In the face of unforeseen accidents and workplace injuries, the world can suddenly feel overwhelming. From grappling with physical pain and emotional distress to grappling with complex legal processes, the aftermath of a workplace accident can present numerous challenges. This is where a skilled and dedicated workers’ compensation lawyer becomes your steadfast advocate and guide.
We aim to shed light on the vital role that a Winston Salem workers’ compensation lawyer plays in safeguarding your rights and securing the compensation you deserve. As experienced legal professionals, we understand the intricacies of workers’ compensation law and are here to offer you our unwavering support throughout the entire legal journey.
At McIver Law Firm, we believe that every individual who has suffered a workplace injury deserves a fair chance at justice. We are deeply committed to ensuring that you are not left alone to navigate the complex legal maze on your own. Allow us to take you through the fundamental aspects of workers’ compensation and highlight the indispensable advantages of having a dedicated legal partner by your side.
How Does the Workers Compensation System Work in North Carolina?
The workers’ compensation system in North Carolina is designed to offer financial support and benefits to employees with work-related injuries or illnesses. Here’s an overview of the whole process:
Notify the Employer
An employee has to notify the employer immediately if a work-related injury or illness occurs. They should share details about where and how the incident happened. Sharing the news with an employer is crucial because it helps when filing a claim.
Seek Medical Attention
Having informed the employer about the issue, an employee should visit a doctor for treatment. Emergency care is recommended for critical conditions, but if the case isn’t an emergency, the victim may wait for their employee to advise on some suitable medical providers. The individual must explain everything that happened to the health professional to get the proper treatment and care.
The victim must record all events of the incident. It can include writing down the location, time, date, and circumstances leading to the injury. Witnesses should also be listed in these records. This information is necessary when filing a claim.
File a Written Report of the Injury to the Employer (Within 30 Days)
While one has to notify their employer about a work-related injury or illness verbally, it’s compulsory to file another written report to the employer within 30 days. The written notice should be as detailed as possible, with details like date, time, and an accurate description of the illness or injury. Employees should submit a copy to the employer and keep one for themselves.
Make a Claim
The victim should obtain all necessary claim forms. In the case of North Carolina, the main form is Form 18, which is the Notice of Accident to Employer and Claim of Employee. These forms must be filled out accurately, providing personal, injury, and treatment-related details. The individual should sign and date the forms.
The last step is to submit the completed claim forms to the relevant party. It could be the employer or the insurance carrier. It’s also important to retain copies of the claim forms.
Appeal a Denied Claim (If Necessary)
An employee can appeal after a compensation claim has been denied. The first thing they must do while appealing is review the denial letter to understand its reasons. The next thing is to familiarize themselves with the appeal process noting all the deadlines, to ensure everything is complete in time.
With the help of a workers’ compensation attorney, the employee should proceed to gather documentation to support the appeal. Such information may include photographs, witness statements, and medical records.
The victim should then prepare and file a notice of appeal and submit any supporting evidence. During the hearing, the individual should be present to present the case, give the evidence, and also answer questions.
The responsible party will then review all the evidence and decide based on the law.
What Are the Types of Injuries that Qualify for Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation covers various work-related injuries and illnesses. Here are the conditions that qualify for workers’ compensation:
Accidents and Fatal Injuries
Exposure to chemicals and other harmful substances at work can lead to illnesses. For example, too much dust at the workplace can lead to lung diseases, whereas excess noise can cause hearing loss.
Repetitive Strain Injuries
These are conditions caused by prolonged or repetitive actions like lifting heavy material, typing, and assembly line activities.
Existing Conditions Aggravated by Work Activities
If one has a pre-existing condition made worse by work activities, that qualifies them for workers’ compensation. For example, an existing back condition can worsen after lifting heavy objects.
Workers’ compensation may also cover mental conditions in some cases. These include mental health problems from trauma, stress, or psychological strain at work. Examples include anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Not all conditions and injuries qualify for compensation, so individuals must consult an attorney for proper guidance.
