A head injury at work can cause lifelong complications. You may have permanent brain damage, making you unable to continue your career. You may require a caregiver or to help you day-to-day. Most North Carolina workers are afforded medical care through the state’s workers’ compensation program if they suffer a head injury on the job, helping with their current and future medical needs. However, sometimes employees have trouble with workers’ comp head injury settlements when a claim is denied or undervalued.
Our attorneys can help. Our workers’ compensation lawyers have a deep knowledge of NC workers’ comp laws and are passionate about pursuing total and fair compensation for injured employees. Contact us today for a free case review.
Common Causes of Head Injuries at Work
Some workplaces carry a higher risk of head injury than others. Construction, manufacturing, oil and gas, and electrical wire work all carry serious risks of a head injury, even when the employee is using protective equipment. However, a head injury at work can occur at any time. Some of the most common causes of workplace injuries include:
- Falling or flying objects
- Slipping or tripping and falling over an uneven or slick surface and hitting your head
- A motor vehicle or heavy equipment accident
- Malfunctioning equipment, including safety equipment
What might seem like a minor bump on the head can cause a concussion, and without proper treatment, you could increase your risk of re-injury. Concussions put the brain in a fragile state, so any subsequent injuries can cause even more damage.
What To Do After a Head Injury at Work
Following the proper steps after being hurt at work gives you the best chance at recovery. It ensures that your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance policy will cover your medical care. Most employers have procedures to guide employees through the workers’ comp claims process and stipulations about whether an employee is covered. Here’s what you should do if you’ve sustained a head injury on the job:
- Seek medical attention. If the injury is severe enough, or if you lose consciousness, even briefly, prompt medical treatment is essential. Tell the doctor you were injured at work so they document the workplace injury in your medical records. A doctor can order a brain scan to pinpoint the extent of the injured areas and check for bleeding or swelling in the brain.
- Inform your employer. Although you must report any workplace injury to your employer in writing and verbally within 30 days, it’s better to let them know as soon as possible. Your human resources representative may be able to guide you through the notification process and answer your questions.
- File your workers’ comp claim. You can file the claim with the North Carolina Industrial Commission using Form 18. Retain a copy of this form for your records.
- Save all documentation. Save copies of all your medical records, the incident report from your employer, and your workers’ comp claim filing.
- Follow your treating physician’s instructions. Failure to do so can compromise your claim.
- Talk to a lawyer. You may be fortunate enough to have no issues with your claim, but if it is denied or minimized, an attorney can help you with an appeal. Additionally, there could be an option for a third-party settlement in your situation, which a lawyer can advise you about.
Average Workers’ Compensation Settlements in North Carolina
Every workers’ compensation head injury claim is different, so there is no “one-size-fits-all” average. However, all injured NC workers are entitled to the same workers’ comp benefits, including:
- Medical treatment for the injury, including scans, surgery, and medication.
- A second medical opinion. You are permitted to see two doctors if you choose.
- Lost wages from time you missed at work if your injury caused you to miss more than seven days of work.
- Reimbursement for the first seven days of missed work if your injury causes you to miss more than 21 days.
- Reimbursement of travel expenses if you must travel more than 20 miles to receive treatment for your injury.
- Vocational rehabilitation, if you need retraining to engage in another line of work because your injury prevents you from performing the job you held at the time of the injury.
What Factors Influence Head Injury Settlement Amounts?
Workers’ comp benefits for medical care are based on the cost of your medical treatment and related expenses, like prescriptions and therapy. More severe head injuries may require more intensive treatment, including residence in a skilled nursing facility or memory care. The settlement for those cases would likely be higher than for someone with a mild concussion.
Your wage benefit is calculated based on your average weekly wage, and you’ll receive 66 2/3 percent of that average, with a maximum of $1,182 (as of 2022). So, people earning more will have a larger wage benefit than those earning less, although there is a state minimum, which changes yearly.
You may also be eligible for a permanent partial disability benefit, depending on which part or parts of the body are affected.
Can I Get Additional Compensation?
In some cases, you could obtain additional compensation over and above your workers’ comp concussion settlement. If a third party caused your injury, you could also file a personal injury lawsuit against that party.
For example, your job involves driving, and while driving for work, another driver hits you. You may be covered under workers’ comp, but you could also have the right to file a case against the at-fault driver. Your compensation is limited under workers’ comp, but in a third-party personal injury claim, you can also seek compensation for pain and suffering and a diminished quality of life.
Contact Our North Carolina Workers’ Comp Attorneys
Do you need legal advice after a head injury at work? Are you having difficulties with your workers’ compensation claim in North Carolina? Our attorneys can provide a free consultation about your brain injury workers’ comp settlement, so contact Kreger Brodish LLP today.