North Carolina adopted its Workers’ Compensation Act in 1929 to help people who suffered injuries at work. Workers’ compensation is aimed at helping injured workers that might otherwise struggle to cover the daily living costs and medical expenses while recovering from injury.
The unfortunate reality, however, is that legitimate workers’ compensation claims in Wilmington are sometimes denied. The denial could be due to any number of reasons, but all workers are entitled to an appeal should they feel that the decision is wrong, and having a Wilmington workers’ compensation lawyer by your side greatly improves your chance of obtaining a positive outcome.
If you have been injured at or through your work, you could be entitled to compensation for medical expenses and wage loss benefits for your work-related injury. Contact a trusted Wilmington workers’ compensation lawyer at Ted A. Greve & Associates via phone at (800) 693-7833 or using the contact form provided today to schedule a free case evaluation.
Our personal injury law firm is available 24/7, so don’t wait to schedule your case review.
What Is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is an insurance program required by the state for employers in North Carolina with 3 or more employees to compensate employees that are either injured or get ill from work-related incidents.
Workers’ compensation is a system geared towards paying for medical costs and lost wages that result from work-related illness or injury. For an employee to benefit from workers’ compensation, they aren’t allowed to sue their employer for negligence.
What Should I Do If I’m Hurt on the Job?
If you were hurt on the job in Wilmington, North Carolina, you should take several important steps to protect your right to recover workers’ compensation benefits:
Report the Injury
The first thing you need to do after being injured in a workplace accident is to report your injury to a supervisor or manager. It is important that you report it without delay since there’s a time limit for doing it, which is usually 30 days.
Visit a Doctor and Follow the Doctor’s Instructions
Your employer may require that you visit a healthcare provider of their choosing. If they don’t have a designated doctor, you can visit your own doctor. You should ensure that you follow any instructions received for treatment.
Start and Keep a Written Record of Your Injuries and Symptoms
It is also important to write down or record the details of the incident or circumstance along with those of your injuries and symptoms as they occur.
Take Photographs of Your Injury, If Visible
If you were involved in a workplace accident that resulted in visible injuries, it is important to take photographs to gather detailed information about the accident and help strengthen your claim.
File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
The intricacies of workers’ compensation law in North Carolina can be almost impossible to understand without help. That’s why you should contact the experienced workers’ compensation lawyers at Ted A. Greve & Associates to help you understand your rights and file a strong claim.
What Are the Most Common Workplace Accident Injuries?
Injuries are possible even in the most seemingly mundane of workplace environments. Here are some of the most common workplace accident injuries in Wilmington, North Carolina:
- Neck/Back Injuries
- Construction Accidents
- Repetitive Motion Injuries (i.e. Repeated Strain or Stress)
- Slip and Fall Accidents
- Joint Pain
- Bodily Reaction Injuries (Resulting from Sitting, Standing, Climbing, Reaching, Bending, etc.)
- Accidents While Working with Tools or Machinery
- Accidents While Traveling for Business
- Hearing Loss
- Overexertion (from Carrying, Holding, Pulling, Pushing, Lifting, Throwing, etc.)
Why Should I Hire a Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
Recovering medical and disability benefits following a workplace or work-related accident in Wilmington should be a relatively straightforward process. However, the reality is that it is usually a complicated process that requires significant legal knowledge and experience, which only a reputable lawyer such as those at Ted A. Greve & Associates can provide.
The end goal of hiring a workers’ compensation lawyer is to maximize your financial recovery, but there are several intermediate steps with which an experienced lawyer can help you as well. You should hire a good workers’ compensation lawyer in Wilmington to help with your claim in the following ways:
- Ensuring that you never miss important deadlines
- Ensuring that you obtain professional medical care
- Exploring all options for securing financial compensation
- Calculating the non-financial and financial costs of your injuries
- Helping you avoid mistakes likely to jeopardize your rights
- Helping you evaluate settlement offers and alternatives
- Dealing with insurance companies and your employer
- Helping you fill out forms and collect documentation
- Knowing when it is okay for you to return to work.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
Wilmington workers’ compensation lawyers such as those at Ted A. Greve & Associates typically handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis. This arrangement allows us to offer our clients experienced legal support without first having to pay any fees upfront. Payment for our services and time is only due upon your recovery. So, if there’s no recovery, there’s no fee.
