Work-related injuries can put a stop to your everyday life and may leave you with permanent injuries or emotional distress. Understanding how worker’s comp works with your pain and suffering is the key to getting the compensation you deserve.
Contact Collier Law today for a free consultation if you experienced an accident at work and don’t know what to expect from the North Carolina workers’ comp process.
Workers’ Compensation in North Carolina
North Carolina has a comprehensive workers’ compensation program that provides medical benefits, income replacement, and vocational rehabilitation for employees who are injured or become ill due to their job. Workers’ compensation insurance covers injury-related expenses such as doctor visits, medication costs, physical therapy sessions, and hospital stays. It also pays two-thirds of your lost wages while you are unable to work due to your injury or illness.
Am I Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?
To be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits, you must have been injured while performing your job duties. You are also required to report all injuries as soon as possible after they occur and seek medical treatment right away so that the injury doesn’t get worse over time.
File Your Workers’ Comp Claim as Soon as Possible
If you suffered a work-related injury, it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. The deadline for filing a workers’ compensation claim in North Carolina is two years from the date of your injury. However, if you wait too long to file a claim, you may lose your right to benefits altogether.
Accidents Not Covered by Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation does not typically cover a few types of accidents. These include:
- Injuries that occur while you are intoxicated or under the influence of drugs
- Injuries that occur while you are committing a crime
- Intentionally self-inflicted injuries
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering is a term that is used to describe the physical and emotional harm that an individual suffers as a result of an accident or injury. This type of damage can include medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Workers’ compensation does not cover pain and suffering, but it may pay other costs if the employee is injured on the job.
Can I Sue My Former Employer for Pain and Suffering in North Carolina?
In most cases, the answer is no. This is because workers’ compensation benefits are exclusive to employees and do not extend to former employees. This means that you cannot file a lawsuit against your employer for pain and suffering damages after leaving your job.
If you were injured while performing your job duties, however, you may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim and receive benefits for your injuries.
Why are Non-Economic Damages Excluded From Workers’ Compensation?
Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, are not covered by workers’ compensation because it is a no-fault system. This means that you can recover lost wages and medical bills, even if the accident is your fault. Because workers’ comp is a no-fault system, there are no damages for pain and suffering.
How Can I Recover Compensation For My Pain and Suffering in North Carolina?
Because workers’ compensation in North Carolina does not cover pain and suffering, you cannot recover these damages in your claim. However, if you were injured due to the fault of a third party (such as a motor vehicle accident while working), you may be able to recover pain and suffering in a negligence lawsuit against that person in civil court.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim for Pain and Suffering
In certain situations, it may make sense to file a personal injury lawsuit against someone other than the employer (for example, if your injuries were caused by defective equipment or another third party in a motor vehicle accident). If this is the case, you will need legal representation to pursue compensation for pain and suffering damages from that individual or company.
If you decide to file a personal injury lawsuit, you will need to prove that the other party was negligent and caused your injuries. This can be done by providing evidence of:
- The defendant had a duty of care
- The defendant breached that duty of care
- His or her breach of that duty of care caused your injuries.
- As a result, you have suffered damages.
It is important to note that North Carolina follows a contributory negligence rule, which means that if you are even 1% at fault for your injuries, you may not be able to recover.
Special Circumstances for Mental Health Difficulties
In rare instances, the Workers’ Compensation Board may award benefits for mental health conditions that arise from a physical injury. This is known as a psychiatric overlay and requires proof of physical and mental injuries to succeed.
If you are struggling with mental health issues as a result of a work injury, you may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim or personal injury lawsuit. However, the amount of benefits and damages that you receive may vary depending on the circumstances of your case and whether or not there is sufficient evidence to support your claims.
Does Workers’ Compensation Cover Permanent Injuries in North Carolina?
Workers’ compensation may cover permanent injuries, but the amount of benefits you receive will depend on the severity of your condition and its impact on your ability to work. In North Carolina, there are two types of permanent disability: partial and total.
- Partial disability as a result of an accident or injury at work, then workers ‘ compensation may provide benefits for your medical expenses and lost wages. However, you will not be able to receive benefits for pain and suffering or other non-economic damages.
- Total disability as a result of an accident or injury at work, then workers’ compensation will provide benefits for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering. However, these benefits will only be available if you cannot return to any type of employment ever again.
It is important to note that there are some exceptions to this rule, and the Workers’ Compensation Board may award benefits for permanent injuries in certain circumstances. For example:
- If your injury results in a significant loss of function or mobility (e.g., you can no longer walk), you may be able to receive benefits for both medical expenses and pain and suffering.
- If your injury results in death, the beneficiaries of your estate may be able to file a workers’ compensation claim and receive benefits for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
How Collier Law Can Help You With the Workers’ Compensation Process
If you or someone you love has suffered a job-related injury or illness, call an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer at Collier Law for assistance with your workers’ comp case.
You are so much more than a number to us: we value our attorney-client relationship and getting the justice you deserve. We are advocates for injured workers. Call for a free consultation to find out how we may assist you.