Workers' Compensation

What is workers’ compensation?

The Workers’ Compensation Act allows workers who are injured in the course of their employment or develop an occupational disease to be compensated for their lost wages and injuries and to receive medical treatment. Employees do not have to prove that their employer negligently caused their injuries.

What kinds of injuries are covered under The Workers’ Compensation Act?

Almost any physical injury sustained at work and many conditions caused by work may be covered by workers’ compensation. A preexisting injury or condition will not qualify, unless it was materially aggravated by the job duties.

How do I file a workers’ compensation claim for an injury or work-related condition?

Injuries should be reported to your employer in writing immediately or as soon as possible. Claims may be filed with the North Carolina Industrial Commission by completing and sending in a Form 18 to the Industrial Commission along with copies to the employer or insurer. Working with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to complete and send in this form can help improve the chance your application for benefits will be granted.

Do I have a workers’ compensation claim for injuries from a car accident during my commute to or from work?

Not likely. The Workers’ Compensation Act applies only when an injury arises out of and in the course of employment. Unless certain special circumstances apply, going to and from work would normally not be covered.

I was injured on the job, but the injury was caused by someone with no connection to my employer. What are my rights?

You still have the right to seek workers’ compensation benefits. In addition, you may be able to bring a separate lawsuit against the party who caused your injuries.

My spouse was killed on the job. Would I be able to receive workers’ compensation benefits or would I have a wrongful death case?

In most instances you would have a workers’ compensation claim so long as your spouse’s death arose from his or her job duties. As in any workers’ compensation case, if the injury was caused by a third person, you may also have a claim against that person.

My employer and I disagree about my workers’ compensation benefits. What can I do?

The Workers’ Compensation Act provides an opportunity for a hearing if you and your employer, or your employer’s insurer, cannot resolve a dispute. While it is not required, it strongly recommended that you have legal representation at the hearing. Contact a workers’ compensation lawyer at Patterson Harkavy today to discuss your claim.

If an employee is receiving workers’ compensation benefits, but returns to work, is the employee still entitled to receive benefits?

Benefits will be stopped when the injured employee returns to work, but the employee may be entitled to partial benefits if he or she is only able to earn reduced wages. The employee also may be entitled to a trial return to work period. If the injured employee cannot continue to work due to the work-related injury or condition during that period, he or she may have the benefits reinstated.

Because workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, can I recover benefits no matter what I did to cause the injury?

Not necessarily. Although most injuries are covered by workers’ compensation, that does not mean that employees have free reign to injure themselves, or act in any manner in which they choose, and then collect benefits. However, unlike traditional negligence cases in North Carolina, the employee’s negligence will not prevent recovery of benefits.

What are my employer’s responsibilities under The Workers’ Compensation Act?

Most employers are required to purchase insurance for their employees from a workers’ compensation insurance carrier or to qualify as self-insured against workers’ compensation claims. The employer or insurance company should pay medical and/or disability benefits to an injured employee according to a state-approved formula. Unless they fall within limited, exempt categories, employers without workers’ compensation insurance are subject to fines, criminal prosecution, and civil liability.

Do I need an attorney?

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. If your claim is contested, an attorney will represent your employer; you should have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney representing you. Please contact an attorney at Patterson Harkavy to discuss your claim.