Raleigh Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
If you have suffered an injury arising from an incident at your place of employment, were involved in a work accident, or have suffered what is called an “occupational disease” that resulted from your work, you may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim.
Workers’ compensation is a benefit program to provide medical payments and wage replacement in the event that someone is injured by accident at work. Workers’ compensation is an extremely important system that injured workers in North Carolina rely heavily on for support. It is a “no-fault” system, meaning you do not have to prove that it was anyone’s fault. All you have to prove is that it was an accident that occurred while the employee or the injured worker was in the course and scope of their employment
There are times however, when injured workers encounter difficulty with either their employer, or even their employer’s insurance carrier, and when this happens they can have trouble receiving the benefits they rightfully deserve.
As a Board Certified workers’ compensation specialist, Robert E. Whitley Jr. can provide our clients with sophisticated legal knowledge in the area of workers’ comp. law, as well as aggressive legal representation in court when necessary. We genuinely care about our clients and offer 24/7 legal guidance to those in need. Contact one of our Raleigh workers’ compensation lawyers today! En Español.
Recovering Compensation After an Injury
There are countless scenarios that can result in a workplace accident. Regardless of the injuries suffered and the cause, you may be entitled to recover financial support through workers’ compensation. A workers’ compensation lawyer in Raleigh can explain how the law may apply to the facts of your case.
Some of the injuries and diseases that may occur include:
- Broken bones
- Crush injuries
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Cuts and bruises
- Head injury from falling objects
- Back injury
- Other stress injuries
Workers’ compensation can pay for:
- Medical bills resulting from the injury or disease
- Wages lost to the injury
- Permanent disability arising from a permanent injury
If you have suffered a work-related injury, leaving you unable to return to work, we can help you file for the benefits you need. If your claim has been denied, we have the experience necessary to appeal the decision with the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
What to Do After a Workplace Injury
If you get hurt on the job or develop an injury or illness that you believe may be related to your work, you need to take immediate action. There are a number of important steps you need to take to preserve your rights under North Carolina’s workers’ compensation law.
Here is what you should do after a work-related injury:
- Seek Medical Treatment. In the event of an emergency, you can receive treatment from any doctor regardless of whether the provider is approved by your employer.
- Tell the Provider That Your Injury Is Work-Related. When you first seek treatment, it is important to tell the doctor or other provider that your condition is related to your employment, as well as the name of your employer. The provider will bill workers’ comp for your care.
- Notify a Manager or Supervisor of Your Injury. This should be done as soon as possible.
- Provide Written Notice of the Accident to Your Employer. There are different time requirements in which you must notify your employer, in writing, of your job injury or occupational illness. In some instances, you have just 30 days to notify your employer, so make sure you provide written notice as soon as you possibly can.
- Follow the Doctor’s Orders. It is crucial to abide by the instructions of your doctors and healthcare providers after a workplace injury. Doing so is not only necessary for furthering your recovery but to keep you eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
How Long Do I Have to Make a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Employers are required to immediately report a worker’s claim of injury or illness to their workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Generally, this marks the beginning of your workers’ compensation claim. The insurance company will assess the claim submitted by your employer and notify you of your benefits in writing within 14 days.
However, sometimes employers fail to notify the insurance company of a worker’s injury or disease. If this is the case, you have 2 years to make a workers’ compensation claim.
To get started, you need to complete Form 18 and submit it to the North Carolina Industrial Commission. You should not hesitate to speak to a Raleigh workers’ compensation lawyer if you have questions about bringing a workers’ compensation claim, what benefits you may be entitled to, and more.
North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act
The Workers’ Compensation Act provides for medical compensation to cover the injured worker’s medical needs to help provide a relief and cure for their injury. The act also provides for wage replacement at the injured worker’s average weekly wage. In fact, the act provides that the injured worker is paid two-thirds of the average weekly wage after a certain waiting period. The act also provides payment for a permanent partial disability rating if the authorized treating physician gives the injured worker a rating to a specific body part. The act provides for payment for that rating.
How is a Workers’ Compensation Claim Filed?
Workers’ compensation has very complicated rules and certain deadlines that must be met so that you do not lose the benefits that you are entitled to. It is very important to get a workmans compensation lawyer involved to ensure that you obtain all the benefits to which you are entitled, that your wage replacement checks come on time, and that all of your medical appointments are approved. You only have 30 days from the incident that caused the injury to tell your employer, in writing, about the injury. You must then file a Form 18 with the North Carolina Industrial Commission within two years of the incident.
