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filing a workers compensation claim formIf you’ve been injured on the job – in the “course and scope” of your employment – you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. These benefits help cover medical bills, a portion of lost wages while you recover, and other needs that frequently arise from a workplace injury.

The Raleigh workers’ compensation attorneys at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., are committed to helping each of our clients secure the benefits they deserve after a serious on-the-job injury. Our legal team includes Chip Younce, David E. Vtipil, and Joseph Baznik.

Both David and Chip are Board Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation Law. Mr. Vtipil has also been named among the nation’s Top 100 Injured Workers’ Attorneys and he has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America in the field of Workers’ Compensation Law.

Many people come in for their initial consultation and say “I wish I had known that earlier.” Our consultations are absolutely free and a way to educate yourself, even if you don’t hire us, you will know your rights. To learn more about how we can help you get the benefits you deserve, contact us today for a free claim review and advice about your legal options.

What to Do If You Are Injured on the Job

If you’ve been injured on the job, follow these steps:

1. Tell Your Employer

younce wc-tell-employer-05Within 30 days of the date of your accident, tell your employer in writing that it happened. A short notice that includes your name, the date, time, and place of the accident, and a brief description of what happened is often enough to give adequate notice. Your employer may have a form they prefer you use, or you can simply write a letter.

Has it been more than 30 days since your accident? Don’t worry – North Carolina law gives you up to two years to file your claim. Speak to an attorney to make sure that you are notifying your employer properly and promptly.

2. Get Medical Care

younce wc-medical-care-06The sooner you start to receive medical care for your injuries, the more quickly you put yourself on the road to recovery, maximizing your chances of the best possible outcome for your health. Seeing a doctor also helps make a record of the extent of your injury.

Once you’ve seen a doctor and received medical care, it is important to follow all of your doctor’s instructions. If you are prescribed medication or medical devices, follow the instructions for using these. If you are scheduled for a follow-up appointment or for an appointment with a specialist or therapist, make sure you keep these appointments. You will help build a medical record that gives precise details about your needs and progress, you will help ensure that your benefits are not cut off, and you will also help speed your own recovery.

3. Keep Track of Your Expenses

younce wc-medical-expenses-07Keep a list of the miles you drive to your doctor, physical therapist, or other appointments related to your accident. Often, the mileage you drive as part of your medical care after a work-related accident can be reimbursed.

Also, keep copies of your receipts from the pharmacy or from providers of medical devices. These are medical expenses related to your accident that can also be reimbursed – but only if you can demonstrate (with a receipt) that you actually paid for them.

4. Get a Doctor’s Note

If your doctor says that you must miss work for any amount of time due to your injury, get a note in writing that specifies which dates you must miss. If you do not have a written doctor’s note, you cannot claim disability payments for missed days.

5. Get Help from a Workers’ Compensation Attorney

younce wc-lawyer-09Your attorney can handle communications with the workers’ compensation insurer, investigate your claim, and help you establish your right to benefits if your employer or the insurer decides to challenge them. With your attorney handling your claim, you can focus on getting well.

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Workers’ Comp Benefits in North Carolina

Workers’ compensation insurance is coverage purchased by an employer for workers who get injured on the job. In North Carolina, workers’ compensation has been available since 1929. Today, nearly all businesses with more than three employees must have workers’ compensation insurance.

Workers’ compensation benefits and disputes are handled by the North Carolina Industrial Commission. Workers’ compensation provides two main benefits to injured workers:

1. Medical Bills

younce wc-bills-03All the medical bills related to your injury are typically covered by workers’ comp insurance. This includes not only the bills for the initial doctor’s visit when you are injured, but also bills for prescriptions of medications or medical devices, like braces, crutches, wheelchairs, or other items.

Your insurer keeps a list of medical providers. Generally speaking, the insurer will select the physician who will be authorized to treat you. However, you may request a second opinion from another qualified physician, and you can also request a change of physician. If the insurance carrier refuses to let you change your physician, you can work with your lawyer to petition the Industrial Commission to let you change doctors.

2. Disability Benefits

younce wc-disability benefits-04If you are out of work due to your injury for more than seven days, workers’ disability benefits compensation will help compensate you by paying two-thirds (66.67%) of your gross average weekly wage up to a maximum amount. If you are out of work for more than 21 days, you will receive benefits to cover the first seven days you were out of work. These benefits are not taxed. You may receive disability benefits for a maximum of 500 weeks for so long as your doctor keeps you out of work or your employer cannot accommodate light-duty restrictions. There is an exception to the 500-week cap that will allow for disability benefits to continue that you can discuss with an attorney.

