Below are a few of the most frequently asked questions we see regarding workers' compensation claims and benefits.
Who qualifies as an employee?
Under North Carolina law, an employee refers to anyone who engages in employment, whether by contract or through appointment, and whose profession and employment status are controlled by an employer. Even if you are paid on a 1099 tax form, you may still be an employee under workers' compensation.
How does an injured worker know they are covered?
If you work for a non-farm employer with three or more employees, then the employer has to buy workers' compensation insurance. State law also requires employers to prominently post a notice for employees, letting them know about their workers' compensation coverage.
When should an injury be reported?
Immediately, or as soon as possible after the accident, or after an injury or illness begins to develop. This is important because it establishes a timeline that can assert your right to workers' comp benefits.
Is fault an issue in workplace accidents?
No, fault is almost never considered an issue in workers' comp claims.
What injuries are covered by workers' comp?
If you're hurt at work, you don't always recover benefits like medical expenses and lost wages. You have to prove you were on the job and that it happened during the course of work. Basically, your injury has to arise out of the work you do, not simply because you were on the job.
How long can an injured worker receive workers' comp?
You may continue receiving workers' compensation benefits for up to 500 weeks or longer in some circumstances.
How much does workers' comp pay me?
If you are forced out of work completely by an injury or illness, workers' comp will pay for two-thirds of your gross wages or your average weekly wage. Your gross wages are the wages paid to you by your employer prior to the subtraction of taxes and other expenses. Overtime and bonuses should be included in calculating your average weekly wage.
Can an injured worker receive workers' comp and disability benefits at the same time?
Yes. Whether through private sources or federal benefits, an injured worker may receive workers' comp while also receiving disability benefits. It's important to note that receiving workers' comp may affect the amount awarded from federal programs like Social Security Disability Insurance.
Is obtaining a lawyer necessary?
In some cases, yes. While most people may have little difficulty filing a claim for workers' comp, some employers make it difficult to recover the damages an injured individual needs and deserves. They may lie and say they do not have coverage or try to make the employee think it was their fault in order to get them to drop their claim.
An attorney like Lyndon R. Helton can point out these tactics and help you assert your right to compensation. If necessary, he can also take your case to court where you may also be able to recover damages.