Durham Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
As members of the North Carolina community ourselves, we’ve seen how hardworking, honest, and committed our clients are. When you’re unable to work and support your family after an injury, it can feel like you’re walking a tightrope between your health and your family’s best interests. Fortunately, we have systems in place that are meant to take care of your needs after you suffer a workplace injury. We can help you navigate those systems.
Our attorneys can guide you through the appeals process if your claim is denied, protect you from unfair treatment from your employer after making a claim, and be your advocate if your employer fails to obtain necessary insurance coverage. Our founding attorney, Mr. Robert Whitley, is a board-certified workers’ compensation lawyer. His knowledge and experience will benefit your case.
For almost five decades, our team has supported injured people in Durham with their legal cases. Along with the experience, knowledge, and results we’ve garnered over this time, we have secured a positive reputation state-wide. We care about your life and your suffering. It’s our family taking care of your family during tough times, treating you with compassion, respect, and wholehearted care. This is the Whitley Advantage. It’s what makes us different.
We Work Hard to Get the Right Result, So You Don’t Have To
The workers’ compensation program is designed to be a mutually beneficial system that protects both employers and employees. It provides financial support for workers who are injured or develop an illness as a result of their job. In exchange, the employee gives up the right to sue their employer for financial damages.
If you suffer a workplace injury or illness, you should be entitled to benefits. Payments to make up for time away from work are based on your average weekly wage, but your workers’ compensation insurance also covers the cost of your medical treatment. Unfortunately, navigating the workers’ compensation system can be challenging, resulting in many claims being disputed or denied.
However, help is available. If you or a loved one was hurt on the job, we are here to support you every step of the way. The last thing you need while trying to take care of your health and well-being is a fight with your employer or their insurer. Let us lift that burden from your shoulders.
We Will Guide You Through the Claims Process Every Step of the Way
The first step you should take immediately after injury is to obtain emergency medical treatment. Then, notify your employer of your accident or injury (ask a family member, friend, or healthcare provider to call and notify them if you cannot do so). After this, the following steps can help to protect your well-being and your claim:
- Visit a doctor your employer has approved and tell them you are there due to a workplace injury or illness. The doctor will record the consultation as a workers’ compensation expense.
- Closely follow the doctor’s instructions for your treatment.
- Provide a written statement to your employer about what happened within 30 days—regardless of how much they already know about the accident or your illness. (You must provide a statement in writing or your employer or their insurer will deny the claim.)
- Complete and submit the necessary paperwork for the N.C. Industrial Commission. Unfortunately, this is where many applications fail. Mistakes made at this point can delay your claim or result in a denial but do not worry. We can take care of this step on your behalf.
- Keep copies of everything you send or receive about your claim.
- Keep copies of your gas receipts to and from your treatment. (You may be entitled to mileage compensation for your transportation to and from your appointments.)
Our team works tirelessly to get you the benefits you deserve while ensuring your comfort during the process. With almost five decades of experience at your side, we quickly spot any issues that could arise from your workplace injury or illness and provide compassionate and practical legal guidance for you every step of the way.
We Will Help You to Resolve Any Issues with Your Workers’ Compensation Claim
Nearly all North Carolina employers must self-insure or have purchased workers’ compensation insurance, especially if they have three or more employees.
In some situations, employers will attempt to avoid providing coverage by classifying their employees as independent contractors. Our workers’ compensation lawyers in Durham can determine whether your employer’s classifications are accurate. It is not permissible to classify employees as contractors to avoid workers’ compensation obligations.
If you are experiencing problems with your claim, reach out and tell us about it – it won’t cost you anything, as we offer a free consultation. If we can help you, we will unravel the situation and get to the core of the issue. This way, you can focus on what’s important—your recovery and your family. Meanwhile, we will take things forward and push for a favorable outcome for your case.
Appealing a Durham Workers’ Compensation Claim
If you were injured on the job, you might be seeking compensation under workers’ compensation. Unfortunately, however, many first-time claims are denied. When this happens, some people simply try to re-submit the same claim, which often results in the same outcome.
Instead, consider reaching out to a skilled lawyer to discuss the steps to appealing a Durham workers’ compensation claim. With an attorney on your side, you could rest assured that a valuable legal ally is working to secure the benefits you need.
The Circumstances for a Denial
While there are numerous circumstances that might cause a workers’ compensation claim to be denied, there are some common reasons in Durham. One of the most common reasons is when a worker fails to report their injury in a timely manner to their employer. In other circumstances, an employee might be at work but while not acting under the scope of their employment.
For example, if a worker is engaging in horseplay and is injured or is hurt while on their lunch break, they might be denied benefits under workers’ compensation. Because of these distinctions, it is important for a person to understand when benefits are available.
