With over 460, 000 workers, the manufacturing industry in North Carolina is among the largest and most diverse in the country. In fact, it is ranked top in the southeastern United States. Unfortunately, due to the nature of their work, manufacturing workers are constantly exposed to a wide range of workplace hazards, which puts them at a high risk of serious injuries and even death.
If you are an industrial worker and have been injured or suffered an illness as a result of your job, you may be entitled to file a claim for NC Workers’ Compensation benefits to cover your medical treatment, lost wages, and other relevant expenses. You should contact an experienced Charlotte workers’ compensation attorney for manufacturing workers as soon as possible.
At Waple & Houk Law, we are committed to helping clients with manufacturing injuries and illnesses in Charlotte navigate the complex legal process, get favorable compensation, and restore their lives as soon as possible. Call us today at (704)954-8697 to schedule your free consultation.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a type of state-mandated no-fault insurance program in North Carolina and other states meant to provide monetary benefits to workers with a work-related injury or illness. The state of North Carolina requires all businesses with three or more workers to carry workers’ compensation.
When a worker agrees to workers’ compensation insurance protection, they relinquish their right to take legal action against their employer.
Only employees are covered under NC workers’ compensation. Keep in mind that this term also includes unlawfully employed persons, temporary employees, part-time employees, and seasonal workers.
What Is Covered By Workers’ Comp in North Carolina?
Most workers don’t know what benefits are available to them in the event of a workplace injury or illness, which puts them at a disadvantage. To keep you informed, here are the types of benefits you can expect in a successful NC workers’ compensation claim:
Medical benefits pay for all healthcare products and services prescribed to you by an approved doctor to help you recover from your injury or illness. This includes any treatment to cure your injury, provide relief from pain, and lessen your disability.
Besides doctor visits, medications, surgeries, and physical therapy, medical benefits also cover travel costs to and from medical appointments, medical equipment, home/vehicle modifications, and care at home.
Keep in mind that medical benefits aren’t subject to copays or deductibles.
Disability/Wage Replacement Benefits
If you suffer a workplace injury or illness that forces you to stay out of work until you recover, the state law in North Carolina requires that you are compensated for your missed wages. Injured workers are awarded different types of disability benefits depending on their situation:
- Temporary total disability (TTD): When you have to take some time off to recover i.e. more than 7 days.
- Temporary partial disability (TPD): When you can return to work but in a reduced capacity earning a lower income than you did before the injury.
- Permanent partial disability (PPD): When you suffer a permanent injury but can return to work but in a reduced capacity.
- Permanent total disability (PTD): When you suffer a permanent injury and can’t work at all.
In general, wage replacement benefits are calculated as two-thirds of your average weekly wage and can be paid in the form of weekly checks or in a lump sum.
Vocational Rehabilitation benefits
These cover resume help, job placement services, and job retraining programs necessary to help you gain employment.
If you lose a loved one as a result of a work-related injury or illness, you may recover compensation for funeral expenses and lost wages.
What Are Some of the Common Injuries to Manufacturing Workers?
Even with all the right safety precautions, industrial workers work in an inherently dangerous environment and injuries are always likely to happen.
The manufacturing industry is among the top three industries with the highest number of injuries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, the state of North Carolina saw a total of 10,900 non-fatal occupational manufacturing injuries and illnesses.
Here are some common risks faced by manufacturing workers:
Contact With an Object or Equipment
An industrial worker can become severely injured, for example, after being hit by a falling object or if a body part gets caught in a piece of equipment.
Manufacturing workers are often involved in physically demanding tasks that require a lot of lifting, pushing, pulling, climbing, bending, twisting their bodies in unusual positions, and other motions that can lead to severe injuries. An overexertion injury occurs when the human body is pushed beyond its physical capabilities.
Slips, Trips, and Falls
Slip, trip, and fall accidents are some of the most common causes of manufacturing injuries. These are often the result of wet or oily floors, uneven surfaces, obstacles in walkways, poor lighting, and collapsing structures and equipment.
Exposure to Harmful Substances
Factory employees especially in chemical manufacturing plants are always at risk of inhaling toxic fumes or coming into contact with dangerous substances that can lead to chemical burns.
Fire and Explosions
These types of accidents are quite common in factories. They can be caused by electricity, gas, and chemicals.
Common injuries among manufacturing workers include:
- Broken bones
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Illnesses resulting from chemical exposure
- Spinal cord injuries
- Respiratory problems
- Hearing loss
- Vision loss
- Broken bones
- Burn injuries
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
What Should I Do if I’m Hurt on the Job?
Get medical attention as soon as possible. Seek medical treatment from one of your employer’s approved doctors as soon as you can. Unless in a medical emergency, failing to use an approved medical care provider can lead to the denial of your claim. Also, ensure that you follow all your doctor’s instructions to the letter.
Keep a written record of your injury and symptoms. To keep your side of the story consistent and as factual as possible, it is smart that you note down important details of the accident and record your injuries and accompanying symptoms.
Take photos of your injuries. If possible, take photos of the scene of the accident and any visible injuries. This ensures that you preserve evidence while it is still fresh and help build a stronger case.
