Workers’ Compensation Process
In life, it seems that the things you need or want most are always the hardest to get. Obtaining benefits through the workers’ compensation system is no different. Although it seems that reporting a workplace injury and getting benefits should be straightforward, the reality is complex and confusing. Often workers’ compensation claims are denied on minor technicalities alone.
Located in Greensboro but serving all of North Carolina, the law firm of Henson & Talley LLP will help you navigate the complex workers’ compensation process. Led by Karen Strom Talley, our team is dedicated to helping you get the benefits you deserve for your accident at work.
Reporting A Workplace Accident Injury
It is crucial to report your accident at work:
- Report the injury to your employer as soon as possible, even if the injury was minor. You are required to report the injury in writing within 30 days.
- Seek medical attention and let your doctor know that the injury happened while at work.
- File a claim with the Industrial Commission that administers the Workers’ Compensation Act and handles workers’ comp disputes.
It is best to report your injury and file a claim as soon as possible after the accident. For workers’ compensation claims to be accepted, you need to tie your injury to a specific on-the-job incident. In general, you have two years from the accident to file a claim, however, evidence may be lost and memories can fade. Additionally, your employer’s insurance company has cause for suspicion that the injury was not serious or even related to the work incident if you wait too long to report it.
What If My Claim Is Accepted?
Many workers’ compensation cases go smoothly if the claim is initially accepted. You will receive benefits for lost wages and medical treatments, and will continue to do so until the injury is healed and/or you can return to employment. If you suffered permanent bodily damage, the doctor will determine if it is a permanent impairment or disability. This rating determines the level of compensation you are entitled to for full or partial wage loss, depending on whether you are able to return to work and whether you must accept a lower paying job.
What If My Claim Is Denied?
Unfortunately, many workers’ compensation claims are denied. You will need to file a hearing request with the Industrial Commission if you dispute the denial.
This is the point where having a lawyer can often help you file a successful dispute and get the benefits you deserve. Your attorney can review your case and evaluate the reason for the denial — whether it is an error in filing the application, failure to prove the accident-injury relationship, or doubt over the severity of the injury. Additionally, your attorney can assert your interests in the mandatory mediation sessions, the hearing, and eventually the appeal to the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, if necessary.
In some cases, a settlement may be reached between you and your employer to avoid litigation and end the workers’ compensation case. These settlements should not be taken lightly, as they often favor the employer if the injured worker is not careful. Talk with a lawyer to understand your rights and decide whether settlement is a good option for you.