A serious job-related injury can leave you with expensive medical bills along with lost income if you cannot work while you recover. The law in North Carolina enables most injured workers to receive the medical and income benefits they need while focusing on their treatment. However, many people run into trouble getting the full workers’ compensation benefits they deserve. Some valid claims are denied altogether. If this has happened to you, a Durham workers’ compensation lawyer can help you fight for the full financial benefits you’re owed.
At Kreger Brodish LLP, our attorneys provide comprehensive, focused legal advocacy to people who have been hurt on the job. We will thoroughly investigate your claim and ensure you have access to the medical care you need. We will use our in-depth experience and resources to develop an effective legal strategy to recover the maximum compensation possible in your case.
Reach out to us today for a free, no-obligation case review with a respected Durham workers’ compensation attorney. We can take the stress off you while you focus on your recovery.
When Do You Need a Durham Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
If you are being forced to defend yourself in a North Carolina workers’ compensation case, you are probably facing several challenges. If you aren’t facing challenges, you could be soon.
Do these issues apply to your case?
- You’re having difficulty finding medical treatment while dealing with a loss of income.
- You’re being forced to return to work even though you are not ready.
- Your employer is making you work in a new position that disregards your experience and skill.
- Your employer is not accommodating your medical needs after your return to work.
- You’re not satisfied with the doctors that the insurance company is sending you to for care.
- Your employer is asking you to do tasks that your doctor says you can’t do.
- You’re not sure how your future medical needs will be paid for.
- You’re worried your checks may stop.
- You’re not receiving your wages in a timely manner.
- Your employer has terminated your wages.
Do not wait to get legal advice if you are struggling with a workers’ compensation claim. At Kreger Brodish LLP, we have extensive experience dealing with all the challenges that workers face in these cases, and we can fight for the full benefits you are owed.
How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in North Carolina
To recover workers’ compensation benefits in North Carolina, you will need to follow these steps to file your claim:
- Tell your supervisor or employer that you have been injured on the job.
- See a doctor for your injuries. Your employer has the right to direct you to seek treatment from an approved provider. Remember to inform the doctor that your injuries occurred at work.
- Within 30 days of your work injury, provide written notice of your injury to your employer.
- Complete and file Form 18 with the North Carolina Industrial Commission to begin a formal workers’ comp claim for benefits.
How Long Does It Take to Receive Workers’ Compensation Benefits in Durham?
When you and your employer file a claim form with the Industrial Commission, your employer or its workers’ compensation insurer has 14 days to accept or deny your claim. If your employer denies your claim or pays you less than the full scope of benefits you believe you are entitled to, you can request a hearing, which usually takes place within 30 to 60 days.
If your claim is accepted by your employer or you are awarded benefits by the Industrial Commission, you can start receiving medical benefits immediately. Disability benefit payments do not begin until you have missed at least seven days from work. You can receive disability benefits for those initial seven days after you have missed at least 21 days from work.
When You Deserve More Than Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation normally serves as your sole legal claim against your employer. However, you may be entitled to pursue additional compensation through a personal injury claim if your work injury was caused by a third party. A third-party personal injury claim may be pursued in addition to seeking workers’ comp benefits.
For example, if you were hit by a negligent driver while traveling in the course and scope of your job, you may be entitled to pursue a car accident injury claim against that driver. Or if you were hurt by defective equipment or machinery at work, you may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
A third-party personal injury claim can allow you to recover payment for losses not available from workers’ compensation, such as full reimbursement of your lost income, pain and suffering, and reduction in quality of life.
Deadlines for Workplace Injury Claims in North Carolina
You are expected to provide your employer with written notice of your work injury within 30 days. However, a workers’ comp claim formally begins once you file Form 18 with the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
Under the statute of limitations in North Carolina, you are required to formally file your claim no later than two years from the date of your work injury. If you fail to timely file your claim, you can lose the right to receive workers’ comp benefits for your injury.
What Do Workers’ Comp Benefits Cover?
In North Carolina, the workers’ compensation system can provide you with financial benefits that may include:
- Coverage of medical treatment and rehabilitation necessary to treat a work injury.
- Temporary disability benefits, if you miss time from work while recovering from your injury or earn less income than you did before your injury. Temporary disability benefits pay you two-thirds of your average weekly wages or two-thirds of the difference between your current and pre-injury earnings, subject to minimum and maximum limits.
- Permanent partial disability benefits, which pay two-thirds of your pre-injury average weekly wage for a certain number of weeks, depending on the type and severity of your disability.
- Permanent total disability benefits, which can continue your temporary total disability benefits for as long as you remain totally disabled from working.
- Vocational rehabilitation, which can retrain you for another job within your physical and educational abilities, if you cannot return to your old job or earn less than 75 percent of your pre-injury wages.
