Oct 14, 2022 | Workers' Compensation
The workers’ compensation system can be an invaluable lifeline to anyone injured at work in North Carolina. However, the claim process is similar to filing any other type of insurance claim but with the added challenge of your employer’s involvement. North Carolina enforces strict workers’ compensation laws that all employers must follow, and all employees in the state should know their rights in the event of a workplace accident.
The purpose of workers’ compensation is twofold. First, it protects employers by shielding them from civil liability when their employees are hurt while working. Without this protection, every new hire would be a potential liability for the employer. Second, workers’ compensation provides economic relief and job security to injured workers.
Your employer cannot fire you for a workplace injury, nor is an employer allowed to interfere with any workers’ compensation claim filed in good faith. Unfortunately, not all employers uphold their responsibilities, and some actively hamper their employees’ claims. In addition, since workers’ compensation insurance requires an employer to pay a monthly premium, this rate can increase in response to multiple claims from injured workers.
When an employer meets their legal requirements under the state’s workers’ compensation laws and facilitates their employee’s claim, the injured employee can still face numerous challenges in their recovery efforts. First, they must submit their workers’ compensation claim to their employer’s insurance carrier. Most of the workers’ compensation insurance providers in North Carolina require a claimant to submit to a medical examination by a workers’ compensation doctor. They can see any doctor for necessary emergency treatment, but after they stabilize, they must have a workers’ compensation doctor examine them and assess their level of disability.
A workers’ compensation doctor will assign a disability rating based on the severity of the victim’s injury and the residual functional capacity they are likely to retain once they reach maximum medical improvement. The disability rating determines how much they can receive in benefits and for how long. If you believe the determination of benefits you received from an insurance carrier is unacceptable under the terms of your employer’s policy, you will need an experienced Morganton workers’ compensation attorney to address this issue on your behalf.
An attorney is the best asset to have on your side for filing your claim. Insurance companies tend to look for all the reasons they can find to deny claims or reduce their settlement offers, but an insurer is less likely to attempt any unethical actions in handling a claim once they notice a claimant has legal counsel.
Workers’ compensation can provide two valuable forms of benefits if your claim is approved. First, you can expect the insurance carrier to cover the cost of all the medical care you require to fully heal from your injury. This includes immediate medical care for an emergency as well as ongoing treatments, therapies, and rehabilitation of any kind. Your attorney can be an invaluable asset for ensuring you receive appropriate medical expense coverage from your claim. Second, you can qualify for ongoing disability benefits if your injury keeps you from working or diminishes your earning power.
Disability benefits are typically paid in “total” or “partial” designations, depending on whether the victim is able to work following their injury. If they can, partial disability benefits can help make up their difference in income if they can only handle lower-paying work or cannot earn as much as they did before their injury. If you are approved for partial disability benefits, you must keep the workers’ compensation insurance carrier informed about your earnings and medical updates.
Total disability benefits apply when a victim cannot work at all because of their injury and continue until they are able to resume working. If they are only able to qualify for lower-paying work or must train for a new job, their benefits may account for these issues as well. Ultimately, if you want to maximize the benefits you obtain for your workplace injury, you need to hire an experienced attorney capable of helping you reach the results you hope to see.
North Carolina enforces some of the most robust workers’ compensation laws in the country, and virtually every employer in the state must have workers’ compensation insurance for all non-exempt employees. Federal employees, domestic care workers, and independent contractors typically do not qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. If you’re unsure about your eligibility status to file a workers’ compensation claim, it’s crucial to speak with an experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney right away after a work-related injury.
Most claimants who qualify to receive ongoing disability benefits through workers’ compensation can continue receiving payments for up to two years. Some may qualify to receive ongoing disability benefits for longer if they suffered severe injuries, but most insurance carriers will try to resolve claims like these with large lump sum settlement offers.
Hiring legal counsel to assist you with your workers’ compensation claim can significantly improve the quality of your experience with the claim process and yield a much better outcome than you may have obtained on your own. State law limits the amount an attorney can charge a client in a workers’ compensation case to a percentage of the client’s final recovery.
Technically, no, there is no legal requirement to hire legal counsel if you intend to file a workers’ compensation claim in North Carolina. However, investing in the services of an attorney you can trust can potentially make a substantial difference in the outcome of the proceedings ahead of you. Even after accounting for their fee, they can add tremendous value to your claim.
The attorneys at Helton, Cody & Associates, PLLC, can provide the comprehensive legal support you need to approach a workers’ compensation claim with confidence. If you have pressing legal questions after a recent workplace injury, contact us today to schedule a consultation and get the answers you need in this difficult situation with a worker’s comp lawyer.