Regardless of the industry, countless dangers in every workplace put employees at risk of minor to catastrophic injuries that require temporary to permanent time off work. Vehicle incidents, slips, trips, falls, being struck by an object or machinery, overexertion, and exposure to harmful substances are common causes of North Carolina workplace injuries.
When someone is in an accident at work, it can take weeks or months to recover and may even lead to lifelong health struggles and disabilities. When the worst happens, and someone dies in a workplace accident or succumbs to a work-related illness, it’s devastating for the surviving family and has serious emotional and financial repercussions.
Time off work, reduced job duties, rehabilitation treatments, and surgeries may be needed after a North Carolina workplace accident. There can also be significant psychological trauma on top of physical ailments. Simply put, the effects of workplace injury or death are extensive.
To address the widespread impact of a workplace accident, victims and their families are entitled to access crucial benefits through North Carolina workers’ compensation. These benefits provide much-needed support to injured workers as they recover.
However, paperwork must be filed, and deadlines must be met to access workers’ comp and other steps to follow after a North Carolina workplace injury that protect employees and help make the claims process go smoothly.
Unfortunately, even when an employee does everything right, some employers fail to fulfill their legal responsibility under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act (NCWCA) – leaving those injured on the job without the coverage and support they’re entitled to. And sometimes, insurance companies unfairly deny claims or only pay part of what they should. A North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer can help with these situations and assist with filing claims.
But what does North Carolina workers’ comp pay for? It covers much more than most workers think, providing far more support than paying medical bills like rehabilitation treatments and doctor visits.
If you’re the victim of a workplace injury, it’s essential to understand your rights and know there are benefits in place that allow you to recover and protect your finances.
North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Benefits Explained
In general, victims of workplace injuries in North Carolina cannot sue their employer after an accident. Rather, the state’s workers’ comp is based on a “no-fault” system, meaning injured employees are entitled to benefits regardless of who caused the workplace accident or illness.
The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act ensures there’s enough short- and long-term coverage for victims based on the severity and effects of an injury; North Carolina workers’ comp covers medical bills and provides wage replacement, disability, and death benefits.
Medical Bills Coverage
An important part of workers’ compensation is medical coverage. Workplace injuries could require various medical treatments, services, and supportive products. Physiotherapy, surgery, doctor and specialist visits, and other forms of temporary and ongoing care are all covered, among additional medical costs.
But what most employees don’t know is that medical benefits through North Carolina workers’ comp include coverage for mileage getting to and from appointments and attendant care services when someone must care for you (even if it’s a family member). It also covers medical equipment and aids and modifications to your home or vehicle if needed.
Wage Replacement Benefits
In addition to paying medical bills, wage replacement is part of workers’ compensation in North Carolina. Many workplace injuries cause victims to miss work. Even a week or two off work can be stressful and cause financial strain, especially if family members depend on the injured worker’s steady income.
Workers’ comp claims provide wage replacement benefits to help support employees who must take time off work to recover. Injured workers are paid two-thirds of their average weekly wage, which the employer’s insurance company calculates.
Depending on the type and seriousness of a workplace injury, you may be temporarily or permanently disabled. When this happens, there are disability benefits through North Carolina workers’ comp, which fall into the following categories.
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD): If a workplace accident causes the employee to miss more than a week of work, temporary total disability benefits may be accessed. They last up to 500 weeks and end when the employee returns to work.
- Temporary Partial Disability (TPD): Often, a workplace injury makes the employee unable to perform all of their regular job duties, and they may return to work in a limited capacity. When this happens, TPD benefits are available for 500 weeks.
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD): At some point during the treatment and care of an injured worker, a doctor determines when they reach maximum medical improvement (MMI). This means they’ve recovered as much as possible and aren’t expected to improve any further. For many types of workplace injuries, the employee may not reach the same level of health they had before the accident. This is where PPD benefits under North Carolina workers’ comp come in.
- Permanent Total Disability (PTD): In workplace accidents that cause serious injuries, such as paralysis, traumatic brain injuries, or spinal cord injuries, the worker is entitled to lifelong, Permanent Total Disability benefits.
When a workplace accident in North Carolina causes fatal injuries or a work-related illness leads to the employee’s death, the victim’s spouse or child may get death benefits through workers’ compensation. Death benefits pay for funeral expenses and wage replacement compensation for up to 500 weeks.
Regardless of the type of disability or seriousness of an injury sustained in a workplace accident, employers are not allowed to retaliate against the employee. Yet, it happens far more than it should. If you’re fired after filing a North Carolina workers’ comp claim, your best chance to prove your employer illegally retaliated against you and to hold them accountable is to contact an attorney.
Why You Need a North Carolina Workers’ Comp Lawyer
The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act provides injured workers with medical coverage, a portion of their wages, and disability benefits, but the process doesn’t always go smoothly. An attorney can help ensure workers receive the full benefits and coverage they’re entitled to, but many difficult situations can arise following a workplace injury. When they do, having legal support on your side can make the best of a terrible situation.
A North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer can help victims get paid on time, be treated fairly, hold employers accountable when they retaliate, and meet important deadlines. They can help injured employees understand the available support, file a claim, and step in when the victim is unhappy with the care they’re receiving.
Workers’ comp benefits are often cut off before they should be, or parts of a claim are denied, and an attorney can step in and fight for your rights. It’s also common for insurers to completely deny a workers’ comp claim because they don’t believe the injury occurred at or because of work or believe an illness was pre-existing. They may even say the disability rating given by the injured worker’s doctor is wrong and that the injuries aren’t as severe as the claim states.
There are so many reasons why workplace injuries require a North Carolina workers’ comp attorney. At the very least, consulting with a lawyer after a workplace accident is beneficial, given how employees are taken advantage of, strict filing deadlines, and the importance of accessing the total coverage available.
The experienced North Carolina workplace accident attorneys at Whitley Law will protect your rights and get you the benefits you deserve. We’ll alleviate some of the burden of your injury, allowing you to focus on recovering. If a loved one dies in a workplace accident, our attorneys will ensure you receive death benefits through workers’ compensation.
Contact the Whitley Law Firm online or at 919-785-5000 for a free case consultation.
The Whitley Law Firm is a family affair—in all the ways that matter. Partner Ben Whitley works with his father and brother to create a formidable force when representing clients. After all, helping injured individuals—people who have the deck stacked against them when fighting corporations—is why the Whitleys got into the business in the first place.