What is Workers’ Compensation, and How Does it Work?
Workers’ compensation is as insurance policy that’s required by law. Hickory employers must carry it to protect employees and themselves from expenses related to workplace injuries. This system pays workers who are injured or disabled on the job. Employees who take the negotiated workers’ compensation payment agree not to sue their employers. Payments typically cover medical costs and missed paychecks. Employees don’t receive additional damages for pain and suffering or negligence. The system is designed to protect both employees and employers.
Workers’ compensation benefits are tax-free and the families of employees who have a fatal accident at work can collect workers’ compensation payments.
How Do I Apply/File for Workers’ Compensation in Hickory, NC?
If you’ve been injured at work in Hickory, it’s important to apply and file for workers’ compensation right away. This allows you to receive provisional payments quickly. Employers have 48 hours to notify their insurer of the claim. Workers’ compensation insurance companies must begin making provisional payments within a week of filing. Insurance providers can make provisional payments while investigating the claim.
- Injured workers first notify their employer of the workplace-related injury.
- They need to provide documentation showing they’re partly or completely unable to fulfill their work duties.
- Provisional payments include up to 12 weeks of compensation and up to $7,500 of medical expense coverage.
- Insurers can challenge the claim within that seven-day window. Reasons include a lack of medical information, lack of proof the injury was work-related, and the injury being reported two or more months after it occurred.
- Insurance companies have another 21 days to accept or deny a claim.
- Employers must then accommodate injured staff and provide them with work duties they can perform. Smaller companies in Hickory might be exempt if no suitable work is available.
Workers’ compensation claims can result in larger lump sum or structured settlements in cases of permanent injuries. A Hickory workers’ compensation attorney will know the workers’ rights to pursue a permanent injury claim. Lump sum settlements don’t affect weekly payments or medical allowances from the original claim.
Injured workers seeking lump sums need more thorough medical assessments. They must prove permanent injury of at least 10% to get a lump sum settlement. The maximum amount they can receive is $220,000. Common settlement payouts range from $30,000 to $60,000.
Some instances allow for more compensation by suing an employer for negligence. An attorney will determine whether injured workers can seek additional compensation in cases of employer negligence. Workers’ compensation doesn’t require proving the employer to be at fault, but cases of clear negligence could result in significant settlements of more than $300,000. Being awarded such a claim cancels out workers’ compensation payments.
Can You be Laid Off While on Workers’ Compensation?
If you suspect you were laid off because of your workers’ compensation leave status, contact an attorney as soon as possible. Generally, employees cannot be laid off because of their workers’ compensation. They can, however, be laid off if the company is downsizing, for example. An attorney will review the facts and determine if your employer laid you off illegally. You typically have limited time to claim illegal retaliation in Hickory.
Can You Sue if You Accept Workers’ Compensation?
If you accept workers’ compensation, you generally cannot sue the employer for further damages. An experienced attorney will determine if you should receive more money. Your workers’ compensation might cover mental health issues, for instance, as a medical expense. You might also claim distress in a separate lawsuit. Depending on the circumstances of the accident, third parties can be sued for pain and suffering.
How Do I Build a Strong Workers’ Compensation Case?
Proof of the injury happening at work rather than being a preexisting condition is key. You’ll need to collect comprehensive documentation, including an official diagnosis and treatment plan, and file it following insurance company guidelines and state laws.
Workers’ compensation cases, like other accident liability cases, must prove liability and include thorough documentation. Documenting circumstances of the injury, especially if the employer did not follow safety and training protocol, is key. Employer negligence isn’t necessary to receive workers’ compensation but could be the key factor in pursuing a lawsuit against the company. As with any legal case, the more information and documentation, the better. Insurance companies can deny or delay work injury claims that aren’t filed properly.
What Happens if you’re Denied Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Hickory?
Getting a denial and appealing the decision is a process for an experienced attorney to handle. Benefits denial can result in lost income and medical payments if you don’t appeal it properly.
If you receive a denial, contact a Hickory workers’ comp attorney right away for legal advice. They will investigate the denial and find ways to appeal. Denials can occur for many reasons:
- Not reporting the work injury to your supervisor within a few days.
- Not filing the initial claim within 30 to 90 days.
- A dispute by your employer.
