What Is Workers’ Compensation, and How Does It Work?
Under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, all employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance if they have three or more employees. This act applies to nearly all employers in Charlotte, no matter their industry or type of company. An employer might have to provide workers’ compensation coverage no matter how many people they employ in some situations. For example, all companies with employees working in the presence of radiation must offer workers’ compensation.
Industries exempt from the law include those that employ casual employees, domestic help, employees of certain railroads, federal government employees in North Carolina, and some agricultural product sellers.
If an employer must have workers’ compensation insurance and doesn’t have coverage or follow the law, they could receive fines or jail time.
What Should You Do if You Get Hurt at Work in Charlotte?
If you are injured on the job in Charlotte, you need to notify your employer promptly. Document your injury and how you feel every day. Your next step is to seek medical treatment, even if you don’t think the injury is serious. Seemingly minor injuries often become major ones. If your claim is complex or you received a denial, contact the Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor P.C. right away.
What Are Common Challenges To Workers’ Compensation Claims?
If you are preparing to file a workers’ compensation case in Charlotte, understand that you might face challenges along the way. However, not all denials are unjustified. In cases where an employee’s injuries resulted from intentional acts, horseplay while working, or activities done under the influence of drugs or alcohol, workers’ compensation benefits won’t apply. Other denials involve accidental oversight by the employee, including not proving the injury was work-related, failing to notify the employer within the time limit, not following through with treatment, or making errors on forms.
In some situations, the workers’ compensation carrier makes a mistake. Remember, these insurance companies are for-profit businesses, and their goal is to reduce or eliminate their payout amount. They might claim your injuries are exaggerated, preexisting, or not work-related. They might clear you to return to work even if you disagree, or they might challenge your eligibility status by saying you are an independent contractor even though you clearly meet the definition of an employee.
Do You Need a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Charlotte?
If an insurance company denies your claim, speak with our Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyers immediately. Because you’re likely not familiar with the legal process, you risk losing the right to your benefits if you don’t get an attorney’s help. Your workers’ compensation attorney can help you fight for the benefits you deserve.
What Role Does the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) Play in These Cases?
The NCIC directly oversees the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act and administers the act by working toward resolutions in disputed claims. It will try to resolve a dispute by recommending mediation and providing an impartial decision. The state agency also investigates alleged criminal violations of the act and provides employer training to help reduce potential accidents in the workplace. The NCIC can facilitate medical care and rehabilitation for injured workers when necessary.
How To Apply for Workers’ Compensation in Charlotte
Report any work-related accident or illness to your employer and seek medical treatment immediately. Your employer should outline the company’s workers’ compensation protocol. Before you can file a claim, you need a medical diagnosis. When you seek treatment, let the doctor know your injury or illness is related to your job, and provide your employer’s name and contact information, so they know who to bill.
Next, you need to provide written notice to your employer within 30 days. Keep a copy of the letter for your records. If you have other evidence, such as photos, keep copies of those in your records as well. Your workers’ compensation doctor will develop a treatment plan, which you need to follow. Otherwise, the insurance company might deny your claim for failure to follow the recommended treatment.
How Long Do You Have To File for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
You must inform your employer within 30 days of your accident or illness. You can file a Form 18 with the NCIC, which often satisfies the 30-day requirement. The statute of limitations for workers’ compensation cases is two years. If you don’t have a Form 18 on file with the NCIC by this time, you will lose your right to benefits.
What Happens if You’re Denied Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
If your claim is denied, do not panic. It doesn’t mean you won’t get benefits. You have several appeal options, but time is very limited. For example, you only have 14 days from the date you receive the denial to file an appeal. That’s why contacting an attorney right away is so important.
Frequently Asked Questions
Understandably, prospective clients have many questions about how workers’ compensation benefits work. Here are answers to common questions we receive:
Can You Be Laid Off While on Workers’ Compensation?
In Charlotte, you cannot be terminated for filing a workers’ compensation claim or as an act of retaliation. However, you can be terminated for a legitimate reason while receiving workers’ compensation benefits. If your injuries led to the layoff, then you might be eligible to receive reinstatement of temporary total or partial disability benefits.
Can You Sue if You Accept Workers’ Compensation?
Generally, you cannot sue your employer if you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits. However, you might have the option to file a lawsuit against a third party who contributed to your injuries. For example, if you were on a work-related errand in a car and were struck by another vehicle, you could file a lawsuit against the driver. That lawsuit would be separate from workers’ compensation benefits.
Does Workers’ Compensation Always Offer a Settlement?
Receiving benefits doesn’t guarantee you will receive a settlement offer. Not all cases in Charlotte settle, and you cannot force the workers’ compensation insurance carrier to settle. Depending on your circumstances, it might be better to leave your case open. In some situations, the insurance company might offer you a lump sum to resolve your workers’ compensation claim, which would close your case entirely. That means if you suffer problems in the future and need additional medical treatment, you cannot come back for more money or benefits.
Do I Have To Pay Tax on a Workers’ Compensation Settlement?
No, you are not required to list workers’ compensation benefits as taxable income on either your federal or North Carolina state taxes. The same applies if you receive a lump sum settlement from your workers’ compensation carrier. In some situations, however, your workers’ compensation payments become more complicated, and you might see tax implications as a result. For example, if you are receiving Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits at the same time as workers’ comp, you could see the funds reported through your SSD statement.
Do You Have To Prove Employer Negligence in Charlotte?
No, you do not need to prove your employer or co-worker did something that caused you to become injured or get sick. Even if your own negligence contributed to your injury, it wouldn’t count against you. The workers’ compensation system is set up as a no-fault program to ensure you get the benefits you’re entitled to when you suffer an on-the-job injury or illness.
Contact Our Workers’ Compensation Attorneys in Charlotte, NC.
If you are filing a workers’ compensation claim and have questions, contact the Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyers at the Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor P.C. today. We have years of experience dealing with North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits. We have represented many clients to help them successfully get the workers’ compensation benefits and the settlement they deserve. To learn how we can assist you, contact our office today, and schedule a consultation.