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Breaking Down North Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Benefits
The term “workers’ compensation” can seem daunting, however, there is power in knowing and understanding your rights and benefits as an employee. Workers’ Compensation Law is in place to protect North Carolina employees and aid in maintaining a safe environment for both employee and employer.
Unfortunately, most employees are unaware of the full benefits available under their state’s workers’ compensation law. While most assume the benefits solely cover medical expenses, North Carolina law actually protects and provides assistance beyond doctor’s bills.
First Steps if You’re Injured at Work
If an employee is injured on the job, it is critical that they understand their rights. First and foremost, if an employee suffers a work-related injury, he or she must report the injury to their employer as soon as possible.
The employee must also provide written notice of the incident to the employer within 30 days of the injury occurring. This notice can be a brief description of the incident and injury, including the time and date of the occurrence.
When Seeking Medical Treatment
If an employee suffers an injury requiring emergency treatment, the employee should be taken to the nearest hospital emergency room. It is important that when seeking treatment, the employee informs each healthcare provider the injury is work-related. The employee should also give his or her employer’s information to each healthcare provider so the claim can be filed and billed as a workers’ compensation claim.
Employees will be responsible for filing out Form 18, which is necessary for submitting a work-related injury claim. The entirety of the form must be completed and returned to the North Carolina Industrial Commission. The injured employee should keep his or her own copies of all forms signed and submitted in relation to the injury.
Benefits Available to Injured Employees
In addition to medical treatment expenses, employees may also be eligible for further benefits, including:
Lost Wage Compensation
Employees who experience wage loss as a result of a compensable injury are entitled to disability payments under North Carolina law. The compensation is dependent upon the employee’s average weekly wage. Depending on the claim, the wage paid can be an amount equal to part or all of the employee’s average weekly wages, and it can either be temporary or permanent.
Employees who are required to travel 20 miles or more round-trip in seeking medical treatment are eligible for mileage reimbursement. The mileage reimbursement amount varies. Employees seeking travel reimbursement are required to fill out and submit Form 25T. A full list of mileage reimbursement amounts and their correlating dates is available here.
In the tragic event a workplace injury or occupational disease results in an employee’s death, benefits are available to the employee’s beneficiaries. Wage compensation benefits are available for up to 500 weeks at 66 2/3% of the deceased employee’s average weekly wage. Burial expenses are also available up to $10,000.
In order to qualify for death benefits, the death has to occur within the latter of six years from the initial injury or diagnosis or within two years of a final determination of disability. To learn more about disability determination services click here.
Beneficiaries claiming death benefits must give written notice to the employer. The employer must notify the North Carolina Industrial Commission of the death by filing Form 19 within five days of its knowledge of the death. In addition, the employer must file Form 29 within 45 days of its knowledge of the death or allegation of death resulting from injury or occupation disease arising from the course of employment.
Retaliation Against Injured Employees
It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for reporting a workplace injury. All workers have the right to seek proper treatment without fear of negative repercussions from their employer.
Employees injured in work-related incident should only have to focus on healing, not loss of employment or wages. If you have been injured on the job, you are likely entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. The trial lawyers of Whitfield Bryson LLP help injured workers get the compensation they need and the medical care they deserve. If your claim is denied, you should contact an experienced workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible.
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