Workers Compensation Resource Guide
If you have questions about workers compensation insurance in North Carolina, please read our Resource Guide below. Also, please read our Frequently Asked Questions page or simply place a call to Charlotte Workers Compensation Attorney, Dave Davidson. Call 704-576-1568 today for a free consultation!!!
The Davidson Law Firm, P.C. Helpful Resource Guide to North Carolina Workers Compensation Law
North Carolina has its own unique workers compensation laws and rules passed by the North Carolina Legislature and North Carolina Industrial Commission. North Carolina has jurisdiction over an injury by accident or a compensable occupational disease (1) if the accident occurs in North Carolina (2) if the contract of employment was made in North Carolina (3) if the employer’s principal place of business is in North Carolina (4) if the injured employee’s principal place of business is in North Carolina.
What types of injuries or diseases are compensable under NC law?
There are generally two types of injuries or diseases which are compensable under NC law.
(1) The most common injury is called an injury by accident. Not all injuries that happen at work are compensable injuries by accident. Many people assume that if they get hurt at work, regardless of how the injury happens, they are entitled to compensation. This is not true. If a person is doing their regular job in their regular manner and hurts themselves, they are not entitled to workers compensation benefits. There must be an accident, an unusual or untoward event, or something out of the ordinary occurring in order to for an injury to be compensable. There is a slightly lower standard for back injuries and hernia injuries. For these types of injuries, there must be a specific traumatic incident causing the injury.
(2) The other type of injury that can happen at work is an occupational disease. An occupational disease is a disease that is caused by Employee’s employment and the type of employment causes the Employee to be at increased risk for developing the disease. Mere causation is not enough if an ordinary person not employed in that job is at the same risk of developing the disease. Common examples of occupational diseases are carpal tunnel syndrome if a person is using their hands/wrists repetitively in their job all day. Chemicals or dusts present in the workplace can increase a worker’s risk of developing such diseases as asbestosis, silicosis, dermatitis and asthma.
Does fault or negligence matter? If the accident occurs due to the Employer’s negligence, do I get additional money? If the accident occurs because of my mistake, can I be denied benefits?
Generally, workers compensation is meant to pay medical bills and provide compensation for lost wages without regard to fault or negligence. Many things happen at work that could arguably be caused by the negligence of the employee or the employer. However, workers compensation is not a system designed to place blame on either party. The primary concern is that the injured worker gets immediate medical attention and is compensated for their lost wages due to the injury.
An Employer may have to pay an additional 10% penalty if the injury or death is caused by the willful failure of the employer to comply with any statutory requirement such as an OSHA regulation. An Employee may have their benefits reduced by 10% if the accident or death is caused by their willful failure of the employee to use a safety appliance or perform a statutory duty.
There are only 2 circumstances where an employee can be denied benefits because of negligence or fault. One is when the Employer can affirmatively prove that the injured worker was legally intoxicated and that the accident was caused by the intoxication. A failed drug or alcohol test is not enough to deny benefits. Second, benefits can be denied when the employee is injured or killed while he is willfully trying to injure or kill himself or others.
What types of benefits am I entitled to receive if I have a compensable injury or occupational disease?
Generally, injured employees are entitled to two types of benefits, medical benefits and weekly monetary benefits for their time out of work. When the claim is accepted as compensable by the Employer and they are paying for medical treatment, they are allowed to direct your medical treatment to the physicians of their choice. There exceptions to this rule, but generally the parties paying for the medical treatment are allowed to choose the treating physician and/or medical facility as long as it is medically appropriate. Medical benefits include prescription medications, mileage incurred in going to medical facilities, medical supplies, or anything which is intended which is intended to lessen employee’s period of disability.
The weekly monetary benefits are paid when an employee is unable to work due to a compensable injury by accident or occupational disease. They are paid on a weekly basis to the employee for the period of the time that the treating physicians place employee out of work. The treating physician may allow the employee to return to work with certain physical restrictions. If the employer does not have a job that accommodates the doctor’s restrictions, then an employee will remain out of work receiving weekly workers compensation benefits.
What types of benefits am I NOT entitled to receive if I have a compensable injury or occupational disease?
The workers compensation system in North Carolina is a compromise system devised by employers and employees. The idea was to give the injured employees prompt medical and lost wage benefits regardless of the circumstances of the accident and to cap liability for employers. Therefore, the NC workers compensation system does not award damages for pain and suffering or what the injury does to their life outside of lost wages. There is no jury that awards an amount of money for what is ‘fair and just’. If a workers compensation case is litigated, the judge (Deputy Commissioner) will simply award benefits consistent with laws under the North Carolina Workers Compensation Act.
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The Davidson Law Firm, P.C.
A Charlotte Workers Compensation Law Firm