Workers’ Compensation FAQs
The NC Workers’ Compensation Act, adopted in the 1930s, aims to compensate employees who are injured by accidents at work and occupational disease. Workers’ comp aims to make “industry pay for its own wreckage,” in the words of the court. It strikes a balance between employers and their employees.
- For employers, workers’ comp provides the benefit of reduced liability expenses because it:
- 1) Sets full disability compensation rates at two thirds of the employee’s average weekly pay instead of 100 percent
- 2) Excludes employee compensation for pain and suffering
- 3) Is the “exclusive remedy” for employees. This means an employee cannot usually sue their employer in a personal injury suit for workers’ comp injuries.
- For employees, workers’ comp provides the following in accepted cases:
- Medical care at no cost to the employee
- Prompt temporary full or partial disability payments that continue weekly as the case goes on.
- By contrast, in standard personal injury cases, the insurance company or other defendant does not have to pay for medical bills or lost wages until the case settles or trial concludes.
- Permanent disability benefits if applicable
- Contributory negligence is eliminated as a defense. North Carolina is one of two states that still use a contributory negligence model in injury cases. This means that if a person’s own actions contributed in any direct amount to their injuries, they cannot sue to recover against the person that caused the majority of the injury. For example, a driver that was found to be 10 percent at fault in a car accident could not recover in damages from the driver who was 90 percent at fault. Eliminating contributory negligence as a defense in workers’ comp means that an employee’s contributory negligence will not be a bar to them receiving workers’ comp benefits.
- If you are not sure whether you have a claim or not: The experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are ready to step in to help ensure that you do not miss out on a claim you might not think is covered. Our attorneys handle the stress and worry of dealing with your employer, the insurance company and the North Carolina Industrial Commission. Mr. Arnold is experienced in handling injury claims, having formerly worked as an insurance defense attorney handling injury claims for insurance companies.
- If your injury is minor and your employer does not dispute your workers’ comp claim: You still may be able to benefit from contacting the dedicated attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC to ensure that your matter is handled efficiently and correctly while avoiding costly mistakes.
- If your injury is more severe or your employer is refusing to compensate you: Our experienced attorneys are ready to intervene and fight on your behalf. Our attorneys are skilled at preliminary negotiations and mediation, but unafraid to take the fight to the courtroom all the way to trial if necessary to get you the compensation you deserve. Our attorneys will not settle until you are satisfied.
- If your claim is denied: You still have options. Deserving victims’ claims are often denied, and this is where your attorney will step in to fight for just compensation.
- Medical treatment: Either your employer or their workers’ compensation insurance company must pay for medical treatment to relieve your pain and cure your injury regardless of whether or not you have to miss work. Medical treatment will be provided for the injured body part and other medical conditions that are a direct, natural consequence of the injury.
- Lost wages/”temporary disability”: If an employee must be out of work for a period while on doctor’s orders, workers’ comp provides temporary full disability payments in the form of weekly checks for two-thirds of the employee’s average weekly wage. The first seven days the employee misses work is typically a “waiting period” where no check is issued, and checks begin weekly after that. The employee can receive the check for the “waiting period” once they have had to miss work for 21 days. If the employee can return to their job part-time while they are healing, they can receive a partial workers’ comp check in supplement to their part-time paycheck.
- Permanent disability, if applicable
Employees should file their workers’ comp claim within 30 days of the injury, but a failure to do so may not be the end of the case. Speaking with an experienced workers’ comp attorney as soon as possible after a work accident will help ensure that you do not miss out on benefits to which you are entitled.
The dedicated workers’ comp attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC are ready to step in and handle dealing with your employer, the insurance company, and the North Carolina Industrial Commission (the organization that handles workers’ comp claims). Whether you are not sure you have a claim, your employer is saying you are not covered by workers’ comp, or your claim is denied, our attorneys are ready to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Contact our office today for a consultation with one of our workers’ comp attorneys.