If you’ve been injured on the job and you have access to workers’ compensation insurance, filing a claim is a key step in your recovery process. Workers’ compensation benefits are available to eligible employees on a “no fault” basis, which means that you do not need proof of fault to file a successful claim.
While state law requires most employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance, some employers are exempt. Keep reading for more information on the workers’ compensation insurance requirements in North Carolina, or talk to a workers’ compensation lawyer at the Whitley Law Firm if you have been hurt on the job.
Is Your Employer Required to Have Workers’ Compensation Coverage?
In North Carolina, the general rule is that all businesses with three or more employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Businesses can either purchase coverage from an insurance company (which is what most companies do), or they can “self-insure” if they qualify to do so. In either case, employers must have enough coverage to ensure that their employees can collect the full benefits to which they are entitled under North Carolina law.
Importantly, there are some exceptions to the general rule. For example, farms are not required to have coverage for laborers unless they have 10 or more full-time, non-seasonal laborers on staff. Additionally, companies in the maritime, mining, and railroad industries may be subject to different requirements under federal workers’ compensation laws.
A key aspect of workers’ compensation insurance in North Carolina is that the state’s coverage requirement only applies with regard to a company’s employees. Regardless of their size, companies are not required to provide coverage for independent contractors. But, even if you receive a Form 1099 instead of a W-2, this does not necessarily mean that you are an independent contractor.
“Even if the employer refers to its workers as independent contractors and issues a Form 1099 for tax purposes, the Industrial Commission may still find that the workers were in fact employees based upon its analysis of several factors, including but not limited to the degree of control exercised by the employer over the details of the work.”
Does Your Employer Voluntarily Provide Workers’ Compensation Coverage?
Let’s say you work for a company that isn’t required to carry workers’ compensation insurance under North Carolina law (and also isn’t subject to any federal workers’ compensation laws). Does this mean that you need to consider other options?
Even if an employer is not required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance, it can still purchase coverage voluntarily – and many companies do so. Workers’ compensation insurance offers benefits for both employers and employees. So, even if you work for a small company that has fewer than three employees, it is still worth confirming whether coverage is available to you.
What If Your Employer Doesn’t Have Workers’ Compensation Insurance?
While some companies purchase workers’ compensation insurance voluntarily, others choose not to purchase coverage even though they are legally required to do so. If your employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance, what are your legal rights?
As mentioned above, purchasing workers’ compensation insurance provides benefits for employers. One of the main benefits of purchasing coverage is that it makes employers “immune” from employee personal injury lawsuits in most cases. This means that even if an employer is legally responsible for an employee’s injury, the employee’s only remedy is to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
If an employer doesn’t have coverage, this immunity goes away. Employees can choose to pursue claims against their employers before the North Carolina Industrial Commission. If they have the grounds to do so, injured workers also can file negligence-based lawsuits if the employer is uninsured.
When an employee files a lawsuit in court, he or she can seek compensation above and beyond the benefits available through workers’ comp. This includes compensation for medical bills, lost earnings, pain and suffering, and other losses.
What Are the Requirements to File a Workers’ Compensation Insurance Claim?
So, that covers employers’ requirements regarding workers’ compensation insurance in North Carolina. Now, what are your obligations as an employee?
- Report your injury to your employer within 30 days (but ideally as soon after the accident as possible)
- See an approved on-site or off-site health care provider (unless this option is not available to you, in which case you may see a doctor of your own choosing)
- If your employer or its insurance company does not pay the benefits you are owed, file a claim with the North Carolina Industrial Commission within 2 years
While these are the basic requirements for filing a workers’ comp insurance claim in North Carolina, there are many more steps involved in the process of securing benefits for a work-related injury. To give yourself the best chance of securing the benefits, lost wages, and/or other compensation you deserve, you should consult a lawyer promptly.
The last thing you should have to do after being hurt on the job is to deal with complicated insurance issues. A knowledgeable attorney can review the available insurance coverage and help you file a workers’ comp claim in New Bern, as well as identify other legal remedies in the event of any workplace injuries.
The Whitley Law Firm is a name trusted by people who have been injured through no fault of their own. Our experienced and compassionate team can review the details of your case and pursue all of the benefits you are entitled to through workers’ compensation, as well as explore other options for obtaining compensation.
Please call the Whitley Law Firm at (919) 785-5000 today. Our workers’ compensation lawyers serve clients in Raleigh, Kinston, New Bern, and throughout North Carolina. It won’t cost anything to see if we can help.