, L.L.P. ®, our lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means we will not charge attorney’s fees unless we recover compensation in your case. Because we don’t get paid until you get paid, we’ll fight hard to get you what you deserve.
Additionally, we offer free consultations in person or over the phone to help you better understand your rights under NC workers’ compensation laws. Contact us for a free consultation today.