The workers’ comp settlement timeline in North Carolina will vary from case to case and depends on several factors. For example, one person might complete their medical treatment within two or three months, while another person might have to undergo several surgeries, months of physical therapy, and a long period of rehabilitation. The length of treatment may, in turn, lengthen the settlement timeline.
In this blog, we will walk you through the various stages to reach a settlement on your workers’ compensation case. While no one can predict how long each of these stages will take, it can help to know what to expect.
First Stage: Reporting Your Injury to Your Employer
You should let your employer know that you were injured on the job as soon as possible. Often this notice is verbal, but a written notice must follow, as explained later in the article. Once you tell your manager or another supervisor about your accident, they should tell you where to go for medical treatment.
Second Stage: Getting Appropriate Medical Treatment
Some large workplaces have on-site healthcare providers. Most places of employment will direct you to go to a particular urgent care center or emergency room, depending on the severity of your wounds.
If you need emergency care, you can get the healthcare services you need and then notify your boss after. After the medical crisis passes, you will need to use the medical professionals your employer designates and follow their treatment suggestions exactly.
Third Stage: Informing the Health Care Provider That Your Injury Is Work-Related
When you check in at the urgent care center or emergency room, be sure to let them know that you got hurt on the job. You do not want them to bill your personal health insurance for your treatment. When you tell all healthcare providers that your injury is work-related, they will be able to set up the billing correctly.
Fourth Stage: Giving Written Notice to Your Boss
You only have 30 days from the accident to file a written notice to your boss of your injuries. It is best to send your employer this written notice right away, while the details of the event are fresh in your mind.
Written notice can be an email, text message, handwritten or typed letter, or a form. The North Carolina Industrial Commission says that the notice simply needs to tell your boss the date of the accident and a brief description of your injuries. Someone else can also write this letter on your behalf. Be sure to keep a copy of the written notice for your records to prove that you complied with this requirement.
Fifth Stage: Complete Your Medical Treatment Plan
It can be tempting to stop physical therapy a few visits short of the end of your treatment. You may even prefer not to have an operation, but that decision could cost you. The insurance company could deny your request for compensation for permanent partial disability (PPD), arguing that you would have healed better if you had completed your prescribed treatment.
Also, some injuries worsen over time. If you end your medical treatment and then your injuries worsen over time, workers’ compensation is unlikely to pay for the additional treatment that you initially refused.
Sixth Stage: Reaching Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)
Eventually, your physician will release you from treatment and certify that you have achieved the maximum medical improvement (MMI) that the doctor expects. They will assign you a disability rating if you have ongoing impairments from your work-related injuries.
The disability rating gets stated as a percentage. The insurance company will use this disability rating to calculate the amount of money, if any, that it will pay you for your permanent partial disability.
Seventh Stage: Requesting a Hearing with the Industrial Commission
You might not agree with the disability rating or the calculation of your PPD compensation. You can request a second opinion on the disability rating.
If the insurance company refuses to let you get a second opinion, or you disagree with some other aspect of the PPD compensation offered, you can file a request for a hearing with the Industrial Commission.
Eighth Stage: Mediating Disputes
In most cases, the Industrial Commission offers the opportunity to mediate these disputes. There will be a mediated settlement conference that tries to resolve the disputed issues amicably. An attorney can represent you during this process.
Ninth Stage: Reaching a Settlement
Your case could settle, whether at a mediated settlement conference or at some other time. If you need ongoing medical treatments, you might decide to keep your workers’ compensation claim open to receive the medical benefits the program provides. You will want to talk with a workers’ comp lawyer before deciding about a settlement.
Whitley Law Firm Can Walk You Through Each Stage of the Process
Whitley Law Firm treats our clients with care and compassion while fighting relentlessly to get all the compensation and benefits you deserve. Let our family help your family.
It is easy to get started. Just call us at (919) 785-5000 today for a free, no-obligation consultation. Before taking your next steps, you can talk with a member of our team to receive compassionate, comprehensive legal advice.