If you suffer injury on the job in North Carolina, you might encounter numerous challenges during recovery. In addition to pain and discomfort and care needed because of physical injuries, you might also experience financial distress, especially if you’re unable to return to work right away or on a permanent basis. You might also encounter complications when filing a workers’ compensation claim or have questions at the start, such as whether you’re entitled to benefits if you’re an independent contractor who drives a commercial truck.
It’s always best to seek clarification of state laws before navigating the system. It’s also a good idea to know where to seek additional support if you’re part-way through the claims process and a legal problem arises.
Good news for North Carolina truckers
If you work in this state as a tractor-trailer operator, you’ll be glad to know that most trucking owners/operators are required to purchase workers’ comp insurance. If you’re an independent contractor, you might be especially glad to know that such coverage applies to you, as well. In fact, if the owner/operator doesn’t have insurance, the carrier must provide coverage.
Conditions for motor carrier employers apply
If you’re an independent trucking contractor who has suffered an on-the-job injury, your motor carrier employer may not be liable if you personally operate the vehicle in question and have a license from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Be aware that OAI cannot substitute workers’ comp
You may have heard of Occupational Accident Insurance (OAI), regulated by the North Carolina Department of Insurance. It’s important to note that this is an alternate form of insurance that is not a lawful substitute for workers’ compensation insurance. The law doesn’t require an owner/operator, motor carrier or contractor to purchase OAI.
Steps to take if your employer doesn’t carry workers’ comp insurance
Receiving prompt medical attention is always the top priority if you’ve suffered injury in a workplace accident. Beyond that, submitting a workers’ comp claim in a timely manner can help you obtain much-needed benefits during recovery. If your employer doesn’t have workers’ comp insurance, it’s wise to report the issue to the NCIC Criminal Investigations & Employee Classification Division.
There are specific forms to submit with the commission, if you have suffered injuries on the job and your employer doesn’t have insurance. There are also forms to fill out if your employer has insurance but refuses or fails to report your injuries after you have informed your employer of the accident in a timely manner.
Don’t hesitate to reach out for additional support
In the aftermath of a North Carolina workplace accident, you might find yourself in need of emergency medical care. If your employer fails or refuses to provide medical treatment, you may request the Commission’s immediate approval to choose your own doctor.
Any number of issues may arise to delay or impede your ability to collect workers’ compensation benefits, in which case you should not lose hope; instead, you can reach out for additional support from someone who is well-versed in state workers’ comp regulations for assistance to find a solution to a specific issue or to file an appeal, if your claim has been denied.