Steps to Take When Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says more than 900,000 workers across the country suffered injuries that prevented them from working for some length of time during 2011. Serious workplace injuries put workers in North Carolina out of work every day. On-the-job injuries cost workers the wages that they need for new medical expenses as well as for the cost of daily living.
The workers’ compensation system in North Carolina and other states is an insurance program that pays benefits to workers who cannot work because of a work-related injury or occupational disease. Unfortunately, filing for workers’ compensation benefits can be a complicated and lengthy process. Many injured workers do not receive the benefits they deserve.
If you or someone you love has suffered a job-related 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, and your initial consultation is always free.
North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act
The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act sets out a program designed to compensate employees for work-related injuries and illnesses. 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. Employers pay for workers’ compensation coverage that is provided by for-profit insurance companies.
Workers’ compensation is a “no fault” system. This means a worker usually doesn’t have to show that the employer did anything wrong. The worker must only prove the injury occurred while working. That’s because the claim process is centered on providing compensation for legitimate, serious workplace injuries, not prosecuting potential offenders.
Although workers’ compensation is supposed to function this way, employers and insurance companies sometimes try to pay less than what a claim is actually worth or to wrongfully deny a valid claim.
Steps You Need to Take for Filing Your N.C. Workers’ Compensation Claim
There are certain steps to take after a workplace injury to help make sure you get the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve. These steps include:
1. Inform your employer about your injury as soon as possible. Even if you don’t miss any work and even if it’s related to an existing condition, make sure to take this first step.
2. See a doctor. If your employer has a health care provider onsite and instructs you to see that person (as policy or specifically after your injury), do so. If your employer sends you to a health care provider away from your work site, go as instructed. You may also see your own doctor, but you must see any doctor your employer designates.
3. Tell the doctor about your work-related injury or illness. The doctor should know that your injury happened in a work accident or your illness developed while you were engaged in your assigned job duties. You must provide your employer’s name. This allows the doctor to record the visit and any care provided as a workers’ comp expense.
4. Within 30 days of the injury, report it in writing to your employer. Include the date of the accident and a brief description of what happened. Do this no matter how much your employer already knows about your accident and/or injury.
5. Follow your doctor’s instructions. Any directions you receive from your doctor and/or the doctor provided by your employer pertaining to your workplace injury or illness must be followed.
6. Make sure your claim is filed correctly. North Carolina workers’ compensation claims are made to the N.C. Industrial Commission. All claims begin with the Industrial Commission’s Form 18. Form 18 is available in paper and electronic form. It must be filled out completely and submitted.
If you don’t file Form 18 within two years of a workplace accident, you might be denied benefits. However, if you can show that your employer or the insurance company tried to pressure you not to file or misled you about your rights, prolonging the process of filing this form, you might still be eligible for compensation.
7. Complete all paperwork. There will be additional forms as your claim is processed. Do not fail to properly complete and submit any form that applies to your claim.
8. Make and keep copies of everything. Make copies of everything – every letter, every medical report, every bill and every completed form. If there is a dispute regarding your workers’ compensation claim, you will need to show that you did what you were instructed to do to recover from your injury and to obtain the benefits you deserve.
For your claim to be successful, you will need to show that your workplace injury occurred due to an unexpected event that interfered with your usual work routine. An injury caused by a slip, trip or fall, for example, could qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
Not all workers’ compensation claims are related to a single incident. Occupational injuries that occur over time can also qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. Some claims are filed because of work-related diseases or conditions that happen over time, such as repetitive trauma injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, or a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) caused by years of inhaling toxic chemical fumes at a job site.
But you must also show a causal connection between your job and the injury or illness that your claim is about. This means you have to provide evidence that you were performing an authorized activity approved by your supervisor at the time of the accident or that your job duties contributed to your illness.
Contact a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act creates a program designed to protect employees who have been hurt or fallen ill on the job. But the process of making a claim can be daunting. The complexity of the law often adds to an already stressful situation. However, the North Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys at Hardison & Cochran are here to assist you through the entire process to see to it that you get the compensation you deserve.
Our dedicated service to injured workers in North Carolina extends to many parts of the state, including 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 complete our online contact form. We’ll respond within 24 hours because we take every workers’ compensation claim seriously. Let us help you today.