An estimated 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries occurred in the American workplace in 2016. Almost 900,000 of those required time away from work.
When you’ve been hurt on the job, often your first thought isn’t to file for workers comp. But this can wind up being a huge mistake.
Filing for workers comp can feel like a difficult process, but we’ve compiled this list of steps you should take once you’ve been injured on the job.
In North Carolina, it is mandatory that you report to your supervisor or employer. Even if you think your injury is minor, not requiring a claim, it’s a good rule of thumb to report to your supervisor in writing.
You do not need to do this on a specific form, it just needs to include the important details of what happened. Good details to include are the date of the injury, the time, and any witnesses to the event.
Notify your employer no later than 30 days after your injury.
You might want to put this off, but the sooner you file your claim, the sooner you can receive your benefits.
2) Medical Attention
If your injury requires emergency medical treatment, do not wait. Go to your nearest emergency medical treatment center or urgent care.
Make sure to let the healthcare provider that this injury occurred on the job. This allows them to send all their bills and other expenses related to this visit directly to your employer and their insurance agency.
3) Consider an Attorney
For many cases, it is probably okay for you to represent yourself. If you have a minor injury if your employer admits that the injury happened at work, if you didn’t miss work, or if you have no pre-existing conditions that can cause an insurance company to think twice, you should be okay.
However, less and less injured employees are receiving the workers’ compensation benefits they might deserve.
At this stage, it might not be as pertinent that you hire a lawyer, but doing some research on one you can trust is never a bad idea.
4) File for Workers Comp
Next, it’s time to file the Notice of Accident to Employer and Claim of Employee, or Form 18. This is the official workers’ compensation claim.
Your employer might have copies of these available, but in case they don’t, you can always download and print a copy here.
In the case that your employer doesn’t file these forms properly, you may submit the Notice of Accident to Employer and Claim of Employee directly to North Carolina’s Industrial Commission.
Make sure you or your employer file this form within two years of the date of your injury.
5) Eligibility Determination
The North Carolina Industrial Commission oversees all workers comp claims in the state. North Carolina has adopted a no-fault workers’ compensation system, which means that as long as your injury took place on the job within the scope of your work activities, you will typically be able to receive benefits.
The NCIC will look over your claim and forward it to your employer’s insurance company.
From here, that insurance company or workers comp administrator will determine whether you are eligible for benefits.
They will look over your medical records, your work experience, and wages. They might also order a medical examination with a doctor of their choosing to assess your condition. An assessment of your ability to perform work duties might also be required.
This might seem like a lengthy process, and when you’re injured it absolutely is. Luckily, North Carolina law requires that the insurance company approves or denies your workers’ compensation benefits in under 14 days of receiving your claim.
If your claim went through without issue, great! You’ll start receiving the benefits you need.
If your claim was denied, which unfortunately happens often, there are still steps you can take.
Many insurers will routinely deny perfectly viable workers comp claims because it is just assumed that the average worker won’t appeal. Don’t let this be the case for you.
You have the right to appeal any denied workers’ compensation claim. To begin this process, you have to file a request to meet with the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
While having a lawyer in the earlier parts of the workers’ compensation process might have been helpful, now it is absolutely essential. The Information Specialists in North Carolina can assist you with your claim, but it is not allowed to provide you with legal advice.
If your employer has a lawyer, there is no reason for you to be at a disadvantage. It’s a lawyer’s job to see that you are being treated fairly and to fight for the benefits you deserve.
7) When a Lawyer is Needed
Hopefully, everything with your workers’ compensation claim has gone smoothly. But, this is often not the case.
In addition to your employer not accepting your claim, there are other complications that could arise.
If the settlement offer you are given doesn’t cover all of your wages or medical bills, find yourself a lawyer. There are fail safes in place to make sure you are treated fairly, but many times judges just make sure you aren’t being thrown under the bus before they sign off on your settlement. A lawyer will fight for you to get you the best settlement possible.
If you are permanently disabled, partially or totally, you might qualify to receive weekly payments from your employer. Insurance companies will do anything they can to dodge paying these settlements, so a workers compensation attorney you can count on is a necessity.
If your boss retaliates against you for filing a claim, such as demoted or cut your hours, reduced your pay, or discriminated against you in any way, a workers comp attorney will help protect your legal rights.
Need More Help?
When you file for workers comp, you are starting a process that can seem sticky and full of issues. But it is important that you go through with this to get yourself and your family the benefits you deserve.
If you have been injured on the job and think you need legal representation, visit our website or call 252-499-9859 for your free legal evaluation. We are here to help ensure that you are treated fairly and with the respect you deserve.