If you are injured at work, you could be faced with more than the physical pain and discomfort of your injury. You may also be faced with the ongoing medical and rehabilitative treatments necessary for your physical recovery, the inability to enjoy your usual social and leisure activities, and the unexpected disruption of your income stream.
Many people might find it challenging to fully focus on their physical recovery while they worry about the effect a total loss of income will have on themselves and their families. One way to ensure your family has the financial support it needs during your recuperation is to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
A Lincolnton workers’ comp lawyer can help you navigate the road to a successful workers’ compensation claim while you concentrate on your physical healing.
Determine Your Eligibility For Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Applying for workers’ compensation is a complex procedure. Start by informing us of your injury as soon as possible to get filing help right from the beginning. After you report your injuries, follow these additional steps:
- Get emergency medical help right away
- Tell your healthcare provider or emergency room physician that your injury is work-related
- Provide written notice of your injury to your employer
- Follow your physician’s health care recommendations
- Start the compensation filing process
- Do not engage in any activities that exceed any restrictions imposed by a healthcare provider
After you make your employer aware of your injury, they may ask you to visit a specific healthcare provider. After your injuries have been treated, complete the required forms with our assistance.
We Can Help You Complete The Required Claims Forms
The North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) provides a plethora of forms that must be completed to initiate a claim, determine your eligibility for workers’ compensation, and define the amount of any payment you might be entitled to receive during your recuperation.
We can assist with every aspect of your workers’ compensation claim. A member of our team will clarify how a Lincolnton workers’ comp lawyer can help ensure your claim is filed on time and your payments are received on time.
Types And Amounts Of Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Discuss the nature, severity, and expected duration of your injuries with your attorney. In addition to covering your medical expenses, the state of North Carolina generally has two categories of workers’ compensation benefits (as the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act states):
- Temporary benefits: Injured employees who qualify for total disability will qualify to receive up to 66.66% of their average weekly income until they are able to return to work or for a maximum of 500 weeks. Your lawyer can help you determine if you qualify for an extension of benefits at that time.
- Lifetime benefits: To qualify for permanent total disability, your injury must involve the loss of both hands, arms, feet, legs, or eyes or any two of these body parts. Other qualifying injuries for permanent disability include spinal cord injuries, brain injuries, gross and fine motor disorders, and second or third-degree burns that cover more than 33% of your body.
- Medical benefits: You should be able to rely on your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider to cover all of your medical expenses relating to your on-the-job injury. This does not only include the cost of your ambulance fees, prescription medication, or medical treatment. It should also include other types of medical costs such as your mental health counseling fees, transportation costs, the cost of obtaining physical or occupational therapy, and any medical expenses you might incur in the future as a result of your work-related injury.
- Vocational rehabilitation benefits: Vocational rehabilitation benefits may be available to work injury victims who have suffered injuries that are so debilitating they will no longer be able to continue work within the same industry. If you need to go back to school, obtain further job training, or otherwise find work in another industry, your vocational rehabilitation benefits will cover these costs so you can reenter the workforce and find gainful employment.
- Death benefits: If someone passes away from a work injury, their surviving family members may be able to recover death benefits. Not only will the decedent’s employer’s workers’ compensation provider cover the cost of the decedent’s funeral and burial expenses, but they will also be expected to cover the decedent’s medical bills and provide the surviving family members with disability benefits amounting to a portion of the decedent’s average weekly income.
Share copies of your medical records with your legal team to determine the type, amount, and duration of benefits you qualify to receive. Your construction accident attorney can help you determine if the injury you sustained qualifies for workers’ compensation benefits.
Time Plays An Important Role In Filing And Collecting Workers’ Compensation
Filing a successful workers’ compensation claim depends on meeting a specific timeline. The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act imposes the following time limits:
- According to N.C. § 97-22, you must notify your employer of your injury in writing within 30 days.
- According to N.C. § 97-24, you must file a claim for workers’ compensation within two years of the date of the injury.
In addition to filing deadlines that hold you accountable, your employer has certain time restrictions they must comply with in regard to your workers’ compensation claim:
- According to N.C. § 97-28, you are not eligible for benefits for the first seven days following your injury.
- According to that same statute, you could be entitled to retroactive benefits for injuries that last longer than 21 days.
