Number 1: Will I be fired?
In North Carolina, you cannot legally be fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim. This is due to North Carolina’s Retaliatory Discharge Act (REDA), which protects employees from certain situations such as being fired after a workplace injury. Keep in mind that you have the burden of proving that you were fired because you filed a workers’ compensation claim specifically, which may be a challenge. NC is also an “at-will” employment state, which means your employer can decide to fire you for any reason they seem fit. For example, your employer could claim you had poor behavior at work or that you had a performance issue at your job. Sometimes, this is an employer’s way of firing you as a result of your injury but hiding it as another reason such as workplace misconduct.
If you have been injured at work, you should contact an attorney immediately who specializes in workers’ compensation law. Hiring an attorney early will help bring you the best possible outcome to your situation by ensuring you receive all the protection under the law, medical benefits and compensation you deserve.
Number 2: Why does my insurance company get to pick my doctor?
Under NC Workers’ Compensation law, your employer or its insurance company are legally permitted to pick your doctor for your workers’ compensation medical treatment. You also have the right to petition the Commission to change your treating physician if the physician provided to you is not competent. However, this process is not a simply one and you must receive written permission from the NC Industrial Commission to effect this change; otherwise, your employer or their insurance company may stop paying for your treatment.
Number 3: When will I get my Temporary Total Disability (TTD) check?
Temporary Total Disability Benefits in NC Workers’ Compensation claims (TTD) are paid during the healing period after an accident or onset of disease when the injured employee is unable to work in suitable employment. Suitable employment is a complex concept in NC workers’ compensation law and varies greatly case to case. [Insert a link to your Suitable Employment blog]
There is a seven-day waiting period in which you must be written out of work by an authorized physician before you are due to receive TTD in workers’ comp in NC. (N.C. Gen. Stat. § 97-28). The seven days do not have to be consecutive and if an employee misses any part of a day that counts towards the seven days. If the worker’s disability lasts for twenty-one days then the injured worker will be due payment of benefits for the seven day waiting period. For cases that arise under workers’ compensation in NC after June 24, 2011, TTD benefits may continue for up to 500 weeks maximum, with the possibility of an extension in certain unique circumstances. However, the 500 weeks is absolutely no guarantee and is intended as a cap on the amount of benefits that could be paid.
Number 4: Why am I waiting so long to get my medical care approved?
There are very specific and numerous timelines in NC for getting your workers’ compensation claim approved, all of which must occur before you can begin your medical treatment. These timelines apply to you, your employer, the NC Industrial Commission, your employer’s insurance company, and potentially to a Deputy Commissioner. The timelines may be as long as 90 days depending on the circumstances. You should have your attorney explain all of these timeframes to you and help set appropriate expectations .
Number 5: Do I need an attorney?
Yes, absolutely and unequivocally, yes! Why? Because as soon as you are injured at work and file a workers’ compensation claim, you are thrust into a complicated legal world with many factors that can work against you. And keep in mind that it is common for your insurance company or your employer to suggest hiring an attorney is unnecessary, telling you that they will take care of you and that paying a lawyer will leave you with less money. Do not believe them – they are looking out for their best interests, not yours. Hiring your own attorney ensures you have someone in your corner who is fighting for you and will help get you all the medical treatments and compensation you are entitled to under NC Workers’ Compensation law. Plus, the consultation is FREE .
If you have sustained a workplace injury, contact us immediately at Shankle Law Firm to schedule a free consultation with Maggie Shankle, owner and workers’ compensation specialist attorney. Get the medical care, financial compensation and compassion you deserve.