Can You Sue the State of North Carolina for Workers' Compensation Benefits?

Injured state employees

State employees in North Carolina are generally entitled to workers’ compensation benefits including medical care and disability benefits for workplace injuries and work-related illness. The purpose of the program is to ensure that all eligible state workers receive proper medical care for workplace injuries. Unfortunately, many state employees with work-related injuries and valid workers’ compensation are initially denied benefits and need assistance obtaining benefits.

If you are a state employee who has been denied workers’ comp benefits, you can certainly challenge the decision and seek to have it overturned. There are a series of administrative steps to pursue an appeal if you have received a letter informing you your application for workers’ compensation benefits has been turned down. An injured state employee may request a hearing on any issue related to workers compensation benefits in North Carolina by filing a request with the N.C. Industrial Commission. If the Industrial Commission denies the claim, you can file a lawsuit asking the N.C. Court of Appeals to review the Industrial Commission’s decision. The appeals process is complicated, with numerous filing deadlines. It is helpful to have an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer guide you through the process.

Our attorneys at Younce, Vtipil, & Baznik, P.A., have many years of experience helping injured North Carolina state employees with workers’ compensation claims. Attorneys Robert C. “Chip” Younce Jr. and David E. Vtipil are board-certified specialists in North Carolina worker compensation law. Board certification by the North Carolina State Bar signifies that an attorney has received additional legal education and passed a special examination on a specific area of law. Only a small portion of attorneys in North Carolina have board certification. At Younce, Vtipil, & Baznik, P.A., we apply our experience and knowledge to help injured workers pursue the full workers’ comp benefits they are entitled to by law. If we handle your workers’ comp claim, you will not owe a legal fee unless our attorneys obtain benefits for you. Contact us for a free claim review and discussion of your legal options.

What can a workers’ compensation lawyer do for State Employees?

As an injured state employee, obtaining worker’s compensation benefits can be challenging if the state government or the designated benefits administrator denies your claim for benefits. You will need to file an appeal asking the State Industrial Commission to review the decision. There are important filing deadlines to meet.

Most workers’ compensation cases depend on the specific facts of the case. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can evaluate your employment status and the reason why your claim was denied. Many claims are denied because of procedural errors or because of disputes about whether the injury was work related. An experienced lawyer at Younce, Vtipil, & Baznik, P.A., can determine whether you should be entitled to collect benefits through the State of North Carolina Workers’ Compensation program and how best to proceed.

An experienced workers’ comp lawyer can help you navigate the appeals process, which can be confusing, and gather additional medical evidence to help you present the strongest possible claim or appeal for benefits. The insurance benefits administrator largely directs the medical treatment you receive as an injured worker, but you do have a right to a second opinion. If the insurance provider refuses your request to see another doctor, an attorney can file a motion with the Industrial Commission to help you see a different doctor and get a second medical opinion about your injury or work-related illness, adding information to your medical file about how the condition affects your ability to work.

A lawyer can represent you at a hearing before an administrative law judge who hears workers’ compensation appeals. This hearing typically includes testimony from witnesses and medical experts and presentation of evidence by both sides.

You should work with a qualified lawyer who has experience handling workers’ compensation claims and presenting cases to the Industrial Commission. If you try to handle an appeal on your own, you will be at a disadvantage. You will be more likely to have a success in your appeal if you have a knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney who knows your rights under the law representing you and fighting for your interests.

Can I sue The State For an Injury in Addition to Workers’ Comp?

If you are a North Carolina state employee and are covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act, then workers’ compensation is the exclusive remedy to address workplace injuries and illnesses. After most work-related accidents, you are entitled to claim workers’ compensation benefits, but nothing else.

Workers’ compensation is a no-fault type of insurance, providing benefits regardless of who caused a workplace accident. You do not have to prove that the state was at fault to receive workers’ compensation benefits. A state employee generally is prohibited from filing a personal injury lawsuit against his or her state employer for causing a work-related injury or illness.

There are some rare scenarios in which an injured state employee may file a personal injury lawsuit against another party other than the injured worker’s government employer. These are known as third-party lawsuits. They are civil lawsuits filed in state court or federal court.

When bringing a third-party lawsuit, your accident and your injuries must be the result of negligence of another individual or business that is not your state employer or co-worker.

The best example of a third-party claim is a state employee who is making a work-related trip and is injured in a car accident caused by another driver. The injured employee may receive workers’ compensation benefits and also file a lawsuit against the at-fault motorist who caused the crash, seeking damages.

Types of Government Jobs Covered by Workers’ Compensation

The North Carolina State Government Workers’ Compensation Insurance program covers all full-time, part-time and temporary employees of state agencies and state universities.

It also covers state elected officials, members of the N.C. General Assembly and appointees of the governor who serve on a part-time or fee basis.

What are the workers’ comp benefits available for injured state employees?

State employees who are injured in a workplace accident or develop an illness related to work may receive the following types of workers’ compensation benefits:

  • Medical and rehabilitation expenses including prescription medications and medical prostheses
  • Cash benefits to replace lost income for time off work if you are temporarily disabled. The temporary disability cash benefits are paid until the injured state worker is released by the doctor to return to work.
  • Permanent partial disability or total disability payments for disfigurement, loss of an important body part or loss of hearing or vision.
  • Death benefits to dependents

Workers’ compensation does not provide benefits for pain and suffering related to a workplace injury.

Understand Your Rights as an Injured N.C. State Employee

If you are a North Carolina state employee who has been denied workers’ compensation benefits, you may be uncertain what to do next. The most important step you can take is to inform yourself about your legal rights. You can arrange a free and confidential consultation to have a workers’ compensation attorney review the details of your injury and explain your legal options. The consultation is absolutely free, and you will leave the meeting with a better understanding of your choices.