When you have an accident at work, your first thoughts may jump to questions such as:
“Will I be okay?”
“How will I pay my bills?”
and maybe worst of all, “Will I lose my job?”
Workers’ compensation laws were designed to protect workers by addressing those questions.
Recovering from a job injury can be a frightening time, especially if you're overwhelmed with medical bills and are being forced to miss days of work due to your injury. Workers' compensation is a unique form of insurance overseen in North Carolina by the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) that was made to protect both employers and employees.
Put simply, workers' compensation benefits include wage replacement and medical benefits for employees who suffer work-related injuries, and in exchange those benefits, the employee's right to sue the employer for negligence is foregone. This way, both parties are able to benefit.
The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act requires all businesses with more than three employees to obtain coverage, whether the business is a corporation, LLC, PLLC, etc.. . However, there are exceptions for federal employees, certain farm or railroad workers, and others. In many circumstances, the NC workers’ compensation law can be complex and confusing. It can become is even more complicated when workers' comp claims are denied.
Injured workers should understand that North Carolina workers’ compensation insurance companies and adjusters are not on their side. It is the insurance adjuster's job to save the insurance companies money and pay out as little money as possible to North Carolina’s injured workers. Do not expect your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance adjuster to explain your rights to you. That is not their job.
If you have suffered an injury on the job or developed an occupational disease; or, if you've filed a workers' compensation claim with your employer's insurance company and received a denial, it is highly recommended that you obtain a workers' comp lawyer, specifically, an injury attorney who is classified as a specialist in NC workers’ compensation law.
When your wages, your family, and your future are at stake, you need a workers' compensation attorney who is a specialist, not just any attorney. You need a super lawyer who knows the playing field and can offer you exceptional representation and a dedicated attorney-client relationship.
You certainly wouldn’t consult a foot surgeon about heart surgery. And you wouldn't hire a criminal lawyer for a divorce. Likewise, don’t hire just any practice area attorney to handle your workers’ compensation case. Even an employment law attorney won't do.
Hire a workers’ compensation lawyer who is a specialist with years of experience and superior knowledge of NC workers’ compensation law. Hire Maggie Shankle, a NC Board Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist.
Maggie and her outstanding NC workers’ compensation team will help you determine if you’re entitled to financial compensation after being injured on the job or suffering from a work-related illness. They will be with you every step of the way.
If it’s serious enough to keep you from returning to work, we can help with your workers’ compensation claim. Workers' compensation benefits typically include coverage for your medical expenses and lost wages, as well as compensation for catastrophic injuries resulting in permanent disability or disfigurement.
Unfortunately, collecting the money you are due from your workers’ compensation claim can be difficult. Workplace injuries must be reported as soon as possible to claim benefits. This works the same as any personal injury claim in that getting immediate medical care proves the source of your injuries and keeps insurance companies from discrediting your claims. Whether you've suffered a personal injury in a car accident or at work, any delay in medical attention could cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars owed to you.
Focus on taking care of yourself following a workplace injury and let Maggie and her workers’ compensation team at Shankle Law Firm, in Charlotte, NC take care of your case. Contact us to schedule a free consultation where we can detail our tremendous depth of experience and demonstrate the personal attention we'll devote to your case. We are ready, willing, and fight for you and your best possible resolution!
Below are examples of high-risk industries and occupations. However, workers can be injured in any type of job, even if it is not high-risk:
Below is a list of work-related injuries that are commonly reported in the NC workers’ compensation system. Remember, the list is not an exhaustive list and that any work injury may qualify for workers’ comp benefits.
Injured employees often ask how much compensation they can expect from their North Carolina workers’ comp claim. Here is an overview of benefits that may apply when you are injured at work.
Temporary Disability Benefits
If you are removed from work for more than seven days because of your injuries or illness, you may be entitled to receive part of your weekly average pay. These workers’ comp payments are called temporary total disability benefits (TTD). But you have to be out of work for at least 21 days to get the first week paid. If you are not out of work for eight days, you can still use your sick time or vacation time that you have.
Your workers’ comp pay will be two-thirds of your gross average weekly wage. The average is of your gross wages in year before your injury. Overtime wages count toward your average, and some longer periods when you were out of work will not count against you. Some workers with high wages will have their workers’ comp pay capped. The maximum amount that workers can receive if they were injured in 2020 is $1,066. This weekly cap changes each year.
Most workers are eligible to receive temporary total disability benefits for up to a maximum of 500 weeks. But some workers may be eligible for benefits for a longer period. Those extended benefits are available to injured workers who have no ability to earn wages, which must be proven in court. The benefits must be applied for after receiving 425 weeks of compensation.
Temporary Partial Disability Benefits (TPD)
TPD benefits are available if you can return to work but your injury causes you to earn less money. They equal two-thirds of the difference between your pre-accident wages and what you can earn afterwards. For example, if you made $900 a week before being injured and can now make only $600, you could receive $200 (two-thirds of the $300 difference) for up to 500 weeks.
Permanent Total Disability Benefits
If your doctor concludes that the injury or illness has left you permanently and totally disabled, you may receive weekly payments at the temporary total disability rate for life. These benefits are available only in the most serious cases, which are:
Permanent Partial Disability Benefits
You may also receive payments if you are determined to have a permanent partial disability. North Carolina General Statute §97-31 lists the maximum number of weeks of disability payments available for damage to different body parts. Because every award of benefits in North Carolina is based on how much your workers’ compensation rate is, the amount you could receive depends on two things: how much permanent damage you suffered, and your average wages.
The North Carolina Industrial Commission may make additional awards for certain types of partial disabilities. They include up to $20,000 for facial disfigurement and up to $20,000 for permanent disability to any organ.
Additional workers' comp benefits include:
One of the most common challenges seen with a compensable claim is simply that it was filed late. Injured workers typically have 30 days to file a claim, and it's always best to notify your employer of your claim as soon as possible. You should be provided with a form to fill out, and be sure to keep copies of all relevant paperwork in case you need legal representation later.
You'll also need to be sure you see a doctor approved by your workers' compensation insurance to make sure your treatment is covered. Speaking of treatment, be sure to follow all recommendations; otherwise, the insurance company may be able to argue you aren't taking your injury seriously.
If you receive a denial for your claim that you believe is unfair, you may first file with the NCIC to have a conference with a mediator to see if you can reach an agreement. If this fails or your employer tries to retaliate for your claim later, you'll need superior legal advice and advocacy from a North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer.
Employer retaliation is difficult to prove and can take many forms including demotions, pay cuts, schedule changes, and unfair discipline or harassment. Keep a detailed record of what incidents occur and when, and our workers' comp attorney, Maggie Shankle, and her outstanding team will get your case in front of an administrative law judge.
To avoid the above pitfalls, we recommend you call Maggie Shankle at Shankle Law Firm in Charlotte, NC as quickly as possible following your work related accident and arrange your initial consultation. Let us make sure you get the care and compensation you deserve.
* Maggie Shankle is Board Certified by the North Carolina State Bar as a Specialist in Workers’ Compensation Law. This puts her in an elite class of specialists who have met rigorous criteria, including additional testing and displaying a superior understanding of Workers’ Compensation Law.