Nine Common Mistakes Made in Workers’ Compensation Cases
The North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers at Hardison & Cochran assist workers in all phases of the workers’ compensation claim. We have seen how claims progress and where they go wrong.
Our managing partner, Benjamin T. Cochran, a board certified specialist in workers’ compensation law in North Carolina, has published a book entitled “9 Common Mistakes That Can Destroy Your Workers’ Compensation Case,” which we will mail to North Carolina residents free of charge.
The main points discussed in the book are:
- Failing to report the accident. Reporting your injury to your employer is the most important step in a workers’ compensation claim. If your employer has written policies for reporting and responding to worksite accidents, be sure to follow them. If there is no policy, make sure everyone knows about your injury: your supervisor, the personnel / human resources department, co-workers and any company medical or health care providers.
- Failing to make a full and accurate report to health care providers. Workers’ compensation benefits for an on-the-job injury will be based on medical records as well as other reports about the accident. If a dispute arises, the medical provider will be considered impartial, and their records will carry more weight. Make sure your doctor knows exactly what happened to you.
- Failing to file Form 18. The N.C. Industrial Commission administers the state’s workers’ compensation system. Every claim begins with the Industrial Commission’s Form 18, which is available online. Filing Form 18 is how an injured worker notifies his employer and the Commission that they are seeking benefits. It should be completed and filed ASAP.
- Failing to follow doctor’s orders. The point of the workers’ compensation program is to help injured workers recover. It is very important for an injured worker who is out of work and receiving weekly benefits to follow his doctor’s recommendations for medical treatment and therapy and to keep appointments. FaiIure to do so can jeopardize future benefit payments.
- Not knowing when to return to work. The workers’ comp insurer will likely prod your employer to find some work for you to do. A job of some sort will enable you to take home pay that defrays part of the benefit the insurer must pay. But, you should request a job description and have your doctor review it to determine whether it is work you are capable of performing given your injury and stage of recovery. Make sure you do not perform any job duties your doctor has not approved.
- Failing to request a second opinion. An injured worker must see the doctor his employer selects. But the employee has the legal right to see their own doctor as well. An employer’s doctor may direct the worker to return to work before they have fully recovered. Another doctor may believe otherwise and seek to have benefits continued.
- Settling for an improper disability rating. When a doctor decides an injured worker has recovered as well as can be expected, the worker is assigned a permanent partial disability rating. This rating determines the final workers’ compensation settlement. The worker should not agree to the rating unless they have returned to work at the same level of pay as they earned prior to their injury.
- Settling your workers’ comp claim without a job. When an injured employee cannot return to the job they had, their employer and insurer should provide job placement or vocational rehabilitation services. Unfortunately, the employer and insurer may shirk this duty (because it costs money) and try to convince the former employee they have done all they are obligated to do. This should be unacceptable to the willing worker.
- Not hiring an experienced N.C. workers’ compensation lawyer. Workers’ compensation lawyers deal with the workers’ comp system every day. They know the ins and outs and the shortcuts employers and insurance companies try to take. Sometimes a worker does not need an attorney to obtain a proper workers’ compensation settlement. But there’s no charge for an initial consultation, so it’s an opportunity to get free legal advice that often proves valuable.
An injured worker needs the time and opportunity to recover. It is not the time to fight bureaucratic rules and regulations. An experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney can free you from the burden of the benefits application process, including any appeals that may be necessary.
Contact a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
The information offered above only scratches the surface of the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. It may even have raised more questions in your mind. The lawyers at Hardison & Cochran are here to assist you through the entire workers’ compensation claims process to help you obtain the benefits you deserve.
Order your copy of Benjamin T. Cochran’s “9 Common Mistakes That Can Destroy Your Workers’ Compensation Case” and contact the North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers at Hardison & Cochran today toll free at (800) 434-8399 or through our online contact form if we can assist you further.
We help injured workers in Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Wake County, Fayetteville, Dunn, Greensboro, Research Triangle Park, Wilmington, the Triangle, the Triad, Person County and Southern Pines. We’ll respond to you within 24 hours because we take every workers’ compensation claim seriously. Let us help you today.