Employers in every state must provide their employees with a reasonably safe work environment, but work-related injuries happen—everything from broken bones to repetitive stress injuries, even occupational illness. This article will examine workers' rights when injured on the job and how to pursue workers' compensation in NC.
Fortunately, most workers in North Carolina are entitled to receive workers' compensation benefits if they suffer an on-the-job injury. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule. For the most part, injured workers can apply to receive these benefits. Workers' compensation in NC can help replace some of the income you lose when you cannot return to work as you recover from the injury.
However, the unfortunate reality is that applying for and being approved to receive workers' compensation in NC can often be a complicated and drawn-out process. Your application is not just "rubber stamped" for approval. This is why many injured workers feel the need to get legal information about their rights.
At The Law Offices of John M. McCabe, we do our best to ensure that our clients have the information they need to make good decisions as they go through the workers' compensation application process. And if the claim is denied, we also work with clients during appeals. For more information, please visit our workers' compensation overview section.
Workers' compensation in NC pay for the employee's medical bills and 2/3rds of a worker's weekly wages if the worker is unable to work due to illness or injury. Other benefits, including survivor's benefits after a fatal accident or permanent disability, may also be available. The good news is that these benefits are awarded without employees having to prove someone else is responsible for their injuries. Although it is unfortunately not always the case, in theory, work benefits are supposed to be paid efficiently so injured workers in Cary, and their families can have the money they need in their pockets.
Workers' compensation laws vary from state to state, but generally speaking, you have the right to:
The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act (NCWCA) states that all businesses with three or more employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance. This includes businesses operating as:
Even when one's work comp case goes smoothly, a family may find that the benefits are insufficient to cover their out-of-pocket expenses. Furthermore, workers' compensation benefits do not pay for people's non-economic losses like pain, suffering, or emotional distress.
The trade-off in the workers' compensation program is that by paying benefits, employers in North Carolina receive protection from most personal injury lawsuits at the hands of their employees. This is true even if the employer was legally responsible for the employee's injuries.
Sometimes an on-the-job injury is caused by the fault or negligence of a third party, such as the manufacturer of defective equipment or the driver of a delivery truck. You may have the right to bring an injury claim against that person or entity. Typically, such a claim isn't filed in the workers' compensation universe but in civil court as a lawsuit.
Filing a civil lawsuit for work-related injuries means you can typically seek payment for some losses ("damages" in the language of the law) that aren't recoverable in a workers' compensation claim.
For example, the benefits you receive in a workers' compensation claim are typically intended to reimburse you for your medical expenses and lost wages—you are usually not allowed to seek compensation for "non-economic" damages, such as the mental and physical pain and suffering resulting from your injuries. But these damages are recoverable in a personal injury lawsuit against a third party. Learn more about when you can sue outside of workers' comp.
The first thing to do to protect your rights is to report your injury to your employer. Most states require that you register your injury within a specific time, typically the same day or within a few days of the incident. The sooner, the better. Learn more about what happens when you're late reporting a workplace injury.
The next step you can take to protect your rights is filing a workers' compensation claim with the state's workers' compensation court or industrial court. This puts your employer, the court, and your employer's insurance company on formal notice of your injury.
Once your claim is filed, certain automatic protections are immediately put in place, and we'll look at those in the next section.
In understanding your rights to act as an injured employee, it's just as important to understand your right to refuse specific requests or offers and to be free from harassment and intimidation when making a workplace injury claim.
For example, if you are injured, and your employer encourages you to use your health insurance to pay for your medical treatment rather than make a workers' compensation claim, you have the right to say "no." (Learn more about seeking medical treatment for a work-related injury.)
Similarly, if your boss offers you some incentive to get you not to file a workers' compensation claim, you have the right to say "no."
The laws in each state allow you to pursue a workers' compensation claim without fear of reprisal or harassment from your employer. However, if your employer makes it difficult for you to exercise these rights freely, they could face various penalties.