What Types of Benefits Does Worker’s Compensation Provide?
Employees who sustain injuries or illnesses can receive different benefits through workers’ compensation. They Include:
Workers’ compensation covers medical treatment for work-related injuries and illnesses. They include costs like therapy, hospitalization, doctor visits, medication surgery, and prosthetics.
These are offered in cases where an employee’s injury leads to disability. The level of benefits may vary depending on the condition – it could be a partial or permanent disability. The compensation can be paid as a lump sum or through regular installments.
Compensation can cover vocational rehabilitation, which helps the victim return to work or learn new skills to get employment elsewhere. It includes counseling, vocational training, and job placement help.
Dependents and beneficiaries can receive death benefits if work-related injuries or illnesses lead to a victim’s demise. The benefits may cover funeral expenses and financial support for the employee’s descendants.
Wage Replacement Benefits
If an injury or illness acquired from work prevents an employee from working, they are eligible for benefits to cover lost wages.
What Are Some of the Common Challenges to Workers Compensation Claims?
The worker’s compensation claim process can be complicated because of several challenges. Here are obstacles that may arise:
One of the problems an employee can face while seeking compensation is denial of the claim. The refusal may come from the employer or insurance company. Reasons leading to denial include insufficient evidence, missed deadlines, and failure to comply with requirements. Victims must file an appeal with detailed evidence to overcome the denial.
Difficulty Proving Pre-Existing Conditions
If injured workers have pre-existing conditions, it can be challenging to show that work-related activities led to the aggravation of the situation. Parties responsible for compensating the victim may argue that the condition existed before the workplace incident making a claim complicated.
Conflicting Medical Opinions
Medical experts may be required to offer their opinions on the injury or illness before compensation. If they give varying assessments and opinions, that can lead to delays and even complicate the process of resolving the claim.
Dispute Over Level of Disability
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine the level of disability. Disagreements over the level of impairment and severity of the injury can lead to disputes regarding the appropriate amount of compensation.
The employer and employee may argue about the ability to return to work following an injury or illness. Resolving such disputes can be challenging, which may affect the compensation process.
There may be other challenges besides the above, depending on the issue. Employees should always seek legal advice from experienced compensation attorneys to help overcome problems that arise when making a claim.
What Do I Do If My Employer Denies My Claim?
It can be frustrating when an employer denies the compensation claim, but there’s always a chance to appeal. An individual can appeal a couple of times, and here’s how to go about it:
Know the Cause of Denial
The employer will send a statement or letter stating the reasons for the denial. The victim should study the information carefully to help them address the matter effectively.
Consult a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
An employee should consult an attorney after claim denial to help them evaluate the case, explain the available options, and prepare for appeal.
Victims should collect and gather any helpful evidence with the assistance of an attorney. The evidence can include accident reports and medical records. Strong evidence is vital for a successful appeal.
File the Appeal
After preparing the evidence and supporting documentation, the next step is to file the appeal. Employees should be aware of the timelines and procedures involved to avoid making mistakes.
An individual may have to attend hearings as part of the appeal process. The lawyer will help prepare the testimony, present the evidence, and everything else that happens during the proceedings.
The parties involved should do everything they can to comply with the legal requirements and processes during the appeal. Failure to adhere to some of these things can jeopardize the case. The employee filing the appeal should also be in constant communication with their attorney and promptly provide other documentation and information that may be required.
What Are the Differences Between a Personal Injury and a Workers Compensation Claim?
Personal injury and workers’ compensation claims are different and involve different things. Here are the key differences:
In a personal injury claim, victims seek compensation for damages like lost wages, medical costs, pain, and emotional suffering. The aim is to make the affected person “whole” by offering financial help for all losses incurred.
On the other hand, workers’ compensation mainly provides specific benefits related to work injuries and illnesses, including wage replacement, compensation for medical treatment, and disability benefits.
Victims aren’t compensated for pain and emotional distress in the workers’ compensation.
