Hickory is home to over 40,000 people working in several industries, including technology, manufacturing, and healthcare. Hickory residents work hard every day from the Lowes to the Hickory PD. When you are suffering from a work-related injury and have medical bills and other expenses piling up, you want to make sure you can get your settlement as soon as possible to cover those costs.
The length of time it takes to receive your benefits depends on various factors, including the severity of your injury, how long it takes for you to recover, how long it takes you to file your workers’ comp claim, and how long it takes for the insurance company to conduct its investigation.
Contact an experienced Hickory workers’ comp attorney at The Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor today to learn more about filing a workers’ compensation claim, and understand your rights and options.
The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation System
The North Carolina workers’ compensation system is designed to supply benefits to employees who are injured or become ill due to their job. Under the workers’ compensation law, employers must have workers’ comp insurance, which pays for medical bills and lost wages and can also provide death benefits to the families of workers who are killed on the job.
The Workers’ Compensation Process in Hickory, North Carolina
If you have been injured on the job, you should report the injury to your employer and the North Carolina Industrial Commission as soon as possible. Your employer will then file a claim with their workers’ compensation insurance company. The insurer will investigate the claim and may deny benefits if they determine that the injury is not work-related or did not occur in the course and scope of employment. It is important to remember that just being hurt at work is not enough to make an injury compensable in North Carolina. The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act provides that the injury must be due to an “accident” in the course and scope of your employment, or for a back injury, due to a “specific traumatic incident”. In the case of occupational diseases, the condition or illness must be tied to your employment by a doctor, and in some cases, you also have to show that your job duties put you at greater risk of contracting the occupational disease.
If the insurance carrier approves the claim, they will begin paying benefits. Workers’ compensation benefits include payment for time out of work and medical expenses related to the injury. The insurance company gets to direct care and will send you to an “authorized” physician. You can get a second opinion, and also ask the North Carolina Industrial Commission to order treatment when the insurance company denies it.
Timeline for Workers’ Compensation Claims in NC
There is no set timeline for workers’ compensation claims in Charlotte, North Carolina. The length of the process depends on the severity of the injury and the complexity of the claim. Once benefits are approved, payments will typically begin within a few weeks. If your workers’ comp claim is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision.
Should I Accept a Workers’ Comp Settlement?
Settlements can be a good option if you are ready to move on from your injury and put the incident behind you. However, it is important to keep in mind that settlements will typically be for less than the full value of your claim. If you have questions about whether or not to accept a settlement, you should speak with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
What Happens When a Workers’ Comp Case Goes to Trial?
If you cannot settle, your case may go to a hearing. Hearings are held before a workers’ compensation judge called a Deputy Commissioner. Both sides will present evidence and testimony, with doctors usually testifying after the hearing via a deposition. After all the evidence is submitted, the parties submit written arguments and the Deputy Commissioner will decide whether or not benefits should be awarded. If you receive a favorable ruling at trial, benefits will be paid out to you as ordered by the Deputy Commissioner, however, either side can appeal the decision of a Deputy Commissioner to the “Full Commission”. This a panel of three commissioners who decide appeals. Sometimes parties may appeal a case to the North Carolina Court of Appeals as well.
Lump-Sum Settlements vs. Structured Settlements
It is important to know that under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, neither side can be forced to settle a claim completely. While you can have the insurance company pay the value of any rating you receive from your doctor on a “Form 26A”, this is only a partial settlement, and your right to medical treatment remains open for at least two years from the approval of the Form 26A. This does not mean you cannot settle a claim completely, and this is very often what happens after an injured employee finishes treatment. It simply means that any total settlement of a North Carolina workers’ compensation claim will be a compromise between the parties, and any settlement of a workers’ compensation claim has to be approved by the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
Which settlement option is best for you will depend on your situation. You should speak with an attorney to discuss your options and make sure you make the best decision for your needs.
How Long Do I Have to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Hickory, North Carolina?
You have two years from your injury by accident to file a workers’ compensation claim in Charlotte, North Carolina. If the claim is for an occupational disease (illness), you have two years from when you are informed that your illness is a result of your employment. If you do not file a claim within this time frame, you will likely be ineligible for benefits. You should always file as soon as possible after being injured in an accident at work, or as soon as you are aware that you suffer from an occupational disease related to your job.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Pay?
Workers’ compensation pays for medical treatment and disability benefits, as well as death benefits. The amount of workers’ compensation benefits you receive will depend on the severity of your injury or illness.
- In accepted cases, the insurance company pays for related medical treatment, and directs an employee where to treat, subject to some limitations. In other words, you do not get to pick your own doctor. In certain situations an insurance company may have to pay for mileage incurred for travel to and from appointments.
- Disability benefits are paid based on your “Average Weekly Wage”, so determination of that is very important. You will receive 66 & ⅔ of your average weekly wage in“temporary total disability” benefits while out of work due to the injury or illness. Sometimes when you can return to work but earn less because of the injury, you can receive “temporary partial disability” benefits which pay 66 & ⅔ of what you earned before the accident and what is being earned after the injury. You are entitled to a maximum of 500 weeks of temporary total or temporary partial disability benefits unless you fit into a few specific exceptions. Once you are done treating, a doctor may give you a “rating” which entitles you to a payment for “permanent partial disability.”
- Where a worker dies due to a compensable accident or illness, a total of 500 weeks of benefits may be paid to the employee’s beneficiaries. Who takes and how much is specified in the North Carolina Workers Compensation Act.The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act currently provides that up to $10,000.00 is payable for funeral expenses as well.
When Will I Receive My Workers’ Compensation Settlement?
The insurance carrier will send you a check for your settlement once the North Carolina Industrial Commission approves it. Normally, the insurance company has 24 days from the date of the order approving a settlement to pay.. Once you receive your settlement funds, you should put the money in a safe place. You will want to use it to pay for your expenses. You may also want to use it to provide for your family if you can’t return to work.
How Long Do Workers’ Compensation Benefits Last in Hickory, North Carolina?
The length of time you will receive workers’ compensation benefits will depend on the severity of your injury. If you have a minor injury, you may only receive benefits for a short period of time. However, if you have a more serious injury, you may receive benefits for an extended period of time. The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act states that subject to certain exceptions like paralysis or losing two limbs, 500 weeks is the maximum amount of disability benefits you can receive. Medical treatment can remain open indefinitely, provided certain conditions are met.
An injured worker normally will receive benefits at least until they reach maximum medical improvement. Maximum medical improvement (MMI) is when the treating doctor opines that your condition has stabilized and is not expected to change significantly. MMI is also when a doctor assigns a rating for the injured body part(s).
Contact a Hickory Workers’ Comp Lawyer Today
You deserve to get the full benefits that you are entitled to under workers’ compensation. If you have been injured at work, and need help with your workers’ comp case, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced attorney. At The Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor in Hickory, we work hard to get you the compensation you deserve so you can focus on your recovery and get back to work as soon as possible.