Workers Compensation: Who is Covered?

July 16, 2015 | By Riddle & Brantley Accident Injury Lawyers
Workers Compensation: Who is Covered?

Workers’ compensation insurance can benefit workers that have been injured on the job. The benefits provided by workers’ compensation can be extremely helpful if your injury keeps you from earning a paycheck.

Chances are, as an employee you are covered in the state of North Carolina. Workers’ compensation benefits were designed to protect injured workers from lost wages and financial hardship stemming from medical bills related to a work injury. In order to benefit from workers’ compensation, you must relinquish your right to sue your employer. In this way, workers’ compensation insurance protects both worker and employer.

Broad Coverage For Employees

North Carolina requires that most businesses that employ three or more employees obtain workers’ compensation insurance or qualify as self-insured. Individuals that are sole proprietors, members of LLCs and partners are not automatically counted as employees. A business is required by law to carry coverage once it has three employees that are regularly employed in addition to the sole proprietor, partners, members of an LLC, executor of an estate, or bearer of a trust. If a company is incorporated, it is required by law to carry coverage once there are three people in the corporation.

Exempt Employees

Most businesses with three or more employees will require workers’ compensation coverage. Some exceptions to this include:

  • Certain types of railroad employees;
  • Casual employees (independent contractors);
  • Domestic servants;
  • Farm laborers when fewer than 10 laborers are regularly employed by the same employer;
  • Federal government employees; and
  • Commission-based salespersons.

Even “Independent Contractors” May Be Covered

Workers who are engaged in “casual labor” on behalf of their employer may not be considered employees. Such workers are generally considered “independent contractors.” Casual labor is defined as work that is not in the usual trade or profession of the contracting party. Examples of this type of relationship may include: an employer hiring an independent contractor to upgrade the office building, or a manufacturer hiring an independent contractor to do landscaping on the business property. In both instances, the workers are not performing duties that would generally be carried out by an employee on the premises.

Even when an employer calls his or her workers “independent contractors,” the Industrial Commission may find that the worker was in fact an employee if the employer exerts a sufficient degree of control over the manner and method of work performance. In such a case, the employer may be held liable for any work-related injuries.

What Happens If Your Employer Doesn’t Have Coverage

If your employer does not have workers’ compensation coverage and it is found that the business was required to have coverage by law, he or she can be made to face serious penalties such as hefty fines, being charged with a misdemeanor, being charged with a felony, and even prison time. North Carolina does not go easy on employers that willfully ignore workers’ compensation laws. However, workers that find themselves without coverage still have many legal options available to them. You can confirm whether an Employer has coverage by contacting the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

A worker will generally have to go through the workers’ compensation system in order to recover for his or her injuries. However, if the employer did not have workers’ compensation coverage, a worker may be allowed to sue his or her employer in court. There are a number of benefits to that legal route. For one, the worker can seek the full amount of compensation he or she is due for his or her injuries without having to worry about a cap set by workers’ compensation laws. The worker may also collect damages for non-economic losses such as pain and suffering.

Why You Need To Contact The Raleigh Workers' Compensation Lawyers At Riddle & Brantley

Hiring the right workers compensation lawyer is essential to successfully obtaining the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Many workers mistakenly believe that because they are covered by workers’ compensation under the law, they will automatically receive benefits such as medical expenses and wage benefits. This is not so and many injured workers that do not hire an experienced attorney will find out the hard way.

Raleigh workers compensation lawyers, Chris Brantley and Adam Smith, are board certified specialists in workers’ compensation with years of experience. Under Brantley’s leadership, our firm has obtained many favorable settlements for workers’ comp clients. Recent case results include $829,000 for a claim involving an injured worker and $786,000 for another workers’ compensation client.

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.

Employers may try to deny your claim even when it involved a valid work injury. In addition, no matter what insurance companies tell you, they are not in the business to protect injured workers. Insurers may do anything they can in order to protect their bottom line even if it means denying benefits to those that deserve them.

Our firm has helped many injured workers who were misclassified as independent contractors – a common practice among employers that are looking to avoid paying out benefits to workers. Riddle & Brantley has obtained millions of dollars in settlements for injured workers. To speak to a Raleigh workers' compensation lawyer, please contact our firm today so that we can review the circumstances of your case and inform you of your best course of action.