What’s the Value of a Work Comp Case in North Carolina?
People hurt in on-the-job injuries often have a lot of questions. Most people are not quite sure what to expect.
In fact, it’s not terribly unusual to be a bit uncertain about whether to even make a claim or not. Worrying about your job and whether a claim exists are important considerations.
Asking about an “average value” or “expected settlement” is normal. It’s natural to wonder whether your worker’s compensation claim is worth more or less than anyone else’s.
Such questions are an effort to get a general idea whether you have a case and how much might be recovered.
It also is something most people consider before deciding to move forward.
- Is it even worth pursuing a claim?
- Will putting in for unemployment or work comp, in the long term, hurt more than it would help?
- Can an employer fire you in North Carolina for filing for workmens compensation?
Here’s the truth. There is no such thing as an average, at least from a big-picture perspective, work comp settlement or award by the NC Industrial Commission or hearing officer.
If there is one constant, it is that everyone’s case is different.
While there may be certain similarities in the mechanics of an injury, how your body reacts and the amount of time it may take to recover is truly unique.
There are so many different intervening factors that to express an “average” without knowing more about the specifics of your injuries isn’t all that helpful.
What really matters is what’s best for you and your family. We get that. Failing to acknowledge that very real consideration would be a mistake.
That’s one reason we’d like to sit down with you and go through your options.
We charge nothing for the consultation. And it’s absolutely OK if you decide never to make a claim or go in another direction.What is MY Workers’ Compensation Claim Worth?
Determining the value of your claim first requires careful consideration of the surrounding circumstances of the workplace injury. Put simply, as lawyers we’ll want to know how you were hurt.
Was a sudden, unexpected emergency? Or did your physical and medical condition take time to develop? Did you fall or did something fall on you? Or do you have problems due to what some treating doctors may refer to as a “repetitive motion” injury?
One next would need to consider the nature and extent of the injury.
- Just how badly hurt are you?
- Is a sprain or did something tear or break?
- Will your on-the-job accident require physical therapy or surgery?
- Is there scarring or permanent loss of range of motion?
Comp lawyers necessarily also need to consider your age, prior injuries, and the natural course of healing. Is this something that after surgery the recovery would be relatively fast? Is it an injury that will never recover? Is it somewhere in-between?
Your claim is therefore related to those issues and more. Can you work during treatment with the employer providing a “reasonable accommodation?”
What does your treating physician say? Are you permanently disabled? Are you prevented from ever working again? Can you work but in another position?What is a Disability Rating?
A “rating” is nothing more than an opinion. It’s an educated opinion, normally be a doctor, that seeks to set forth whether you can work after an accident and to what extent can you work.
There are generally two broad categories of disability ratings:
- Temporary Disability
- Permanent Disability
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that temporary means “for a time” and permanent means “forever.”
Some temporary disabilities may last for a year or more, depending on how quickly the healing process can begin.
If you were hurt at work, saw the doctor and told you need surgery, that temporary rating may last until such time as surgery may be performed and recovery from the procedure takes place.
Assuming a complete recovery, which obviously most people hope for, the temporary disability rating may end there.
On the other hand, sometimes don’t work out like we’d hope. Even after quality medical care, some injuries don’t heal. You may be permanently injured.
That’s what is meant by a permanent disability. You may never get back to where you were before the workplace injury. The damage caused may last for the rest of your life.
There is also a secondary aspect of things to consider, that being the extent of the disability. Comp lawyers regularly work with clients who have a “rating” that based on a percentage of normal activity.
That may be referred to as a “partial” disability. On the other hand, your injury may be one that is considered a “total” disability.
To complicate things a bit, those terms may be used together to explain an overall condition such as “Permanent Partial Disability” vs “Temporary Total Disability.” As you probably understand, it pretty much depends on how badly you were hurt at work and what it’s going to take to get better.Related Worker Compensation Legal Issues
- Should I Hire a Workers' Comp Lawyer?
- Can I Trust the Company Doctor?
- Will I Lose My Job
- My Boss is Pressuring Me to Return to Work
- Value of Workmans Compensation Claims
- Types of Disability Benefits
- Who Pays Medical Bills
Employee works as a carpenter for a subcontractor in New Bern, North Carolina. While hammering particle-board to the roof of a new project, he slips down the side of the roof and falls to the ground.
On the way down the worker catches his leg on a flathead roofing nail, slicing his leg open and causing ligament damage to his knee. The distance to the ground is more than 20 feet.
The employee falls head first, striking the ground with the side of his face, shoulder, and chest. At impact the employee suffers a concussion, traumatic brain injury, a broken shoulder, broken ribs, and a collapsed lung.
The employee loses consciousness and is transported to Carteret Health Care in Morehead City. He remains in a coma and on life support for 5 days.
He has emergency surgery to relieve swelling of the brain. Doctors in the emergency room stitch up the leg laceration, but due to the extent to the trauma, they are unable to repair the broken shoulder and ligament damage to the leg. Additional surgeries will be required as range of motion, unrepaired, is less than 5% of normal.
The employee gradually regains consciousness. He is transferred from the ICU Intensive Care Unit to recovery care, and eventually placed in a group home for long term care, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.
Despite that, the employee’s long-term prognosis regarding the traumatic brain injury and post-concussive injury is good.
Assuming a claim has been properly filed with the employer and the North Carolina Industrial Commission, expected the employee would receive a temporary total disability rating. One would logically assume that would remain the case while he is in long-term care.
With surgery and appropriate physical therapy, the prognosis for full recovery of his legal and shoulder damage.
The legal issue may become to what level or extent can the employee work pending surgery to his leg and shoulder. With only a 5% range of motion, an employer would be hard-pressed to be able to provide a reasonable accommodation for other suitable employment.
Assuming that is the case and during the period of temporary total disability, the employee under the NC Workers Compensation laws would be entitled to 2/3rds of his normal weekly wages (the weekly comp rate). The employer would similarly be responsible for the costs of medical care, treatment, and aftercare.
A disability rating may change over time. If after surgery, rehabilitation, and treatment the employee returns to 90%, he may be entitled to a permanent partial disability rating and therefore compensation.Worker Compensation Lawyers in North Carolina
The Dodge Jones Injury Law Firm helps people present claims work workplace injuries. We’re here to help.
Kevin Jones is a North Carolina Board Certified Workers’ Compensation Law Specialist. He has spent more than 30 years helping people throughout coastal North Carolina.
Dodge Jones Law Firm has multiple convenient office locations to serve you, offering legal assistance to people who work and live in Greenville NC, Jacksonville NC, Beaufort, New Bern, Morehead City, and the Kinston area.
Call NOW for a free legal consultation. You may also reach Kevin Jones by email at Kevin@DodgeJones.com