Enduring a workplace injury can be very devastating. Due to this reality, every employer in North Carolina is expected to have workers’ compensation insurance in place just in case an employee is involved in an accident during work hours. Workers’ compensation enables the injured employee to cover their medical expenses, lost wages, among other basic needs as they continue to recuperate.
You need a skilled Concord workers’ compensation lawyer to help you deal with insurance companies and get the benefits you deserve. At Waple & Houk, PLLC, we specialize in this kind of case. Our experienced team of lawyers has worked with various worker’s comp clients and knows how to strategize as far as workers’ compensation claims are concerned.
What Is Workers’ Compensation and What Does It Cover?
The workers’ compensation system works in a way that the health and wage replacement benefits are provided automatically once an employee is involved in an accident regardless of who is at fault. In return, the employee can not file a lawsuit against their employer demanding compensation.
If you get hurt on the job, you are entitled to the following benefits:
Your employer should pay for your medical treatment costs if you sustain injuries while on the job. This may include hospital stays. Your employer’s insurance provider typically covers these medical care expenses.
Depending on the type of your injury and doctor’s recommendations you could be entitled to physical therapy. Physical therapy may be necessary to ensure that you fully recover from the injury for a normal life. Some patients are directly referred to a physical therapist by their doctors but others tend to seek therapist services on their own. Whichever the case, if you feel the need to see a physical therapist don’t hesitate.
Right after an accident, you could need a certain specific prescription written by your doctor. Whatever the prescription take it and ensure that you alert the company to arrange for the payment.
Necessary Travel Expenses
Your injury may require you to seek further treatment in another hospital far away from your work area. You are entitled to go and seek further medical treatment somewhere else and all the expenses should be taken care of by the insurance company.
Temporary Total Disability Benefits
If you are out of work for more than a week due to a workplace injury, you may be eligible to receive temporary disability benefits. These benefits make up two-thirds of your average weekly income. This weekly maximum changes every year. In 2021, the maximum rate that one can receive per week for temporary disability benefits is $1,102.00.
If you cannot resume the same job or earn the same salary due to your injury, you may be entitled to temporary partial disability benefits (TPD). These benefits make up two-thirds of the difference between your post-injury income and pre-injury income. You may receive these benefits for up to 500 weeks.
Permanent Disability Benefits
You’ll continue to receive temporary benefits until you are able to get back to work. If you reach your maximum medical improvement (MMI), you may qualify for permanent total disability benefits. Here, you are regarded as permanently impaired.
You can qualify for these benefits if you can’t return to work due to your workplace injury. If you sustained severe burns, severe traumatic brain injury, loss of limbs, or paralysis, you might qualify for permanent total disability benefits (PTD) in North Carolina. In this event, you’ll receive weekly benefits for your entire lifetime. These benefits are calculated using your temporary disability rate.
You may also be entitled to permanent partial disability benefits (PPD) after your workplace injury. When a PPD happens, you remain stuck with reduced physical functioning. Suppose you lose your ears, eyes, feet, back, or arms in a Charlotte workplace accident. In that case, you may receive workers’ compensation benefits for two-thirds of your approximate weekly income for a certain period. The state of North Carolina determines the number of weeks you’ll receive these benefits.
You can opt to receive benefits for PPD at the temporary partial disability rate if your permanent impairment affects your wages. These benefits will be two-thirds of what’s left between your current income and pre-injury income.
If your loved one has died after a workplace injury, you may be entitled to receive benefits. The death benefits for funeral and burial expenses in NC are up to $10,000. The decedent’s spouse and minors may receive two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly income as death benefits. The compensation runs up to 500 weeks after they start receiving the benefits.
What Should I Do If I’m Hurt On The Job?
Immediately after an accident has occurred and you notice you are hurt, you need to swing fast into action to avoid further harm.
Tell Your Employer You Are Hurt
This is the first step to alert your employer about the incident. Then the employer can determine the next cause of action depending on the seriousness of your injury. More importantly, the employer can record the incident for future reference.
Get to a Doctor as Soon as Possible
Right after reporting the incident, make a point of going direct to seek medical care and adhere to the doctor’s instructions.
Keep a Written Record
After everything has settled down ensure to ha a well-a written record of your injury as well as other symptoms well-written injury. This ensures that the records are kept safe for future reference.
If your injury is visible make sure that you take a clear picture of the same. This again acts as reference and evidence that the injury occurred.
File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
Last but not least, file the workers’ compensation claim with the assistance of a well-experienced Concord workers’ compensation lawyer. After this is done, rest and recuperate.