File a workers’ compensation claim with the assistance of a Charlotte workers’ compensation attorney for manufacturing workers.
Rest and recover. It is crucial that you get as much rest as possible and follow all your doctor’s instructions to ensure a quick recovery. After all, your health should be your topmost priority.
Steps for Filing a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Claim
Our Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyers can guide you through the workers’ comp claims process. Here is what you need to do.
Report Your Injury to Your Supervisor
As noted earlier, you need to do this as soon as possible but within 30 days from the date of your injury. Once the 30 days lapse, you will lose your right to pursue workers’ compensation benefits. While it isn’t required by law, ensure that you inform your supervisor/employer by writing.
Attempt to Informally Resolve the Claim
Once you’ve notified your employer of the injury. They will initiate an investigation. They are required to do so within 21 days of receiving the notice of your injury. Based on their investigation, they may choose to pay your workers’ compensation benefits or deny your claim.
If your claim is denied, you can choose to resolve the dispute through meditation.
Contact a Qualified Worker’s Compensation Attorney
If your employer isn’t forthcoming, you will need to file a claim with the North Carolina Industrial Commission. And for this, it is crucial that you call in a qualified workers’ compensation lawyer. An attorney will help to prove your case and guide you through the intricate legal process. They will also handle negotiations with your employer and their insurance company on your behalf.
File Your Petition for Benefits
If you are unable to resolve the dispute informally, you need to file a claim petition by filing a written notice of claim to the North Carolina Industrial Commission. An attorney will help ensure that the petition is filed properly and help you avoid mistakes that may jeopardize your claim.
What Are My Rights After an On the Job Injury?
A worker injured while on the job is entitled to a number of rights under North Carolina’s workers’ compensation laws. Many employees fail to get the full compensation owed to them due to not knowing their rights;
- You are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits regardless of your immigration status. An employer can’t deny your claim based on the fact that you are an undocumented worker.
- You have the right to be represented by an attorney throughout the process.
- You have the right to see your own doctor for a second opinion. In case you are unhappy with the treatment you are receiving from the insurer’s doctor, you can request to switch to a doctor of your choice.
- You are entitled to medical benefits for your work-related injury/illness for up to 2 years after the doctor releases you from treatment.
- You have a right to travel reimbursement (if the doctor’s appointment is more than 10 miles away), transportation assistance (if you are unable to drive yourself), and an interpreter (if you experience a language barrier at the doctor’s office).
- You have a right to appeal a claim denial.
What Can I Do If My Claim Is Denied?
There are various reasons why your workers’ comp claim may be denied. These include the lack of witnesses, underlying medical conditions, missed deadlines, inconsistent reports, and so on. You should be informed why your claim was denied. In some cases, the insurance company may just outrightly refuse to authorize your treatment.
In the event that your claim is denied or controverted, you retain the right to a hearing before the NCIC. To do this, you need to file a Form 33 within 2 years of your date of injury.
After requesting a hearing, your case will be scheduled for mediation if you are represented. If mediation fails, your case will go to a hearing. This is done before a Deputy Commissioner with the NCIC.
How Can a Workers’ Comp Attorney Help Me?
It is crucial to hire a qualified workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible after suffering a workplace injury or illness. While you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, employers and insurance companies are notorious for denying workers’ compensation claims even when they are legitimate. With an attorney, you have better chances of obtaining the benefits owed to you.
There are many things that an attorney does to ensure the most favorable outcome in your case:
Putting Together Strong Medical Evidence to Support Your Case
This includes gathering your medical records, conducting depositions of medical experts, arranging treatment with specific physicians, and collecting testimonies from vocational experts about your job requirements and statements from friends and family members about your daily life.
An attorney will be able to determine how much your case is worth, based on various factors. They also know the tactics used by insurance companies to swindle deceive injured workers. They will draw on their knowledge and superior negotiation skills to ensure you aren’t taken advantage of and secure a favorable settlement agreement for you.
Representing You at Your Workers’ Comp Hearing
If a settlement agreement can’t be reached upon, your case is taken to the hearing stage. This process involves depositions, testimony, and legal briefing. Your attorney will represent you during the process ensuring that you have all the supporting documents.
How Much Does a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Cost?
Many injured manufacturing workers fail to seek the legal help they need due to fearing how much an attorney will supposedly cost them. Fortunately, at Wapple & Houk, we offer our services on a contingency basis, meaning that you only pay after we’ve secured a fair settlement agreement or verdict. Keep in mind that workers’ compensation attorneys aren’t allowed to charge more than 25% of the compensation amount in North Carolina.
Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Attorney for Manufacturing Workers
An accident at the factory can lead to severe, catastrophic, and even fatal injuries. You may end up requiring extensive and long-term medical treatment and staying out of work for extended periods. While you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, knowing your rights is only the beginning of a long arduous legal journey. Dealing with employers and insurance companies who are only interested in protecting their interests is a battle that many give up along the way.
To ensure your rights are protected and that you get the full benefits you deserve, you need to get an experienced Charlotte workers’ compensation attorney for manufacturing workers at Waple & Houk Law involved as soon as possible. Call us today at (704)954-8697 to schedule a free case review.