Important Workers’ Compensation terms to remember

Having an accident on the job is bad because it can leave you with a disabling injury that can prevent you from working. But what’s even worse is if you don’t understand the intricacies of Workers’ Compensation law in North Carolina. How do you claim your benefits? What are your options? How do you protect your family and future?

If you don’t have an attorney, now is the right time to consult one to ensure that you get what you deserve. While scouting for the right person, take time to read this glossary of common Workers’ Compensation terms to make sense of all that jargon:

Temporary Total Disability (TTD) is the weekly check you may be due if you are unable to work at all, or may only work in a light duty capacity which your employer cannot accommodate, after a work injury. This is the check paid in place of wages if you are hurt at work and cannot earn wages because of your injury.

High-risk occupations refer to jobs where workers will most likely be exposed to danger. These include medical or paramedical workers, construction or warehouse workers, drivers, landscapers, and those employed in manufacturing industries and emergency services like police officers and firefighters.

Related article: What disabilities can result from brain injuries?

Occupational diseases are illnesses that have been linked to certain occupations or industries. These are usually caused by biological, chemical, physical, or psychological factors that employees encounter or are exposed to in the workplace.

Over time, occupational diseases and injuries can lead to disabling medical conditions. These include hearing loss due to a noisy environment and blisters caused by the frequent use of certain tools — problems that are usually seen in construction workers. Other risks faced by construction workers are electrocution, falls, chemical spills, fires and explosions, heat stroke, overexertion, and respiratory diseases. Carpal tunnel syndrome from repetitive and likely production type work is another common occupational disease. Certain types of cancers from occupational exposures may fall into this category.

Medical or healthcare workers, on the other hand, may acquire contagious diseases like tuberculosis while caring for patients. If they handle blood and biological specimens, these people are also at risk for blood-borne diseases like HIV and hepatitis B and C.

Permanent partial disability (PPD), also known as a permanent partial impairment or “rating” is often due as compensation to an injured worker at the end of the claim once the doctor releases you from care. Examples of this are hearing loss, nerve damage, loss of vision in one eye, or the amputation of a body part, like a finger or hand. These may also be given after surgery due to a work injury.

People with PPD or a “rating” have not fully recovered after a workplace injury or illness. They are not totally disabled but can’t work at full capacity because their injury and the residual impact is limiting their physical function.

Related article: Are prosthetics for work-related amputation covered by workers’ compensation?

In North Carolina, doctors follow a NC Ratings Guideline to determine what percentage of PPD or rating a person has as a result of a work injury. Injury workers are also entitled to a second opinion on the rating and should request the same. However, it is best to consult an attorney for guidance on the right doctor or specialist to choose so that you will be treated fairly and maximize financial recovery.

Workers’ Compensation is a form of insurance paid by companies to compensate employees who become ill or are injured because of their jobs. Compensation comes in the form of cash benefits and medical care in exchange for the employee’s assurance that the employer won’t be sued for negligence. Typically, Workers’ Compensation is the sole remedy for an injured worker against its employer, even if the employer was negligent, with some rare exceptions. Filing a Workers' Compensation claim is a request for benefits, not a lawsuit against an employer. It is similar to making an insurance claim. Many injured people do not want to sue their employer, but should understand they are not, as this is simply a claim on the insurance policy specifically designed to cover workplace injuries.

Workers’ Compensation law is designed to protect people who are injured or contract an occupational disease on the job. The law differs by state and for workers in certain types of industries. In North Carolina, Workers’ Compensation insurance is required for employers with three or more employees. The law is administered and enforced by the North Carolina Industrial Commission in conjunction with the NC Attorney General’s Office.

Related article: Choosing the right workers’ compensation attorney

Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) is a medical term used in Workers’ Compensation claims when your physicians believe you are as well as you will get medically after your work injury. MMI means the doctor feels she or he cannot offer you any further care to improve your condition. You may still need treating with a different type of doctor, however, and should consult an attorney about the same.

An attorney who is a Workers’ Compensation Specialist like Maggie Shankle of Shankle Law Firm, PA belongs to an elite class of individuals who have undergone rigorous training and testing. These specialists know a great deal about Workers’ Compensation laws. In Maggie’s case, she is board certified by the North Carolina State Bar and has the proper credentials to help injured workers get their much-needed benefits. Consult her today to make the most of your claim!