The percentage of fees lawyers subtract from the gross settlement or verdict proceeds are established in the contingency fee agreement. The contingency fee amount depends on several factors. Lawyers in North Carolina typically charge a contingency fee of 1/3 or (33 1/3%) if the case is settled before a lawsuit is filed. However, the rate usually increases to 40% after the lawsuit is filed.
What Should I Do If My Workers’ Compensation Claim Is Denied?
Workers’ compensation insurers in North Carolina are required to approve or deny claims for benefits within 2 weeks of the date of injury.
If an insurance company denies your claim, they are required to send a notice providing the reason. You then have the chance to appeal your denial by completing Form 33 and submitting it to the NCIC within 2 years of your injury.
All appeals sent to the NCIC are automatically referred to mediation, where a neutral third party attempts to reach a settlement. If the parties are still unable to agree, a date for the formal hearing is set.
At the formal hearing, you are required to present evidence showing that your denial was incorrect after which a deputy commissioner will issue a written order. If your claim is denied once more, you can submit an Application for Review to the full commission within 15 days of the decision.
The full commission comprises 3 judges that can reach a decision based on written briefs that submit or to schedule oral arguments. Further denials can only be appealed to the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court.
What Responsibility Does the Employee Have in Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Employee responsibilities when it comes to filing a workers’ compensation claim in North Carolina are straightforward. Here is what you are required to do:
Report the Injury on Time
If you have suffered a workplace or work-related injury or illness, you need to ensure that you report it to the appropriate person on time and get started with the process without delay. So, report the injury to your employer in writing within 30 days.
Accurately Report Your Injury
When you report your workplace or work-related injury, it is important to do so accurately. So, make sure that you only stick to the facts without making any assumptions or even exaggerating the severity of your symptoms or injury.
See an Approved Doctor (If Required)
If your workplace has a doctor on-site and you are required to see them, then do it. If your employer sends you to a medical facility or doctor away from your worksite, go to them as directed.
Follow Doctor’s Orders
It is important to follow any directions received from the doctor provided by your employer regarding treating your injury. Failure to follow the doctor’s instructions may jeopardize your claim.
Ensure that the Claim Is Properly Filed
Workers’ compensation claims in North Carolina are filed with the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC). All claims begin with the NCIC’s Form 18, which is available in paper and electronic form. It should be filled out completely and submitted.
What Responsibility Does the Employer Have in the Workers’ Compensation Process?
Employers have several obligations when it comes to workers’ compensation. While the vast majority of employers do comply with the obligations, some don’t, which unfortunately makes it challenging for injured employees to collect the benefits they are entitled to.
Here are the employer’s responsibilities in the workers’ compensation process:
Employers are legally obligated to provide their employees with workers’ compensation coverage. To meet this obligation, employers are required to buy workers’ compensation insurance and maintain coverage on an ongoing basis.
The types of workers’ compensation coverage that employers are required to provide to their employees include:
- Medical: Coverage for the costs of diagnosis and treatment of work-related injuries and illnesses.
- Full Disability (Permanent and Temporary): Coverage for employees that need to seek alternative employment due to disability resulting from work-related illnesses and injuries.
- Retraining/Rehabilitation: Coverage for the cost of getting employees back to work in case their injuries have lasting effects.
- Death: Coverage for eligible family members’ income loss, funeral expenses, along with various other expenses after fatal on-the-job accidents.
Reporting the Injury
Employers are also required to report to their Workers’ Compensation insurance provider any injury or occupational disease, or allegation by an employee of an occupational disease or injury, sustained in the course of employment for which the attention of a doctor is either needed or sought.
Filing Form 19
If the work or work-related illness of injury causes the employee to be absent from work for more than 1 day or the employee’s medical expenses exceed $2,000, the employer or their insurance provider is required to file a Form 19 with the NCIC within 5 days of learning about the injury.
