Everyone has the right to a safe work environment. That doesn’t stop companies from cutting corners or slacking off on their safety procedures. If you were hurt at work, you might have more trouble getting workers compensation benefits than you should. A Hickory workers’ compensation lawyer can help you through this long and often frustrating process.
Working with an attorney who specializes in workers’ compensation claims, you can ensure that your claim is correct the first time and then follow it through the insurance activity. A workers comp lawyer can help you decide when to accept a settlement or if you need to take further legal action.
Workers compensation insurance companies often try to rush statements and close out cases before you’re fully recovered. That means that you’re missing out on a major part of your benefits. Don’t let your boss, your doctor, or the insurance company cut short your recovery. A personal injury attorney in Hickory can advise you if the proposed settlement is fair or if you should pursue further action.
Seeking assistance from a workers compensation attorney doesn’t mean that you’re taking aggressive action against your company. It means that you’re making sure you have a fair chance at getting the settlement you deserve.
Find hope with Harman Law as we can provide guidance and act as a knowledge resource. Call us today at (704)766-8729 and get your questions answered by an expert Hickory workers’ compensation lawyer who will set realistic expectations for your case.
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How Does Workers Comp Work in Hickory, NC?
In Hickory, NC, you can expect a fairly standard workers comp process which should stay about the same for every claimant. But what is standard in Hickory is very different from other regions of the U.S.
First, you need to understand that workers comp claims in Hickory cover medical treatment. In some cases, they provide wage replacement as well and coverage for economic losses. Benefits in North Carolina have limitations that other regions don’t implement. The struggle that many claimants face is that the N.C. workers compensation laws don’t cover pain and suffering claims.
Keeping all of that in mind, you can start to walk through the steps of submitting a claim. Of course, you were injured or hurt at work and sought medical treatment. Your employer’s workers compensation insurance company must have a list of approved doctors for you to see. Your boss should have given you that list to make sure that you saw an approved physician.
Ideally, these physicians will see you right away, offer immediate medical treatment, and lessen your pain. In many cases, these doctors will decide if you need surgery or ongoing rehabilitation treatment. You should not have to pay anything out of pocket for these visits. If a doctor believes you are unable to continue working or fulfill your job function, they will provide instruction for you to take time off.
After you see a doctor, you’ll submit your claim through your employer. Workers compensation is an insurance policy that your employer usually has through a private company. This setup often leads to a back-and-forth between the injured employee and the insurance company.
If this happens, your Hickory workers’ compensation lawyer will advise you of your options to pursue a reasonable and fair resolution. North Carolina has systems in place to protect workers in these situations.
Why Should I Hire a Hickory Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
Typically, doctors do what they believe is best. Insurance companies, however, often do what they believe is best for them. That means that there’s no one looking out for you. You’re the one who was injured, and now you have to defend yourself. That’s not fair.
Anyone injured on the job needs representation. Not every worker’s compensation claim goes through court processing. In fact, most never have to go to court. But there are times when what your employer’s insurance company offers for compensation just isn’t fair.
When you involve a Hickory workers’ compensation lawyer, they can help you determine a fair settlement from an unfair offer.
What Happens if I’m Denied Workers Compensation Benefits?
Injured workers have a right to workers compensation coverage. But not every injury received coverage or benefits. Because it’s up to the insurance company to determine the specifics of the claim, many employees that deserve benefits don’t receive them.
If your worker’s comp rejects your claim, you can take it to the North Carolina Industrial Commission. This is the formal board that helps injured workers resolve denied claims.
A denied claim could come from incorrect files or providing incomplete documentation. When you receive a notice of claim denial, you need to start your appeals right away. A workers comp lawyer in Hickory, NC can walk you through how to submit your claim to the North Carolina Industrial Commission. You specifically need to inform your employer of the official claim and file a Form 33.
Form 33 will request a formal hearing where you can present your side of the situation. They will work to determine what benefits you should receive. Your case may end with the Industrial Commission, or it may have to go through mediation or even a trial.
The important thing to remember is that you have options to continue your claim, even if it was denied.
How Much Am I Paid While I’m on Workers Comp?
Injured workers experience more than just physical pain and discomfort. They experience financial struggles as well. From permanent physical disability to missed bills, you need your worker’s comp benefits to come in quickly.
Most people receive benefits from a disability while their claim is in progress. North Carolina allows injured workers to receive benefits for both medical bills and lost wages. Unfortunately, lost wages are only available to those who have a disability.
Under North Carolina workers’ compensation laws, there are four different types of disability. If you had to take time off of work, it’s likely that you experienced one of these options.