Negligence and Fault
In a personal injury claim, the injured party must prove that another party was negligent or at fault, leading to their injury. On the other hand, fault or negligence does not have to be established in workers’ compensation, provided the injury or illness is work-related.
Level of Coverage
Personal injury claims cover more injuries and illnesses, for example, those occurring because of slips and falls, road accidents, product liability, etc. Workers’ compensation claims cover illnesses and injuries arising from employment-related issues. Employees can only receive benefits if the incident happens while at work.
Personal injury claims are typically addressed through negotiations and settlements, provided the victim can prove damage. Regarding workers’ compensation claims, unique administrative guidelines must be followed.
Personal injury claims may not necessarily have statutory limits concerning the compensation amount. In contrast, the amount of compensation in workers’ compensation claims is determined by the extent of loss or damage suffered by the victim employee.
How Does a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Get Paid?
Workers’ compensation attorneys are paid on a contingency fee basis that works as follows:
Contingency Fee Agreement
The lawyer will enter a contingency fee arrangement with their client rather than charging an hourly rate on an upfront amount. It means that a successful case outcome determines the lawyer’s fees. The lawyer isn’t paid if they fail to secure a settlement or win the case.
Reimbursement of Expenses
Lawyers may get reimbursed for the expenses incurred during the case. Such may include court filing fees and deposition costs. The lawyer and client usually agree on how the payments will be handled.
If the lawyer wins some benefits or a settlement in a workers’ compensation claim, they can receive a part of the recovered amount; this percentage may vary.
Individuals should consult with their lawyer to discuss an appropriate fee structure that includes expenses, contingency fees, and other costs. This is to ensure transparency and prevent misunderstandings.
Can I Still Receive Benefits If the Accident Was My Fault?
The workers’ compensation claim is usually a no-fault system meaning that an employee is eligible for benefits regardless of who was at fault for the injury. While fault or negligence may not be a determining factor, here are a few exceptions:
Compensation can be denied if work-related injuries or illnesses are caused by the employee’s willful violation of workplace regulations or deliberate misconduct.
Substance Abuse and Intoxication
Injuries resulting from intoxication or substance abuse may not be eligible for compensation benefits. Self-inflicted injuries may also not be compensated unless the self-inflicted harm is because of a mental health condition arising from work-related activities.
Can I Get Fired for Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
It’s generally illegal for an employer to fire a worker for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Employees are protected from this kind of retaliation and can seek legal solutions if it happens.
How Long Can I Receive Worker Compensation?
The duration for which an employee receives workers’ compensation benefits varies depending on the nature of the condition.
In case of a temporary disability, an individual gets compensated during the period they cannot work. For permanent disability cases, the victim may get regular or a lump sum payment depending on the severity of the issue.
When work-related benefits lead to the death of an employee, the beneficiaries may receive compensation until a predetermined time or until they’re no longer eligible for the benefits.
Call Our Trusted Winston Salem Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Today
In conclusion, the aftermath of a workplace injury can be a tumultuous and overwhelming time in your life. However, you don’t have to face this challenging journey alone. A dedicated and experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can provide the expertise and support necessary to navigate the complexities of the legal system and secure the compensation you deserve.
At McIver Law Firm, we are deeply committed to standing by your side and advocating for your rights. Our team of skilled attorneys understands the nuances of workers’ compensation law and will fight tirelessly to ensure that your voice is heard and your interests are protected. With our unwavering support, you can focus on your recovery while we handle the legal intricacies on your behalf.
Remember, time is of the essence when it comes to filing a workers’ compensation claim. Delays or mistakes in the process can jeopardize your chances of receiving fair compensation. Reach out to us today for a confidential consultation, where we will assess the details of your case and provide you with a clear roadmap forward.
We firmly believe that every injured worker deserves justice and fair treatment. Let us be your trusted legal partner as we navigate the maze of workers’ compensation together. Contact us today at 336-727-9886 and take the first step towards securing the compensation and peace of mind you rightfully deserve.