Representing Injured Workers Throughout North Carolina
Under provisions of the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, injured workers have only 30 days to report an injury resulting from an accident on the job or a work-related task. Your employer must then respond to the report within a limited number of days. In the event the employer fails or refuses to file a claim within 10 days of the reported accident, the injured worker may file a claim directly with the Industrial Commission.
Reporting the accident or work-related injury to your employer within the 30-day deadline does not mean you have only 30 days to file for benefits. In fact, reporting to your employer means that you have up to two years to file a claim for an injury you believe is related to your accident. Of course, the more time that elapses between the accident and your claim, the more difficult it may be to prove a causal relationship to your injury, disability or diagnosed medical condition.
After your accident, remember to seek medical treatment from a qualified medical provider who has been approved by the North Carolina Industrial Commission. Follow the medical orders and prescriptions, and keep all records of your expenses related to the injury. Turn in a copy of all written records to your employer. If you are filing directly, it is important to have a qualified, experienced attorney to assist you. The process is cumbersome and can be especially frustrating when you are trying to heal from your injuries while worrying about bills mounting up while you are off work.
What if you don’t like your doctor?
You are entitled to seek a second opinion or change your doctor, however, any doctor you see must be approved by the insurance carrier and if it objects then approved by the North Carolina Industrial Commission. There may be some exceptions, including long driving distance from your place or residence to the nearest approved medical provider.
Workers’ Compensation Timeline To Receive Benefits
After your employer (or you) files your claim, there will be a seven-day waiting period before your eligibility for weekly benefits kicks in. Don’t expect a check in the mail right away. You should expect to receive word of approval or denial within about one month. If approved, medical treatment will be covered by workers’ compensation, with some limits placed on physical therapy and chiropractic care. The level of pay benefits you receive will depend on the type of permanent disability your doctor signs off on after you have attained maximum medical improvement (MMI).
Generally, you will receive a benefit designation as:
- Temporary total disability: You may not be able to return to work until you have recovered from your injuries; Your benefits will be 66.6 percent of your average weekly wage, including all overtime, bonuses and shift differential.
- Temporary partial disability: You can return to work in a reduced capacity. In this case your benefits would be 66.6 percent of the earnings loss caused by your injury.
- Permanent partial disability: You may only be able to return to work and are given a permanent partial disability rating by your doctor. In this case you would be eligible for an award of benefits based on the specific disability to your injured body part, i.e., hand, arm, back, leg, etc.
- Permanent total disability: You may be unable to ever return to work and may qualify for lifetime weekly pay benefits, as well as federal Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
Experienced Lawyers That Pursue The Maximum Benefits
Naturally, employers would rather not have to pay on a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Many will undermine the claim, disregard the injury or even terminate the injured worker. Retaliation for reporting an accident or filing a claim is illegal.
Call Our Office Today
Call Ganly & Ramer, P.L.L.C., in Asheville or contact us online to get all of our North Carolina workers’ compensation questions answered. At a free initial consultation, we can explain what we do to legally represent you and why it pays to get an experienced professional on your side. We work on a contingency fee basis. You will not pay attorneys’ fees or case preparation costs if we do not help you obtain workers’ compensation benefits.
*North Carolina State Government Workers’ Compensation Employee Handbook