Common Workplace Accident Injuries
Some of the most common workplace injuries include:
- Hearing loss
- Joint pain
- Slip and fall accidents
- Back and neck injuries
- Accidents while operating machinery
Why Should I Hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
The reasons you should hire a Concord workers’ compensation lawyer when filing for a claim are:
To Discuss Your Eligibility
Your lawyer will go through the case and tell you if you are eligible to file for the claim. In some cases, your eligibility may diminish as time progresses, so you need your lawyer to discuss your circumstances.
To Ensure You Are Seeking the Right Benefits
It is not uncommon to find yourself not knowing the benefits you are entitled to. You need a lawyer who will tell you about the benefits available in the state of North Carolina. Your lawyer helps you to determine the benefits that you are eligible for so that you can file your claim properly. Your lawyer ensures that you do not leave any benefits you are entitled to on the table.
To Ensure You Meet All the Requirements
You could be filing a claim and not even know that you are not meeting the criteria for receiving benefits in the state. For instance, you will have to report the incident within a month of the incident. You should have enough proof that the injury is work-related. You should also receive written records of treatment from a physician chosen by the employer or the employer’s insurer. Your lawyer ascertains that you meet all requirements to eliminate the chances of your claim being denied.
To Deal With the Insurance Companies
Never assume that your case will go smoothly and you will receive your benefits without any mishaps. Your employer’s insurance company is responsible for paying you the benefits, which means it is their job to determine the validity of your injury. Most insurance companies try to prove that an employee had previous injuries and does not deserve compensation.
An experienced worker’s compensation lawyer will represent your interests and deal with the insurance companies. Since they have strategies for negotiating with the insurer, you have a better chance with the lawyer representing you.
Filing an Appeal When the Claim Is Denied
Your claim may be denied by the insurance company, or they may decide not to pay certain benefits that you had filed for. In such a case, you have the option of an appeal. Your lawyer is instrumental in ensuring your appeal process is carried out properly. Having a worker’s compensation lawyer on your side will reduce the chances of another denial.
How Much Does a Concord Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Cost?
At Waple & Houk PLLC, our workers’ compensation attorneys in Charlotte, NC, operate on a contingency fee basis. You don’t pay any fee unless you win your case. This allows you to focus on your recovery without worrying about upfront fees or hourly rates.
According to the North Carolina State Bar, a contingency fee agreement should be in writing. Remember, you only pay once we secure compensation after your workplace accident.
The advantage of the fixed contingency fee set by The Industrial Commission is that the lawyer will get the same percentage no matter who the client hires. It is advisable to go for an experienced lawyer who will get you maximum benefits.
What Should I Do if My Workers Compensation Claim is Denied?
You should contact your lawyer to explain how you can dispute the claim denial. Usually, the denial contains an explanation of why your claim was denied. If you believe that the claim was denied erroneously, you can appeal and gather the evidence to dispute the denial.
Most times, the claim is denied because;
- Your injury was not reported in the required time
- Your injury is not compensable
- You did not file the claim in time
- Lack of medical treatment by the physician chosen by the employer/insurance company
Do not despair if your claim is denied. Instead, call an experienced worker’s compensation lawyer to take you through the appeal and ensure you go about it the right way.
What Responsibility Does the Employee Have in Filing a Workers Comp Claim?
After being injured on the job, an employee has the following responsibilities:
- Reporting to the supervisor immediately the injury happens or when they notice an illness related to work.
- Cooperating with the employer and the physician allocated to them.
- Cooperating with the claims manager and case manager
- Attending any medical examinations if required to do so by the claims management team
If an employee realizes that they may have given misleading information when filing the claim, they can amend it by writing to the claims manager.
What Responsibility Does the Employer Have in the Workers Compensation Process?
The employer is mainly responsible for taking preventative measures to ensure no injuries come to the employees and various components of the claim filing process. The employer is responsible for;
- Filing the first report of injury and ensuring that it reaches the compensation carrier for the company
- Ensuring that the rights of your employee are not violated after the injury. For instance, if they need immediate medical attention and time off to recuperate, the employer must provide it.
- Cooperating with the investigative parties (most likely the insurance company). The employer is required to provide the employee’s personnel file and other documentation.
- Allowing the employee to resume their duties once they have recovered from the injuries.
- Assisting the worker’s compensation board in avoiding exaggerated or fraudulent claims from the employees.
Can I be Fired for Claiming a Workers Comp Claim?
It is your right to file for a worker’s compensation claim when injured at work or if you get an illness related to your work. The Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act or (REDA) safeguards the rights of employees, so you can file a formal complaint if your employer retaliates against you. The complaint should be filed within a hundred and eighty days from the day of retaliation.
Is there a Time Limit to File a Workers Comp Claim in Concord, North Carolina?
