Injured employees who qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in North Carolina are entitled to reimbursement of a portion of their lost wages while they are unable to work.
North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Law allows injured employees whose injuries prevent them from working to collect lost wages through a workers’ compensation claim. Qualifying workers may receive lost wage payments equal to two-thirds of their average weekly wage until they are able to return to work.
However, the claims process is not always straightforward as disputes sometimes arise. If you have questions about a claim or your employer is disputing your claim, talk to a knowledgeable North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks. Our attorneys and staff are fluent in Spanish and English. We offer a free workers’ compensation case review and will help you understand your options for pursuing benefits.
How Much Does Workers’ Comp Pay for Lost Wages?
The amount of money you will receive for lost wages through workers’ compensation varies depending on the amount of time you are out of work and your pre-injury average weekly wage.
It’s helpful to understand the types of benefits available under North Carolina Law.
- Temporary Total Disability – If you miss more than seven calendar days of work due to your injury, you can collect compensation for the subsequent missed days. If your number of missed days exceeds 21, you can also collect compensation for the first seven days of work you missed. Temporary disability benefits are equal to two-thirds of your average weekly wage. You should receive weekly checks for as long as your doctor says you are unable to work or for as long as the employer is not able to accommodate restrictions your doctor provides.
- Temporary Partial Disability – As you recover from a workplace injury, you may be able to return to work in a limited capacity. If the doctor overseeing your treatment releases you to return to light-duty work, you may earn less money than you were making previously. You may be entitled to reimbursement of two-thirds of the difference in your average wages before your injury and your light-duty wages.
- Permanent Partial Disability – Some individuals reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) and still have limitations that will likely be permanent. A doctor will determine your impairment rating, which will be used to calculate your permanent disability (PPD) benefits. Under North Carolina Law, scheduled body parts are assigned a specific number of weeks of benefits. The impairment rating you’re given will represent the percentage of loss of use of a part of your body. The total number of weeks the law allows for that body part will be multiplied by the impairment rating the doctor provides to determine the benefits you are paid for your permanent disability. You should talk with a workers’ compensation attorney before accepting a disability impairment rating as the law also provides the right to a second opinion on the rating if you don’t agree with the rating that the original doctor provides.
- Permanent Total Disability – In rare cases, an individual may be completely disabled and unable to return to work and be eligible for permanent total disability (PTD) benefits. Injuries that might qualify include, but are not limited to, a severe brain injury, paralysis of both arms or both legs, the loss of two or more limbs, the loss of both eyes, or severe burns covering more than 33 percent of the body. In this case, the injured person can receive lifetime benefits calculated at two-thirds of their pre-injury average weekly wage.
How Does Workers’ Comp Pay for Lost Wages?
You will typically receive workers’ compensation payments every week. Temporary disability payments can continue for up to 500 weeks. In some circumstances, the insurance company is allowed by law to offer a lump sum payment instead of weekly payments. A lump sum may seem beneficial initially because you receive a large amount of money immediately.
However, it is crucial to understand that a lump sum, or a clincher agreement, is a full and final settlement. By signing such an agreement, you release the workers’ compensation insurance carrier from further responsibility to you, even if your condition worsens, causing you to miss additional work. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you evaluate the choice that is best for your situation.
What Happens to Lost Overtime?
You should include overtime and certain types of bonuses when calculating the average weekly wage (AWW) for the year prior to your injury. Many people unknowingly omit these from the calculation, resulting in lower workers’ compensation payments. If you are unsure which overtime and bonuses to include in your average weekly wage, your attorney can help you claim the full amount of benefits available.
Benefits To Make Up for Wages You Might Lose in the Future
Permanent total disability and permanent partial disability compensation exist to cover wages you might lose in the future.
If you agree to weekly payments and sign Form 26A, you have up to two years following the last payment to reopen your case. Circumstances that may justify reopening a case include:
- A change in your medical condition after the settlement is directly related to your work injury.
- Certain conditions relating to the work injury were overlooked or not treated properly.
- Your employer, the insurer, or another party committed fraud or misrepresented details in your original case.
- Legal errors or violations of workers’ compensation laws caused you to receive less compensation than you deserve.
If you accepted a lump sum or clincher agreement, you will likely only be able to reopen the case if it was settled unfairly due to fraud, misrepresentation, or legal errors.
Get in Touch with Our Raleigh Workers’ Compensation Lawyers
Workers’ compensation laws exist to pay for medical treatment and provide other types of financial support to workers who sustain injuries on the job or develop occupational illnesses. If you have a disputed worker’s compensation claim, you deserve an advocate who knows North Carolina’s workers’ compensation law and will help you recover compensation for lost wages and other expenses.
Our firm offers a state-of-the-art case tracking system that helps us provide individualized care and personal attention. Our workers’ compensation attorneys are fluent in English and Spanish, and we are here to serve you in every way possible. Contact Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A. today at (919)-661-9000 or online for a free consultation.