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Do I qualify for workers’ compensation?

There are few things in life more terrifying than suffering a serious work injury. Not only do you need to deal with the pain and suffering associated with significant injuries, but you also need to find a way to bridge the financial gap that your work accident created. One of the most effective ways to do so is to secure benefits through North Carolina’s workers’ compensation system.

Navigating the workers’ comp process can be confusing. Unfortunately, many injured victims never even go after benefits because they are not sure whether they qualify. If you are unsure whether you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, consider some of the following information.

Was your injury work related?

In order to receive workers’ comp benefits, your injury must be related to your work duties or obligations. Depending on the situation, the answer to this question might be quite obvious. For example, falling off a ladder and breaking your leg while clocked in is generally considered a work accident.

However, what if you broke your leg while skiing during a work retreat? In all likelihood, this would also be considered a work-related accident for which you could pursue compensation. An example of an injury that is not compensable would be if you broke your leg in a car accident on your commute to or from work.

Check your worker status

Only workers classified as employees qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. This means that if you are working as an independent contractor or a freelancer, you generally cannot pursue any type of workers’ comp benefits. Other workers who are considered exempt from eligibility include:

  • Agricultural workers
  • Domestic workers
  • Seasonal workers
  • Undocumented workers

Of course, there may be situations in which workers are misclassified. An employer may mistakenly — or purposely — classify an employee as a contractor or freelancer. It is important to check and ensure that your worker status is correct when you are changing jobs or any time that you suspect something is amiss.

Can you get other compensation?

If there was a third party who was at least partially responsible for your injuries, you may also be able to pursue compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. There are also other forms of compensation available for some workers who are otherwise ineligible for workers’ comp. This includes relief for federal employees via the Federal Employee’s Compensation Act and railroad worker compensation under the Federal Employers Liability Act.

Medical bills related to serious work injuries can quickly pile up. On top of those bills, struggling with lost paychecks while you are out of work recovering can feel like an impossible task. If you qualify for workers’ compensation, then getting the benefits you need is probably your top priority, so you should be sure to consider what steps you should take to get the process started.