Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance coverage that injured workers can use to seek payment for medical costs and lost wages after suffering an injury at work. Sadly, insurance companies often undervalue or deny workers’ compensation claims. As a result, some injured workers must pay for medical expenses out of pocket and face financial hardship while out of work. This can be especially problematic if your injuries have long-term effects.
If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries within the scope of your employment, a Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyer from Whitley Law Firm can help you. A personal injury attorney from our team can walk you through the claims process and inform you of your eligibility to obtain compensation for your injuries. Get started today by calling (919) 785-5000 for a free consultation.
The Benefits of Working with a Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Lawyer from Whitley Law Firm
We help workers with serious injuries that limit their ability to work long term. When we handle your workers’ comp case, you do not have to educate yourself on North Carolina’s unique laws that govern these claims. You do not have to determine which forms to use or worry about missing a deadline that could derail your case.
This can be extremely helpful if you are dealing with a severe injury that substantially limits your ability to work.
At our firm, we meet weekly to review our pending workers’ compensation cases. Doing this prevents important details from slipping through the cracks. We have the added benefit of multiple experienced attorneys at our firm who collaborate to give you the benefit of their collective knowledge.
You Deserve The Whitley Advantage
At Whitley Law Firm, we take pride in giving our clients “The Whitley Advantage.” The Whitley Advantage means our clients receive legal services delivered with care and compassion. We focus on listening – really listening – and treating our clients the way we would want to be treated.
Our team returns all phone calls within 24 hours, and we value hard work and honesty. We work tirelessly to get our clients every dollar they deserve. Let our family of lawyers help your family.
When Is Workers’ Compensation Available to Workers in Charlotte?
If you got hurt on the job, you might be eligible to receive valuable benefits through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. Your work duties must have directly caused or contributed to your injury or illness. Usually, if a worker gets hurt while commuting to or from work or when away from the job on a break, workers’ compensation will not cover the injury.
Before states created workers’ compensation programs, employees would have to sue their employers for personal injuries. These cases required the worker to prove that their boss was negligent and caused the injury. Workers’ compensation legislation removed the requirement of proving fault to get compensation for work-related injuries.
Types of Workers’ Compensation Benefits in North Carolina
People who get hurt on the job in North Carolina can access medical care, partial wage replacement, and other benefits. The healthcare provider should not send you a bill if you told them you got hurt at work. Instead, they bill your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company.
If you miss work for at least one week because of your injury, the insurance company should start sending you checks to help replace your lost income. If you cannot work at all while recuperating, your weekly check will usually be two-thirds of your regular pre-tax wages, subject to limitations, per the North Carolina Office of State Human Resources.
Sometimes, an injured worker continues to have impairments after completing their medical treatments and achieving maximum medical improvement (MMI). In other words, their doctor does not expect them to recover all the functionality they had before the accident. In this case, the worker could receive benefits for permanent disability based on a disability rating.
Five Things You Need to Know About Hiring a Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Attorney
When deciding which law firm will handle your workers’ compensation case in Charlotte, you need to know these five things about the lawyers in the firm:
- Experience in handling workers’ compensation cases. Workers’ compensation is a specialized area of law. You do not want the attorney you hire for your case to learn how to handle these claims on your case. At Whitley Law Firm, we have over 80 years of combined experience. You can count on our experience when you hire our Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyers.
- Communication. Does the law firm allow you to text, call, or email them? The need for quick communication can be more intense in workers’ comp cases than in many other types of cases because situations can change daily, and you need to be able to contact your lawyer when needed.
- Knowledge of the Industrial Commission. The North Carolina Industrial Commission administers North Carolina’s workers’ compensation program. You deserve a lawyer who understands which forms to use, the deadlines for specific actions, and the other procedural and substantive rules that apply to your situation. These cases are completely different from other personal injury claims.
- Exit strategy. Your lawyer needs to have a plan for your claim not just at the beginning of your case, but also at the end. Some cases receive a lump sum payout based on the injured worker’s disability rating, while others settle under an agreement that allows the injured person to continue receiving benefits going forward.
- Hidden claims. Finally, your Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyer needs to understand and look for the potential hidden claims that might be available in your case. If your attorney does not know about these options, you might leave money on the table.
