If you suffered severe injuries or your loved one was killed in an accident at work in Charlotte or the surrounding area of North Carolina, you should contact an attorney for help-seeking all of the workers’ compensation benefits you may be entitled to.
The workers’ compensation lawyers in Charlotte at Stewart Law Offices, LLC stand up for the legal rights of people who have been hurt at work. You can have our lawyers review your case as soon as you call us or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
What Do You Do If You Get Hurt at Work in Charlotte?
In general, most workers in North Carolina are covered by workers’ compensation and have the ability to obtain benefits when they were injured on the job. Workers’ compensation benefits are available regardless of fault.
Chapter 97 of the North Carolina General Statutes is known as the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. The act requires all businesses employing three or more employees to obtain workers’ compensation insurance or qualify as self-insured employers, so workers’ compensation benefits can be paid to employees.
Some exceptions do exist to this requirement, including employees of certain railroads, casual employees, domestic servants directly employed by the household, federal government employees in North Carolina, and certain sellers of agricultural products.
The first thing that a person must do after an accident on the job is to seek medical attention. Some employers may have on-site health providers, but other employers may have designated a health care office that should be visited for treatment of work-related injuries.
A person can obtain information about their employer’s workers’ compensation carrier from the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) by searching the Insurance Coverage Search System, filing a Form 18 asserting a claim against the employer, or after an employer or carrier submits a Form 19 reporting an injury. The NCIC will send an acknowledgment letter containing information about the insurance carrier after Form 18 is processed. You can contact the NCIC if you have not received this information.
When there is no on-site or designated health care provider, you should go to whatever medical facility is capable of providing the treatment you need. You will then have 30 days to provide written notice of your injury to your employer, and the notice only needs to describe your injury and the date of the accident. You should save a copy of this letter for your records.
An employee will have to file a Notice of Accident to Employer and Claim of Employee, Representative, or Dependent (Form 18) with the North Carolina Industrial Commission while the employer must file an Employer’s Report of Employee’s Injury or Occupational Disease to the Industrial Commission (Form 19).
What Is the North Carolina Industrial Commission?
The NCIC is the state agency created specifically to administer the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. The NCIC is composed of a chairperson, a vice-chairperson, and four commissioners.
What Does the Industrial Commission Do?
The NCIC administers the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act by providing claims servicing and resolutions to disputed issues. The NCIC reviews the status of insurance coverage for employers subject to the Workers’ Compensation Act and promotes the resolution of disputes through mediation.
The NCIC tries to resolve controversies by rendering impartial decisions. It also facilitates medical care and rehabilitation for injured workers in addition to providing education and training to employers so potential accidents can be reduced in the workplace.
The NCIC also investigates criminal violations of the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act.
How Long Do You Have to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in North Carolina?
A person must report their injury to their employer within 30 days. Filing a Form 18 with the NCIC will often satisfy this requirement.
The statute of limitations for a workers’ compensation case is two years. Form 18 must be submitted within two years of the date of an injury, or the worker will lose their right to workers’ compensation.
Tips for Obtaining Workers’ Compensation Benefits Successfully
When you are injured in an accident on the job, your first steps should be to get medical care and report the injury to your employer. If any co-workers or other people saw the accident, make sure that you know their names and phone numbers.
Do not speak to anybody about your accident other than your attorney. Be especially careful not to write about the accident or post social media status updates discussing the accident or your injuries.
It is a good idea to hire an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer before speaking to any of your employer’s insurance representatives. The claims adjusters will often seem very friendly and concerned when they initially contact you, but they are usually just trying to find ways to reduce your benefits or outright reject your claim.
We also advise that you not talk to any insurance company without legal representation. You should refuse to provide a recorded statement without the advice of your attorney.
You should prepare for possibly being requested to submit to an independent medical examination (IME), which is an evaluation performed by a company’s selected health professional. Make sure you contact a lawyer before agreeing to any IME, as these exams are usually intended to find reasons to deny or minimize workers’ compensation benefits.
Be mindful of the fact that your activities could also be watched by private investigators working for your employer’s insurance carrier. The investigators will see if the activities you engage in outside the workplace indicate that your injuries are not as severe as you claimed.
