When you have suffered an on-the-job injury, you may have the right to workers’ compensation benefits. North Carolina follows a no-fault workers’ compensation statute, which means you are entitled to workers’ comp benefits no matter who is responsible for causing the accident. However, that does not mean that everyone injured at work will qualify. In fact, you should not be surprised if the insurance company initially denies your claim.
Fortunately, when you have a dedicated no-fault workers’ compensation lawyer at Ricci Law Firm Injury Lawyers advocating for you, you can focus on healing from your work injury. In contrast, we work on holding the insurance company accountable for its financial obligations. Contact our office for a free consultation today and learn more about how the no-fault workers’ compensation claims process works, the types of benefits you could be entitled to, and what to expect if your claim is denied.
Common Types of Work Accidents and Injuries
On-the-job accidents are often far more common than people realize. Some work environments and industries are more likely to produce catastrophic or fatal injuries than others.
However, virtually any field of work has the potential for debilitating injuries and trauma under the worst circumstances. Fortunately, it does not matter what type of work accident you were involved in or which injuries you sustained. As long as your injuries occur due to your job responsibilities and are within the scope of your employment, you may be entitled to no-fault workers’ compensation.
Types of Work Incidents
Some of the most prevalent types of work accidents that warrant no-fault workers’ compensation benefits include:
- Scaffold accidents
- Bulldozer accidents
- Crane accidents
- Forklift accidents
- Construction accidents
- Oilfield accidents
- Fires and explosions
- Trench and ground collapses
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Heavy machinery accidents
- Injuries caused by defective machinery or equipment
- Slip and fall accidents
- Crushing accidents
- Being struck by falling objects
These are just a few examples of accidents that could make you eligible for no-fault workers’ compensation in North Carolina. If you were involved in another type of on-the-job accident that was not included above, do not hesitate to contact our team to find out what your next steps should be.
Top Work-Related Injuries
Do not assume you must have suffered a life-threatening injury to be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. As long as your injuries are severe enough to keep you out of work or significantly impact your life, you may be entitled to workers’ comp benefits.
Some of the most common types of injuries our clients have endured include the following:
- Facial injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Respiratory ailments
- Broken and fractured bones
- Loss of limbs
- Disfigurement and skin scarring
- Burn injuries
- Neck injuries
- Back injuries
Do not be concerned that you will be accused of attempting to pursue a frivolous no-fault insurance workers’ compensation claim. Contact Ricci Law Firm Injury Lawyers today to discuss the various ways your injuries have affected your life and whether you meet the eligibility requirements for workers’ comp benefits.
North Carolina No-Fault Workers’ Compensation Laws
According to North Carolina no-fault workers’ compensation laws, individuals who suffer work-related injuries are entitled to workers’ Compensation benefits no matter who is responsible for causing the accident. Since humans make mistakes, it is not unusual for a work error to lead to a severe injury.
When you are involved in an on-the-job accident or develop an occupational illness, you can apply for workers’ compensation benefits and get the financial support you need when you need it most. There are specific benefits you might be eligible for based on the individual details of your accident and the circumstances of your case.
Employer No-Fault Workers’ Compensation Obligations
You might be unsure whether your employer has purchased workers’ compensation insurance coverage. Under North Carolina law, no-fault workers’ compensation is required for any company employing three or more employees. This is true for limited liability corporations, corporations, partnerships, and even sole proprietorships.
However, independent contractors may not be protected by their client’s workers’ comp protection coverage. However, independent contractors may have an opportunity to purchase workers’ compensation coverage to protect themselves in the event of a work accident.
Eligibility for No-Fault Workers’ Compensation in NC
You also might have concerns regarding whether you are protected by your employer’s workers’ comp coverage. The good news is it does not matter whether you work on a temporary, seasonal, part-time, or full-time basis. As long as you are considered an employee, you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits when injured at work.
What Do No-Fault Workers’ Compensation Benefits Consist Of?
There are specific types of no-fault workers’ compensation benefits you could collect after an injury in NC. These benefits often include the following:
- Disability benefits/wage replacement
- Healthcare expenses covered
- Access to vocational rehabilitation benefits
- Death benefits for surviving dependents
Disability Benefits/Wage Replacement
You can access disability benefits, also commonly known as wage replacement benefits, based on the amount of your average weekly wages. Generally, you can expect to collect approximately 2/3 of your average salary.
However, benefits are not awarded for the first seven days you miss work unless you are out of work for at least 21 days. Typically, wage replacement benefits are paid weekly until you can return to work or reach the maximum number of weeks allowable.
Temporary Partial Disability Benefits
Temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits occur when an injured worker can return to work at a reduced salary. Those collecting TPD benefits can expect to collect approximately 66 2/3% of the difference between their pre-injury wages and post-injury wages.
Temporary Total Disability
Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits occur when a worker is injured severely enough that they cannot continue working. TTD benefits are generally paid out at a rate of 2/3 of your average weekly income. However, this amount can change annually and is set by the North Carolina Industrial Commission based on the annual cost of living and inflation rates.
