North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act
The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act is a state program that is designed to compensate employees for work-related injuries and families who lose a loved in a workplace accident. The program is set up as insurance that’s meant to cover a worker’s total medical costs and a portion of any lost income.
The North Carolina Department of Labor conducted investigations of 40 workplace fatalities in fiscal year 2014, although the actual number of workplace fatalities in higher because the agency’s data excludes independent contractors. The most common type of workplace accidents causing fatal injuries in North Carolina were:
Free Worker’s Compensation Book
Worker’s compensation is a “no fault” system. This means you usually don’t have to show that your employer did anything wrong. You simply have to prove you were injured while working. However, employers and insurance companies sometimes try to pay less than what a claim is actually worth or wrongfully deny a valid claim.
North Carolina’s no-fault system means you just need to provide evidence that you were hurt while working. Even if the injury was accidentally caused by you, your employer, a co-worker, dangerous chemicals or a defective product, you could be entitled to benefits. That’s because the claim process is centered on providing compensation for legitimate, serious workplace injuries – not prosecuting potential offenders.
Common North Carolina Workplace Accidents and Injuries
The Liberty Mutual Insurance Company compiles an annual Workplace Safety Index of serious, non-fatal workplace injuries. The Index is based on workers’ compensation insurance claims from across the country and on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and the National Academy of Social Insurance.
The 10 most frequent causes of disabling workplace injuries in the 2014 Workplace Safety Index were:
- Overexertion (from lifting, pushing, pulling, holding, carrying and/or throwing)
- Falls on the same level
- Falls to a lower level
- Bodily reaction injuries (caused by bending, reaching, climbing, standing, sitting)
- Being struck by object (such as something falling from above)
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Being caught in or compressed by machinery or objects
- Being struck against objects (including walking into or being pushed into doors or walls)
- Repetitive motion injuries (i.e., repeated stress or strain)
- Slipping and/or tripping without falling.
Common North Carolina workplace accidents might be caused by:
- Lack of gear for protecting the head, eyes, ears, torso, feet, etc.
- Collapsed scaffolding (falls and being struck against objects)
- Unsafe tools or machinery
- Insufficient illumination
- Improper ventilation or lack of respiratory equipment
- Lack of proper training
- Other unsafe practices or OSHA violations.
Common North Carolina workplace injuries from these types of accidents include:
- Lacerations (cuts)
- Electrical shock
- Impact injuries (bruises, concussions, bone fractures, joint dislocations, spinal injuries, etc.).
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median number of days that injured workers are away from work is eight days. Significantly, more than a fourth of workers who are injured on the job are out of work for 31 days or longer. The occupations with the highest number of non-fatal workplace injuries include:
- Laborers and freight handlers
- Tractor trailer truck drivers
- Nursing assistants
- Retail salespersons
N.C. Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Depending on the circumstances of your accident and injuries, the types of North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits you may receive include compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Rehabilitation costs (physical therapy, psychological services, vocational services)
- Anticipated medical expenses
- Lost wages and lost productivity.
In the case of a fatal workplace accident, your family may obtain a death benefit.
If it can be shown that the injured worker’s employer or another party involved in the incident failed to follow established safety rules and regulations, a lawsuit may ask a court to award punitive damages.
Filing a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Claim
The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act is complex and can be confusing. So, it’s natural to feel as if you’re in over your head.
There are certain steps to take when filing a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation claim to help make sure you get the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve. These steps include reporting the injury, recording the circumstances of the injury in writing, and completing and submitting a North Carolina Industrial Commission Form 18.
In order for your claim to be successful, you need to show that your workplace injury occurred due to an unexpected event that interfered with your usual routine. A slip, trip or fall, for example, could qualify you for workers’ compensation benefits.
Additionally, you must also show a causal connection between your job and the injury that occurred. This means you have to provide evidence that you were performing an authorized activity approved by your supervisor at the time of the accident.
Any of several common mistakes in North Carolina workers’ compensation cases can derail your claim and cause it to be denied or approved with a benefit that is less than what you deserve. That’s why it’s crucial to seek the assistance of a skilled and experienced N.C. workers’ compensation lawyer when filing for benefits.
What should you expect when you file a North Carolina workers’ compensation claim? If your claim is allowed, you will begin to receive benefit checks within a few weeks. These funds will allow you to pay your bills until you are able to return to work.
However, workers’ compensation insurers can and often do dispute the idea that the worker’s injury was related to his or her job. This may delay the start of benefits or result in a valid claim being rejected.
If your workers’ compensation claim is denied, or benefits that are approved are not sufficient to meet your needs, you have the right to appeal that decision. This can be another complicated and often lengthy process.
Contact a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act exists to protect employees who have been hurt on the job. But the process of making a claim can be daunting. The complicated nature of these laws may add to an already stressful situation.
However, the attorneys at Hardison & Cochran are here to assist you through the entire process to get you the compensation you deserve. We serve injured workers across North Carolina, including those located in Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Wake County, Fayetteville, Dunn, Greensboro, Research Triangle Park, Wilmington, the Triangle, the Triad, Person County and Southern Pines.
If you or someone you love has suffered a workplace injury or illness, call the experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers at Hardison & Cochran toll-free at (800) 434-8399 or fill out our online contact form. You’ll get a response within 24 hours. That’s because we take every workers’ compensation claim seriously. Let us help you today.