Accidents are inevitable. They can happen anywhere. But what if you have an accident at work? This is where workers’ compensation can cover your injuries, helping you pay for medical expenses, and getting back on the road to recovery. Although most employees already know about workers’ compensation coverage, only a handful know the hard facts about it, such as how much money you can receive, qualification requirements, etc. And this is precisely what our seasoned workers’ compensation lawyer in North Carolina will guide you on in today’s post. Read on to learn about the things that not many employees know but should know about workers’ compensation and employee rights.
Workers’ Compensation—How does it Work?
There are two things that employees need to understand regarding how workers’ compensation works. Firstly, workers’ compensation is an insurance that provides medical and wage benefits to only those who are injured or become ill or sick in the scope or course of performing their job duties. This means you will only get coverage if the work injuries occurred while carrying out job-related tasks. For example, if you’re at work, but you leave the premises during work hours to run a personal errand and get injured in an accident, workers’ compensation would not cover that. However, if it is the same situation, but you are out for job-related work such as site inspection, it would be covered.
Furthermore, you can’t sue your employer. Under the workers’ compensation law, employers are protected against civil suits from their employees who get injured at work. Each party benefits have certain limitations.
Injuries and Occupational Diseases That Qualify For Workers’ Compensation
Not all injuries that happen at work qualify for workers’ compensation. Therefore, you must know the difference between what injuries qualify and what don’t.
Under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, the compensable injuries are those that are caused as a result of an accident. Accident under the law is described as something that is not intended or expected. It must happen out of regular work routine, such as a machinery malfunction, which caused an injury.
Keep in mind that employers are not required to provide coverage for the following events:
- Injury at work or death resulting from violating the company’s rules
- Intentional self-inflicted injury or death
- Injuries sustained while playing a prank on your colleague
- Injuries during a non-mandatory social event that is outside of business hours
Likewise, occupational diseases are covered under the workers’ compensation law, but it must be proven that they were caused by your employment or the environment in which you work. For example, let’s say a coal miner is diagnosed with lung cancer. The worker can be compensated if there is a chance of developing lung cancer by working in coal mines and they can prove it without exception. An exception in this scenario could be if the worker in question is also a smoker.
Work Injury Must Be Reported Right Away
As soon as you are injured, report it to your supervisor or employer. This is important for all the right reasons. Some occupations have a short window of reporting injuries; therefore, you must report them immediately without delay. Also, notifying the employer of the harm caused at work is the first and most crucial step of the workers’ compensation process.
However, sometimes injured workers don’t report their injuries because they fear employer retaliation. They believe that reporting injuries may impact their job, result in demotion, change in job duties, and pay cut. What needs to be understood is that regulations and laws prohibit employers from terminating employees for filing workers’ compensation claims. Therefore, if you have been injured at work, don’t be afraid to report to the higher authority. Remember that delays can lower your chances of getting compensated.
You Don’t Have to Settle for the First Offer—The Law Gives You a Chance to Get a Second Opinion
Injured workers are indeed obligated to use the employer’s medical provider for treatment. Still, if you’re not satisfied with the given disability rating, you are entitled to another doctor’s second opinion. Moreover, the cost of this exam will be covered by the workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
Many times injured employees are not aware of the right for a second opinion. The insurance adjuster may contact them, urge them to accept a disability rating payment and offer a low-ball settlement to close the case. Some adjusters may say that this is the only benefit that is available to them. And once the injured worker accepts it, they may regret it later if it is lower than they deserve. Thus, you don’t have to fall into this trap.
Some of the things that need to be clarified are that there are numerous ways in which disability is paid to the injured employee in North Carolina under the Workers’ Compensation Act. Additionally, injuries to specific body parts are presumed to be disabling by the law. These are listed in NC General Statute 97-31 along with the number of weeks of presumed disability. So, when the injured worker’s condition reaches the Maximum Medical Improvement, the doctor authorized assigns a disability rating. This rating is the physician’s percentage estimate of permanent impairment to the damaged part of the body. If you disagree with the assigned rating, you can demand a second opinion.
Seek Legal Representation
If your employer doesn’t provide you the coverage for injuries incurred at work or offers a low settlement, it’s best to seek legal assistance. Contact our experienced workers’ compensation lawyer to discuss your case. We can evaluate your case and advise you regarding options for legal action. At Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor P.C., we strive to help our clients get justice. We’ll fight for you to be fairly compensated for injuries caused at work. Call us now.