North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Guide

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Workers' Compensation Guide

The experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys at Stewart Law Offices fight for the rights of employees who are injured at work or diagnosed with a job-related disease. Call or contact us today to learn how we can build a workers’ compensation claim that demands maximum benefits for your injuries and losses.

What is Workers’ Compensation?

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer (or “workers’ comp”) provides medical coverage, wage reimbursement, and other non-monetary benefits to workers who are involved in workplace accidents or diagnosed with an occupational disease. North Carolina employers with three or more employees are required to carry workers’ compensation coverage, with certain exceptions.

Who Handles North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Claims?

The North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) oversees the state’s workers’ compensation system. Its deputy commissioners and commissioners are in charge of resolving disputes between injured workers, employers, and employers’ insurance companies over access to appropriate workers’ compensation benefits.

Workers’ Comp Statute of Limitations in NC

  • Workplace injury: 2 years from the date of injury
  • Occupational disease: 2 years from the date of diagnosis
  • Death benefits: 2 years from the date of death

Failure to file on time can bar a workers’ compensation claim forever.

Notification Requirements for Workers’ Compensation

  • Worker must report the injury to the employer within 30 days
  • File a Form 18 —Notice of Accident to Employer and Claim of Employee with the N.C. Industrial Commission (provide a copy to the employer)
  • Employer has 5 days from the date of injury or allegation of injury to file a Form 19 — Employer’s Report of Injury to Employee with its insurance carrier

Filing Requirements

All forms and documents must be filed with the NCIC electronically

Employer Response to Claims

  • Employer/insurance carrier has 30 days to admit, deny, or pay the claim without prejudice (by completing Form 60, 61 or 63, whichever is appropriate)
  • Employee must receive written explanation for denial of benefits within 14 days of receipt

Average Weekly Wage (AWW)

  • Calculated by totaling the amount of wages for 1 year prior to injury and dividing by 52
  • If the employee worked less than one year, divide wages by the number of weeks worked
  • Any period in which an employee missed more than 7 consecutive calendar days of work was not included in the calculation

Workers’ Comp Claim Compensation Rates

  • Calculation: 66⅔ percent of average weekly wage not exceeding the state’s maximum rate
  • Maximum rate: Adjusted annually ($1,028 for 2019)
  • Minimum rate: $30 a week
  • Mileage: Reimbursed for medical treatment more than 20 miles from home (Also adjusted annually — 58 cents per mile for 2019)
  • Other costs: Travel, hotel and food costs may also be reimbursed

Waiting Period For Payment

  • Must wait 7 days before benefits (aside from medical expenses) can be paid
  • If you are out of work for more than 21 days, you will be reimbursed for the first 7 days
  • Payments are made weekly unless NCIC directs otherwise

Medical Benefits For Eligible Workers

  • Covered costs: Employer must pay for medical treatment that can cure an injury, relieve pain, or help the employee get back to work. Includes payment for medical conditions that are a “direct and natural consequence” of job injury.

Handling Workers’ Comp Disputes in North Carolina

If medical treatment and wage reimbursement do not happen promptly, an employee can call the insurance carrier or request a hearing with the NCIC by filing a Form 33 — Request That Claim Be Assigned for Hearing

Types of Disability Benefits

Temporary Total Disability (TTD)

  • For workers who are totally disabled (but temporarily) after a workplace accident
  • 66⅔ percent of AWW wage not exceeding the state’s maximum compensation rate
  • Limited to 500 weeks for accidents occurring after 6/24/11; no cap on claims before that date
  • Benefits still payable while employee is authorized to return to work but with restrictions

Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)

  • Paid when healing worker can return to work but will be earning lower wages
  • 66⅔ percent of difference between AWW pre-injury and AWW post-injury, not to exceed state maximum
  • Limit of 300 weeks for injuries before 6/24/11; 500 weeks for injuries after 6/24/11

Permanent Total Disability (PTD)

  • For employees who can never work again
  • Medical compensation and 66⅔ percent of AWW paid for lifetime of employee
  • Certain injuries are automatically considered PTD, including loss of both: Hands, arms, feet, legs, eyes, and any combination of two of the above.
  • May also include some traumatic brain injuries, paralysis, and severe burns to 33 percent or more of the body

Permanent Partial Disability

  • Payable to workers who have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) but continue to have impairments to “scheduled” body parts according to N.C. North Carolina Workers’ Comp Lawyer (N.C.G.S. §97-31)
  • MMI is determined by the doctor and the worker is assigned a rating that represents the percentage of loss of use
  • Scheduled body parts are entitled to benefits for a set number of weeks based on the percentage

Scheduled Members and Body Parts

Injury to Compensation (Weeks)

  • Arm – 240
  • Back-  300
    *If loss of use is more than 75 percent Total disability — 100 percent loss
  • Ears:
    One ear – 70
    Both – 150
  • Eye – 120
  • Fingers*:
    Thumb – 75
    First (index) – 45
    Second – 40
    Third – 25
    Fourth (little) – 20
    *Loss of first phalange of thumb/ finger counts loss of half of affected digit and compensation will be for one-half the weeks specified
  • Foot – 144
  • Hand – 200
  • Leg – 200
  • Toes*:
    Great – 35
    All others – 10
    *Loss of first phalange of any toe counts loss of half of affected digit and compensation will be for one-half the weeks specified
  • Serious head or facial disfigurement – Up to $20,000
    Serious bodily disfigurement – Up to $10,000
    Loss/permanent injury to any important organ – Up to $20,000

NC Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits

  • Death must be a compensable injury
  • Must occur within 6 years of date of accident or onset of disability, or within 2 years of a final determination of disability by NCIC (whichever is later)
  • Payable to dependents of employee, with burial expenses not exceeding $10,000
  • 500 weeks after death for claims after 6/24/11; some exceptions apply

Contact the N.C. Industrial Commission

Mailing Address

1240 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1240

Physical Location

430 N. Salisbury St.
Raleigh, NC 27603

NCIC Main Phone Number*

(919) 807-2501
(800) 688-8349
*Press 1 to find out the status of Form 18, 19 or to learn your NCIC File Number
*Press 3 for claims or procedure questions
*Press 0 for general questions

Fax Number

(919) 715-0282

Important N.C. Workers’ Compensation Forms

Getting in any kind of accident can change your life. We understand the stress, the medical bills, the time missed from work, and the pain and suffering that comes with serious injuries. That is why our dedicated personal injury lawyers in the Carolinas are here to help you move forward.