Gastonia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
If you or a loved one was injured in a workplace accident or has contracted an occupational illness in Gastonia, you probably know that you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. However, you may not be sure how to go about claiming your benefits. If you are severely injured or ill, your time and energy may also be focused on your recovery, rather than worrying about filling out claim forms.
The dedicated Gastonia personal injury attorneys of Stewart Law Offices, are here to help you navigate the complex claims system and seek the full benefits you need after a workplace injury. Our experienced lawyers have helped injured and ill workers in Gastonia and all over the Carolinas file claims for workers’ compensation benefits that have allowed them to recover from their injuries and illnesses and provide for their families.
Our legal team is ready to sit down with you and discuss your situation when you contact us at (866) 465-7851 today. An initial consultation with a knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer in Gastonia is free and confidential.
What Does Workers’ Compensation Cover?
When you are injured on the job or develop an illness from your work, workers’ compensation provides certain types of benefits, including:
- Medical treatment: Your employer may be obligated to pay for all expenses incurred in treating your work-related injury or illness, such as doctor’s visits, surgery, medication, physical therapy, and durable medical equipment.
- Temporary wage replacement: If your injury or illness renders you incapable of working, your employer may be required to pay you wage replacement, up to a maximum of 500 weeks, equal to two-thirds of your average weekly wage.
- Permanent disability benefits: If you suffer a permanent disability, you may be entitled to a permanent disability payment if your disability or disfigurement is partial, or to lifetime disability benefits if your disability renders you incapable of any work in the future.
- Job retraining: If you can’t return to your old job but you have the physical capacity to perform some other kind of work, workers’ compensation benefits may include vocational rehabilitation and job retraining to equip you with the skills to perform other jobs.
- Death benefits: If an immediate family member is killed by a work-related injury or illness, the dependent family may be entitled to weekly wage replacement benefits for a minimum of 500 weeks.
Why Do You Need a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Gastonia?
In some cases, you may be capable of handling your workers’ compensation claim on your own. These circumstances generally include you having suffered a minor injury, for which you missed no time from work and for which your employer has agreed to pay compensation (usually for any medical treatment).
However, if your injury or illness is more severe, speaking with a Gastonia experienced worker compensation attorney would be a wise decision. You might want to consult an attorney if:
- You don’t feel like you understand the workers’ compensation claim process or would feel more comfortable having a legal professional handle your claim.
- You require surgery or long-term treatment, like physical therapy, to treat your injuries.
- Your treating physician believes the injured parts of your body won’t return to the condition they were before your accident.
- You are not physically capable of returning to your old job or of performing any gainful work whatsoever.
- You have pre-existing conditions that interact with your work-related injuries.
- You want to dispute a decision made by your employer, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurer, or the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
- Your employer or its workers’ compensation insurer is disputing a determination by the Industrial Commission.
- You believe you may be entitled to additional workers’ compensation benefits.
No matter the circumstances of your workplace accident or the severity of your injury, you are entitled to have an attorney assist you with your workers’ compensation claim. A workers’ compensation attorney will collect evidence of your accident and injuries intended to demonstrate that your employer is liable to pay workers’ compensation benefits.
If you are unable to return to your old job or return to any kind of work, a Gastonia workers’ compensation lawyer can advise you as to your options for retraining or permanent disability benefits under workers’ compensation or Social Security Disability benefits.
How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in Gastonia
Under North Carolina law, if you are injured on the job, you have an obligation to notify your employer of your injury or illness and to file a workers’ compensation claim with the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
You are required to notify your employer in a timely manner, typically within 30 days of the incident. Even if you have notified your employer of your injury, you cannot rely upon your employer to file a claim on your behalf with the Industrial Commission.
Most injured workers can satisfy both the notice and filing requirements by completing a Form 18 Notice of Accident, filing it with the Industrial Commission, and sending a copy to the employer within 30 days.
State law also imposes certain time restrictions on filing a workers’ compensation claim:
- If you are injured in an accident, you must file your claim within two years of the date of injury, unless your employer pays wage replacement benefits. If your employer has provided medical treatment, you must file your claim within two years of the last payment for medical treatment.
- If you claim to have an occupational disease, you must file your claim within two years of the later of 1) the date you are advised by a doctor that you have a work-related disease, or 2) the date you are first disabled as a result of your occupational disease. Again, if your employer is paying for medical treatment, you have two years from the date of last payment for treatment to file a claim.
Do not hesitate to file a claim if you have been injured on the job or been diagnosed with an occupational disease. If you are not sure what to do, please contact our Gastonia workers’ compensation attorneys for guidance related to your specific case.
What to Do If You’ve Been Injured on the Job in Gastonia
If you are injured on the job in Gastonia, there are specific steps you should take to protect your rights to workers’ compensation, such as:
- Notify your employer: You have an obligation to notify your employer of your accident and your injury or illness within 30 days. The sooner you report your injury, the better. You can notify your supervisor in person when the accident occurs, but you should follow up with a written notice within the 30-day timeframe. You should also keep a copy of the written notice for your records.
- Seek medical attention as soon as possible: You should seek medical treatment as soon as possible after your accident to establish the extent of your injuries. In some circumstances, your employer may be entitled to require you to seek treatment with a particular medical provider to be eligible for workers’ compensation medical treatment benefits, unless you require emergency medical attention, which you can seek anywhere. You should follow all your doctor’s orders and attend all follow-up appointments.
- Keep copies of medical expenses: It is also a good idea to keep copies of your medical bills, especially if your employer is not yet compensating you for your medical expenses. If the Industrial Commission later determines that your employer is required to compensate you, you’ll be able to claim those expenses.
- Keep a journal of your injuries: Keeping a journal of your injuries, including the extent of your pain and how they prevent you from performing work duties or normal daily activities may be helpful if you need to claim that your injuries have temporarily or permanently disabled you from work.
- Speak with a workers’ compensation attorney in Gastonia: When your workers’ compensation claim involves more than the simplest of injuries, you may need the assistance of a workers’ compensation attorney who can guide you through the complex claim process and fight against attempts by your employer or its workers’ compensation insurer to deny liability or payment of benefits.
Common Types of Workplace Accidents
Although accidents can arise in any job in any part of the workplace, some accidents are more common than others. Some of the most frequent workplace accidents include:
- Slip and falls: The most common type of workplace accident is a slip and fall, often caused by spilled fluids or substances on the floor, or by rain, snow, or ice present on the outside portions of a workplace or tracked indoors.
- Trip and falls: All kinds of workplaces have tripping hazards, whether it be wires strewn across the floor, furniture, stools, ladders, etc.
- Falls from heights: Workers may be required to work at heights, such as retail associates who must stock or retrieve products from high shelves, construction workers who work from open scaffolding, or maintenance workers who get up on ladders or roofs.
- Motor vehicle accidents: When your job requires you to drive somewhere, you place yourself at risk for a motor vehicle accident, which can become a compensable injury under workers’ compensation if you were driving as part of your work duties. If another driver was at fault for your crash, you may also be able to pursue a personal injury claim.
- Construction site accidents: Construction sites pose numerous hazards to workers, including falls from heights, falling objects, crushing injuries from machinery and equipment, injuries from tools, burns from fires or hot objects, and exposure to toxic substances. In addition to workers’ compensation benefits, injured construction workers may be able to pursue compensation from liable third parties such as contractors or subcontractors that caused their accident.
Common Types of Workplace Injuries
The above list of accidents can result in all kinds of injuries. However, some injuries commonly occur as a result of workplace accidents, such as:
- Repetitive motion injuries: Workers in construction, retail, food service, and many other industries subject themselves to the possibility of repetitive motion injuries that, if left untreated, can develop into more serious injuries and even lead to disability.
- Muscle strain and back injuries: Work that requires employees to move heavy objects can cause muscle strains when workers attempt to move more than they are physically capable of or use improper techniques to lift heavy objects.
- Joint injuries: Workers can suffer tendon and ligament damage in the joints from accidents involving heavy lifting, being crushed by equipment or machinery, or from accidents such as slips and trips.
- Traumatic brain injuries: Workers can suffer head and traumatic brain injuries when falling objects hit them, or if they suffer a blow in a fall or in a motor vehicle accident.
- Crush injuries: Workers may be crushed by equipment that falls when not properly secured to walls or floors or is inadvertently dropped from heights. Workers can also suffer crush injuries from everyday objects like doors or elevators.
- Disease: Workers can develop illnesses due to exposure to harmful or toxic chemicals.
Get Started with a Gastonia Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
If you or a loved one has suffered a workplace injury or contracted an occupational disease, do not hesitate to talk to a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney about your rights. Contact the experienced workers’ compensation lawyers of Stewart Law Offices, today for a free consultation.
We will take the time to explain your rights and your legal options so that you can make smart decisions for you and your family. Our attorneys have the drive and dedication to fight as hard as necessary against the insurance companies to demand the full workers’ compensation benefits you need. If necessary, we stand ready to take your case to an administrative hearing and even to trial to fight for your right to benefits.
We are available to speak with you any time, so contact us online or call us at (866) 465-7851 to schedule a consultation today.
*Our Charlotte office serves the surrounding area, including Gastonia.