Be sure to check out these essential factors before you choose your Charlotte workers’ compensation attorney.
Hidden Claims in Workers’ Compensation Cases That Could Take Money Out of Your Pocket
Your workers’ compensation case might have several hidden claims that could mean more money for you if your lawyer knows about them and how to get them. The workers’ compensation insurance company is not obligated to notify you of these potential claims, so you cannot count on receiving money for them unless your attorney addresses these items.
- Mileage. According to the North Carolina Industrial Commission, you can receive compensation for your mileage if you drive more than 20 miles for medical care. There is a standard reimbursement amount, but they only pay it if you or your lawyer requests it and submits the appropriate form.
- Backpay for the first seven days of missed wages. You usually do not get paid for the first week you did not work because of a job-related injury, but there is an exception to this general principle. Per G.S. § 97-28, if you cannot work for 21 days, the insurance company should back pay you for that first week and the remaining time you could not work while recuperating.
- The correct calculation of your wages. You should receive lost wage checks for two-thirds of your regular pre-tax earnings, subject to some limitations. In some cases, the check the injured worker gets is less than it should be. Incorrect calculation of average wages affects their payments and other benefits under the workers’ compensation program.
Talk to your Charlotte workers’ comp lawyer about whether you might be eligible for any of these hidden claims (or others).
Five Mistakes That Could Hurt Your Claim for Workers’ Compensation in Charlotte
These traps could decrease the financial value of your workers’ compensation claim:
- Giving a recorded statement. The claims adjuster from the workers’ compensation insurance company might ask the injured worker to give a recorded statement to tell their side of the story and explain why they deserve benefits. However, the real purpose of a recorded statement is to give the insurer an excuse to deny the claim, even if they have to take your words out of context to do so.
- Not reporting your injury in writing. Even if your boss knows you got hurt at work, you must notify them of your injury in writing within 30 days of the accident, according to the North Carolina Industrial Commission. Some people fear losing their job if they report the injury, but your employer cannot legally fire you for filing a valid workers’ comp claim.
- Not telling your treating doctor about all your symptoms. Often, people injure more than one part of their body in a work accident, yet they initially focus on the worst injury, hoping the less-severe injuries will improve on their own. If an injured worker later seeks medical treatment for any injuries they did not report to the doctor during their initial exam, workers’ comp will likely deny benefits for those injuries, as they will have no proof that the work accident caused those injuries.
- Hiring a lawyer who does not have adequate experience in workers’ compensation cases. If you hire a lawyer who does not know the special rules of workers’ comp claims and they make a mistake with your claim, you could lose out on some of the benefits you deserve.
- Trying to handle your own workers’ compensation claim based on information you read online. Just as you should not rely on information you read on the internet to care for your own injuries, you should not rely on things you read online to try to handle your own workers’ compensation claim without hiring a lawyer. There is a great deal of misinformation online, and much of it could hurt your claim.
You can avoid these and other pitfalls if you rely on our experienced Charlotte workers’ compensation attorneys at Whitley Law Firm. We have been serving injured North Carolinians since 1974 and won’t settle without fighting for everything you deserve. Our case results and testimonials are evidence of our extensive experience, high success rate, and kind, compassionate, hands-on care.
Qualifying Conditions for Workers’ Comp in Charlotte
In general, any injury or illness resulting from workplace duties qualifies for workers’ compensation. However, some exceptions exist, such as if the employee caused their own injury intentionally or due to intoxication.
In some cases, employers may challenge an employee’s injuries by arguing that their injuries existed before the accident occurred. To avoid validating this argument, victims should prioritize obtaining medical attention immediately following an accident. By doing so, injured workers create a legal record of their injuries that could become solid evidence in a workers’ comp claim.
Benefits of Working with a Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Attorney
When a worker suffers an injury while performing their duties, they should expect their employer and their employer’s insurance company to treat them fairly and honestly. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and some injured workers get stuck with expensive medical bills and missed paychecks.
While not all workers’ compensation claimants in Charlotte can benefit from hiring an attorney, it can be beneficial to work with a lawyer if:
- You suffered catastrophic or permanent injuries that prevent you from ever returning to work.
- Your injuries require you to take a new job that pays less than your previous one.
