Workplace accidents and injuries are quite common in the state of North Carolina. Despite employers’ best efforts to create and maintain safe working environments, hundreds of work-related injuries and illnesses are still being reported each year. If you or a loved one have been injured while on the job in Kannapolis, NC then you may be in pain, confused, and overwhelmed with emotions. Fortunately, under Workers’ Compensation Law in North Carolina, you may be entitled to receiving benefits to help pay for medical expenses and cover a portion of your lost wages if your injuries force you to stay out of work during your recovery. It is important to note that these benefits are awarded under a no-fault system, which means that you are still eligible even if you were at fault for the accident.
However, at times, your employer or their insurance carrier may not have your best interests at heart and may make it difficult for you to receive the full benefits that you rightfully deserve. They will try to find any excuse to deny your claim, delay the process, or try to pressure you into accepting a low-ball settlement. This is why it is crucial to ensure that you protect your rights. The best way of ensuring that your rights are protected and you receive the full benefits that you deserve is by hiring a Kannapolis workers’ compensation lawyer.
Here at Harman Law, we are committed to helping injured workers navigate the murky waters of North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Law and ensure that none of their rights is violated. If you have recently been injured on the job, or have developed symptoms of work-related illnesses, then you should call Harman Law at (704) 766-8729 to get a free consultation where one of our expert personal injury attorneys in Kannapolis will review your case and advise you on the best way forward.
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What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ Compensation is a benefit program that was put in place to provide coverage for medical expenses and lost wages to workers if they are ever injured following a work accident or develop a work-related illness. As stated earlier, it is a “no-fault” system, which essentially means that you don’t have to provide evidence proving that it was someone’s fault. You will be eligible for these benefits as long as the accident occurred while you were on the clock and in the scope of your employment.
It is important to note that not all employers are required to have workers’ compensation insurance coverage in place. According to the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, all businesses that employ more than three workers are required to have workers’ insurance coverage in place for the purpose of paying out workers’ insurance benefits to their employees. This means that if your employer hasn’t taken out workers’ insurance, then you won’t be eligible for the benefits.
It is important to note that in order to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, the injury shouldn’t have been caused by some external factors or pre-existing conditions. In addition, it has to be established that you weren’t under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the accident. Intoxication is one of the grounds upon which employers are able to deny your claim.
What Should I Do If I Am Hurt on the Job?
There are some things you need to do to ensure that you don’t jeopardize your right to these benefits. First, it is crucial to ensure that you report your injury to your employer immediately after the accident, whether orally or in writing. If you fail to report the injury to your employer within 30 days, then you risk losing your right to pursue compensation.
Secondly, you need to ensure that you seek immediate medical treatment. Your health and wellbeing should definitely be a top priority. In addition to recovering your health, getting medical treatment helps to document your injuries. Documenting your injuries and establishing the true extent of your injuries will significantly help to prove your claim. However, to avoid the risk of losing your right to benefits, seek examination and treatment from a doctor that is approved by your company.
Thirdly, you need to hire an experienced Kannapolis workers’ compensation lawyer. Having an attorney by your side through this process is very crucial. Consider this, after you have notified your employer of the injury, you will be requested to fill out the First Form of Injury or Occupational Disease Form which will be sent to the employer’s insurance carrier informing them of your injury. The employer will recommend whether your claim should be honored or not. If the employer isn’t on your side then your claim will most likely be denied and considering that you don’t have much knowledge about workers’ compensation law, you won’t have many options but to give up on your claim.
However, with an attorney in Kannapolis, NC, on your side, your interests will be protected. They will constantly engage with the insurance adjuster on your behalf and follow up on the status of your claim. In the event that your claim is denied, your attorney will demand to know why it was rejected after which they will initiate the process of appeal.
What are the Most Common Workplace Accident Injuries?
Workplace accidents and injuries can happen to any worker in any industry, from a nurse in the hospital, secretary in the office to a waiter in a restaurant. However, some industries like construction have higher risks of injuries than others due to the nature of the job. Regardless of which industry you are in, here are some of the most common causes of workplace injuries.
