Any day that you go to work, you risk a potential injury as a result. Even if you work in retail or a comfortable office setting, the danger is there for a work-related injury or acquired illness. Sometimes, work injuries are the result of a fluke or unusual accident. Even spilled coffee could result in serious injuries. Other times, injuries more closely reflect the nature of the job.

Those who type all day, as well as those who drive or manually handle pieces on a production line, may develop repetitive-motion injuries. Construction workers could end up with electric shocks or get hurt or killed in falls. Regardless of the nature of your job, injuries are always possible. Educating yourself now about workers’ compensation can protect you in the future if you wind up hurt at work.

North Carolina expects most employers to carry workers’ compensation insurance

Workers’ compensation is an insurance program that employers pay into. Any employer with three or more employees must either secure workers’ compensation insurance or meet state guidelines for self-insured employers. Regardless of the kind of business or the industry in which it operates, workers’ compensation is a requirement of doing business in North Carolina.

Typically, these policies protect employers from lawsuits related to on-the-job injuries. They also protect workers from losses related to workplace injuries. Workers’ compensation offers a host of potential benefits, from co-pay-free medical coverage to wage replacement and death benefits for surviving dependents after fatal accidents.

What benefits can you expect from worker’s compensation?

If you get hurt at work, you should report the accident to your manager before seeking medical care, if possible. Once you’ve received stabilizing treatment, you’ll need to file a claim for workers’ compensation coverage to continue to have your treatment covered. Generally speaking, injured workers typically qualify for medical and disability benefits. Medical coverage will apply to any treatment your injury requires, including surgery and physical therapy, without co-pays or deductibles.

If your injury leaves you unable to work now (but you will eventually recover), you may receive temporary disability benefits. If your disability lasts for fewer than 21 days, you will not receive compensation for the first week. If it lasts for 22 days or more, the first seven days will also qualify for coverage.

Generally, you can receive up to two-thirds of your average weekly wage, up to the maximum set by the state which is adjusted routinely. Currently, that limit is $978 per week. If you are unable to return to work indefinitely, you may qualify for permanent disability payments at the same rate. Similar wage replacement may be available to surviving spouses and children when a breadwinner dies as a result of a workplace accident or illness.