Because of the complexity of workers’ compensation, the best way to provide the information you need is to speak with you personally. Contact us by calling today so that we can explain your situation and injury! A Raleigh workers’ compensation lawyer from our firm can give you personalized legal information and help you through the process. We offer free initial consultations and work on contingency, meaning that we charge no fees until we get you compensation.
The biggest mistake people make is that they do not report their claim in time. The injured worker may get hurt with a very significant injury and continues to work the day or weeks before reporting the injury. By the time they make a report, it is usually either too late or they have an issue with insurance company accepting their claim.
Also, people do not tell doctors about all the parts of their body that are in pain. For example, they may say their knee hurts, but they have pain in their shoulder as well. If they do not mention the shoulder at some point and later try to have that part included in their claim, it could be a problem because it was not initially mentioned.
Another mistake is the improper filling out of the important forms that must be filed with the North Carolina Industrial Commission. This is another reason why it is important to have a Raleigh work injury lawyer involved early in the claim.
Free Workers’ Compensation DVD!
Because our attorneys know filing a workers’ compensation claim is complex and difficult, we have created a free, 30 minute “What you need to know about filing a workers’ compensation claim” DVD. This DVD explains the process in detail, so you understand how your claim will be handled. If you have questions concerning something you have seen in the DVD, our attorneys will be happy to speak with you.
Raleigh Workers’ Compensation FAQ
The North Carolina Industrial Commission states that the “employer or its insurance company … provides and directs medical treatment” when workers are hurt on the job or suffer a work-related illness. As such, your employer or the workers’ comp insurer has the right to select which doctor(s) you are allowed to see for treatment of a workplace injury or disease.
If you are dissatisfied with the care you are receiving, Section 97-25 of The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act allows you to request that your employer pay for a second opinion from the doctor of your choice. You can also petition the NC Industrial Commission to approve a change of healthcare providers to handle your treatment going forward.
Reasonable and necessary medical benefits for a work injury are paid for the duration of the employee’s injury or illness. However, it is important to note that medical benefits are terminated “two years after the employer’s last payment of medical or indemnity compensation” unless the worker applies for additional benefits (North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act § 97-25.1).
Workers’ compensation benefits for wage loss (also called indemnity compensation or disability benefits) are subject to the following limitations:
- Temporary Partial Disability Benefits: Maximum of 500 weeks
- Temporary Total Disability Benefits: Paid for up to 500 weeks; workers can apply for extended compensation (North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act § 97-29)
- Permanent Partial Disability Benefits: For scheduled injuries (i.e., work-related injuries recognized by statute), benefits are paid for the time periods specified by the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act § 97-31; payments for unscheduled injuries are limited to 500 weeks
- Permanent Total Disability Benefits: Paid for life if a worker is rendered totally and permanently disabled
The duration of your workers’ compensation benefits will depend on the nature of your injury or condition, as well as its seriousness. Unfortunately, sometimes disabled workers suffer premature termination of their benefits.
If your workers’ compensation benefits are suddenly terminated, it is crucial to speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible. A knowledgeable Raleigh workers’ compensation lawyer at the Whitley Law Firm can fight to get your benefits restored.
The answer to this question is tricky. North Carolina is considered an “at-will” employment state, meaning employees can be fired for any reason or even no reason at all. Unfortunately, this means that workers’ compensation does not afford workers any protection from being fired per se.
However, it is illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who assert their rights under the workers’ compensation law. If you can prove that your employer mistreated or terminated you because you filed for workers’ comp, you may be entitled to compensation through North Carolina’s Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act.
Ideally every worker would be fairly compensated for injuries they sustain on the job. Unfortunately, legitimate workers’ compensation claims are often denied, leaving injured workers unsure where they should turn.
Insurance companies may cite a number of reasons for denying workers’ compensation benefits. These include:
- Failure to file a claim within the statutory time limit (2 years in North Carolina)
- Paperwork incomplete or incorrect
- Insufficient records, witness testimony, and other evidence
- Delay in seeking medical treatment or reporting the injury to the employer
- Insufficient evidence that the injury is work-related
- The injury constitutes a pre-existing condition
- Misconduct on the employee’s part led to the injury (e.g., being drunk on the job)
You have rights if your workers’ comp benefits are wrongfully denied. A Raleigh workers’ compensation lawyer can help you appeal the adverse decision and request a hearing before the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
Before you attend the Industrial Commission hearing, you will need to participate in a mediation conference. During mediation, a neutral third party (the mediator) will attempt to facilitate a resolution of the workers’ compensation dispute between you and your attorney on one side and your employer and the insurance company on the other.
Mediation is an effort to resolve the workers’ comp dispute without further legal proceedings. If an agreement cannot be reached, a knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer can present your case before the NC Industrial Commission.