What To Do If You Are Injured At Work
If you are hurt while on the job in North Carolina knowing the correct steps to take can help you receive the compensation you’re entitled to.
The likelihood of suffering an injury while on the sofa, watching TV and eating Bon-Bon’s is very low. If you, like hundreds of thousand of North Carolina residents are working, your chances of suffering an injury increase exponentially. Everyday in North Carolina hundreds of workers get injured on the job. In fact in 2014 approximately 91,600 workers suffered some type of recordable injury. That’s an average of 250 work related injuries per day. Of those 91,600 workers approximately 24,300 workers missed time from work following their on the job injury and 22,800 were unable to return to their previous employment. These statistics do not include those work related injuries that were never reported. Work is dangerous and that’s why the state of North Carolina requires your employer to have workers compensation insurance.
What should you do if you are injured on the job?
We’ve created a convenient Job Injury Checklist available for download and print at the end of this article.
Notify your employer of work injury
It is important to provide notice of your injury to your employer. When you are injured at work, workers compensation insurance ensures you receive proper medical treatment and income if you miss more than 7 days of work. To receive these benefits, you must let your employer know that you’ve been involved in an accident. Notification must be provided even if you don’t feel you need medical attention at the time. Notice should always be written notice. However if that is impractical, verbal notice will work but should be followed up with written confirmation. If your employer requires you to complete an incident report, ask that you be provided a photocopy of the report before you submit it. Take a picture of the report with your phone if a copy is not available. Documentation is vital.
Seek medical treatment
If your work related injury does not require immediate transport to a hospital emergency room, ask your employer what medical provider they would prefer you see. The workers compensation act specifically gives your employer and/or its insurer the right to direct your medical care. In other words, they get to decide whether you go to your own doctor or a doctor of their choosing. If they do not provide you with a provider preference, be sure to see a provider for whom you trust.
Submit doctor’s note to employer
Once you receive medical treatment for your work injury your medical provider will let you know if you are able to return to work. When you are provided with a note to be out of work you must present that note to your employer. If your doctor’s note indicates that you have restrictions on your work, your employer will then have the option to provide light duty work for you or tell you to stay home. As a worker at home for more than 7 days, you should begin to receive 66.66% of your pay. This number is determined by your average weekly wage in the year prior to your injury. If your employer accommodates your light duty work, you must return to work. However, if your employer only has part time light duty work, you will receive 66.66% of the difference between your pre-injury average weekly wage and your post injury wages.
File a Form 18
Within a few days of your injury you must also ensure that you file a Form 18, Notice of Accident to Employer and Claim of Employee, Representative, or Dependent to your employer. This form is necessary to ensure that your worker’s compensation claim is before the North Carolina Industrial Commission. The Industrial Commission is the North Carolina Administrative entity that oversees all workers compensation claims. A Form 18 is essentially your “law suit” for practical purposes. If you don’t file this form within 2 years of the date of an on the job injury your claim will be barred.
Obtain insurance adjuster information
Once your employer has notice of your injury by accident, they should notify their workers’ compensation insurer. Soon after you should receive a call from an insurance adjuster for more information about your injuries. If you do not hear from an adjuster within a week, request the insurance information from your employer and call them yourself. If they refused to provide this information it is readily available on the North Carolina Industrial Commissions’ website (https://ccms.ic.nc.gov/insurancecoverage/inscov/insCoverageSearch)
Contact a worker’s compensation attorney
Often times the adjuster will request that you provide a recorded statement describing your accident and injuries. Since insurance adjusters have taken hundreds of statements and know how to ask questions that my trip you up, it is highly recommended that you speak with an attorney prior to giving your statement. If you call Mullen Law, P.A., you will speak with attorney Eileen Mullen , for a free consultation without any obligation to hire us. If you should decide to hire us, we typically do not take an attorney fee until and if you settle you claim. In North Carolina, workers compensation law can be quite complex. It is my hope that the information provided here will help you navigate what can be an often complex and frustrating process.