Permanent Partial Disability
Permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits are available when a worker suffers a partial or total loss of a portion of their body and is incapable of continuing to work. PPD benefits are classified as either scheduled or unscheduled loss awards. These determine how long PPD benefits will be paid.
Scheduled loss awards allowed for approximately 2/3 of the employee’s average weekly salary multiplied by the number of weeks allowed based on the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. For example, you might be eligible for up to 200 weeks of workers’’ comp. benefits for the loss of a hand.
Conversely, unscheduled loss awards compensate victims for injuries that are not described in the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. Employees with unscheduled loss awards are entitled to approximately 2⁄3 of their average weekly wages up to the maximum amount allowable by law.
Permanent Total Disability
Permanent total disability (PTD) benefits are only available to employees who have suffered one or more of the following work injuries:
- Spinal cord injuries that result in the paralysis of the trunk of the body, both legs, or both arms
- A closed head injury or severe brain trauma with communication disturbances, neurological disorders, or complex cerebral function disturbances
- Second or 3rd degree burns to 33% or more of the body
- Loss of both eyes, arms, hands, legs, or feet
Individuals suffering from PTD injuries are often entitled to lifetime benefits if they are permanently incapable of earning a living.
Healthcare Expenses Covered
Your employer’s no-fault workers’ compensation insurance provider will cover all of the medical expenses that relate to your on-the-job injury. This includes not only your ambulance bills, transportation fees, and hospital stay but any other out-of-pocket or healthcare costs associated with your injuries. This might include:
- Medical treatment
- In-home care
- Assistive devices and medical equipment
- Prescription medications
Access to Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits
When your injuries prevent you from being able to return to work, the no-fault insurance workers’ compensation provider must cover the costs of your job training or educational opportunities if you require them to re-enter the workforce.
Death Benefits for Surviving Dependents
When an employee suffers fatal work injuries or passes away due to an occupational illness, their dependence may be eligible for certain types of no-fault workers’ compensation benefits, commonly referred to as death benefits. This includes:
- Compensation for the decedent’s funeral and burial costs, up to $10,000
- Complete coverage of the decedent’s medical expenses
- Wage replacement benefits at a rate of 2/3 of the decedent’s average weekly ranges for as much as 500 weeks
Why No-Fault Workers’ Compensation Claims May Be Denied
Just because workers’ compensation benefits in North Carolina are no-fault does not mean that there are no situations in which you could be denied. If you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol when you were injured, or your injuries were self-inflicted, you can expect the insurance company to deny your claim.
However, let’s say the insurance company is simply delaying the processing of your claim, arguing that your employer does not have sufficient coverage, or accusing you of exaggerating the extent of your injuries. In that case, your work injury attorney at Ricci Law Firm Injury Lawyers will be prepared to challenge the denial and proceed with a formal appeal.
What if No-Fault Workers’ Compensation Benefits are Not Enough?
It is not unusual for work injury victims to find no-fault workers’ compensation benefits that do not meet their needs. You might cover your medical bills and receive some of your lost wages as financial support while you recuperate, but that does not mean your life will not be affected.
Thankfully, you might have a chance to pursue a personal injury lawsuit in addition to your workers’ compensation benefits. However, you cannot double up on damages. Any help you receive from workers’ comp will not be available through your personal injury lawsuit.
If someone else is responsible for causing your work injuries and your lawyer can prove their negligence is to blame for your damages, they could be compelled to cover these costs on your behalf. Some of the potentially recoverable damages in a North Carolina personal injury lawsuit include:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Disfigurement and skin scarring
- Reduce starting capacity
- Diminished quality of life
- Your remaining lost wages after workers’ comp
- Your remaining healthcare costs after workers’ comp
- Emotional trauma and mental anguish
- Personal property damages
- Reputational damages
North Carolina No-Fault Workers’ Compensation FAQ
We have answered some of the top questions regarding no-fault workers’ compensation benefits in North Carolina below. If you have additional questions we did not cover here, do not hesitate to contact Ricci Law Firm Injury Lawyers to discuss your individual concerns further.
What is Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI)?
Maximum medical improvement (MMI) refers to the point at which you have healed as much as your physician expects you to. This is the point at which the insurance company will consider you recovered from your work injuries, at which point your condition can be evaluated to determine your disability status. This can determine how long you can continue collecting workers’ compensation benefits.
How Long Can You Collect No-Fault Workers’ Compensation Benefits?
Generally, you can continue collecting no-fault workers’ compensation benefits for up to 500 weeks or until you have reached maximum medical improvement. However, your benefits could be terminated earlier or extended to permanent benefits.
Contact a No-Fault Workers’ Compensation Lawyer for Help Today
Getting the insurance company to compensate you fairly after suffering a work-related injury should not be as challenging as it is for many injured workers. Fortunately, when you have a powerful legal advocate fighting for your rights, you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing our team is working tirelessly to hold the insurer accountable.
Find out more about the value of your workers’ comp benefits and how to best approach a denied claim when you reach out to an experienced no-fault workers’ compensation lawyer at Ricci Law Firm Injury Lawyers. Our firm is proud to offer free consultations to work injury victims across the state of North Carolina. Take advantage of this opportunity by filling out our online contact form.