- Death benefits, which includes payments to the surviving family of a worker killed by a work injury, including payment of up to $10,000 for funeral and burial expenses and payments equal to temporary total disability benefits.
Tips for Protecting Your Rights After a Durham Workplace Injury
After you have been involved in a workplace accident, you should take the following steps to help protect your rights to workers’ comp benefits:
- Notify your supervisor or employer of your injury as soon as possible, providing written notice no later than 30 days after your injury.
- If possible, take photos or video of the scene of the accident, including details such as what caused the accident and your injuries, any safety equipment, or lighting and weather conditions (if relevant).
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible to have your injuries diagnosed. Barring an emergency, you must seek treatment from a provider designated by your employer to have that treatment covered by workers’ comp.
- Follow your treatment instructions.
- Keep copies of any bills and invoices for medical treatment or other expenses arising from your injuries. Also make sure to have your pay stubs or income statement on hand as well.
- Speak to a Durham workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your rights, options, and next steps to pursue the benefits you deserve.
Common Workplace Injuries in Durham
Examples of frequently occurring workplace injuries include:
- Electrocution injuries
- Lacerations and abrasions
- Broken bones
- Sprains, strains, and tears
- Repetitive stress/strain injuries
- Nerve damage
- Neck and back injuries
Common Occupations Where Accidents Occur
Although a workplace accident and injury can happen in any profession, some industries and occupations face increased risk of work injuries, such as:
- Construction workers
- Utility workers
- Factory and warehouse workers
- Agricultural workers
- Healthcare workers
- Police/fire/EMS workers
- Bar/restaurant workers and kitchen staff
- Truckers and delivery workers
Workers’ Compensation FAQs
If your employer is denying liability for payment of compensation of your claim, then you, your attorney, the North Carolina Industrial Commission, and your medical providers are supposed to be promptly notified of the reason for the denial. Your employer is supposed to file a Form 61 detailing the exact reason for the denial of liability.
If your claim is denied by your employer or its insurance company, you can request a hearing before the North Carolina Industrial Commission by submitting a Form 33.
You can look this up in the insurance coverage search system of the North Carolina Industrial Commission. You can also file a Form 18 and send it to the North Carolina Industrial Commission notifying them of your claim against your employer. If you choose to send in a Form 18, the North Carolina Industrial Commission will typically send you an acknowledgement letter with your employer’s insurance carrier information.
Your employer, or its insurance company, gets to determine where you receive medical treatment. If you are unhappy with this choice, you can petition the North Carolina Industrial Commission to change your employer’s selection, but only if good grounds are shown.
If your medical care has not been approved by your employer, an insurance carrier, or the North Carolina Industrial Commission, then payment for your treatment is not guaranteed.
If you travel 20 miles or more, round trip, for your medical treatment, you are allowed to collect 56 cents per mile for your travel.
Your employer has to pay you 66.66% of your average weekly wage. However, your lost wages cannot exceed the maximum weekly rate set by the Industrial Commission each year.
A permanent partial disability is the total loss or partial loss of use of a body part. It can also refer to your inability to earn the same wage in any job as the wage you earned at the time of your injury.
If several weeks pass, and you have called the employer representative or the insurance representative and attempted to resolve the issue, then you can file a motion or request with the North Carolina Industrial Commission to ask for a 10% late payment penalty.
Yes, all cases are ordered to a settlement conference anytime either party files a request for a hearing.
If you receive a third-party settlement, you should get the settlement approved by the North Carolina Industrial Commission. To do that, you should send a request for an order from the Industrial Commission that distributes third-party recovery. In your request, include:
- A copy of your settlement paperwork from the third party (usually an insurance company) that details the settlement amount and terms
- A statement from your employer or its insurance company outlining whether they are claiming a lien on the 3rd party settlement
- An itemization of all expenses associated with your case, including documentation that shows your expenses (receipts, attorney fee contract, etc.)
- A proposed order, outlining what you’d like the Industrial Commission to have ordered
How Our Workers’ Compensation Lawyers in Durham, NC Can Help You
If you are having trouble getting benefits after being injured on the job, let our Durham workers’ comp lawyers help you fight for the financial resources you need by:
- Independently investigating the underlying facts and circumstances of your work injury to secure evidence we can use to prove your right to benefits
- Reviewing your expenses and losses to determine what workers’ comp benefits you may be entitled to receive
- Preparing and filing your formal claim paperwork with the state
- Representing you and advocating for your interests during a formal claim mediation or hearing before the Industrial Commission
Don’t put off getting legal advice after a work-related injury or illness. Contact Kreger Brodish LLP today for a free initial consultation to discuss your legal options with a knowledgeable Durham workers’ compensation attorney.