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If you were injured while at work, understanding workers’ compensation in Durham is essential. While this system can provide benefits for an injured employee while they recover, it is important to know each step for filing a claim, the nuances of how the process works, and any mistakes to avoid.

However, after an injury, you might feel as though navigating this process alone is daunting and overwhelming. By working with a steadfast lawyer, you could help to navigate each step of the claims process and work to procure the benefits you need.

Defining Workers’ Compensation

As defined by North Carolina law, workers’ compensation is a benefit program for injured workers meant to provide help with medical treatment, as well as wage placement for as long as the injured worker can demonstrate they have a disability. In fact, if the workers’ compensation claim remains open and the individual still needs additional medical care, the workers’ compensation has no cap on the amount of benefits that it would pay.

These claims are not considered lawsuits, but are instead handled in an administrative forum. Furthermore, whereas liability claims have to prove one side is at fault for an injury, workers’ compensation claims are based on a no-fault system. It is also important for an injured worker to understand that, generally speaking, they are not allowed to receive both employment benefits and workers’ compensation benefits after an injury in Durham.

Generally speaking, workers’ compensation is related to the amount of money a person makes in Durham. This is because an injured worker is paid wage replacement based on two-thirds their average weekly wages over 52 weeks. As a result, an injured manager would receive a different amount than a worker who just started their job.

Medical Treatment Requirements

When an injured worker qualifies for workers’ compensation, they would have to seek medical treatment from a specific healthcare provider. This is because, in all workers’ comp situations, the employer gets to control the medical treatment that a worker receives, including telling the injured worker where to go. Often, the employer tells the injured worker that they need to go to a specific urgent care center prior to being seen by a specialist, for example. In other situations, an exception would be made if a person’s injuries are severe and require immediate emergency attention.

As a result, some injured workers might feel as though their medical treatment has been insufficient. If this is the case, an injured person should understand that they have legal options within the workers’ compensation system in Durham. For example, by contacting an experienced lawyer, they could have legal assistance in assessing their situation and determining if they can seek a second medical opinion for their injuries.

Understanding Maximum Medical Improvement

Maximum medical improvement—or MMI—is a point in which the injured worker has reached the plateau of their symptoms. Simply put, they are neither getting better nor worst, and the doctor has released them from care. This is a crucial period where it is determined whether the worker will receive permanent work restrictions, as well as possibly receive a permanent partial disability (PPD) rating.

If a person reaches MMI but is still unable to return to work, they might be able to receive pay for vocational rehabilitation from their insurance company. Furthermore, they might be able to settle their workers’ compensation case directly. However, navigating this system is often confusing, especially for injured claimants—as a result, the counsel of a seasoned lawyer might prove beneficial.

What is a Medical-Only Claim?

In Durham, a medical only claim could be filed if a worker is still able to return to work in some capacity. So, if a worker is injured and sees a doctor who then restricts their work in a capacity that the employer could accommodate—or does not restrict their work at all—a worker would not need to seek any wage replacement benefits.

An example of this would be if a certified nursing assistant (CNA) has a back injury from lifting a patient, but is only given light work restrictions and, therefore, is able to return to work. As a result, the injured worker could still earn wages, while also receiving medical care under workers’ compensation.

How a Lawyer Might Help with Understanding Workers’ Compensation in Durham

After suffering an injury at work, you might be trying to assess your legal options and wondering how to best pursue compensation. Because of this, understanding workers’ compensation in Durham could prove to be vital.

By working with a knowledgeable lawyer, you could have help to understand your rights, assess the extent of your losses, and work to pursue a thorough workers’ compensation claim. To get started, call a legal professional today.