How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in North Carolina
Experienced Charlotte worksite injury lawyers helping you make a claim for benefits
An injury at work can turn into a financial disaster. Your family may lose its sole breadwinner. Or, you may need to quickly get used to living on one income instead of two. At the same time, you may face massive medical bills. This is why you need to know your workers’ compensation rights. At Warren & Kallianos, PLLC, we are here to explain those rights to you. We can also help you to explore all options available to you.
Here, we describe how to file a workers’ compensation claim in North Carolina. We also talk about the role that a lawyer can play in your case. Keep in mind: the process is rarely smooth and glitch-free. Unfortunately, many employers and insurers make it hard for injured workers to get the medical and disability benefits they deserve. It helps to work with an attorney who knows how to overcome obstacles.
Steps When Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim in North Carolina
The workers’ compensation system in North Carolina can cover all of your work injury-related medical expenses and some – but not all – of the wages you lose due to your inability to work or to work like you did before. So, you should certainly learn more about your right to these benefits. You also should know the following steps that go into filing a workers’ compensation claim in our state:
- Give notice to your employer. You may be entitled to workers’ compensation if you were injured on the job or developed an occupational disease due to your job environment. The first thing you must do to preserve your rights is to notify your employer. You should do this as fast as possible. Unless your employer has actual knowledge of your work-related accident and injury, the law generally requires you to notify your employer in writing within 30 days of your work injury. If you claim an occupational disease, you must generally notify your employer within 30 days of your initial diagnosis.
- Get immediate medical attention. When you are injured on the job, your employer’s work comp insurance carrier will have the right to ask that you receive medical care from its in-network providers. Emergency medical care will be billed to the insurance carrier rather than your health insurance. In most cases, the insurance carrier must authorize any follow-up care ordered by your treating physician. However, disputes often arise when an insurer refuses to approve a medical provider or type of treatment. An experienced attorney from our firm can help in this area.
- Follow your doctor’s orders. In the majority of cases, you should follow doctor’s orders as closely as possible. For instance, if you have been instructed not to lift more than 20 pounds, don’t do it. Failing to follow a doctor’s orders can hurt you and your case. The employer’s doctors determine when you can return to work. Often, disputes arise over whether your old job or the job you are offered is suitable based on your injuries. You should also be aware of your rights to a second opinion.
- Write down everything. Each time you speak to someone about your case, keep notes. You may even wish to keep a log of your injuries and how they affect your daily life.
- Keep copies of everything. Workers’ compensation cases can take a long time to resolve. Still, throughout your case, you should keep everything, including medical bills and records, accident or incident reports, employer documents, disability statements, photographs, notes from conversations with healthcare providers and witness names.
- File your workers’ compensation claim. You have two years from the date of your injury or initial diagnosis with an occupational disease in order to bring your claim before the Industrial Commission. This statute of limitations is strict and cannot be waived by agreement or due to a mistake. The best option for both notifying your employer and preserving your rights is to file a Form 18 “Notice of Accident”within 30 days. Your attorney can assist with this process.
You Can Request a Hearing if Your Claim for Compensation Is Denied
Many workers’ compensation claims are denied initially by employers and their insurers. As soon as you are notified of the denial, you may submit your request for a hearing, or Form 33, to the Industrial Commission.
The sooner you call an attorney, the better. Often, a lawyer can take procedural and strategic steps early in your case which can improve your chances of a swift and successful claim. At Warren & Kallianos, our consultations are always free. So, you have nothing to lose by simply giving us a call.
As a Contractor, Can I Collect Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
No, you cannot. Contractors are not entitled to workers’ comp. Instead you would need to file a third-party personal injury lawsuit against your employer or the person who is accountable for your injuries. If you were hurt because of a defective product, like a faulty press or a malfunctioning forklift, then you may be able to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer.
What Other Benefits Am I Entitled to Receive?
If you are injured on a worksite or in the course of your duties, you may be entitled to additional benefits. They include:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Veterans’ Benefits (VA)
You should know that in some cases, accepting additional benefits may cause your workers’ compensation to be canceled. For example, you cannot collect Disability and Comp at the same time. However, if you are awarded compensation for disfigurement, your award will not be reduced nor reclaimed if you apply for Disability.
Charlotte’s Trusted Legal team for Workers’ Compensation Claims
Strict deadlines and notice requirements apply to workers’ compensation claims in North Carolina. So, don’t wait too long to act. For peace of mind, call a team of attorneys with the experience and resources to tackle even the most complex workers’ comp cases. Contact Warren & Kallianos today by calling 704-377-7777, or by filling out our contact form.