- The injury can’t be compensated, such as stress.
- The injury doesn’t require medical care.
- There’s not enough evidence to tie the injury to work.
Denial letters should list information about appealing. An appeal could be as easy as correcting the claim or misunderstanding. Appeals in Hickory, North Carolina commonly involve the state agency handling workers’ compensation and require detailed documentation. They might also require additional medical records and examinations or workplace evidence.
When is a Workers’ Compensation Attorney Needed?
Depending on the situation, you may not need an attorney to submit a claim in Hickory, NC. However, workers’ compensation lawyers are skilled negotiators who can guide injured workers through the complex process. The process involves insurance companies, employers, and laws and regulations. Lawyer-negotiated settlements are typically larger.
Employees who seek a claim must prove their injury is related to work. It cannot be a preexisting condition. They must also prove the injury prevents them from doing required work tasks. Attorneys provide sound advice when the injured person feels pressured to settle. An attorney will seek a fair settlement that will provide needed compensation. This allows the injured person to focus on recovering.
However, it is strongly advisable to involve an experienced Hickory worker’s compensation attorney in the case you claim is denied. Lawyers are skilled at handling claims an insurance company tries to deny and it’s important to get the appeal process right.
How Much Does a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Cost?
Like other personal injury lawyers, Hickory workers’ compensation lawyers typically work on a contingency where they only get paid upon successful settlement of a case. Hickory workers’ compensation attorney fees are more regulated than other personal injury cases and are capped at 25% in North Carolina.
Related fees, including attorney fees, investigation costs, court costs, expert witness fees, and other expenses, get taken out of the settlement amount. For workers’ compensation cases, law firm costs include obtaining medical evidence proving the extent of the injury and that it occurred at work. The law firm handling the case processes the settlement check and ensures all parties receive their payments.
What Should I Look For in a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
Seek an attorney who has experience handling workers’ compensation cases and negotiating with insurance companies in and around Hickory. Each area of personal injury law requires special knowledge, and workers’ compensation cases are no exception. Seek a workers’ compensation lawyer who will put your needs first and be transparent about your options for seeking compensation, related fees, and timelines
A skilled Hickory workers’ compensation attorney will be able to tell whether the insurance company or your employer is not complying with applicable regulations. They will also ensure you are not misguided into accepting a settlement that is too low or not made aware of your rights. While workers’ compensation is based on no-fault principles where injured workers can receive settlements, employer negligence might allow injured workers to sue their employers and receive a greater settlement.
Seek a workers’ compensation attorney who has specialized experience in workplace accidents. Cases where you can prove employer negligence or where injuries are significant and permanent make retaining an attorney even more important. It allows you to focus on recovery knowing your rights are being protected.
What Settlements Do Workers’ Compensation Claims Bring?
Workers’ comp settlements range from straightforward and quick to complex and drawn-out in the court system. Workers’ comp insurance might begin covering medical bills and lost wages after a claim is filed.
Some denied claims require an appeals process with the insurance company, often argued by an attorney. Insurance companies might assert the injury isn’t completely job-related or the medical condition was preexisting. The appeals process varies depending on the insurance company.
The injured party might negotiate a settlement if they feel compensation is inadequate. Once the parties agree upon an amount, it’s paid out in either a lump sum or over time in a structured settlement with monthly payments.
While personal injury lawsuits can include money for pain and suffering, workers’ compensation cases cover medical bills and lost wages. Filers of workers’ compensation claims don’t have to prove their employer was at fault, but this arrangement by nature limits the damages they can recover. A workers’ compensation claim might, however, cover mental health issues resulting from a work-related accident. Depending on the accident’s circumstances, third parties might be sued for pain and suffering.
Employees also have the option to sue their employers in cases of negligence that lead to permanent injury. Such cases are complex but can yield large settlements.
Contact a Hickory Workers’ Compensation Attorney for a Free Consultation
An experienced Hickory workers’ compensation lawyer can guide you through the complex and unique insurance company claim rules and North Carolina state laws. To get a successful claim, you must complete and file the proper paperwork following the required regulations and timelines. Third-party involvement in an accident or existing medical conditions make it especially important to hire an experienced attorney. If you are affected by a work-related accident or injury, contact The Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor P.C. to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys in Hickory, North Carolina.