- Slip and fall accidents
- Exposure to toxic materials
- Vehicle defects
- Construction accidents
- Faulty machinery and equipment
- Falling objects
- Physical stress
- Other accidents
These accidents often lead to injuries such as:
- Broken bones
- Neck and back injury
- Cuts and lacerations
- Brain and head injuries
- Hearing loss from frequent exposure to loud noise
- Muscle strains
Essentially, if you have sustained any type of serious injury that requires medical care while on the job, then you should file a workers’ compensation claim.
Why Should I Hire a Kannapolis Workers’ Compensation Lawyer?
The top priority of any professional Kannapolis workers’ compensation attorney is to ensure that you receive the best medical care and treatment, get full compensation, and ensure that you are able to get back to your feet as quickly as possible.
Your attorney will help you to choose the most reliable doctor within your provider network. They will also ensure that due procedure is followed during the entire process and that your rights and interests are protected.
In the event that your claim is denied, your attorney will aggressively appeal the decision. They will apply the same energy if the benefits you are awarded isn’t enough to cover your damages. With a lawyer on your side, your claim will be taken more seriously and you will significantly increase your chances of receiving the full value of your claim.
Your attorney will also be by your side to take any necessary legal action in case your employer attempts to intimidate you or punish you in any sort of way for filing the workers’ compensation claim. Additionally, your lawyer will take it up upon themselves to ensure that your employer follows the recommendations of your doctor in regard to your new working situation such as a modified working station.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire an Attorney?
One of the key things that deter most workplace accident victims from seeking attorney services is worrying about how much it will cost them. What they don’t realize is that you can obtain high-quality expert attorney services regardless of your financial position. Here at Harman Law, our payment is based on a contingency fee basis. In this kind of arrangement, you aren’t required to pay us any upfront fees to benefit from our services. A certain agreed-upon percentage is usually deducted from your awarded amount. This kind of payment arrangement is preferred by a vast majority of clients and it is very ideal for those who might be struggling financially, especially considering their current situation.
What Should I Do if My Workers’ Compensation Claim is Denied?
Even though workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” system where you are still eligible for the benefits even if you are at fault for your injuries, your claim can still be denied due to a number of reasons, and they include:
- You failed to file the claim on time
- You failed to follow company protocol or wear protective gear thus putting your life at risk
- You were under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of the accident
- You injured yourself deliberately so that you can receive workers’ compensation
- Your employer is convinced that your injury didn’t happen while you were at work
Having your claim denied especially if you have been severely affected by your injuries can be very devastating. This is why it is crucial to hire an attorney. Having your workers’ comp denied doesn’t mean that all is lost. Your attorney will help you file an appeal with the National Carolina Industrial Commission. They will review your case and make a determination that they deem fit.
The commission will determine whether your claim is valid and if so, they will declare what benefits you should receive. Throughout this process, before your hearing is complete your attorney will still be in negotiations with the insurance carrier to try and achieve a favorable settlement for you. The faster you are able to get money in your pocket the better.
What Responsibility Does the Employee Have in Filing a Workers’ Comp Claim?
When it comes to workers’ compensation cases the employee is responsible for:
As an employee, you are always required to act in a responsible manner both at work and out of work. You should always adhere to company codes and policies and you should definitely not go to work while intoxicated. All these are some of the factors that determine whether you have a valid claim or not.
Reporting the Injury
In the event that you sustain an injury while at work, you should report it to your superior or manager immediately or as soon as you are in a position to do so.
It is your responsibility to ensure that the information filled out in the First Report of Injury is correct. Also, remember to request a copy of the form for your own records.
Getting Medical Attention
It is your responsibility to seek quick medical attention if you have been injured at work. Not only will this help in your recovery, but it will also help in documenting your injuries. When you delay or fail to get medical treatment, it will water down your claim as your employer and their insurer will think that your injuries aren’t as serious as you claim them to be.
Keeping Accurate Records
You should be responsible with all the information and forms provided to you by your employer, doctor, attorney, and workers’ compensation carrier throughout the claims process.
Cooperating with the Insurer
If the insurance carrier requests for any documents or asks you to be examined again by an independent medical specialist, then you should be willing to comply. This will help to avoid any suspicions on your part and will help to make the process go smoother.
What Responsibility Does the Employer Have in the Workers’ Compensation Process?
