Most Injured Workers Entitled to Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Almost all employers in North Carolina are required by law to have workers’ compensation insurance in case one of their employees sustains an injury on the job. An injured worker is entitled to receive fully paid medical care and a portion of his or her wages while recovering. Workers’ compensation covers the cost of medical treatments, rehabilitation costs, and lost wages associated with their injury, as well as protect employers from the threat of lawsuits.
Types of Work-Related Injuries
There are many types of work-related injuries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent Employer-Reported Workplace Injury and Illness Summary states that 3 million nonfatal injuries and illnesses occurred in the workplace in 2013. More than half of the reported injuries and illnesses required employees to take time away from work, perform limited duties, or get a job transfer.
The most common injuries in workers’ compensation claims are:
- Overexertion: This type of injury occurs when an individual pulls a muscle or pushes the body past its limits. Typing, lifting heavy objects, pulling, pushing, and being forced to work in an awkward position can all lead to overexertion injuries. More than three million people visit hospitals seeking treatment for overexertion injuries, making it the most common cause of workers’ compensation claims.
- Slip and fall or trip and fall accidents: Most slip and fall or trip and fall accidents result in soft tissue injuries, such as abrasions, sprains, and torn ligaments or tendons, or bruising. Many fall injuries occur when an employee is walking on a slick surface or uneven surface. Lack of warning signs, poor lighting, and inadequate safety training contribute to many slip and fall accidents in the workplace. In North Carolina, 11 workers sustained fatal injuries on the job in fall accidents in 2013.
- Falls from heights: Employees whose jobs require them to climb ladders or work at a significant height are at risk of a serious fall injury. A construction worker falling off scaffolding, a painter falling off a ladder, or an office worker falling down a flight of stairs are all instances of falls from a height which could lead to broken bones, head injuries, and back trauma. A fall from a significant height may cause permanent disability.
- Bodily reaction injuries: In some cases, an employee’s effort to break a fall can cause the body to twist awkwardly, pulling or straining the muscles. These types of injuries are called bodily reaction injuries and can be sustained by bending, climbing, reaching for objects, or standing up quickly.
- Struck by an object: When employees are working on a ladder or in an elevated area and their tools are not safely secured, objects can fall and strike a fellow employee. Injuries from this type of workplace accident include lacerations, bruises, broken bones, or more serious back and head injuries.
- Being struck against an object: This type of injury generally occurs when an individual falls into a barricade or hard surface, such as a wall, door, cabinet, bookshelf, or table. Injuries may include bruises, broken bones, lacerations, concussions, or bodily reaction injuries.
- Highway incidents: Traffic accidents are a leading source of work-related injuries and fatalities. Transportation-related accidents took the lives of 41 workers in North Carolina in 2013, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employees who transport goods and materials, or who drive others around for a living, are most risk of being involved in a truck accident, car accident, or other type of highway incident.
- Machinery accidents: Factory workers, farmers, construction workers, miners, and any other profession which requires the use of large, heavy machinery face a significant risk of sustaining injury in a machinery accident. These types of accidents often lead to severe injuries including broken bones, crushed limbs, mutilation, amputation, or injuries that result in permanent disability.
- Repetitive motion injuries: Individuals who have work duties that involve the same motions to be performed over and over are at risk of sustaining repetitive motion injuries. Typing, sitting down at a desk all day, lifting boxes, cleaning, and doing assembly line work, are all examples of repetitive activities that can lead to injury. Workplace injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis that develop gradually through repetitive tasks are still workplace injuries.
- Violence in the workplace: Police officers, security guards, and nursing staff have work duties that place them at a higher risk of workplace violence. Any place of work that may have high levels of stress, office politics, or heated arguments can at times cause violence to erupt. Injuries from assaults include bruises, lacerations, broken bones, head injuries, or loss of life.
What Do I Do If My Employer Denies My Workplace Injury?
If your employer challenges your claim and asserts your injuries are not related to your duties at work, get legal help immediately. Denied claims are not uncommon. You have the legal right to appeal the denial and with the help of a skilled workers’ compensation attorney, you will have the help you need to substantiate your claim and get the benefits you so badly need paid in full.
What Are My Legal Rights After a Workplace Injury?
After a workplace injury, it is your legal right to file a workers’ comp claim to pay for all medical costs related to your injury, as well as a percentage of the wages you lost as a result of it. You may be required to go to a clinic or medical professional that was chosen by your employer. If you are unable to work due to a temporary or permanent disability, you have the right to seek disability benefits. Appealing a denial of benefits is your right. Employees also have the right to legal representation following a workplace injury.
If you have sustained injury in a workplace accident in North Carolina, seek legal counsel from an experienced attorney right away.
- S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics: Employer-Reported Workplace Injury and Illness Summary
- Healthline: The Understated Injury: Overexertion
- eMedicinehealth: Repetitive Motion Injuries