Compensation for Workplace Injuries in North Carolina
Many employed Americans work in dangerous occupations and face the risk of on-the-job injury on an almost daily basis. While the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and other federal and state agencies provide safety rules and regulations to promote workplace safety, employees can still suffer serious workplace injuries or occupational illnesses. When an employee is injured on-the-job, the process for compensating injury victims is apples-to-oranges when compared with getting compensation for non-work related injuries.
The purpose of workers’ compensation is to cover the “economic costs” of an injury or illness developed as a result of work. There are three things that this encompasses: current medical treatment, time out of work and permanent injury costs.
At the Ramsay Law Firm, we have been effectively navigating injured clients through the workers’ compensation process for over 20 years. A workplace injury often means a period of disability where you are unable to work. These injuries can cause loads of stress for an injured worker and his (or her) family due to lost income during the time-off work. The workers’ compensation system can be complicated and generally provides less compensation (money) to injury victims than a personal injury lawsuit can provide.
If you have suffered a work-related injury, you should contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer at the Ramsay Law Firm, PA before your employer shuttles you off to an industrial or occupational work injury clinic. The doctors at these clinics normally have a bias favoring employers by providing a very conservative diagnosis, and overly optimistic prognosis, with respect to the patient’s medical condition. Workers’ comp doctors rely on employers for patients. Their practices are built solely on injured workers. These doctors generally have financial agreements with employers, where the doctors agree to keep medical costs low and, in return, employers keep sending their injured workers to these doctors. Employers tend to stop using work comp doctors who makes too many findings of long-term disability favoring injured employees.
A Charlotte workers’ compensation attorney at the Ramsay Law Firm can offer you honest answers and experienced guidance at every stage of the process. We work to get you the care and compensation you need. Contact us today for a free consultation.
Understanding the Workers’ Compensation System
Unlike a personal injury lawsuit, you do not have to prove fault on behalf of your employer to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. The workers’ compensation system was designed to provide a fast efficient “no fault” system that protects both employers and employees when a workplace injury occurs. If you are injured on the job, you have a right to file a workers’ compensation claim and, in most situations, even if you are partially responsible for your own injury.
While there are certain limitations and common misconceptions about workers’ compensation, at the Ramsay Law Firm, in Charlotte, North Carolina, we are upfront and straightforward with what to expect from workman’s comp. Attorney Martha Ramsay will be an aggressive advocate for you. She has over 20 years of experience in fighting for injured workers in North Carolina. She will clearly explain to you what you can seek compensation for, address your concerns and do everything she can to get a fair recovery.
While it makes sense to an injured employee that there is no need to prove fault to successfully file a workers’ compensation claim, the workers’ compensation system is generally much less generous in terms of compensating injury victims than a personal injury claim. A workers’ compensation claim provides medical coverage for your injuries. Workers’ compensation also compensates you for lost earnings while off-work, and partial- or full-disability based on the percentage of your permanent impairment (damage caused by the injury). There are many types of work-related injuries and illnesses that can occur, such as a sudden traumatic accident, long-term exposure to a hazardous substance or repetitive motion injury (e.g., carpal tunnel).
What Workers’ Compensation Covers
A person seeking workers’ compensation should not expect a jury trial in court. In North Carolina, workers’ comp disputes are settled by the Industrial Commission, where decisions are resolved administratively.
Here are additional points about what workers’ comp does and does not cover:
- Workers’ comp does not cover pain and suffering
- Workers’ comp covers ongoing medical care and current lost wages
- It does not cover future time off work or future medical expenses that may crop up after your case is closed
- Industrial Commission does not have authority to award lump sums
- Only “disputed” cases actually go before the Industrial Commission
- Cannot make a separate personal injury claim against employer
Even if an employer did something negligent to cause your injury, you cannot sue in civil court under a personal injury claim. Instead, you would have to have a claim against a third party. The only exception to this is if an employer intentionally injured you. Although workers’ compensation does not cover pain and suffering, there are other types of claims available. They include dual and wrongful termination claims.
The good thing about workers’ compensation, is that your “fault” is not a factor. The only time fault affects recovery is if there was intentional self-infliction of an injury or drug or alcohol use was involved.
Pursuing a Personal Injury Lawsuit to Supplement Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Because the compensation available in a workers’ compensation claim is fairly limited, the workers’ compensation lawyers at the Ramsay Law Firm, PA look for responsible parties, other than your employer, who may have contributed to your injury. Workers’ compensation is the only choice available for filing a workplace injury against your employer. Often, other businesses or contractors or their agents or employees may share fault for causing your injuries. Our workers’ compensation attorneys may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against a third-party, and a workers’ compensation claim with your employer. This allows you to take advantage of the workers’ compensation “no fault” system, while seeking a wider-range of damages against a third-party in a personal injury action.
Our Workers’ Compensation Attorneys Can Help
Our committed and caring legal team recognizes the economic and physical obstacles that face workers who suffer serious injuries at the job site. The emotional stress and confusion of dealing with the complex workers’ compensation system add to this pressure. Our aggressive workplace injury lawyers have helped many clients receive greater compensation by seeking objective medical evaluations, rather than relying on medical reports prepared by work comp doctors who have a vested interest in minimizing your injuries and level of disability.
The Ramsay Law Firm, PA carefully examines the circumstances of your workplace accident to determine if you are able to pursue both a workers’ compensation claim against your employer and a personal injury claim against a third-party. Our workers’ compensation law firm offers a unique mix of trial and settlement experience, a complete understanding of workers’ compensation and personal injury law, and dogged determination to help our clients seek the maximum compensation possible to aide their recovery and assure the well-being of their families.
We are there at every stage of the workers’ compensation process:
- Securing medical treatment
- Getting benefits started
- Returning to work (either in your former position or in a light duty job)
- Obtaining compensation for permanent impairment
- Challenging denied workers’ compensation claims
- Making additional related claims such as wrongful termination
The Ramsay Law Firm, PA can also help you explore your options in filing a third-party personal injury claim against a negligent contractor or another individual or business that may be responsible for your injury. We can clarify your expectations and address all of your concerns.
Call for a Free Consultation
Call the Ramsay Law Firm, PA in Charlotte today at (704) 376-1616 or toll free from anywhere in North Carolina at (877) 576-5500 to discuss your case with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. You can also contact us by e-mail to schedule an appointment with a Charlotte work injury lawyer. Your consultation is informative and free.