Additional benefits are available for workers who suffer permanent injuries to one or more parts of the body, as well as for workers who are deemed “totally and permanently disabled.” Benefits for “totally and permanently disabled” workers include disability payments and coverage of future medical expenses.

Some types of compensation, however, are not available under workers’ compensation. For instance, workplace compensation does not pay any amounts for pain and suffering. It also does not pay punitive damages, even if you were injured due to grossly negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct by your employer. However, you have the option to report egregious conduct to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) or to other enforcement agencies.

Common Work Injuries

Why Do You Need a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?

The workers’ compensation system in North Carolina is regulated by the Workers’ Compensation Act and governed by the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

Many injured workers try to handle their cases without an attorney for a variety of reasons:

  • The insurance adjuster may tell them that he or she does not need an attorney.
  • The worker on a limited income may think that he or she cannot afford an attorney.
  • The employee may feel that because the system is regulated, there is nothing an attorney can do anyway.
  • The employee may fear retaliation by the employer if an attorney is involved.

Certainly, many workers’ compensation cases are resolved without the aid of an attorney. For instance, some injuries are so minor that the employee does not even miss work. However, many workers lose important rights because they delayed hiring an attorney.

Their reasons for delaying the involvement of an attorney are incorrect because:

  • Insurance adjusters often do not want knowledgeable attorneys involved because it will prevent them from taking advantage of the trusting employee.
  • The workers’ comp system is extremely complicated. Often the employee is unaware of all of his or her rights or how to enforce them.
  • There are laws against retaliating against an employee for hiring an attorney.
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"I don’t know how to begin to thank you for all of the hard work you did on my worker’s compensation case. From day one you had this ease about you. I was able to relax knowing that my legal situation was being handled. If at anytime I or anyone I know need legal counsel, I will be sure to contact your firm." - Monique S.
"Awesome lawyer. Has taken care of me since my first phone call. Joseph made me worry and stress free with my process. I can’t describe how much he made me feel comfortable with questions that I had no answer to. I thank him sooo much! Thanks and he will be my go to lawyer and my recommendations will be to him first!" - Lathisa
"These guys are great, especially David. They are friendly, professional & down to earth. I can’t think of any thing negative to say about them. They are very good at what they do." - Bennie

Settlements for North Carolina Workers’ Compensation

The value of your claim is determined by statute and depends mainly on the kind of injury and the extent of any permanency. There are two ways that a workers’ compensation claim can be settled.

The first kind is a settlement agreement written on a form provided by the Industrial Commission and the other is what is commonly called a clincher agreement. The main difference between the two involves your right to future benefits because of a change of condition within two years after the last date you received a check. In the IC form, your right to possible future benefits is preserved. In the clincher agreement, this right is waived in exchange for an additional sum of money.

Settlement of a worker’s compensation case can be complex especially if there are return-to-work issues. Before you sign anything, you should consult a Raleigh workers’ compensation lawyer.

Finally, your claim cannot be settled without your written permission, and all settlements must be approved by the Industrial Commission.

Filing a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Claim

Filing a workers’ compensation claim in North Carolina involves a few key steps. First, you need to report the injury and document the incident in writing. Then, complete and submit a North Carolina Industrial Commission Form 18. To have a successful claim, prove that your injury happened unexpectedly and disrupted your normal work routine.

For instance, a slip or fall at work may entitle you to compensation. You must also demonstrate a direct link between your job and the injury, showing that it occurred while you were doing a task approved by your supervisor.

Be aware of common mistakes in these cases, as they can lead to a denied workers’ compensation claim or reduced benefits. Therefore, it’s advised to consult with an experienced Raleigh workers’ compensation attorney for guidance and to maximize your chances of a favorable outcome. Also, consult with our attorneys if you are working while on workers’ compensation after returning to your job and what that entails.

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation FAQ’s

Workers’ Compensation FAQs

My spouse was killed on the job. Is that a worker’s compensation claim or a wrongful death?

This would likely fall under worker’s compensation laws, as the benefits paid would be from the worker’s compensation insurance afforded by your spouses’ employer.