What to Do After a Denial
The only reason a should not attempt to appeal a claim is if they feel they have no valid argument as to why the decision should be reversed. Even then, however, working with a well-versed attorney might help to clarify their circumstances after facing a denial to discuss their options and chances for a successful appeal.
In some cases, an insurance adjuster will make the wrong judgment about a claim and deny it. As a result, a person should consider appealing a claim if there is any indication that it was wrongfully denied. After a denial, the first thing a person should do is get in touch with a workers’ compensation attorney that is Board certified. Then, they must file a request for a hearing at the North Carolina Industrial Commission, at which point a hearing date would be established.
Furthermore, if a person’s workers’ comp benefits are approved, it is important to avoid being dishonest in order to ensure that future medical treatment is not denied. This means being honest with their doctor about every component of their injury, without exaggerating the extent of its impact.
Avoiding a Denial of Benefits
While there are numerous steps that must be taken to file a thorough and persuasive claim, one of the most essential components to try to ensure workers’ compensation benefits is the cooperation of medical professionals. In many cases, doctors have to give an opinion on causation or an opinion or whether or not the claimant’s injuries were related to their work. Because of this, the cooperation by the treating physician is very important.
How is a Disability Defined for Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
As defined by Durham employment law, a condition is considered to be a disability when a doctor believes that there are work restrictions that have to be assigned and that the injured worker could no longer return to any type of suitable employment. If this has occurred, the individual would most likely be considered disabled. However, there are multiple types of disabilities within the realm of workers’ compensation, including temporary partial and temporary total disabilities, as well as more permanent conditions.
Temporary Partial Disabilities
A temporary partial disability (TPD) is a situation where an injured worker is able to return to some of their work but, either by virtue of the amount of hours or pay they are given, is less than their pre-injury wages. Under these circumstances, the worker’s insurance company or employer might pay the difference between the pre-injury wages and the current wages through workers’ compensation. So, this discrepancy of wages and subsequent payment is known as a temporary partial disability.
Temporary Total Disabilities
Temporary total disabilities, on the other hand, is when a doctor restricts an injured worker from returning to work. These injuries are often severe, including back injuries, broken bones, and damage to the head. Like a TPD, a temporary total disability payment through workers’ compensation might help a worker maintain some form of financial stability while they recover.
What Happens if a Disability is Permanent?
In the event that a person’s disability permanently renders them unable to work, they might be able to receive temporary total disability benefits (TTD) for up to nine and a half years or 500 weeks. During this time, the insurance company might choose to put the worker through vocational rehabilitation to see if there is some form of gainful employment that they might be able to do. Alternatively, the injured worker could potentially settle their case directly with the insurance company. No matter the circumstances, it might prove beneficial to reach out to an attorney for help.
A permanent partial disability is a condition where a portion of a person’s body is no longer functional. Depending on the circumstances, this percentage of disability might be distributed as five, ten, 15, or 20 percent of a person’s body. Based on the percentage of this disability, the injured worker might be able to receive proportionate payment. In many cases, however, they could not receive both PPD ratings and TPD benefits. Many times, they must choose between one or the other.
Workers’ Comp and State Disability
State disability and workers’ compensation are related, except the former is for state employees only. Essentially, if the state employee has vested benefits with the state and has a significant workers’ compensation claim, there might be numerous benefits to settling the case. However, because these laws are nuanced and complex, it is often recommended to consult with a well-versed lawyer before deciding how to proceed.
Workers’ Compensation Time Limits
Under North Carolina law, you must adhere to the time limits specified in the statute to preserve your right to workers’ compensation benefits. This means notifying your employer orally and in writing within 30 days and filing your claim with the North Carolina Industrial Commission within two years of your accident or the date you discovered your injury or illness.
Again, our team is always on hand to answer your questions and help ensure all paperwork is filed on time per workers’ compensation laws. We can help you meet these requirements, even taking command of the process to protect your benefits.
What Our Clients Say About Working With Us:
“I was injured on my job. I called Whitley Law firm and they were with me every step of the way to help settle my case. They even called to check on me when I had Dr. appointments. Attorney Michelle Whitley was very helpful and answered all my questions in a timely manner. I recommend Whitley Law Firm to anyone who needs an attorney.” – Gwendolyn L.
Taking Care of You with Compassion, Determination, and Wholehearted Care
At Whitley Law Firm, we are proud and honored to serve the hardworking people of Durham. We work tirelessly to ensure you obtain the necessary medical treatment and financial benefits you deserve.
For almost five decades, we have maintained good standing across North Carolina based on our commitment to doing what is right for our clients. We fight for you as we would for our own families, combining aggressive representation with compassionate, individualized care.
To learn more about making a workers’ compensation claim, call us at (919) 785-5000 to schedule a free consultation with our team today.