Workers’ compensation benefits, or “workers’ comp,” can provide a financial security net after you or a loved one suffers a disabling shoulder injury or neck injury at work in Charlotte. However, it can be a difficult task to collect the benefits that you are eligible to receive. You must follow strict rules when filing your work injury claim, which could potentially be denied by your employer. The doctor could make a mistake when diagnosing you, or your employer could claim that you are not covered by the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. In other cases, employers fail to carry workers’ compensation insurance – sometimes in violation of state laws.
Equipped with more than 20 years of legal experience, the knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyers of the Ramsay Law Firm are ready to assist you with every stage of the claims process in North Carolina. Whether you need help filing a claim, appealing a denied claim, disputing why your benefits were cut off, or simply learning more about your rights under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, we invite you to contact our law offices at (704) 376-1616 for a free consultation with work injury attorney Martha Ramsay, Board Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist serving Charlotte, NC.
Common Neck and Shoulder Injuries at Work
Every year, millions of Americans are injured at work or while performing their job duties. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 93,000 nonfatal workplace injuries happened in North Carolina during 2015, while 150 North Carolinians were killed on the job. Fatal and nonfatal accidents occurred in all types of occupations and industries, though some were more hazardous than others. Based on injury and fatality statistics, some of the most dangerous industries in North Carolina include:
- Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting
- Transportation and utilities
Whether you work at an office, a factory, a construction site, a moving business, a restaurant, a grocery store, a warehouse, or a different environment, there are dozens of ways for a workplace neck or shoulder injury to occur. To provide a few examples, work-related shoulder or neck injuries can be caused by:
- Defective safety gear, work equipment, or structural components of a building
- Falls at work, such as slip and fall accidents or falls from heights
- Exposure to caustic or toxic fumes or chemicals
- Exposure to fire, friction, extreme heat, or extreme cold
- Heavy lifting
- Physical strikes by falling objects
- Repetitive motions, especially twisting, turning, or lifting
- Work-related auto accidents
These and other types of accidents can cause a range of serious injuries, which may be permanently disabling or even fatal. Neck injuries are particularly likely to cause long-term disability if they involve a cervical fracture (neck fracture) or damage to the upper portions of the delicate spinal cord. Some common examples of neck injuries and shoulder injuries that can occur in the workplace include:
- Aggravation of preexisting injuries, such as an old shoulder injury
- Broken shoulder injuries
- Fractured clavicle (broken collarbone)
- Fractured humerus (broken upper arm)
- Fractured scapula (broken shoulder blade)
- Chemical burns to the neck or shoulder
- Cuts and lacerations
- Disc injuries, such as bulging or herniated discs
- Dislocated shoulder joint injuries
- Nerve damage
- Second degree burns, third degree burns, or fourth degree burns to the neck or shoulder
- Torn rotator cuff injuries
- Torn tendons and ligaments, which are called “soft tissue injuries”
- “Whiplash,” which is the colloquial term for a cervical sprain (neck sprain) or cervical strain (neck strain) injury, often caused by rear-end collisions in multi-vehicle accidents
How Do You Get Workers’ Compensation Benefits in North Carolina?
Regardless of who is at fault for the accident, the victim is generally entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits. There are exceptions for injuries that were deliberately self-inflicted, injuries that were caused by the victim’s own intoxication, injuries which are not caused by an accident, and members of certain industries or occupations.
Under state law, it is mandatory for most of the companies located in Charlotte to provide workers’ compensation for their employees. If your employer claims that no benefits are available for your injury, it is wise to consult with an attorney for clarification of your rights. Your employer may have misunderstood his or her obligations to provide coverage, or could even be acting dishonestly to save money.
In order to receive workers’ compensation, it is absolutely critical that you notify your employer of the injury, both verbally and in writing, as soon as it is safe for you to do so. Once your employer has been notified of the accident, he or she assumes responsibility for reporting the injury and handling the rest of the initial claims process with the insurance company. Your shoulder injury claim lawyer can work to ensure that you receive the maximum benefits, based on the severity of your injury and its effects on your earning capacity. Your attorney will also be able to counsel and represent you in the event that your initial claim is improperly denied.
How Much Workers’ Compensation Can You Get for an Accident on the Job?
The answer to this question depends on several factors. Two of the most important are:
- How much money you were earning before you sustained the injury. One of the most important guidelines for determining a workers’ compensation award is the level of income the worker was earning before his or her accident. In North Carolina in 2017, benefits are capped at 66.66% of the worker’s pre-injury average weekly pay, with a maximum weekly threshold of $978. These limits will be increased in 2018 to account for inflation.
- How long, and how severely, you will be disabled because of the injury. You can continue receiving benefits for up to 500 weeks, which is roughly equivalent to nine and a half years, or potentially even longer if your disability is permanent. However, if you improve or recover after several months or years, your benefits may be reduced or suspended much sooner. A workplace neck injury attorney can help if you feel that your benefits were prematurely decreased or cut off.
Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Lawyers for Shoulder and Neck Injuries
If you, your spouse, or a family member suffered a shoulder injury or neck injury at work in Charlotte, workers’ compensation benefits could be available. Workers’ compensation can help you pay for your medical treatment while compensating you for lost earnings. If you lost a loved one in a fatal workplace accident, workers’ compensation can also provide death benefits, including payment for burial costs. To learn more about filing a workers’ compensation claim for a shoulder injury or neck injury at your workplace, call the Ramsay Law Firm at (704) 376-1616 for a free consultation.