What Injuries Qualify for Workers’ Compensation Coverage in North Carolina?

Workers’ compensation exists to alleviate the financial strain a workplace injury can cause for the victim and their family. However, when someone suffers an injury while working, they could face expensive medical bills and additional financial strain from the inability to work. These compounded financial issues can quickly create a serious economic problem for the victim’s household, and it’s vital to know your recovery options if you find yourself in this situation.

If you suffered an injury at work or while performing your job duties anywhere in North Carolina, you likely be able to file for workers’ compensation. However, the claim process can be challenging, and some injured workers may wonder whether their conditions qualify for benefits. A good attorney is the best resource to consult for information specific to your unique circumstances, but there are a few basic things all workers in North Carolina should know about qualifying for workers’ compensation benefits.

Determining Eligibility for Workers’ Compensation

North Carolina state law requires almost every employer in the state to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage. This means almost all employees in North Carolina are eligible to file claims for workers’ compensation benefits after they suffer injuries while working. However, there are limits to what workers’ compensation insurance carriers will cover. An employee is likely to be eligible for benefits if they caused their own injury through an honest mistake or if the injury occurred due to an unexpected safety hazard or equipment malfunction. If they caused their injury through horseplay, violation of workplace safety rules, or because they were working while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they would lose their eligibility to seek workers’ compensation benefits.

Workers’ compensation applies to any physical injury suffered while performing job duties, illnesses acquired from exposure to environmental hazards and harmful substances at work, and acquired conditions resulting from repetitive motions. It is also possible to claim compensation for mental health disorders that manifest from work conditions, but this is very difficult to prove.

Most Commonly Reported Injuries From Work

North Carolina workers in all industries sustain injuries every day from a wide range of causes. While some work environments are inherently more dangerous than others, injuries can occur unexpectedly in virtually every workplace. Some of the most commonly reported workplace injuries that result in workers’ compensation claims include:

  • Slips, trips, and falls. Falls can cause broken bones, head injuries, and a host of internal problems for the victim. The height and location of a fall typically dictate the severity of the resulting injuries.
  • Vehicle accidents. Many people must drive for work or operate special vehicles as their primary job duties. When accidents happen, the recovery process will mirror the legal proceedings that would follow any other vehicle accident. However, since the victim was working, they would also qualify to file for workers’ compensation benefits.
  • Illness from exposure. Some people must handle dangerous materials, work with toxic substances, or work in various environmental conditions that can cause adverse health problems over time. You must prove your condition resulted from work to secure benefits for this kind of issue.
  • Equipment malfunctions. Any type of specialized heavy equipment can potentially cause life-threatening injuries. When equipment malfunctions, it’s possible for the operator to bear liability if they were negligent, but the manufacturer could face a product liability claim if their defective or unreasonably dangerous product causes an injury.
  • Repetitive stress injuries. When a person must perform the same physical tasks repeatedly for work, the parts of their body used the most experience substantial wear-and-tear. This can lead to soft tissue injuries and degenerative musculoskeletal conditions over time.

If you believe your medical condition results from a workplace injury or the working conditions you experience every day, you need an attorney who can help you navigate the complex workers’ compensation claim process in North Carolina.

Compensation Available for Workplace Injuries

Injured workers in North Carolina who qualify to file for workers’ compensation benefits can typically expect two forms of compensation. First, their medical expenses will be covered by their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. This includes immediate treatment costs and any costs associated with necessary ongoing care they require until they reach maximum medical improvement. Second, they can receive ongoing disability benefits if their injury prevents them from working.

Ongoing disability benefits are almost always awarded temporarily until the claimant regains full function after their injury. A claimant who can still work but cannot earn as much because of their injury can qualify for partial disability benefits. Permanent benefits are possible for claimants who suffered serious catastrophic injuries, but insurance companies try to resolve such claims with lump-sum settlement offers whenever possible.

FAQs About North Carolina Injuries Qualify for Workers’ Compensation Coverage

How Long Do I Have to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim in North Carolina?

North Carolina upholds a strict two-year statute of limitations for workers’ compensation claims, meaning an injured worker has two years from the date of an injury to file their claim. However, filing as soon as possible after a workplace injury is always best. Find an experienced attorney to streamline the claim process after you address your immediate medical concerns.

Can I Sue My Employer for a Workplace Injury?

North Carolina law typically prevents injured employees from suing their employers for workplace injuries. However, this rule does not apply if the employer doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance or if they caused the employee’s injury intentionally. If you’re unsure whether you have grounds for a civil claim against your employer, consult an attorney as soon as possible.

Can My Employer Fire Me for Claiming Workers’ Compensation?

An employer may not fire an employee who asks to file a workers’ compensation claim in good faith; doing so would amount to a wrongful termination, and the employer would face heavy penalties. An injured employee has the right to expect their former position or an equivalent one will be available for them upon completing their recovery.

Why Should I Hire a Workers’ Compensation Attorney?

Navigating your recovery efforts after a serious workplace injury will be much easier with an experienced attorney’s assistance. Your attorney can make filing your claim easier and address complications that arise with your case. You will also need their assistance to take further legal action outside the workers’ compensation system.

Christina Rivenbark & Associates can provide the responsive and compassionate legal representation you need after a workplace injury in North Carolina. Contact us today and learn more about the legal services we offer.

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