If you or your loved one has suffered serious injuries and someone else is at fault, call (800) 351-3008 to schedule a free case consultation.
Our team of work injury lawyers, investigators and case managers are ready to serve you from our offices located throughout the Carolinas.
What to do if you Have Been Injured on the Job
The North Carolina Industrial Commission instructs workers to take specific steps after a workplace injury or occupational illness.
The basic steps to take after a workplace accident are as follows:
- Report the injury to your employer and get appropriate medical treatment.
- Report the work-related injury to a manager or owner of the company as soon as possible.
- Notify your employer of your workplace injury in writing as quickly as possible and no more than 30 days after the accident.
- Inform the doctor who examines you that your injury is related to your job. Give the name of your employer so that the doctor can bill treatment under your employer’s workers’ compensation policy.
- You must abide by the doctor’s directions for your medical care.
The Commission provides a Form 18 that the injured worker must complete and filed with the Commission to begin your claim. If this form is not filed with the Commission within two years of the date of your injury or occupational illness, your claim may be barred.
Types of North Carolina and South Carolina Workers’ Comp Injuries
To be covered by workers’ compensation, injuries must have arisen in the course and scope of employment. The physical conditions suffered by workers and covered by workers’ comp insurance fall into one of the following two basic categories:
These can be sudden injuries or those that occur over time. It is essential to discuss your injury in detail with your work injury lawyer so that the accident can be fully understood and brought forward to support your claim.
- Injuries by accident such as sudden injuries: Falls, burns, electrical shock, being struck by or against an object, and overexertion injuries are a few examples of accidents causing an instant injury.
- Long-term injuries: Repetitive motion, as it may cause an injury such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
These are illnesses that have been proven to be caused by factors peculiar to a particular occupation, such as cancer caused by radiation exposure. Occupational diseases are compensable under workers’ compensation if the treating doctor determines that exposure at work was a significant contributing factor in the illness.
More than 3 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses occurred among private industry employees in the U.S. in 2013, as reported by the U.S. Department of Labor. The incidence rate amounted to 33 injuries out of every 1000 full-time workers.
Among those, more than three million injuries and illnesses, 94.9 percent or 2.9 million were injuries caused by workplace accidents. More than 2.1 million (75.5 percent) of these injuries occurred in service industry employment, and the remaining 24.5 percent occurred in goods-producing industries.
In North Carolina, the private industry workplace injury incidence rate was lower than the national rate, at 27 per 1000 full-time employees. If you are injured on the job in North Carolina, you may be covered by workers’ compensation insurance as required by state law if the company you work for has three or more employees.
What is North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
The purpose of the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act is to provide two types of protection in North Carolina:
- A means to medical treatment and financial recovery for workers injured on the job
- Limited liability for employers in most work-related injury claims
As stated in Article 1 of the Act, the rights and remedies under workers’ compensation exclude all other rights and remedies that would otherwise be available to the employee against the employer under common law or otherwise.
What does that mean for you as an injured worker? While you cannot sue your employer for your injuries, you are eligible for workers’ compensation coverage regardless of who was at fault for the accident that caused the injuries. Workers’ comp in North Carolina is a “no-fault” system.
A few exceptions exist to North Carolina’s “no-fault” workers’ compensation rule. As a general rule, a worker is not covered for injuries caused by illegal drug use or alcohol intoxication unless the employer or an authorized supervisor provided the intoxicant to the employee. Also, an employee cannot recover if his injuries resulted from a suicide attempt or from an attempt to injure himself or another person.
Workers’ Compensation Benefits in North Carolina
The North Carolina Industrial Commission administers workers’ compensation. When a worker is injured and unable to work, workers’ comp insurance can make all the difference to the injured employee’s medical care and financial condition.
Among other possible benefits, workers’ comp may allow for benefits to be paid for the following:
- It covers all approved medical expenses associated with the injury or illness, including doctor’s visits, diagnostics, prescription medications, physical therapy, and more. To the extent that treatment is necessary because of the occupational injury or illness, the employer can be held responsible for present and future medical treatment needed to cure, give relief, or lessen the employee’s period of disability.
- Employees who travel for medical treatment 20 miles or more round trip throughout a workers’ comp case are entitled to be reimbursed a certain amount per mile.
- For qualifying injured workers who are unable to return to work for more than seven days after an on-the-job injury, workers’ comp will make weekly compensation payments at the rate of 66.6 percent of the worker’s average weekly wage, not to exceed $978 per week (as of 2017) until the employee can return to work, as stated by the Commission. These payments are not subject to income taxes. The important, yet a tricky factor, with this benefit is determining the average weekly wage.
- Workers who have suffered the loss of a member or partial loss of use of a member of the body or whose injuries have resulted in an inability to earn the same wage they were making before the injury may be eligible for permanent partial disability payments. When the worker’s medical condition has reached “maximum medical improvement,” the treating physician will assign a permanent impairment rating. The Commission will determine the worker’s monetary award based on this rating. Workers who are determined to be totally and permanently disabled as a result of their workplace injuries will continue for an extended period of time to receive weekly payments of 66.6 percent of their average weekly salaries before the injury.
- If a worker will be physically or mentally unable to return to the formerly held position, or if the position will not remain available for an indefinite period of time, the injured worker may be entitled to vocational rehabilitation under workers’ compensation.
How is the Value of a Case Determined?
Workers’ compensation is a statutory system and the benefits it provides are limited to reasonably related medical care, indemnity benefits – paid at two-thirds of your average weekly wage, and permanent disability, if any. Workers’ compensation benefits are intended to place the injured worker in the same position they would have been, but for the injury.
What does that mean to you and the “value” of your case?
Well, no two cases are the same and the indemnity (monetary) benefits you are entitled to are specific to the facts of your case. The determining facts are: 1) your pre-injury average weekly wage; 2) the part of your body that has been injured; and 3) the severity and permanency of the injury. In North Carolina, your average weekly wage is based on your wages from the 52 weeks preceding your injury. South Carolina is slightly different, and is based on the four quarters preceding the quarter in which you were injured. Pursuant to their respective statutes, both states employ a rating schedule that applies a number of weeks value to each enumerated body part. When your authorized medical provider believes you have reached maximum medical improvement, they will assign a permanent partial disability rating, if any. Taken together, these three factors determine the indemnity you are entitled to.
While it is not technically an indemnity benefit, a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney will seek a monetary amount for future medical costs that may be incurred after settling your case. But this too is specific to the facts of your case and requires your attorney to have a thorough understanding of any pre-existing condition, your injury, and your recovery.
Legal Assistance With Workers’ Compensation Claims & Work Injury Lawsuits
At The Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor, we focus our practice on helping injured people. We handle a wide range of injury cases, including work-related injuries. Our North Carolina and South Carolina injury lawyers have helped thousands of clients recover compensation and benefits for their injuries. We are down-to-earth people who care about our clients and want to see them on the road to recovery.
If you have been injured at work, having an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer on your side could make a positive difference in the workers’ compensation claim process and in the benefits you receive. Workers’ comp cases can be complex and employers’ insurance companies have the goal of minimizing the amount they pay in claims.
Call (800) 351-3008 and find out about protecting the rights and compensation you are entitled to after a work injury.
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