Workers’ Compensation FAQs
How do I know if the injury I suffered on the job constitutes a workers’ compensation claim?
The law in this area is somewhat complicated in North Carolina. The measure of proof for a workers’ compensation claim varies depending on the part of the body that is injured. For example, the measure of proof is different as it relates to an injury dealing with your back than other parts of the body. All that is necessary to prove in a workers’ compensation case, as it relates to your back, is a specific injury occurred at work. There are other legal points that relate to this, but overall the threshold of proof for your claim is a specific incident occurring that caused you to hurt your back.
Dealing with injuries to other parts of the body brings a different standard of proof. You must prove that you were injured by “an accident.” For example, if a roofer fell off a roof, this would constitute a workers’ compensation case. We are qualified in handling these cases and can discuss with you the specifics facts that relate to your injury.
If I do have a workers’ compensation claim, how long can I anticipate it taking before I potentially receive payment for my medical treatment or work assistance benefits?
Generally speaking, we are able to obtain approval within a matter of days so that your case is deemed to be a “compensable” case. This means that the insurance company will agree to pay you medical benefits and provide a weekly check, which represents two-thirds of your “gross pay.” However, insurance companies will often contest cases, and we may have to file for a hearing to obtain your workers’ compensation benefits. It is important to remember that each case is different. The beginning of a case may start with all benefits being paid that the law allows, or it may be months if we are forced to take the matter to court.
Should I speak to the workers’ compensation insurance company about my case?
Adjustors for the workers’ compensation insurance company do this type of work on a daily basis and are very knowledgeable of the law in North Carolina. This can seem intimidating since most people have not been through this process. The insurance company adjustor is going to do everything that he or she can to look after the interest of the insurance company.
Because of this, it is imperative that you contact an attorney so you are represented throughout this process. Often, as your attorney, we will allow a recorded statement to be taken, but it is done in our office after we have fully discussed the case. A workers’ compensation injury can affect your livelihood and your quality of life on a permanent basis. We realize the seriousness of these types of injuries and work hard to provide our clients with professional, experienced representation.
What am I entitled to recover under workers’ compensation law in North Carolina?
If your case is a “compensable case” in North Carolina the insurance company must pay or provide as follows:
1. Weekly benefits called TTD payments that are two-thirds of your gross pay.
2. The payment of all medical bills.
3. The payment of all medications.
4. Travel expenses
5. Payments for permanent injury
6. If the doctor assigns you permanent restrictions and your employers cannot meet those restrictions, then the insurance company must find you “suitable employment.”
These matters are complicated and have been litigated many times in the State of North Carolina. To ensure you recover what you are entitled to, you should seek legal advice.
Do I have to pay for the initial consultation to determine if I have a workers’ compensation claim?
No. There is no charge to determine whether or not you have a compensable workers’ compensation claim. As experienced attorneys, we should be able to tell in our opinion whether or not we believe you have a good workers’ compensation case.
Workers’ compensation cases are handled on a contingent fee basis by all workers’ compensation attorneys in North Carolina. The Industrial Commission sets the same fee on every case, which is 25 percent of any permanent money damage recovery that the attorney obtains for you. If the attorney does not obtain a permanent injury settlement, then you do not owe the attorney any fee for his or her services.
What do I need to bring with me on my first visit to my lawyer’s office?
There is very little that you need to bring with you to your first meeting with your attorney. You should bring any medical records or reports you have. Also, you should bring any paycheck stubs that you have, which will clearly show your income.
How long can I expect my workers’ compensation case to last?
There is no time limit that a worker’s compensation case can last. They may last many months or many years. The main factor is your recovery from the injury. Of course, you do not want to settle your workers’ compensation case until you have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI).
Once you have reached MMI, the case may be settled or the insurance company may be required to find you future employment. In some cases, an injury may be so bad that the case becomes a “total permanent case,” meaning that you will not work for the remainder of your life. Unfortunately, we have had much experience with this type of case. Because a workers’ compensation case may affect your personal future and that of your families, it is imperative that you discuss the matter with an attorney that has experience in this area of the law.