- Your employer claims you are not eligible for workers’ compensation.
- Your employer does not offer workers’ compensation coverage.
- Your employer denies that your injuries occurred on the job.
- The workers’ compensation insurance company undervalues or denies your claim.
Our compassionate and hardworking Charlotte workers’ comp lawyers at Whitley Law Firm would be honored to help you in any of these situations or if you have another unique problem not listed above.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Charlotte Workers’ Comp Cases
When filing a claim for workers’ compensation, you may be intimidated by the amount of paperwork that goes into filing. However, by consulting with an attorney, you could have your confusion alleviated by the professional guidance of an attorney.
If you wish to learn more about filing this type of case, get in touch with an experienced attorney who has answered the frequently asked questions regarding Charlotte workers’ comp cases in the past.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a program designed to reimburse a worker who is injured in an accident at the job site. The compensation pays for medical expenses and lost wages for the time the injured worker is out of work. When a permanency is given, a formula is used to determine the pay on that permanency.
Workers’ compensation cases are different from other types of injury cases because the victim does not have to prove fault since these types of cases works on a no-fault system. There are also certain limitations on the amount of damages available. For example, an injured worker cannot obtain pain and suffering damages in a workers’ compensation case.
What are Some of the Common Conditions that Qualify a Person for Workers’ Compensation?
The most common conditions that qualify a person for workers’ compensation in Charlotte are orthopedic injuries or back injuries. These kinds of injuries may result in a work restriction that prevents the injured employee from returning to work. Causes of these conditions are often related to lifting, falls, and similar incidents. However, the plaintiff can only receive compensation if they suffered these injuries within the scope of their employment. In other words, the injured party must have been doing something to benefit their employer when they were hurt.
What do Workers’ Compensation Benefits Look Like?
Workers’ compensation benefits are limited to wage replacement which is two-thirds the average weekly wage. All of the medical treatment related to the injury and approved by the carrier is covered. When there is a permanent disability, a percentage is assigned to the specific body part, and a certain payout is dispersed based on a formula.
The privately funded workers’ compensation are insurance companies that provide workers’ compensation insurance for employers. Whereas, publicly funded is mainly state, city, or county workers who are covered by their state treasury or administered by third party administrators.
What are the Biggest or Most Commonly Made Mistakes Commonly Made in Workers’ Comp Cases?
People try to deal with their injuries instead of filing for workers’ compensation more often than one might think. A person worries that they will upset their boss by reporting a workers’ compensation claim or they might lose their job. Frequently, an individual who is injured on the job does not think it is as serious as it is and they wait until it gets better or worse. It may be too late to file for the appropriate benefits when the injury worsens.
The biggest mistake people make when seeking workers’ compensation is giving a statement to insurance adjustors before talking to an attorney. They make statements that could potentially limit or negate their benefits. People mistakenly believe that the insurance company is there to help them and are trying to find benefits for them. In fact, insurance companies try to eliminate payouts.
Why is it Recommended to Hire an Attorney?
Workers’ compensation claims may be complicated. Numerous forms need to be filled out. Statements are given to the insurance companies that could result in a denial of benefits if done incorrectly or understated. A workers’ compensation lawyer can take a claim to the North Carolina Industrial Commission, which is the referee on all potential claims. Having access to the courts could make a huge difference in outcome of the claim.
To discuss your concerns regarding a potential claim, get in touch with an attorney has is well-known with the frequently asked questions regarding Charlotte workers’ comp cases.
Seeking Medical Attention from a Specific Medical Provider
When a person suffers a workplace injury, their employer may require them to seek treatment from a specific healthcare provider. Insurance companies have an interest in ensuring that every injury and claim is as cheap as possible. With this in mind, it is more than likely that they would send the victim to a doctor who the insurance company trusts as opposed to a doctor that is already acquainted with the victim.
When Would a Person Feel that their Treatment is Insufficient?
If the insurance company sends a victim to a doctor and were provided with insufficient treatment, the victim should immediately get in touch with a workers’ compensation attorney. A Charlotte attorney could speak on behalf of the injured worker in order to convince the person’s employer to allow the injured worker to seek a second opinion provided by a medical professional of the victim’s choice. This request may necessitate a combative response from the insurance company, but with a lawyer at the victim’s side, the insurance company may feel the need to give the victim what they want since they have access to professional legal representation.