What should I do if I suffer a workplace injury?

Those who suffer work related injuries should report them as soon as possible to their employer using the proper forms. A physician should also investigate work-related injuries. Evidence of work related injuries allow the victim to qualify for worker’s compensation and associated benefits. In addition, you may wish to pursue your legal rights with an experienced workplace injury attorney.

Are there any laws governing work injuries?

Workers’ Compensation law provides benefits to workers who are injured on the job or who suffer an occupational disease arising out of and in the course of employment.

What benefits am I entitled to under workers’ compensation law?

The benefits under Workers’ Compensation include weekly payments based on a percentage of the employee’s average weekly wage. These payments cover temporary total disability, partial disability, permanent and total disability, and permanent loss of function and disfigurement. Other benefits include:

  • Medical bills
  • Vocational rehabilitation/training
  • Death benefits
  • Lost wages

What is repetitive stress injury?

Repetitive stress injury is the name given to a group of conditions that are caused when too much stress is placed on a joint. Repetitive stress injury happens when the same action is performed repeatedly. Performing the same action over and over can cause pain and swelling in the muscles and tendons. The two most common types of repetitive stress injury are tendinitis and bursitis.

Do I need an attorney to represent me if I am injured on the job?

You have the right to be represented by an attorney of your choice concerning your work- related injury. Your attorney will assist you in seeing that your benefits are properly protected. Your employer or your employer’s insurance company will be advised and represented by individuals experienced in Workers’ Compensation cases and you should have an attorney experienced in handling Workers’ Compensation representing you.

What are the most common work injuries claims?

Some of the most common work injuries involve:

  • Employee death
  • Head injury
  • Brain injury
  • Skin disease
  • Neck Injuries
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Back injuries
  • Lung disorders
  • Asbestos
  • Lung Cancer
  • Mesothelioma

How am I paid when temporarily unable to return to work?

If you are temporarily totally disabled for more than seven days from an on the job injury, weekly benefits should be paid to you at the rate of 66 2/3 percent of your average weekly wage.

Who is required to provide workers’ compensation coverage?

Any employer who employs three or more employees.

What must an employee do when an injury occurs?

Report the injury to the employer, in writing, immediately and no later than 30 days. Print out a Form 18, fill it out, sign it, and make two copies. Mail the original Form 18 to:

N.C. Industrial Commission
Statistics Section
4334 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-4334

Mail the first copy of Form 18 to your employer by certified mail, return receipt requested, and keep the receipt. This will be your proof of mailing. Keep the second copy of this Form 18 for your file.

What benefits does an employee receive while out of work?

An employee is eligible to receive a “temporary total disability” check each week when completely unable to earn wages as the result of the work-related injury. The employee is eligible to receive total disability benefits until he or she is able to return to work. An employee is not due compensation for the first seven days of lost time unless the period of disability exceeds 21 total days. Therefore, payment for days one through seven is made only after the total disability continues beyond 21 days.

When do I become eligible for lost wage compensation?

No compensation is due for the first seven days of lost time unless the disability exceeds 21 days. Therefore, the first check will not include payment for days 1-7. Payment for those days will be made should the disability continue beyond 21 days.

How long will I be eligible to receive lost-time weekly benefits?

You will receive benefits until you are able to return to work.

What is a permanent partial disability rating?

Total or partial loss of use of a member of the body directly caused by a work-related injury may result in permanent partial disability. The Industrial Commission ultimately determines permanent partial disability based on the impairment ratings of physicians. When there is a permanent impairment to one or more of the parts of the body listed in the Workers’ Compensation Act, the employee may receive a set period of benefits without consideration of the employee’s ability to earn wages. Permanent partial disability benefits are generally based upon a combination of the impairment ratings, the parts of the employee’s body involved, and the employee’s average weekly wage.

Younce Vtipil Baznik & Banks personal injury law team

Call Our Raleigh Workers’ Compensation Lawyers for Help

Let the lawyers at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A., deal with the insurance companies, the courts, and the other concerns related to your worker compensation. With us fighting for you, you can focus on fighting to get your life back together.

Let’s get started. It costs you nothing to discuss your case with an experienced Raleigh workers’ compensation attorney at Younce, Vtipil, Baznik & Banks, P.A. Call us now or contact us online for a free claim review and advice about your legal options.

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