How Much Is My North Carolina Workers' Compensation Case Worth in North Carolina?
Workers’ compensation systems are designed to provide medical care and financial relief to employees who are injured on the job. The North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) requires all employers with three or more employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance that covers certain losses incurred by workers as a result of job-related injuries.
Workers’ comp benefits are available to eligible employees, regardless of who was at fault for a workplace accident. Full and fair benefits can help you afford the treatment you need to return to work, replace a portion of your lost wages, and provide disability benefits while you recover.
It’s common to feel curious about how much your North Carolina workers’ comp claim is worth. Will it cover all of your medical expenses? What about your costs of living while you are too injured to work? Read on for advice from the N.C. workers’ compensation lawyers at Stewart Law Offices. For a free and personalized case review, call or contact us today.
How Much Is My Workers’ Comp Claim Worth?
There are many factors that could impact the value of your workers’ comp claim, so it’s not possible to say exactly how much your claim is worth. But with the help of a skilled workers’ compensation attorney, you can get an estimated value for your claim.
Successful workers’ compensation claims typically provide benefits that cover:
- Medical expenses: Any reasonable and necessary medical attention you require to treat your work-related injury should be covered. This includes hospital stays, surgical treatments, prescription co-pays, and more.
- Incidental costs: Any expenses you incur as a result of your work injury, such as the costs of transportation to and from medical appointments.
- Vocational rehabilitation: You may request benefits that cover vocational rehabilitation services, such as education or retraining, if your injuries prevent you from earning 75 percent or more of your pre-injury income.
- Temporary disability: If you are completely unable to return to work for a temporary period, you could receive temporary total disability (TTD) benefits equal to two-thirds of your average weekly pre-injury wages. If you can return to work in a limited capacity, you could be entitled to temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits equal to two-thirds of the difference between your pre-injury wages and your current limited income. TTD and TPD benefit payments are limited to 500 weeks.
- Permanent disability: When you reach either the 500-week limit for temporary benefits or your doctor determines you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) for your N.C. work injury, you could be eligible for permanent disability benefits. Permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits provide a portion of your lost wages based on the severity of your impairment for a specific number of weeks. Permanent total disability (PTD) benefits are reserved for catastrophic cases and can be paid out over the remainder of your life.
What Goes into Evaluating a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
It’s fairly easy to tally up the costs of your medical bills, transportation receipts, and rehabilitation invoices, but calculating lost wages and benefits for temporary or permanent disabilities can be tricky. No two injuries are alike, and even people with similar injuries can respond and recover differently.
For this reason, medical exams from licensed physicians are some of the most important elements in a workers’ compensation claim. Specifically, the determination of maximum medical improvement and impairment ratings has a significant impact on your eligibility for long-term wage benefits.
When your physician determines you have reached maximum medical improvement, it means that your medical condition is unlikely to improve with additional medical treatment. At this stage, if your doctor believes your work injuries will cause long-term impairment, they will assign you an impairment rating.
An impairment rating is a percentage that represents the extent of any disability you suffer because of your injury. This rating is used to determine how long you can recover benefits for your injury based on North Carolina’s schedule of injuries.
This schedule lists the maximum number of weeks injured workers can receive lost wage benefits for the complete loss of certain body parts or senses. For example, for the total loss of a leg, you would be eligible for two-thirds of your average weekly pre-injury wages for a total of 200 weeks. If your doctor assigns you an impairment rating of 25 percent for a leg injury, you would only be eligible for benefits for 50 weeks (25 percent of 200 weeks = 50 weeks).
What If I Am Not Happy With My Settlement?
If your workers’ comp claim is denied or you receive a settlement offer that is too low to sufficiently cover your losses, you have the right to file an appeal with the N.C. Industrial Commission (NCIC). A workers’ compensation lawyer is not required to represent you during appeals, but it is highly recommended because there are many procedural requirements that must be met.
The first stage of the appeals process involves filing a request for a hearing, which will take place before a deputy commissioner of the NCIC. During this hearing, you will have the opportunity to present evidence for your claim and argue that you should be entitled to a different settlement amount. If you are unhappy with how the deputy commissioner rules in your case, you can appeal their decision to a panel of judges with the NCIC. If the panel ruling is still not in your favor, your lawyer can help you take your case to the N.C. Court of Appeals.
How Can Stewart Law Offices in Charlotte Help Me?
If you’ve suffered a work injury in North Carolina, the workers’ compensation attorneys at Stewart Law Offices can help with every aspect of your claim. We’ll communicate with all parties on your behalf and offer advice about the fairness of settlement offers based on decades of legal experience handling workers’ compensation claims in the Tar Heel State.