A workplace injury can put you on the sidelines for a couple weeks, or potentially for years, depending on the severity of your injuries. Of course nobody plans on being injured. Most people do not plan on even a brief unexpected stint away from work, and the temporary lack of a paycheck can have real financial repercussions.
Individuals injured on the job are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, regardless of who was at fault for their injuries. However, workers’ compensation claims can be a complicated and slow-moving process; employers may drag their feet, and insurance companies may deny claims or withhold benefits. When this happens, injured workers and their families end up in a bind while awaiting the benefits they direly need.
A knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer can make all the difference in these situations. Trey Collier of Collier Law has sat on both sides of the table and understands the difficulties families face when they’re denied the compensation they deserve. As a resolute champion for injured workers, he can help cut through the delays and legal tactics insurance companies use to prevent paying claims. If you or your loved one has suffered a workplace injury in Thomasville, NC, contact Collier Law today for a free consultation.
Workers’ Compensation in a Nutshell
Workers’ compensation is a government-administered program designed to enable injured workers to collect much-needed benefits while they recover while simultaneously shielding employers from personal injury lawsuits. Because it is a no-fault system, workers are entitled to receive benefits regardless of whether they were partially responsible for the accident that caused their injuries.
This practical approach to resolving legal issues related to workplace injury does not always run as smoothly as intended, however. Insurance companies employ all kinds of strategies to avoid paying the worker what they are entitled to. For example, they may downplay the severity of your injuries, or attempt to claim they were preexisting and not a result of a workplace accident. If an insurance company adjuster tells you you don’t need a lawyer, don’t listen. They know when you have a skilled attorney in your corner, they will have to pay.
Do I Have a Workers Comp Claim?
If you were injured on the job, North Carolina statute entitles you to financial compensation regardless of fault, so long as you meet the following criteria:
- Your injury or illness arose while you were working.
- Your injury or illness arose because of your work.
- Your injury or illness was caused by an accident or specific incident.
- Your employer has three or more employees.
Do I Need a Workers Compensation Lawyer?
When you’ve been seriously injured by a workplace accident, the last thing you need is to be worried about getting the medical treatment you need and making ends meet while you’re out of work. The workers’ compensation experts at Collier Law can ease these burdens tremendously.
Preparing and Filing Your Claim
Our foremost concern is your health and wellbeing, and that of your family, so we’ll start by taking all of the stressful legal details off of your hands. We will immediately begin a thorough investigation of your accident, gather evidence, and get to work building your case. We will then file your workers’ comp claim on your behalf.
Negotiating With Insurance Companies
Productive negotiation requires a seasoned workers’ compensation attorney who won’t back down. As an expert negotiator, Trey Collier knows all the tactics insurance companies employ to avoid compensating injured workers. We will fight tirelessly for a fair settlement for your workers’ compensation claim.
Appealing a Claim Denial
If your claim is denied, we will investigate the cause for rejection and promptly get to work seeking a reversal.
Representing You in Court
In the event that a just settlement isn’t reached, we will not hesitate to take your case to court. We have the litigation skills it takes and will fight doggedly until you get the compensation you deserve.
Do I Have a Personal Injury Claim?
You cannot sue your employer for a personal injury claim when you receive workers’ compensation benefits. The no-fault workers’ comp system was designed to eliminate costly, complicated, and time-consuming legal battles between employees and their employers. However, you may have a personal injury claim against a third party if you can demonstrate that their negligence directly contributed to your workplace injury. Specific examples of this would be the following:
Product Liability – Your injury was caused by a defective product or piece of equipment. In this case, you could sue the product manufacturer.
Premises Liability – Your injury was caused by dangerous conditions on a property you were on for work purposes, but which was not your employer’s. In this case, you could sue the property owner.
What Benefits Am I Entitled To?
The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act entitles workers who are injured on the job or develop an illness due to their work to the following financial benefits:
- Medical benefits, including medical bills, ambulance services, diagnostics and imaging, therapy and rehabilitation, medical devices, and ongoing/future medical expenses related to the injury.
- Mileage reimbursement for doctors appointments over 20 miles roundtrip.
- Lost wages for time out of work as prescribed by the treating doctor.
- Disability benefits in the form of a lump-sum settlement for the percentage of permanent disability or impairment resulting from your accident.
- Vocational rehabilitation benefits to train or match you to a new job that suits your post-injury abilities.