Temporary Total Disability
Temporary Total Disability, often abbreviated to TTD, is paid out to employees who required a healing period after their injury. This type of disability is a little difficult to navigate because it ties in suitable employment, healing periods, and of course, what the doctor believes was best.
To receive TTD, you must wait for a seven-day period, and the disability must last for twenty-one days. So, if you missed 14 days of work, you may just miss out on those wages.
TTD can accrue for up to 500 weeks and occasionally longer if there are special circumstances. It is the employee’s job to prove TTD through their medical documents and with the authorization of an approved physician.
How this usually starts is a doctor will tell you that you cannot return to work. Then those days start to build up, and you begin losing wages. After this happens, you’ll apply for TTD and submit that information with your worker’s comp claim.
Typically, TTD payment is about 2/3rds of the person’s average weekly pay.
Temporary Partial Disability
Total Partial Disability or TPD, cover lost wages when a person can return to work but isn’t able to fulfill all of their job duties. TPD benefits can build up for 500 weeks and will pay 2/3rds of the person’s average weekly pay.
TPD usually happens when a doctor allows someone to return to work with restrictions. Restrictions will often include limited motion or movement, and limited lifting or pushing. Your employer must comply but can reduce your hours or pay as a result of these limitations.
Permanent Partial Disability
PPD, Permanent Partial Disability, means that you have reached the end of your recovery period but still have an impairment. You may have lost all or partial use of a limb or sense which would contribute to PPD payment.
A common example is the loss of sight in one eye. Although you can do many jobs, you have lost significant abilities, and the injury will impact you for the rest of your life.
PPD has a calculation to ensure fair treatment among various disabilities. An employee must first have an authorized physician assign a percentage disability rating for the injury. The Industrial Commission will multiply that percentage by the worker’s compensation rate and the weeks assigned to the affected body part.
Permanent Total Disability
There are very rare times when PTD or Permanent Total Disability is an available option. Essentially you must be permanently disabled for life. A doctor must sign off that you would not be able to work under any reasonable circumstances. Often these cases include the loss of multiple libs, severe spinal injuries resulting in paralysis or severe burns over a substantial part of the body.
Payments for PTD are determined on a case-by-case basis but typically rely on the same calculated mentioned previously. The Industrial Commission will account for the severity of the injury and its full impact on your life.
How Does a Positive Drug Test Affect an NC Workers Comp Claim?
After an on-the-job incident, you’ll likely have to submit to a drug test. Under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, intoxication (by any substance) can give the insurance company a defense against your claim. Essentially, it can negatively impact your claim, and you should expect to receive a denial notice for your first claim submission.
However, they may have a hard time proving intoxication. Many times, the insurance company will argue that a drug test is enough proof, but that’s not true. They must prove that the employee was intoxicated at the time. Often a urine or blood analysis does not provide an adequately accurate time frame for defense in a case.
Without substantial evidence to back up the claim of intoxication, even a positive drug test may not be enough for them to deny you benefits. A positive drug test does not automatically void access to your worker’s compensation benefits. If anything, it only opens them up to greater review.
In many cases, it can be impossible to prove that intoxication was the cause of the accident. The test must be able to measure and record the presence and amount of drug in the person’s system.
After the testing, the sample must be within a protected chain of custody. In an instance where someone mislabeled it or handed it to an unauthorized person in a lab, the evidence becomes void.
Essentially your employer must go through great lengths to prove intoxication. So much so that a positive test cannot be the only decider when it comes to denying workers comp benefits. There’s often too much effort for the employer to put in if the results are challenged by an experienced workers’ comp lawyer in Hickory, NC.
Contact A Hickory, NC Workers Compensation Attorney at Harman Law for a Free Consultation
Workers comp cases often have hiccups, special circumstances, or difficulties. That doesn’t mean that you won’t get benefits. If anything, it is just another good reason to hire a workers comp attorney as soon as your case starts.
If you had a positive drug test or some extent of disability, you’ll likely not have an open and shut case. You probably have questions about whether you’ll receive benefits, and how much to expect. A lawyer can help you understand your case and special situation better.
Even if you have what you believe is a “normal” case. It’s likely that you’ll have a hard time getting the compensation that you deserve. Workers compensation companies often rush people through the process, which leads to smaller payouts. Get someone to fight for your side, you were the one injured, and you should have your side heard.
Contact Harman Law in Hickory, NC, for a Consultation. You can schedule a time to sit and speak with an experienced workers comp attorney. Ask questions and learn more about what it will take to resolve your case.
After your consultation, you’ll have a much more complete understanding of the worker’s compensation process. Call us at (704)766-8729 to work with the best workers’ comp lawyer in Hickory to put up the strongest fight for the benefits you deserve.