WHAT IS WORKERS’ COMPENSATION?
Workers' Compensation is a system created to compensate people injured in the course and scope of their employment. The benefits available under Workers’ Compensation are different than other types of injury claims. It is extremely important that you understand your rights as an injured worker. One wrong step and you can ruin your claim for benefits. This site contains some basic information to familiarize you with Workers’ Compensation. Contact us to discuss the particulars of your claim.
Some Terms You Need to Know...
Adjuster: Your employer’s insurance company will assign an “adjuster” to work on your case. The adjuster works for the insurance company and is paid to minimize your settlement or deny your claim if possible. We suggest that you speak with one of our lawyers BEFORE attempting to speak with an adjuster. The adjuster has a duty to their insurance company, but they do not have any duty to look out for you.
Nurse Case Manager: Depending on the severity of your injury, the adjuster may assign a Nurse Case Manager (NCM) to work on your case. Like the adjuster, the NCM works for your employer’s insurance company. The NCM’s goal is to minimize expenses to the insurance company and to get you back to work as soon as possible. The NCM works for the insurance company, not you. (Tip: You have the right to be examined by your doctor in private WITHOUT the NCM being present in the examination room. The NCM will probably try to stay during your examination, but you have the right to ask them to wait outside. )
Total Temporary Disability: This is commonly referred to as “TTD”. If your claim is accepted by the insurance company, you should receive weekly benefit checks equal to 2/3 of your average weekly wage. This is “TTD”.
Average Weekly Wage: This is commonly referred to as “AWW”. By statute, your average weekly wage is to be calculated by averaging your weekly earnings over the last 52 weeks. You will use your gross earnings (before taxes) when calculating this figure. (Tip: Don’t trust that the insurance company will calculate this correctly.)
Vocational Rehabilitation: This is often referred to as “voc rehab” and refers to the process of training an injured worker to return to work. This process often involves physical conditioning and some form of classes or education if the worker is entering a new line of work on account of his injuries.
North Carolina Industrial Commission: This is the administrative agency that governs all workers compensation claims in North Carolina.
Maximum Medical Improvement: This is also referred to as “MMI”. A person has reached maximum medical improvement when additional treatment fails to improve a person’s injury or physical condition. Your doctor will typically declare you to be at “MMI” when he or she releases you from care to follow-up as needed.
Disability Rating: This is also sometimes called an “Impairment Rating” and is assigned by your treating physician at the end of your treatment. Disability Ratings are assigned pursuant to a set of medical guidelines and are intended to reflect the continuing nature of your injury and symptoms.
Mediation: Mediation is a process where you and your attorney will meet with a representative from the insurance company (and their lawyer) to discuss an appropriate value for your claim. Mediation often result in settlements, but not always. Some cases require hearings before the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
Clincher: A “clincher” agreement is a settlement document used by your lawyer to conclude a claim when an agreement has been reached with the insurance company as to the value of your claim.
What Should I Do After Being Injured at Work?
- Tell your employer about your injury.
- Seek medical attention.
- Keep a file to document your medical bills, prescription bills and lost wages.
- Contact Bradley Law Group to discuss the remainder of your claim.
How Do I File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
North Carolina law requires that you take steps following a work injury to protect your rights. You will need to provide written notice of your injury to your employer, the insurance company and the North Carolina Industrial Commission within thirty (30) days. This is typically done on a Form 18. This is a form available on the North Carolina Industrial Commission website. It is strongly suggested that you seek legal representation BEFORE filing a Form 18. This form contains information about your injury and your wages and can be used against you by the insurance company if not completed correctly. Your claim can be denied if proper notification is not provided as required by law.
The law puts the burden of proving your case on you. Don’t leave your rights to chance, let Bradley Law Group protect your rights.
What Does Workers Compensation Pay For?
Workers Compensation Insurance pays for your medical treatment, a portion of your lost wages and permanent disability or disfigurement. Bradley Law Group can also assist you in negotiating a settlement at the end of your case based on the nature and severity of your injury. This is where a “lump sum” cash payment is made.
Can I Recover For “Pain and Suffering”?
No. Workers Compensation does not pay for Pain and Suffering.
Can My Employer Fire Me For Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
No. There are laws that make it illegal for an employer to fire you for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim.
How Long Will I Stay Out of Work?
Your doctors will determine when and if you are able to return to your job. Your doctor will assign work restrictions while you are healing. These typically involve how long you can stand, how much you can lift, etc. If your job requires more than you are able to do, your physician will not allow you to return to work. Once you are able to fulfill your job requirements, your physician will clear you to return to work. Do not allow your employer to pressure you into returning to work before you are ready. This can result in further injury to your body and damage to your claim.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
This will depend on the facts of your claim and your particular injuries. Bradley Law Group will talk with you about your claim for free to see if we can help. We will tell you if you don’t need a lawyer. If we can help you, we will explain what we can do and will answer your questions about representation. We do not pressure potential clients to be represented.
Am I filing a Lawsuit Against My Employer?
No. You are filing a claim with your employer’s insurance company, not your employer.
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