To begin with, your employer is generally responsible for creating and maintaining a safe working environment to minimize the risks of accidents. However, in the event of an employee is injured, they are some responsibilities that your employer will have to fulfill in the workers’ compensation process:
Filing the First Report of Injury Form
Your employer is responsible for completing and filing a First Report of Injury Form or any other relevant form and forwarding it to the insurance carrier.
Upholding the injured employee’s rights
Your employer should respect all your rights. They shouldn’t harass you or be inconsiderate to your needs just because you filed a workers’ compensation claim.
Cooperating with Parties Carrying Out Investigations
Both your attorney and the employer’s insurance carrier will carry out their own investigations into the matter. Your employer is expected to fully cooperate with the investigators and should provide them with all the documents and information that they may need.
Providing A Friendly Environment to Recovering Employees
The last thing that your employer would want to do is to punish or fire you for filing a workers’ compensation claim. Not only is this very wrong but it also carries very serious criminal or civil charges.
Cooperating with North Carolina’s Compensation Board
Your employer in Kannapolis has the responsibility of helping the compensation board in North Carolina curb fraud. For instance, your employer should dutifully file the First Report of Injury after you have reported the injury. Some employers may try to keep their premiums down by failing to forward the First Reports of Injury.
Can I be Fired for Claiming a Workers’ Comp Claim?
The simple answer is no. The North Carolina Retaliatory Discharge Act (REDA) protects employees from being fired, suspended, relocated, or demoted as a retaliatory response by the employer to the employee’s act of filing a workers’ compensation claim, which is a “protected activity”. While your employer may still fire you, especially if you are an at-will employee, it is highly unlikely that they will admit doing so as a result of you filing the claim since this can lead to an employment discrimination lawsuit.
If you are fired and strongly believe that the employer did so in retaliation, then you should contact our workers’ compensation attorneys at Harman Law to help you gather all the necessary evidence and file a REDA claim. Remember, you only have 180 days to do so after the date of your firing.
Is There A Time Limit to File a Workers’ Comp Claim in Kannapolis, NC
In the state of North Carolina, the statute of limitations for workers’ compensation claims is two years. This means that you have two years from the date of the injury to file your workers’ compensation claim. However, you shouldn’t wait, assuming that you have a lot of time. The claims process involves a lot of aspects and various issues can arise that can delay the processing of your claim. In addition, the available evidence can deteriorate over time. The earlier you file your claim, the better it will be for you.
Can I Sue My Employer?
One thing that you need to understand about the “no-fault” system is that while you are entitled to benefits regardless of if you were at fault or not, it offers immunity to employers and your co-workers against personal injury lawsuits. This means that no, you can’t sue your employer for personal injury.
However, if the injury was as a result of the negligence of a third party such as a manufacturer or another individual from another company, then you can sue the third party for damages.
Can an Independent Contractor File a Workers Comp Claim?
No, independent contractors cannot file a workers’ compensation claim in North Carolina. The workers’ compensation law doesn’t apply to independent contractors. This is mainly because the independent contractors do the work they are contracted to do using their own techniques and methods. It all boils down to whether the employer for whom the work is being done for has control over the worker’s methods.
Employers who are looking to avoid their responsibility to their employees in terms of workers’ compensation benefits will classify their employees as independent contractors.
What is My Kannapolis’s Workers Compensation Claim Worth?
Calculating how much your workers’ compensation claim in Kannapolis, NC isn’t as straightforward as you would want. There are many variables that should be factored in, which means that the amount awarded for another case might vary significantly from your case. How much your case is worth will depend on factors such as your past and expected future medical expenses and the estimated value of future wage replacement benefits.
Get In Touch With a Professional Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Kannapolis, NC
If you or a loved one have recently been injured at work, then you need to contact Harman Law Firm at (704)766-8729 to speak to one of our expert workers’ compensation attorneys.
We will ensure that due procedure is followed from the onset to the end of the claims process. We will ensure that you don’t miss any of the deadlines and that your case goes smoothly. With our lawyers on your side, you will be assured that your rights are protected and that you receive the full compensation that you are owed.
During this time, you don’t know who to trust. Your employer will be looking after their own interests and the insurance company, being a business, after all, will be looking to protect its bottom line. They will have a team of professional lawyers working for them to ensure that they pay out the minimum amount possible. However, with us on your side, you will have access to a wealth of knowledge and expertise and a team ready to aggressively fight for you.