How Long Do I Have to Report a Workplace Injury?
Imagine the following scenario. You fall off a forklift while at work and suffer a broken ankle, preventing you from walking. Since you’re on the other side of the building, you shout out for help until someone else calls 9-1-1 for you. While waiting for assistance, you realize that the reason you fell off the forklift at all is due to the fact that the seat on the forklift is falling apart. To make matters more frustrating, you even asked your employer to repair that exact same forklift seat previously.
Your workplace injury and accident is by all reasonable means your employer's fault since they had not repaired the seat like you asked. You wonder what your options are since you know you aren't at-fault for the situation. Workers’ compensation law comes up the next time you talk to fellow employees and you start thinking about the extent of your legal options. Specifically, you wonder how long North Carolina gives you to file a workers’ compensation claim in pursuit of benefits. Is there even a time limit?
You Have 30 Days to Report Your Injury
In any workplace accident that results in an injury, no matter how minor, North Carolina gives you just 30 days to report it to your employer, supervisor, or another high-ranking member within the company, such as a human resources (HR) representative. Waiting more than 30 days could have your claim outright denied by your employer’s insurance company and there will be little, if not nothing at all, you can do to contest it.
However, you should try to report your workplace injury to your employer as soon as it becomes obvious that you're injured. From small cuts on your finger to a broken bone, tell your employer as soon as possible to minimize the chances of unnecessary complications. When asked if you want to file an injury claim for a workplace accident, you should always answer ‘yes.’ It does not matter how large or small you feel the injury might be. Even seemingly slight injuries can develop into big health issues if untreated.
The worse your injury, the more time you might have to spend at home to recuperate. While some rest may seem nice, it also means you will miss wages you could have earned if you had never been injured in the first place. You will also like accrue hospital bills and rehabilitation costs related to the treatment of your injury, making your financial situation all the more precarious during your recovery. Once again, if you waste too much time on filing your workers’ compensation claim – more than the 30 days North Carolina gives you – for the money your employer owes you for their mistake, you might end up with no benefits at all and debt caused by your bills and lost wages.
Workers’ Comp Agencies Are Not Your Friends
Workers’ compensation companies and their agents will try everything in their power to either deny your claim or minimize how many benefits you can collect. They are a business, and a business needs to maximize profits and minimize spending. Fighting your claim, no matter how clearly legitimate it may be, is simply the way their business operates.
You should not take the stubbornness of the workers’ compensation insurance company personally, but you should definitely not take it lightly. The longer you wait to report your injury, the more “legal ammunition” you give them to deny your claim. The more mistakes you make when filing it, the more likely it is that worker's comp will deny the claim entirely. Do not give the workers’ compensation agencies any advantage.
You have the right to money you would have earned had your employer not been negligent but workers’ compensation agencies will fight you at every step. You need someone on your side. Make sure you hire a lawyer to file your claim so that you have all the necessary tools for success.
Legal Guidance for Workers’ Comp Claims in North Carolina
When you retain a trusted North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer, they should take care of all the loose ends for you that would otherwise add complexity to your case. They should know the many nuances of the state’s workers’ compensation laws, including that companies with three or more employees must provide workers’ compensation coverage. With the right attorney on your side to provide counsel, representation, and help during research, obtaining workers’ compensation benefits can actually be stress-free.
In addition to taking the guesswork and legwork out of your workers’ compensation claim, retaining an attorney will also make your filing more professional. The workers’ compensation agency will know that you are serious about receiving as many benefits as possible. You want the money owed to you for medical bills and for time spent at home in recovery. That message will be clear.
At Ricci Law Firm, PA, our Greenville, North Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys are led by Attorney Brian Ricci, a highly-accomplished legal professional. He is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and the law firm as a whole has achieved impressive verdicts and settlements and a long list of appreciative client testimonials. You can also check out more reviews on Facebook, Avvo, and Google. If you want your workers’ compensation claim to have the highest chance of success, you will want to work with our team.
Contact our firm at any time to get help with filing your claim, or contesting a claim denial.