Conducting an Appropriate Investigation
Employers have a legal obligation to conduct an appropriate investigation of all workers’ compensation claims filed. They can’t deny benefits unless they provide a valid reason for doing so, which requires a clear understanding of the circumstances and facts involved.
Providing a List of Approved Healthcare Providers (If Applicable)
Employers in Wilmington have the right to choose the healthcare providers that provide treatment to their employees who file for workers’ compensation. If your employer has a list of approved providers, they are obligated to provide this list to you when you report your workplace or work-related illness or injury.
If your employer fails to meet the responsibilities in the workers’ compensation process provided above, you should consider hiring the competent workplace compensation lawyers at Ted A. Greve & Associates to help you recover the compensation you are entitled to.
Can I Be Fired for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
The short answer is “No.” North Carolina has laws to protect you from this very behavior. The North Carolina Retaliatory Discharge Act (REDA) makes it illegal for an employer to fire an employee after the employee files a workers’ compensation claim.
Is There a Time Limit to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Wilmington, NC?
Yes. Under North Carolina law, workers’ compensation claims are governed by a 2-year statute of limitations. The statute of limitations refers to the time limit within which you are required to file your claim. It, therefore, means that in North Carolina, you are required to file your workers’ compensation claim within 2 years from the date of the injury.
Can I Sue My Employer?
You are generally not allowed to sue your employer outside the workers’ compensation system for any workplace or work-related injuries or illnesses. Workers’ compensation benefits are regarded as an “exclusive remedy” against your employer.
Can an Independent Contractor File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Independent contractors in North Carolina cannot receive workers’ compensation benefits if they are hurt on the job. According to the NCIC, the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act requires all businesses that have 3 or more employees to carry workers’ compensation coverage. Workers’ compensation for independent contractors, however, isn’t included in the law.
What defines a worker as an employee is based on several different factors. It is actually possible for the NCIC to determine that an independent contractor is, in fact, an employee, even if their employer has designated them as an independent contractor to avoid making workers’ compensation insurance payments on their behalf.
What Is My Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Claim Worth?
The value of your workers’ compensation claim could be impacted by several different factors, meaning that it isn’t possible to say exactly how much your claim is worth. With the help of a skilled workers’ compensation lawyer, however, it is possible to get an estimated value for your claim.
Successful workers’ compensation claims in Wilmington usually provide benefits that cover:
Any necessary and reasonable medical attention that you require to treat your workplace or work-related illness or injury should be covered. This includes prescription co-pays, surgical treatments, hospital stays, and more.
You may request benefits that cover vocational rehabilitation services, such as retraining or education if your injuries prevent you from earning 75% or more of what you were earning before the injury.
Any expenses that you incur as a result of your workplace or work-related injury or illness, such as the costs of transportation to and from medical appointments. Simply put, any necessary travel expenses related to the treatment of your injury or illness.
If you are completely unable to resume work duties for a temporary period, you could be entitled to temporary total disability (TTD) benefits equal to 2/3 of your average weekly pre-injury wages capped at $575 a week.
If you are able to resume work duties, but in a limited capacity, you could be entitled to temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits equal to 2/3 of the difference between your pre-injury wages and your current limited income.
It is important to note that there’s a 500-week limit to both TTD and TPD benefit payments.
Once you reach either the 500-week limit for temporary benefits or the doctor determines that you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) for your workplace or work-related illness or injury, you could be eligible for permanent disability benefits.
Permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits provide a portion of your lost wages based on the severity of your impairment for a specific number of weeks. Permanent total disability (PTD) benefits, on the other hand, are reserved for catastrophic cases and can be paid out for the rest of your life.
Need a Trusted Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Attorney?
If you have been hurt while performing your job, you probably have a valid workers’ compensation claim. Understandably, it can be intimidating when you also need to focus on dealing with your medical care, pain, and uncertainty about your income. That’s why you need the right lawyer.
Ted A. Greve & Associates is a reputable law firm in Wilmington, NC that can help you file a workers’ compensation claim. You can always count on us to help. Call us today at (800) 693-7833 or contact us via the online form to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation.