North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act
The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act is the state’s workers comp law that provides for the payment of medical benefits and wage loss benefits to workers who are injured on the job. According to this workers’ compensation law, medical benefits are paid for treatment that is “reasonable and necessary to effect a cure or give relief for a work injury.” The employer and their insurance company are responsible for all costs associated with the medical treatment the workers’ comp doctor recommends.
The workers’ comp law also provides for wage replacement benefits equal to two-thirds of the injured worker’s average weekly wage for the time they are off work due to the injury. If the authorized physician assigned the injured worker a rating for a specific body part, the worker can receive payment for a permanent partial disability.
What Does North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Cover?
Workers’ compensation pays for medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. Wage loss benefits may consist of:
- Temporary total disability benefits
- Temporary partial disability benefits
- Permanent partial disability benefits
- Total and permanent disability benefits
Wage loss benefits are typically paid to workers who miss more than seven days of work due to a work injury. There is a 7-day waiting period for workers’ comp benefits in North Carolina. These benefits continue until the worker is able to return to work or up to 500 weeks (with some exceptions). Workers who are injured and return to work but are unable to earn as much as they earned before the injury can also receive some wage loss benefits.
North Carolina workers’ comp can also consist of other benefits, depending on the circumstances surrounding the injury. Other benefits may include:
- Vocational rehabilitation benefits
- Travel mileage reimbursement benefits
- Disfigurement compensation
- Death benefits
An NC workers’ comp attorney with Stewart Law Offices can discuss the workers’ comp benefits you might be entitled to during a free consultation.
When an injured worker collects workers’ comp benefits, they are no longer entitled to seek compensation from their employer through a personal injury claim. However, in some cases, injured workers are able to file a personal injury claim against a third party whose negligence contributed to the workplace injury. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can explain how North Carolina laws may apply to the facts of your case.
Workers’ Compensation Resources
- Medical Benefits: If you have been injured at work, you may be eligible to have your medical expenses and time off of work paid for through workers’ compensation. This is provided when an injury may cause an employee to be unable to work for a short period of time (three to seven days).
- Temporary Disability: If you’re unable to work for more than seven days, you will be eligible for temporary total disability benefits. This includes reimbursement of two- thirds of your average weekly wage (with yearly maximum set by the NCIC).
- Permanent-Partial Disability: After an on-the-job injury, a worker should seek immediate medical treatment and follow all doctor’s orders. Upon completing medical care, the treating physician will declare that the worker has reached maximum medical improvement, or MMI. This is an important term because it basically means that the worker has recovered as much as can be expected from the injury. To qualify, it must be determined that: An injury is classified as “permanent” if the injury will not entirely resolve; or It is considered “partial” if it only impacts part of the body.
Some of the leading causes of workplace accidents include:
- Transportation accidents: 1,740 deaths
- Workplace violence: 1,740 deaths
- Contact with objects: 717 deaths
- Falls, slips and trips: 699 deaths
- Fires and explosions:148 deaths
Incidence rates of nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses by industry sector and selected case type with measures of statistical significance, South Carolina, 2015–16
What to Do After a Workplace Injury
Injured employees must take certain action to preserve their right to collect workers’ compensation in North Carolina, including:
- Report the injury to your employer – Report the injury immediately to your direct supervisor and follow whatever steps your employer and insurance carrier require.
- Seek medical treatment – Your employer can determine where you seek medical care unless you require emergency treatment. You can only see your own doctor and be covered by workers’ compensation medical benefits if they are on the approved list of medical providers. Talk to your employer or your employer’s insurance company about where you can seek treatment.
- Follow up with written notice to your employer – While North Carolina law gives you up to 30 days to notify your employer of a work-related injury, you might want to give written notice as soon as possible. You will need to complete Form 18 from the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
- Follow all of your doctor’s orders – Follow all of your doctor’s orders and do not return to work until your doctor clears you for work.
Common Injuries and Occupational Diseases From Work-Related Accidents
Under North Carolina workers’ compensation laws, workers’ compensation benefits can cover a workplace injury stemming from an accident on the job or an occupational illness. Common workplace injuries and occupational diseases that may cause a work-related injury that is compensable under workers’ comp laws include:
- Broken bones
- Crush injuries
- Fall injuries
- Neck injuries
- Back injuries
- Traumatic head injuries
- Eye injuries
- Carpal tunnel syndrome
- Stress injuries
- Chemical exposure injuries
- Toxic exposure injuries
- Respiratory problems
- Knee injuries
- Shoulder injuries
- Wrist injuries
- Hearing loss
Recovering Compensation After a Workplace Injury
Workers’ compensation is a strict liability system. This means that no matter whose fault the accident was, you can still recover workers’ compensation. In some cases, you can recover workers’ compensation benefits even if you caused the accident.
To recover workers’ compensation, you will need to be able to show:
- Your injury occurred or arose while you were working
- Your injury occurred or arose due to the work you were doing
- The work caused your injuries
- Your employer has three or more employees
Third-Party Liability in N.C. Workers’ Compensation Claims
An in-depth investigation of your claim is important because it allows an attorney to identify all negligent parties who could be held liable for your injuries. You can’t sue your employer, but if a third party bears responsibility for the accident, that’s a different story.
For example, some jobsites are home to more than one employer at a time. The best example is a construction site, where multiple contractors and sub-contractors are working in the same area at once. If a worker is injured due to a careless error from anyone other than his/her employer, it may be possible to file a personal injury claim against the third party and still claim workers’ compensation benefits.
Our North Carolina workers’ comp lawyers can provide you with personalized legal information when you contact our law firm
for a free consult.