There are many jobs out there, but some are known for being dangerous and causing more workplace injuries than others. Let's review some of those dangerous jobs:
Construction and manufacturing employees can fall from ladders or rooftops and can be hit by falling debris. While they can take some safety precautions like wearing a hard hat and watching for warning signs on the job site, these hazards can be unavoidable.
People working in an office environment may not think they could suffer an injury. However, one of the most common injuries in an office is repetitive motion, which can result from keyboard and mouse use.
Workers may also suffer from eye strain from fluorescent lights or computer screen use. While an ergonomics team can help employees set up their office space, it may not eliminate all of the risks of injury.
Retail employees are at risk of slips and falls and injuries caused by heavy lifting to stock shelves. They may also suffer from musculoskeletal damage from standing for many hours each day.
Healthcare workers may suffer from sprains and strains, overexertion and cuts, or other wounds while caring for patients.
If a person is injured at work, he or she may want to contact an experienced attorney who can discuss the options to pursue a workers’ compensation claim. An attorney can also help workers who were fired for making a claim or who were denied benefits. Workers need to know that they have a remedy under the law for their injuries.
Most employees in North Carolina probably never even think about the potential to get injured at work. However, thousands of people in the state may be in employment positions with a risk of injury – construction workers, manufacturing workers, truck drivers, government workers, and healthcare workers, for example. For anyone who has suffered an injury in the workplace, taking action as soon as possible can be crucial.
Some jobs that can be particularly dangerous can include:
In North Carolina, thousands of workers submit claims for workers’ compensation each year after an on-the-job injury or illness occurs. And the good news is that this program covers the vast majority of employees in the state. However, the burden is often on you to ensure you go through the proper process to get the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve.
You’ll need to report the injury or illness to your employer quickly. If the injury or illness is work-related or occurred at the workplace, hopefully, there will be no dispute about your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits. But that isn’t always the case. Employers may dispute your claim for benefits, or your claim may be denied outright. In such a situation, you may have legal options to consider, including an appeal of a denied workers’ compensation claim.
Workers who are injured on the job or who have been killed on the job have workers' compensation protections available to them and their families. A workplace accident can change the lives of workers and families forever, which is why they should be familiar with the different resources and legal protections available to them.
People in North Carolina rely on their jobs to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families. They work many different types of jobs, though. Some have more inherent dangers than others; workers can suffer injuries when accidents occur. This can be very detrimental to the worker, especially if it is a significant injury. The worker may require significant medical treatment and miss time at work, losing income.
In these situations, not only is the worker dealing with the physical difficulties associated with the injury, but they could also be dealing with financial problems. If the worker was injured at work, though, they might be able to receive workers' compensation benefits. These benefits can pay for the medical bills and a portion of the typical income while they cannot work. These benefits can be significant, and workers must receive the benefits they deserve.
Here are the steps you need to take if you have been injured on the job.
The severity of the injuries can vary greatly, but if the worker is able, they should notify their employer of the injury. Workers should also ensure that the appropriate manager of the company or owner knows about the accident and injury. If the worker cannot notify them personally, have a family member notify them in writing.
Seek medical treatment right away. Finally, continue to follow the advice and instructions from the doctors for treatment.
Call our workers' compensation lawyers today if you need help with your claim. We can get the most out of your claim and protect you and your family.
Over 84% of nonfatal workplace injuries that involve time away from work fall into three categories. The three categories include overexertion and bodily reaction; slips, trips, and falls; and contact with objects and equipment.
Overexertion and bodily reaction injuries include non-impact injuries that result from excessive physical effort directed at an outside source and repetitive motion injuries. Slips and trips can occur without a fall, falling on the same level or falling to a lower level. The type of slip, trip, and fall can impact the nature and extent of the injury and the needs and recovery process of the injured worker.
Equipment-related injuries can be severe. These types of injuries can occur when a moving object strikes the worker; when a worker strikes against an object or equipment; when a part of the worker's body is squeezed, pinched, compressed, or crushed in equipment or in between equipment or other objects; a worker is struck, caught or crushed in a collapse of a building or trench; or because of vibration or friction on a job site.