The workers’ compensation system is an important economic lifeline for injured workers in Newton and throughout Catawba County. State law requires almost every employer in the state to have workers’ compensation insurance, and this insurance comes into play whenever an employee sustains an injury while performing their job duties. Therefore, if you or a family member recently suffered an injury at work, it is important to know what to expect during the workers’ compensation claim filing process.
Helton, Cody & Associates, PLLC, has a team of seasoned attorneys with years of professional experience in North Carolina workers’ compensation law. Throughout the years of our firm’s operation, we have successfully handled many workers’ compensation cases, assisting our clients in recovering the benefits they need to recover from their workplace injuries. We take time to develop individualized case strategies for every client we represent, and our goal in every case is maximum client recovery.
If you are not sure whether you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, there are two basic criteria you must meet. First, you must work for an employer required by state law to have workers’ compensation insurance. This applies to virtually every non-federal private employer in the state. Second, your injury must have occurred while at work or while performing your job duties. If you do not work in a single location to perform your work duties, location does not matter; all that matters is that you were performing your job duties when the injury occurred.
The state’s workers’ compensation laws require employers to create formal reports of workers’ injuries. Therefore, if you suffer any injury at work, you should notify your supervisor immediately, and they will create an incident report to which you may refer later in your claim filing process. State law also requires an employer to provide an injured employee with the forms needed to file their claim. If the employer refuses to provide the injured worker with these materials or if they directly interfere with the workers’ compensation claim filing process in any way, the employer can face severe legal penalties.
You will need to see an approved physician for a medical examination before you can file your claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Every workers’ compensation insurance carrier will maintain a list of local physicians that claimants may see for these evaluations. You can see any doctor in an emergency, but once you stabilize, you will need to undergo an examination from a workers’ compensation physician. They will assess the severity of your condition and assign you a disability rating that reflects the scope and severity of your injuries. This disability rating dictates how much you will receive in benefits.
An injured worker in Newton can generally qualify to receive two types of benefits from their workers’ compensation claim. First, the insurance carrier will cover the costs of any and all medical treatments they require to reach maximum medical improvement from their injury. This includes both immediately necessary emergency care following the accident as well as ongoing rehabilitative care. Second, the insurance company will deliver a determination of disability benefits based on the claimant’s disability rating.
Disability benefits are more variable and can be awarded in various formats. Most claimants will qualify for temporary disability benefits that will continue until they are able to return to work. If you cannot work until you recover, you can expect to receive about two-thirds of your average weekly wages in disability benefits until you reach maximum medical recovery. If you are able to handle lower-paying work, you might qualify for partial disability benefits to help you make up the difference in your income after your injury.
If you are awarded partial disability benefits, there are specific reporting requirements you will need to meet. First, you must report all your income to the insurance company. This allows them to gauge how much you can receive with your weekly benefits. You must also keep them updated on your recovery. If you attempt to continue receiving benefits after you have recovered, this is workers’ compensation fraud, and you could face criminal prosecution.
Permanent disability benefits may be awarded if the claimant suffered a catastrophic injury resulting in severe permanent disability. However, most insurance companies will try to avoid long-term payment arrangements for these cases by offering large lump-sum settlements. Again, your Newton workers’ compensation attorney will be invaluable for determining what the fairest possible benefits would be for your situation.
The workers’ compensation claim filing process might appear straightforward at first, but the average injured worker is likely to face numerous challenges if they try to undergo this process on their own. For example, you could encounter resistance from your employer or even illegal retaliation and not know how to respond appropriately. It’s also possible that the workers’ compensation physician will deliver an unsatisfactory disability rating that you do not believe accurately characterizes your condition. It is also possible for the workers’ compensation insurance carrier to deny your claim unfairly or deliver a determination of benefits that does not adequately suit your needs.
When you have an experienced Newton workers’ compensation attorney handling your case, you are far less likely to encounter these issues, but if you do, you will be prepared to address them effectively. Helton, Cody & Associates, PLLC, can assist you with every aspect of your claim filing process, helping you secure a fair determination of benefits that provides the compensation you legally deserve for your workplace injury.
North Carolina’s workers’ compensation laws generally prevent injured workers from suing their employees for their workplace injuries, but there are exceptions to this rule. If your employer does not have workers’ compensation insurance as required by law, this will enable you to file a civil suit against them to recover the damages you suffered from your injury at work. Additionally, the employer would face other legal penalties for violating state workers’ compensation laws. If a third party caused your workplace injury, you would have the right to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits; you would also have the right to file a third-party personal injury claim to recover any outstanding damages that workers’ compensation insurance does not cover.
Ultimately, you have a higher chance of maximizing your recovery from a workplace injury when you have a Newton workers’ compensation attorney representing you. The sooner you connect with legal counsel you can trust, the sooner you can start working toward recovery with confidence. The attorneys at Helton, Cody & Associates, PLLC, take a client-focused approach to legal counsel, helping each individual client fully understand their rights and legal options when it comes to recovering from workplace injuries. In addition, we will help you approach the claim filing process with confidence and address any issues that arise on your behalf.
A: North Carolina’s workers’ compensation laws cap disability benefits at 500 weeks in most cases. However, if the injured worker can prove they are severely disabled from their workplace injury and require further disability benefits, this cap can be removed, and they can continue receiving benefits for longer. The exact time that benefits last depends on the specific details of the case.
A: The state upholds the at-will employment law, so an employer and their employee may end a working relationship at any time for any reason, with or without prior notice. However, it is illegal to fire an employee for a discriminatory reason. Therefore, your employer cannot fire you simply for being on workers’ compensation, nor can they fire you for requesting the materials needed to file your claim.
A: If you have an experienced Newton workers’ compensation attorney representing you, it is possible to receive compensation for your claim within a few weeks of filing. However, many factors can complicate your workers’ compensation claim filing process. Having legal counsel you can trust advising can streamline your claim filing process and help you secure benefits as soon as possible.
A: If you caused your own workplace injury through simple negligence, this is unlikely to disqualify you from benefits as long as it was a mistake made in good faith. However, if you were working under the influence of alcohol or drugs, willfully violated workplace safety regulations, or engaged in any illegal misconduct that caused your injury at work, these issues could justify disqualification from receiving further benefits.
A: State law limits how much an attorney can charge their client for a workers’ compensation case in the state. Your attorney will take a contingency fee, meaning they will take a percentage of your final case award at the conclusion of your case. The amount they take depends on the total amount recovered on your behalf.
The attorneys at Helton, Cody & Associates, PLLC, have successfully represented many past clients in Catawba County workers’ compensation claims, and we are ready to put our experience to work for you in your workplace injury case. If you are ready to learn how a Newton workers’ compensation attorney can assist you in your recovery, contact us today and schedule a free initial consultation with our team.