The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act dictates that every business must invest in workers’ comp if they employ three or more workers. That insurance is designed to protect employees and businesses by providing coverage for workers who become sick or are injured while on the job. It is also intended to provide compensation for wages lost during the recovery process.
Workers’ comp provides a valuable service and works exceptionally well when there is clear communication between the employer, workers, and the insurance provider. It is intended to work quickly and provide coverage without the need for legal representation in every case.
Unfortunately, there are situations when the system does not work perfectly. There may be a dispute between the worker and the employer in regards to the nature of the injury or where it occurred. In this article, we’ll look at the different types of compensable injuries and the type of compensation that can be claimed.
If you already find yourself in a dispute with your employer or their insurance provider, then we can recommend contacting our Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyers. We can help determine if further legal action is necessary and proceed from there. The team here at Waple & Houk PPLC has more than thirty years of serving the Charlotte, NC area. All that you need to do is pick up the phone and contact us at (704) 480-3899 for your free consultation.
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What Are Compensable Injuries?
It’s important to note that not all workplace injuries are covered by North Carolina workers’ comp laws. In general, the injury needs to be caused by an identifiable accident. This means that injuries that occur naturally because of an existing work routine are not always covered. One exception to this rule is back injuries, which may be covered even if they are not caused by an identifiable accident.
Slip & Fall Accidents
Slip and fall accidents are easily the most common source of injury across the entire country. North Carolina is no different. There are a number of different injuries that may be caused by a slip, trip, or fall. They include:
- Spinal Injuries
- Broken Limbs
- Head Trauma
- Brain Injury
- Soft Tissue Injuries
Slip and fall injuries are most common in construction work where ladders and other equipment are spread around. However, a slip and fall injury can occur in any workplace. The fall and impact can cause serious damage to the body. Many victims sustain additional injuries to the wrists and arms when attempting to brace themselves. It is possible for compensation to cover the core injury as well as additional injuries caused in this manner.
While it may not seem like a “work accident,” you may be able to pursue compensation if you are assaulted while at the workplace. An assault can be viewed as an intentional act as well as a workplace accident. However, the insurance provider will likely do their best to avoid making payments. If you suffered injuries because of an assault at work, then we highly recommend contacting our legal team for a consultation.
In covered cases, the assault arises because of a disagreement that happens at the workplace. We must be able to link the assault and its cause to the workplace. It cannot be an assault that was caused by a problem that began at home or in the neighborhood. If the nature of the assault is born from a motive that occurred outside of the workplace, then it may be impossible to prove the connection to the employer and thus impossible to receive compensation from workers’ comp insurance.
The most common injuries linked to workplace assault include:
- Cuts and Scratches
- Broken Bones
- Head Trauma
Repetitive Stress/Motion Injuries
These types of injuries can be more difficult to prove because insurance companies will make claims that the injury stems from actions that took place away from the workplace. It is also more difficult to receive compensation because North Carolina takes a firm stance on providing compensation for accidental injuries. Nonetheless, you can still fight for compensation for workplace injuries that occur due to repetitive motions and stress. They often include:
- Rotator Cuff Injuries
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Workers in specific fields may be exposed to dangerous chemicals or pollutants that eventually lead to harmful diseases. The North Carolina General Statute 95-53 provides a list of specific diseases that can be covered. However, it must be shown that these diseases arise due to specific working conditions. It is possible for diseases not on the list to be covered, but it must be shown that the employer placed the worker at significant risk for the disease beyond the risk exposure in public.
Some of the diseases listed in the statute include:
- Mercury Poisoning
- Brass/Zinc/Lead Poisoning
- Compressed-Air Illness
- Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
- Heart Attack & Stroke
What Type Of Compensation Can You Claim?
Workers’ comp insurance covers very specific economic damages that are calculated using receipts, bills, and other financial records. It will not cover non-economic damages like pain and suffering or emotional distress. When filing a claim, you should expect compensation for the following damages:
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses and ongoing care
- Funeral expenses
How Long Do You Have To File A Claim?
Workers’ comp is designed to work quickly and you should begin the claims process immediately following an injury. However, there is a specific deadline in place known as the statute of limitations. In North Carolina, the statute of limitation for filing a workers’ compensation claim is two years.
There is also a 30-day deadline from the day of the injury during which you must report the accident to your employer. You may not be able to receive compensation if you do not report the accident within that time frame.
Get Help With Workers’ Compensation Covered Injuries
When utilized properly, workers’ compensation insurance can help cover expensive medical bills and reduce the impact of lost wages while you recover. In NC, it covers most accidental injuries that occur at work along with specific occupational diseases that occur.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for insurance providers to push back and try to avoid payment. If you are in a dispute with an employer or insurance provider, then you need to seek legal assistance immediately. Call the law office of Waple & Houk today at (704) 480-3899 to get the assistance you deserve.