Yes. You have two years from the day of the injury or the day you discover a work-related illness to file a worker’s compensation claim. Keep in mind that filing for a worker’s comp claim and reporting an injury to your supervisor are two different things.
Can I Sue My Employer?
Under North Carolina Law, an employee cannot seek civil action once they get their benefits through a worker’s comp claim. However, there may be an exception if the employer purposely injures or causes injuries to an employee.
Discussing your case with an experienced worker’s comp lawyer is advisable as they will let you know if exemptions can be made for your case.
Can an Independent Contractor File a Workers Comp Claim?
No. Under North Carolina Law, independent contractors are not required to have worker’s compensation for their employees, which means that their employees cannot file for worker’s compensation.
In such cases, the employer should purchase disability insurance for any employees that may get injured during working hours.
What is My Concord, North Carolina Workers Compensation Claim Worth?
In North Carolina, worker’s comp disability benefits are put in four categories. The categories depend on how long the employee’s work is affected and how long the injury lasts.
Typically, your worker’s compensation will pay for;
- The medical expense incurred. These have to be from the authorized physician provided by the employer or the employer’s carrier.
- Any costs incurred due to rehabilitation required after an employee suffers a work injury.
- A percentage of the wages lost due to the injury (during the time you are recuperating).
- Prescription medication required to treat your injury/illness
- Any travel expenses incurred when traveling to get treatment or any other requirements of your injury
- Your income loss replacement benefit. This is usually two-thirds of your average income per week and has a limit of $575 for each week.
- PPD ( Permanent Partial Disability) and extra money if the authorized treating physician gives a disability rating complying with the guidelines provided by the American Medical Association.
Hire the Best Concord Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
If you’ve been injured in a workplace accident in Concord, NC, you may be entitled to compensation. As an employee, you have rights. Your employer also has rights, responsibilities, and obligations. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can represent your rights and interests in your case.
At Waple & Houk PLLC, our legal team can help you secure the benefits you deserve. We will conduct a thorough investigation into your case to build a strong claim. We can help you recover damages for your medical prescriptions, lost income, surgery costs, physical therapy costs, and lost earning capacity.
Frequently Asked Questions for Our Concord, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
Can I Choose My Own Doctor When Pursuing Workers’ Compensation Treatment in North Carolina?
North Carolina law states that an employer shall provide medical treatment, which means that your employer or the workers’ compensation carrier gets to pick the doctor to treat you for your injuries. There are specific exceptions in the law that give workers the right to choose and to get treatment from their doctors. Talk to our skilled Concord workers’ compensation attorneys today to learn more about your legal rights and options to get the best care available for your unique injury circumstances.
How Long Does It Take for North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Benefits to Start?
From the time you notify your North Carolina employer of your injury, they must notify its workers’ compensation insurance carrier within five days of receiving your notice. The employer should also provide a workers’ compensation form for you to fill out, which must be completed and sent to the North Carolina Industrial Commission to file for benefits. The employer, their insurer, or the North Carolina Industrial Commission should notify you within 14 days whether your claim has been approved or denied. Payments for medical care can begin as soon as you are injured. After being unable to work due to a work-related injury for seven days, employees become eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits for lost wages. After 21 days out of work, employees can receive payment for the first seven days of work they missed.
This timeline will change if you were initially denied workers’ compensation benefits in North Carolina. Our Concord workers’ compensation attorneys can help you understand your right to appeal against this decision, so you can pursue the benefits you are entitled to with a skilled legal representative by your side.
What Happens If My Employer Says My Work Injury Was Not Work-Related?
There are multiple reasons why North Carolina employers may become uncooperative when injured employees are seeking workers’ compensation benefits. They may include that they do not have workers’ compensation coverage, even though it is required by law for most employers.
They may also claim your injury was not work related to avoid insurance premium increases, or by blatantly ignoring the law. Others may claim your injury is not severe enough to file a claim. None of these excuses are acceptable. If your employer refuses to acknowledge your injuries were work related, contact our skilled Concord workers’ compensation attorneys today for help.
What Are The Average North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Payouts?
While there are “average” North Carolina workers’ compensation payouts listed by the National Safety Council, the severity of the injury and the body part that is injured play a significant role in the compensation that is awarded. The next factor is whether you can return to work. Each worker’s injury is unique, which means there is no precise answer regarding workers’ compensation awards in North Carolina. Our Concord workers’ compensation attorneys can help you understand what your case is worth, starting with a free case evaluation.
Will I Have to Go to Court After Filing a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Unlike other legal matters, disputed North Carolina workers’ compensation claims are not resolved in court. Instead, they are handled largely by way of an Administrative Law process.