Because of the nature of your injuries, the length of your recovery time, and the extent of your medical treatments and bills will vary from worker to worker. Each workers’ comp claim is unique. Your workers’ compensation lawyer can help you understand how the relevant timeline may affect your claim for benefits.
Workers’ Compensation Injury Statistics In North Carolina
According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) research, there were 64,900 nonfatal reported workplace injuries and illnesses in the state during 2020. Of these, 38,300 were serious enough to prevent the employee from returning to work right away. The highest recorded injuries occurred in the following industries:
- Local government
- Education and health services
- Trade, transportation, and utilities
- Natural resources and mining
Injuries can occur in any industry. If your industry is not on this list, you are still eligible for recovery if you were hurt at work or diagnosed with a work-related disease.
Errors That Can Affect Your Request For Benefits
When you are hurt at work, applying for and receiving benefits can be complex and stressful. If your injuries or illness make it impossible for you to work, figuring out how to support yourself and your family is likely to be a primary priority, second only to your recovery.
You do not want to do anything that will affect your request for benefits. Some common errors that occur when applying for benefits include:
- Failing to meet all filing and notification deadlines
- Failing to use your employer’s health care provider
- Saying or signing anything without a lawyer’s advice
- Not responding to important requests or notices
You can avoid these errors by alerting one of our team members that you have a potential workers’ compensation claim. We can help you manage every detail of your case, including handling and reviewing the ongoing communication and correspondence. We will also provide you with timely updates on your case, so you never have to wonder how it is progressing.
Common Reasons For Workers’ Comp Claim Denials
Insurance companies give a variety of reasons for denying work injury victims’ claims. However, there are some reasons insurance companies give for denying workers’ compensation claims more frequently than others. Some of the more frequently seen reasons given for workers’ comp claim denials include:
- Failure to provide the insurance company with necessary medical documentation or records
- The work injury victim self-inflicting their injuries
- Being in violation of your employer’s code of conduct
- Failure to file your workers’ compensation claim in a timely manner
- Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of your work injury
Your attorney will review your workers’ comp claim denial to determine whether your claim has been denied in bad faith. If so, your attorney will attempt to negotiate with the insurance company and provide them with additional supporting records they may use to reverse your denial. If they uphold your denial, your attorney may be prepared to move forward with a more formal workers’ compensation appeal.
A Denied Claim Is Not The End Of The Road
If you were hurt at work and filed a workers’ compensation claim that was denied, you do not have to stop fighting. Our team will help you prepare your evidence and testimony for appeal. We will also make sure to comply with all relevant filing deadlines that govern your appeal.
According to the North Carolina Industrial Commission, those deadlines include:
- File Notice of Appeal to the Full Commission within 15 days
- File Motion to Reconsider Deputy Opinion and Award within 15 days
- File Form 44 and Appellant Brief within 25 days
- File Appellee Brief within 25 days
- File Motion to Reconsider Full Commission Opinion and Award within 15 days
- Your Notice of Appeal to the Court of Appeals must be received by the North Carolina Industrial Commission within 30 days.
Personal Injury Claims For Work Injuries
Depending on the specific details of your case, you may have the opportunity to file a personal injury claim in addition to your workers’ compensation claim. This may be available if you can show that another party’s negligence was the cause of your work injury.
Workers’ compensation claims are not dependent on proving someone else is responsible for causing your injuries. However, personal injury claims are. Your attorney can review the circumstances of your on-the-job injury to ascertain whether a personal injury lawsuit is appropriate in your case.
Let A Lincolnton Workers’ Comp Lawyer Help You
Workers’ compensation benefits are intended to help people who are injured on the job and experience a disruption of their anticipated income that creates an inability to support themselves and their families.
Our Lincolnton workers’ comp lawyer can help you:
- Clarify your rights as an injured worker
- Explain the application process in detail
- Review your evidence and medical records
- Clarify your employer’s responsibilities
Our goal is to help you build a comprehensive case file that proves the cause of your injuries and their connection to your job. We also accompany you to any hearings, help you prepare any testimony, and explain the process of filing an appeal, if necessary. In other words, we never stop fighting for the benefits you deserve.
Get Our Team On Your Side Right From The Start
If you believe an on-the-job injury entitles you to workers’ compensation benefits, an attorney in your area can help you file a complete claim for the compensation you need and deserve. Call Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC to speak to a member of our client services team about your workers’ compensation claim today.