What is Maximum Medical Improvement?
Maximum medical improvement occurs when a victim would no longer benefit from medical treatment. As a result, an employer would no longer pay for a victim’s treatment since they believe that they no longer need it. Once a victim reaches maximum medical improvement, it is recommended to get in touch with an attorney about receiving some form of compensation in the form of wages or an unemployment benefit.
Employer Retaliation in Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Cases
Employees who file a workers’ compensation case could experience retaliation from their employers. If this happens to you, a qualified Charlotte workers’ compensation attorney could guide you on what your rights are as an employee.
According to North Carolina and federal law, an employer retaliation in Charlotte workers’ compensation cases is forbidden. You can discuss your particular case with a dedicated workers’ compensation attorney and receive legal advice if you have faced retaliation from the employer in any form.
Besides the obvious action of firing an employee for exercising their workers’ compensation rights, there are many other ways an employer could retaliate. Discrimination and harassment are some forms of retaliation and can manifest as follows:
- Reduction in wages or a demotion
- Giving poor performance reviews which are not deserved or unnecessary disciplinary action
- Threatening negative actions against employees
- Failing to promote a deserving individual
- Isolation or intimidation at the workplace
- Meddling with the claims process
- Acting adversely against terms of employment or benefits
- Providing negative employment references
Justifiable Employer Action in Charlotte
Terminating or disciplining an employee for a legitimate reason is still the right of an employer. This holds true even when a workers’ comp claim is alive. It is legitimate termination if the employee’s move is not connected to the claim. This discipline or termination should not be in violation of any employment law.
There are some defenses available to employers when there are claims of retaliatory discharge. An effective defense is to demonstrate that another employee in a similar situation was not dismissed despite the same circumstances. Yet another defense is to show that the employee’s termination was assured irrespective of their involvement in a protected activity.
Basics of Workers’ Compensation Settlement Agreements
In permanent partial disability cases, several employers may offer a settlement that equals or is a little lower than the monetary amount that someone may be awarded as part of their workers’ compensation claim. However, it is important to note that the injured employee may be asked to forfeit something in exchange for this type of settlement.
The worker may have to give up the right to any medical care in future, the right to claim that a medical condition was associated with their workers’ compensation claim, or the right to argue that they are totally and permanently disabled. A skilled personal injury lawyer could help anyone considering a settlement evaluate all aspects before making such an important decision.
The approval of a North Carolina Deputy Commissioner is necessary for such lump sum settlements. These are also known as a Compromise Settlement Agreement (CSA) or a Clincher Agreement.
Working Out a Settlement in Charlotte
A person may want to seek an attorney’s opinion before they agree to a workers’ compensation settlement in Charlotte. This is because they may not be aware of the types of benefits they are entitled to and an attorney can help create a thorough list of available benefits.
A case may be suitable for settlement if the person involved is unable to resume the job they had prior to getting hurt. Also, if this injured employee or worker’s case has been denied by the Industrial Commission and the chances of recovery are bleak, the worker can consider a settlement if it seems the best option for their individual circumstances.
After speaking to an attorney, if the injured worker decides to settle, it is important to take into consideration future medical care and future indemnity benefits if these factors are applicable to their claim. Also, if they are recipients of social security disability benefit, there may be some offset that must be included in the settlement.
Consulting a Lawyer About Workers’ Compensation Settlements in Charlotte
Consulting a qualified workers’ compensation attorney in Charlotte could be helpful when involved in a settlement proceeding with your employer. This could help ensure that you receive all the benefits you deserve. The settlement could be brokered directly with the attorney representing the employer’s insurance company and handled in the best possible way to maximize your benefits. To learn more about how a lawyer could help you with workers’ compensation settlements in Charlotte, call to schedule a consultation.
Contact Whitley Law Firm Today for a Free Workers’ Compensation Case Consultation
A Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyer at Whitley Law Firm can advocate on your behalf to fight for the benefits you deserve after a serious work-related injury or illness. To learn more about the claims process, or if you wish to discuss your specific case, get a free consultation today by calling (919) 785-5000.