Wage loss benefits can be claimed if you are out of work more than seven days due to your injuries. The amount paid out is calculated by two-thirds your average weekly wage before taxes for the 1-year period prior to the accident, divided by 52 weeks. This benefit is not taxable by the state or federal government.
Is There a Time Limit to File a Workers’ Comp Claim?
Yes. North Carolina law requires you to file a workers’ compensation claim within two years of the date of the accident. This isn’t as much time as it may seem. The claims process is very technical and time-consuming. Furthermore, it is in your best interest to seek legal counsel and begin the filing process as soon as possible.
A knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney will need time to investigate your accident and all the potential parties involved thoroughly. They will then require time to build your case, including hiring expert witnesses to strengthen it. For obvious reasons, it is much easier to build a strong case from the outset when evidence is still fresh. Delaying to file a claim can undermine this objective.
Can My Employer Force Me to Return to Work?
North Carolina employers sometimes attempt to make injured employees return to work, even when they are not yet physically ready. While there are legal requirements they must comply with to do this, employers often take advantage of unrepresented workers who aren’t aware of their rights.
Before a worker is compelled to “Light Duty” or a Return-to-Work program, their employer must do the following:
- Provide a light-duty job description that has been approved by the worker’s treating physician.
- Ensure that the proposed work is within the scope of the worker’s abilities and does not overstep any work restrictions they may have.
Reporting a Work-Related Injury
It cannot be overstated how important it is to report a work-related injury as soon as it happens. Employees sometimes try to “shake it off,” and determine that their injuries aren’t that bad. However, this can be a terrible idea, as injuries frequently do not seem as bad as they really are directly after an accident. This is especially true of head, neck, and back injuries.
If you are injured at work, don’t ignore it. A failure or delay in reporting an injury can complicate your workers’ compensation claim and make it more difficult to procure compensation for medical treatment. It is imperative to report and document your accident as soon as possible. Make sure you take these crucial steps if you experience a work-related injury:
- Notify your employer of your accident right away. If your injuries are catastrophic or life-threatening, attend to them first. However, you must notify your employer verbally and in writing within 30 days of the accident. Neglecting to do so puts you at risk of losing your right to compensation.
- Seek immediate medical attention. Some serious injuries are not immediately evident, and they can worsen over time. It is extremely important to see a medical professional and get a proper diagnosis after a work accident. Your employer may have an on-site healthcare provider, or they may direct you to a doctor. Otherwise, see your regular doctor, and make sure they record that your injury occurred in the workplace.
- Follow your doctors orders. Take prescribed medications, complete therapy as directed, and comply with any activity restrictions.
- Keep detailed records. Take photographs of your injuries and the scene of the accident. Gather witness statements, if applicable. Keep all medical bills, records, after-care summaries, accident reports, disability statements, and receipts.
- File a workers’ compensation claim with the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC). A qualified workers’ compensation attorney can file a claim on your behalf and help take the headache out of the claims process by handling all the negotiations and legal details. Your sole focus should be on healing.
Thomasville At-Risk Occupations
Workplace accidents happen in every industry, but certain professions are more at risk than others. Unsurprisingly, construction workers suffer work-related injuries at higher incident rates than other professions.
The prevalence of furniture manufacturing in Thomasville poses a greater risk to employees due to the physical nature of the work it requires, and the use of potentially dangerous tools and equipment.
If you have suffered a work-related injury as an employee of Heritage Home Furniture, Bisak Inc., John Thomas Furniture, Southeastern Manufacturing Supplies Inc., Oakridge Manufacturing, or Royal Colony Furniture, you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Contact Collier Law for a free consultation and learn about your rights as an injured worker.
The Thomasville Workers’ Compensation Lawyer You Can Trust
Trey Collier is a North Carolina native who has been helping injured workers nearly his whole career. He has the distinction of being a certified workers’ compensation law specialist by the North Carolina State Bar Association since 2016, an honor earned by fewer than 200 attorneys statewide. It is no stretch to call him “The Workers’ Lawyer.”
Collier Law is a boutique law firm specializing in representing employees who have suffered workplace injuries. We pride ourselves on giving our clients personalized, one-on-one attention, and we treat them like family. We also proudly offer multilingual services, because a language barrier should never prevent a hard-working, injured employees from obtaining the compensation they deserve.
We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning we collect no fees whatsoever until your workers’ compensation case is settled or won. If you or a loved one has suffered a work-related injury in Thomasville or Winston-Salem, NC, contact us today for a free case evaluation.