Workers' Compensation Benefits in North Carolina
When you are hurt on the job, medical bills and monthly expenses can quickly pile up, especially if you can’t work anymore. Filing for North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits can help offset your losses.
At Stewart Law Offices, our knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorneys in Charlotte can help you apply for workers’ compensation benefits during this stressful time. There are strict rules governing who can receive benefits. We can simplify the process and fight for the maximum amount you are entitled to receive for your workplace injury.
Call or contact our experienced lawyers today for a free consultation. We’ll answer all of your questions and explain what to expect throughout the claims process.
What Types of Benefits Does Workers’ Compensation Provide?
On-the-job accidents can happen in any occupation. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were more than 73,000 work-related injuries and illnesses reported in North Carolina in a recent year. Workers’ compensation benefits are meant to cover losses that result in these situations for eligible employees.
How does workers’ compensation pay you for the injuries you suffer? By providing the following types of benefits:
- Medical expenses: This includes payment for all reasonable treatments and medical costs arising from your work-related injury or illness, as well as travel expenses to and from doctor’s appointments.
- Rehabilitation: When job-related injuries leave you with chronic conditions and permanent disabilities, workers’ compensation provides for ongoing care and any physical rehabilitation that you require.
- Lost wages: Under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, workers can receive two-thirds of their average weekly wage during the period that they are out of work. Under the law, no payments can begin until seven calendar days from the onset of the injury. If the disability lasts longer than 21 days, you will be reimbursed for the first seven days.
- Disability payments: Depending on the severity and duration, you may be entitled to disability benefits in North Carolina. Our lawyers can help determine whether you could qualify for temporary total disability (TTD), temporary partial disability (TPD), permanent total disability (PTD), or permanent partial disability (PPD). When permanent disabilities prevent you from working, payments may continue for years after.
- Vocational rehabilitation/retraining: If your injuries or illness prevent you from returning to your prior occupation, workers’ compensation may also cover any occupational therapy, vocational rehabilitation, or job retraining you need to return to the workforce in another capacity.
- Death benefits: When on-the-job injuries and illnesses are fatal, workers’ compensation death benefits can be given to eligible family members to help offset funeral expenses and missed wages so that they are provided for, both now and in the future. Death benefits can be paid up to a maximum of 500 weeks or possibly longer, depending on the widow or widower’s circumstances.
How Long Does It Take to Receive Workers’ Compensation?
If you suffer an injury on the job or are diagnosed with an occupational illness, it is important to report it to your employer, in writing, within 30 days so that a claim can be filed. You also must file a notice of claim with the N.C. Industrial Commission within two years from the date of injury or diagnosis of an occupational illness. Failure to meet these deadlines could jeopardize your rights to any compensation at all.
At what rate of pay? In most circumstances, workers’ compensation covers roughly two-thirds of your average weekly wages, or 66 ⅔ percent.
While you are waiting, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions regarding work and activity restrictions while following up with any correspondence you receive from your employer or from the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC), which handles workers’ compensation claims. This is where a North Carolina workers’ comp lawyer can help, making sure the appropriate documents are submitted on time and that your claim is not being held up due to simple errors or oversights.
How Often Are Compensation Payments Made?
Workers’ compensation payments are made on a weekly basis, but there are some situations in which the Industrial Commission may authorize them monthly instead.
When Can Reimbursement for Sick Travel Be Collected?
Once you travel more than 20 miles to and from your doctor’s appointments, workers’ compensation will then reimburse you for your travel expenses. The mileage amount is adjusted annually.
Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Pain and Suffering?
Unfortunately, workers’ compensation does not compensate you for the pain and suffering you endure as the result of job-related injuries or illnesses. This may seem unfair as you only receive a portion of your lost wages, but it is one of the trade-offs of receiving no-fault benefits through the workers’ compensation system.
Can I Sue Workers’ Compensation to Get Pain and Suffering?
In order to pursue compensation for pain and suffering, you will need to file a civil lawsuit, which is different from filing for workers’ comp.
You may be entitled to sue your employer in very rare circumstances, such as if the employer failed to purchase the required workers’ compensation insurance or intentionally harmed you. In most cases, however, you cannot file a personal injury lawsuit against an employer who has complied with the state Workers’ Compensation Act.
A lawsuit could be also possible if a third party’s negligent actions were the direct cause of your injuries. For example, you might be able sue manufacturers of defective parts, tools, or supplies used in your job or a contactor or subcontractor if they are responsible for your injuries.
A successful personal injury lawsuit can open the door for you to recover money for pain and suffering, something that is not allowed in a straight workers’ compensation claim. If you believe you may have a valid injury claim, Stewart Law Offices can investigate your case and identify whether it’s possible to take legal action.
What If I Am Permanently Disabled?
Even a seemingly minor work accident can leave you with disabling injuries. Permanent disability payments can help you provide for yourself and your family in the event you are unable to return to your job. Even if you able to eventually return to work despite your injuries, you may be entitled to permanent partial disability payments.
How Much Does Permanent Disability Pay?
For permanent total disabilities, you would be entitled to the amount you currently receive in workers’ compensation for the rest of your life, with periodic adjustments for cost of living.
If you suffer permanent partial disabilities, such as the loss of use of your hand, the NCIC Rating Guide advises that your benefits will be calculated using a formula that multiplies two-thirds of your weekly wage, a disability rating provided by your doctor, and the amount of time allowed off work by the NCIC. This could result in a lump-sum payment for your workplace injury.
Talk to Our NC Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Today
At Stewart Law Offices, a workers’ compensation lawyer in North Carolina can review your case and guide you on the path to the benefits you deserve. Call or contact our law firm today to request a free consultation.