Getting injured on the job is a common occurrence. In fact, in North Carolina, while the rate of workplace injuries and illness has dropped in recent years, there are still dozens of workplace fatalities—and even more injuries—reported in the state every year. While most injured workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to help pay for their injuries, unfortunately, many workers never tell their employers about their injuries or file a claim due to fear of workplace repercussions and retaliation.
If you have been injured on the job, however, filing a workers’ compensation claim is a right that you should exercise. A Raleigh workers’ compensation lawyer can help to ensure that your claim is filed accurately and that no retaliation against you is taken.
Should I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim? Can I Get Fired for Filing for Workers’ Comp?
Many workers never file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits out of fear that their employer will retaliate against them for doing so. Types of workplace retaliation that a worker may fear include:
- Being demoted to a lower position
- Being fired
- Being denied a promotion
- Pay cuts
- Being laid off
However, all of the above types of workplace retaliation are illegal in North Carolina. If your employer retaliates against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim, he or she is in violation of the law, and may face penalties. Remember, you cannot legally get fired for filing a workers’ compensation claim.
If I Get Hurt at Work, What Are My Rights?
How to Report Your Workplace Injury and How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
If you have been injured on the job, it is important that you report the injury to your employer and file a claim for benefits as soon as possible. Article 1 of North Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Act stipulates, “Every injured employee or his representative shall immediately on the occurrence of an accident, or as soon thereafter as practicable, give or cause to be given to the employer a written notice of the accident…”
If you do not give your employer written notice of your accident, you may be barred from recovering compensation for your injuries. You must give written notice of your accident within 30 days’ time.
After you have notified your employer of your accident and injury, keep a record of all interactions you have with your supervisor/employer in regards to your accident, including the date that you provided a written notice of your accident.
If you require medical care for your injury, you should find out as soon as possible whether your employer has an onsite health provider, or if you must seek healthcare services from a designated healthcare officer. If you do not have to obtain medical services from a designated provider, then seek healthcare that is appropriate for your needs, and document the services. Make sure you tell the healthcare provider that your injury is work-related.
After you have ensured that you have notified your employer, that your employer has filed a report of injury form, and that you have sought appropriate medical care related to your injury, it is highly important that you follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for medical treatment.
Know What Benefits You Are Eligible to Receive
It is important to understand the types of workers’ compensation benefits that you may be eligible to recover under the law. This can help to ensure that you are receiving your full compensation amount. The types of benefits that you may recover include:
- Medical benefits
- Wage replacement benefits
- Death benefits
All workers who are injured on the job in North Carolina and are eligible to recover workers’ compensation benefits are entitled to medical benefits for all reasonable and necessary healthcare expenses. This can include treatment for the injury, medications, and future treatment or related rehabilitation costs.
Furthermore, some workers may also be entitled to wage replacement benefits if the worker is determined to be temporarily totally disabled, temporarily partially disabled, permanently partially disabled, or permanently totally disabled.
Each of the types of disabilities listed above is accompanied by a unique formula for calculating wage replacement benefits, which you can determine using a workers’ comp calculator. For example, temporary total disability benefits in North Carolina can continue up to 500 weeks, and are equivalent to up to two-thirds of the employee’s weekly wage prior to the accident. Permanent total disability benefits, on the other hand, are paid to employees who meet certain criteria for the duration for the employees’ lives. These benefits are designed for those who have suffered permanent and total disability, including the loss of both arms, legs, eyes, or feet; a spinal cord injury resulting in paralysis; a brain injury; or burn injuries that cover one-third or more of the injured person’s body.
The Benefits of Consulting with a Workers’ Compensation Attorney
Not only do many employees have fears that their employers will retaliate against them if they file a claim, but sometimes a valid workers’ compensation claim may be denied, an injured worker’s benefits may be unfairly reduced, or a worker may be asked to return to work (per a medical recommendation) earlier than they are ready to based on the existence of an injury. For all of these issues and more, it is very beneficial to have a workers’ compensation attorney on your side who can advocate for your rights.
Additionally, a workers’ compensation attorney can ensure that your notice of injury is filed within the required time frame, and that if your claim is denied, your right to appeal is upheld. If you have questions about the amount of benefits that you may be entitled to, how long you have to file a claim for an occupational disease, or whether you have the right to receive medical care from your own doctor, an attorney can help with all of these issues, too.
The experienced Raleigh workers’ compensation lawyers at Riddle & Brantley, LLP want to provide you with the help that you need today. You can schedule a free case consultation online, or call us at 800-525-7111 for a conversation with no obligations or cost to you. A workplace accident can happen at any time to anyone – our attorneys want to advocate it for you when you need it most. Remember, when justice counts, you can count on us.