How to File Workers’ Compensation in Charlotte, North Carolina
After you have notified your employer of your accident and filed a Form 18 with the NCIC, the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company will either accept or deny the claim. If accepted, you will not be paid workers’ compensation wage-replacement benefits for the first seven days you are out of work, but you can recover benefits for the first seven days once you have missed 21 days of work.
Your employer will be required to immediately report any injury or occupational disease sustained in the course of employment that resulted in medical attention to its workers’ compensation insurance carrier. The employer must file a Form 19 with the NCIC within five days of learning of the injury when the injury causes an employee to miss more than one day of work or medical expenses exceed $2,000.
The employer or carrier must provide a copy of Form 19 to the employee with a blank Form 18 for the employee to complete.
What to Do If My Workers’ Comp Claim Is Denied
Workers’ compensation claims are frequently denied for multiple reasons. Some of the most common reasons that claims are denied include failure to follow a doctor’s instructions, disputes about whether an injury was work-related, and lack of medical records. Your employer may assert that you were actually an independent contractor, not an employee, and reject your claim. Although fault is generally not an issue in workers’ compensation, an employer may claim that the injured worker was intoxicated by alcohol or drugs or intentionally caused the injury.
The good news is that an initial denial of a workers’ compensation claim does not mean that a worker will be unable to obtain benefits. Injured workers often have several appeal options.
The NCIC will notify you within 14 days of your claim being denied, and you have 14 days from the date you receive your denial to file an appeal. The NCIC will typically schedule a mediation conference, at which an independent mediator will discuss your case with you and your employer’s insurance representative.
The mediator’s recommendation is forwarded to the NCIC, and an employee who disagrees with a mediator’s recommendation can request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). That hearing operates much like a trial, and an employee can then request a hearing before a panel of three ALJs if they disagree with the single ALJ decision.
Appealing a Decision of the Commissioner
When an employee disagrees with the decision of the NCIC, they can file an appeal with the North Carolina Court of Appeals. Any disagreement with a decision in that court could lead to an appeal to the Supreme Court of North Carolina, which is the court of last resort. The Supreme Court takes only the appeals it chooses to hear.
Throughout the appeals process, it can be essential to maintain contact with the NCIC to ensure that the agency has all of the necessary information and records. In some cases, correcting the record that the NCIC has on file can lead to changes in decisions that avoid the need for appeals.
What Is Form 61?
Form 61 is a Denial of Workers’ Compensation Claim. This is the form that an employer submits to the NCIC as well as the employee and any health care providers when the employer asserts a reason to deny a claim.
Form 61 leaves a blank space for an employer to write their reasons for denying a workers’ compensation claim. When an employee receives a Form 61, they can challenge the employer’s decision by submitting a Request That Claim Be Assigned for Hearing (Form 33).
Do I Need a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
Many people assume that they do not need an attorney to handle their workers’ compensation claims only to have their applications denied. We advise that you have legal help right away so you can try to avoid possible denials or delays in the handling of your claim.
The first benefit of hiring a lawyer for your case is that the attorney can immediately conduct an independent investigation of your accident. This will not only help determine the cause of your accident and allow the attorney to collect relevant evidence, but it can also help identify all of the liable parties.
It is essential to keep in mind that employers are not always the only parties responsible for a victim’s injuries. In some cases, a third party may have contributed to or caused an accident. If so, you may be able to seek compensation from them beyond the benefits workers’ compensation offers.
A lawyer will usually have the benefit of having previously handled multiple workers’ compensation claims and knowing what it takes to submit a claim successfully. If you are involved in any hearings, an attorney will be extremely helpful in providing legal representation during what can often be very stressful experiences.
How Our Law Firm Can Help
People who have been injured on the job usually have the right to compensation to cover their medical bills, lost wages, and other damages they have suffered. The workers’ compensation process in North Carolina can prove to be incredibly frustrating for many people, but you should know that you do not have to handle your claim by yourself.
Some people abandon hope after an initial denial but know that you have the right to appeal any denial of your benefits or an award that is less than the law says you deserve. Any initial oversights or errors can be corrected, and you can still seek the benefits you are entitled to.
Did you sustain serious workplace injuries or was your loved one killed on the job in the greater Charlotte area? Do not wait to contact the attorneys at Stewart Law Offices, LLC for help-seeking all of the workers’ compensation benefits that you need and deserve.
Call us or contact us online now to set up a free consultation.