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Workers’ Comp Partial Disability in North Carolina? All You Need to Know

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Aug 20, 2022
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North Carolina enforces some of the country’s strictest laws regarding workplace injuries and workers’ compensation. When a workplace injury occurs, the victim must understand their rights and legal options regarding recovery. In addition, the workers’ compensation system exists to ensure that an injured worker has the financial support they need to fully recover from a workplace accident.

When most workers qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, they receive two types of compensation. First, their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier will cover the cost of any medical care they require. This includes immediate treatment costs right after the injury and ongoing costs for managing their symptoms and recovery until they reach maximum medical improvement. Second, they can receive ongoing disability benefits that fluctuate to match their needs.

Total Versus Partial Disability Benefits in North Carolina

There are four ways that most workers’ compensation claims can be resolved in North Carolina when it comes to disability benefits for injured workers:

  1. Partial disability benefits may be awarded temporarily if the claimant’s injury does not prevent them from working but prevents them from earning as much income as they did before their injury.
  2. Partial disability benefits can be awarded on a “permanent” or long-term basis if an injured employee has sustained a serious injury that prevents them from performing their previous job duties, but they can take alternative work for the future. These benefits can last for several years.
  3. Total disability benefits temporarily apply when an injured worker cannot work until they recover. Most claimants who qualify for this benefit arrangement will receive about two-thirds of their average weekly wages in weekly disability benefits.
  4. Total disability benefits are rarely awarded permanently, and even “permanent” total disability benefits through a workers’ compensation insurance carrier may only continue for several years.

If you are unsure whether you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits or want to know what type of benefits you are most likely to qualify to receive, you must speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible after your workplace injury. They can not only assist you with filing your workers’ compensation claim but also help you determine what type of benefits determination you qualify to receive. In addition, if the insurance company offers an unacceptable settlement, your attorney will be invaluable for securing an appropriate recovery.

How Do Partial Disability Benefits Work?

When injured workers qualify for partial disability benefits, they typically face medical and financial reporting requirements to the insurance company. As a result, the insurance company will agree to pay a set amount each week to offset the difference in the claimant’s income resulting from their injury. In addition, the claimant agrees to inform the insurance company immediately of any changes in their condition or income. Failure to report these changes can amount to workers’ compensation fraud, so it’s vital to keep the insurer fully informed of your status and to meet all reporting requirements so you can continue receiving benefits as long as possible and legally.

The amount paid in partial disability benefits reflects how much the claimant earned before their injury compared to how much they can earn after their injury. For some claimants, partial disability benefits can fluctuate over time. For example, they may increase if the employee’s condition worsens or decrease as the employee recovers their earning capacity.

It’s important to remember that insurance companies prefer limiting their financial liabilities as much as possible whenever possible to preserve their profitability. Therefore, if a claimant qualifies for extensive ongoing benefits, the insurance company may attempt to dissuade them from seeking this type of settlement by offering a large lump-sum payment, commonly called a “clincher” offer. While a large lump sum may seem attractive initially, if you calculate the total amount of ongoing benefits you could otherwise receive, it is likely to be far less in the long run. Again, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney is the best resource to consult to ensure you receive maximum compensation for your injury.

FAQs About North Carolina Workers’ Comp Partial Disability

How Long Do Partial Disability Benefits Usually Last in North Carolina?

Most injured workers who qualify to receive partial disability benefits for their workplace injuries can expect those benefits to continue for quite some time, typically several years. However, to maintain eligibility for partial disability benefits, they must meet all income reporting requirements and inform the insurance carrier of any changes in their medical condition.

How Long Does It Take to Settle a Workers’ Comp Case in NC?

If your claim for workers’ compensation is straightforward and you have sufficient evidence to prove you qualify for benefits, it may only take a few days to a few weeks to begin receiving your benefits. If any complications arise with your claim, reaching a suitable conclusion can take much longer. A good attorney can estimate how long you will likely need to wait before receiving your benefits.

What Is the Maximum Time I Can Receive Partial Disability Benefits?

The exact amount of time that any workers’ compensation benefits may continue hinges on the specific details of the insurance policy. Most insurance companies will limit partial disability benefits to 500 weekly payments, meaning some injured workers can potentially qualify to receive ongoing partial disability benefits for nearly a decade. However, insurance companies often try to avoid such arrangements with enticing lump-sum settlement offers.

Do I Really Need a Lawyer to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?

While it is not technically required, hiring legal counsel will make it much easier to succeed with your workers’ compensation claim. They can handle the procedural aspects of your recovery efforts while you focus on your medical needs and personal obligations. Hiring the right attorney can make a tremendous difference in the quality of your final recovery from your injury.

Christina Rivenbark & Associates wants to help you recover the benefits you legally deserve after a workplace injury in North Carolina. Whether you need help filing your claim or you need an attorney’s assistance to resolve a dispute with a claim you have already filed, we can help. Contact us today and schedule a consultation with our team.

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