Getting You Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Workers’ compensation laws are designed to protect individuals who are injured on the job or fall ill from a work-related disease. In addition to providing injured workers with fixed monetary sums that reduce the need for litigation, these laws also provide workers’ compensation death benefits for families of workers that are killed by work injuries and illnesses.
The workers’ compensation system is simple in theory, but the reality of recovering compensation for injured workers can be incredibly complicated. That’s why families choose to hire an experienced attorney to help them successfully navigate their workers’ compensation claim.
Our firm has helped countless injured workers recover compensation for their medical bills, loss of wages and more. We currently employ 10 attorneys with over 160 years of combined legal experience – we definitely push for the most possible benefits for each claim we handle. Our attorneys include:
- Chris Brantley, with 22 years of experience and one of the few lawyers to be board-certified as a specialist in workers’ compensation by the North Carolina State Bar.
- Adam Smith is also a board certified specialist in worker’s compensation.
Several of our attorneys are members of the Million Dollar Advocate’s Forum® and the Multi-Million Dollar Advocate’s Forum®. In addition, one of our attorneys is ranked among North Carolina’s Super Lawyers® and Top Trial Lawyers of North Carolina. Recent case results include an $829,000 recovery for a workers’ compensation case and $725,000 for a case involving an injured worker.
Please note that these results are intended to illustrate the type of matters handled by our firm, and not all the firm’s results are listed. These results do not guarantee a similar outcome, and they should not be construed to constitute a promise or guarantee of a particular result in any particular case. Every case is different, and the outcome of any case depends upon a variety of factors unique to that case. More information is available on our Case Results page.
What Workers’ Compensation Benefits are Available
If you’ve been injured on the job, you may have questions about what benefits are available. If you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, you will be able to receive:
- Medical Care: All authorized related medical treatment will be paid for by workers’ compensation which includes emergency room care, doctor’s visits, hospital stays, blood tests, x-rays and the cost of transportation to and from the hospital.
- Rehabilitation Costs: All authorized expenses relating to your recovery and rehabilitation such as physical therapy and medical care aimed at treating the injury will be covered by workers’ compensation.
- Retraining: If you are no longer able to return to your former job due to the long term consequences of your injury, you may be eligible to receive job retraining, vocational rehabilitation, or further education at no cost to you.
- Disability Payments: You will receive payments for your time spent recovering your health. There are generally four types of disability payments including:
- Temporary total disability refers to the time period that is spent recovering from an injury that temporarily interferes with your ability to work. During this time you will receive payments to offset your lost wages. These benefits are subject to a statutory maximum cap on weeks to be paid.
- If the injury allows for some work to be done but you are unable to fulfill your normal duties, you can receive temporary partial disability compensation based on the difference between the earning level of your current work and the work you were doing prior to the injury.
- Permanent partial disability benefits are payable when a physician assigns a percentage rating of impairment to one of the worker’s body parts.
- Total permanent disability means that the wage-earning capacity of the individual is fully lost on a permanent basis. In such a case, disability payments would be made to the individual based on wages earned in the 52 weeks prior to the injury or illness. These payments would be made indefinitely if the North Carolina Industrial Commission awards permanent and total disability benefits. The NC Statutes set forth criteria for severe medical conditions that may qualify for permanent total disability
What Workers’ Compensation Benefits are NOT Available?
Certain benefits are not available under workers’ compensation, including non-economic losses such as pain and suffering. However, if someone other than your employer (a third party) was responsible for your injuries, you may be able to receive compensation for your pain and suffering through a claim or lawsuit filed against that party. We can advise you about the potential success of that legal action.
When a worker suffers a fatal, on-the-job injury, his or her family (next of kin) may be entitled to workers’ compensation death benefits, burial expenses and any medical expenses incurred prior to death. In order for next of kin or a family to qualify for death benefit payments, their loved one must have passed away within six years from his or her injury or occupational illness or within two years of the determination of the disability. This can be a very complicated situation and in almost every case a well experienced lawyer in Workers’ Compensation should be consulted.
How Do I Collect Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
After reporting your injury to your employer and seeking the appropriate medical treatment, a determination will be made as to whether you can return to work. If you are sent home to recover, you will generally receive 66 and 2/3 percent of your normal wages (called average weekly wage) if you are out more than (7) seven days. Once your medical treatment plan is completed, your treating physician may determine that you have reached “maximum medical improvement.” At that time, your doctor may also determine that you have permanent injury and provide a permanent percentage rating of disability for a specific part of your body. After reaching MMI and/or receiving this rating, an attorney can begin negotiations with your employer’s insurance carrier on your behalf., If the insurance company will not pay benefits to which your attorney believes you are entitled, then your attorney may request a hearing and have your case assigned to a Deputy Commissioner with the North Carolina Industrial Commission. He or she will act as a judge and oversee your hearing.
If your employer denies your claim, the Commission, claimant, and his or her attorney must be notified of the reason for such a denial. The denial must be clearly stated and submitted on a Form 61. When an employer disputes a claim, it is best to seek the assistance of an attorney, who can help you to gather further evidence and successfully appeal the claim.
Why You Need Riddle & Brantley
After an on-the-job injury or work-related illness, it is recommended that you speak with an attorney immediately. An attorney can help you to determine the best course of action and ensure that all documentation is properly handled. The North Carolina Industrial Commission is very strict about following the claims process. Don’t let a simple mistake cost you your right to compensation.
Workers’ compensation claims and appeals are extremely complicated legal processes. Even if you consider your case to be “cut and dried,” your employer may challenge your claim. Without a workers’ compensation attorney on your side, you are far less likely to recover the compensation you are due for your work injuries. With over 160 years of combined experience, the Raleigh workers compensation attorneys at Riddle & Brantley have fought for and successfully obtained fair compensation for countless injured workers. Call us today.
- North Carolina Industrial Commission: FAQ