What if My Employer Doesn’t Carry Workers’ Comp Insurance?
As an employee, you’re reliant on your employer to cover workers’ compensation benefits. It’s a reasonable expectation: they’re asking you to do work in which you could be injured so it makes sense that they would be responsible for ensuring that you are taken care of in the event of an injury.
However, in North Carolina, not all employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Very small companies are not required to carry workers’ comp insurance because of the number of employees, and some businesses simply do not have insurance. This is particularly common in the contractor business.
So what should you do if you work for one of these businesses and you get injured at work?
There are a couple of things you need to take into consideration before you give up on the possibility of workman’s comp benefits. First of all, if you work for a contractor who is the subcontractor of a main contractor who does carry workers’ compensation insurance, you may be entitled to those benefits. Even though your employer does not carry the benefits, you still could be entitled to recovery under North Carolina law.
Also, if your employer does not carry workers’ compensation, it’s a good idea to speak with an experienced attorney. They’ll be able to tell you whether or not there are any alternative options and what your next steps should be.
Just because your employer doesn’t carry workers’ compensation doesn’t mean you’re not covered. With more than $275 million in awards and settlements, Oxner + Permar has the experience to protect you and your rights.
Does Workers’ Comp Cover Mental Illnesses Caused by Workplace Injuries?
If you’ve been injured at work, it’s easy to focus on the physical injury. Workplace injuries can be traumatic experiences, and they often come with a lot of stress and change to your routine. It’s not surprising that many patients develop “mental injuries” alongside their physical ones. If you’ve developed a mental condition as a result of your workplace injury, you might be asking if that is also covered by workers’ compensation.
Many patients develop conditions such as anxiety or depression after an injury at work. While these conditions are a result of the injury, they often don’t manifest immediately after the injury. Instead they’ll develop over time as a result of the trauma and stress of your injury, as the result of chronic pain, or as a result of your inability to work.
North Carolina courts have said that workman’s compensation carriers are responsible for providing medical treatment for not only your initial injury or disease, but also for any condition that develops as a “direct and natural consequence” of your compensable condition.
Because of this, it’s important that you speak with your doctor about any mental issues or symptoms that you think may have been caused by your injury. That way your doctor will be able to give their opinion as to whether the conditions are actually related. You’ll want to make sure that any relationship between your initial injury and developed conditions is recorded so that you can present it as evidence.
If you’ve been injured at work, be sure to work with an experienced attorney who understands the law and what you need to know to protect your rights. Don’t hesitate to reach out for a free consultation.
When Returning to Work, Make Sure to Check with Your Physician!
Returning to work after sustaining a work injury isn’t necessarily a cut-and-dry process. Every person heals at their own pace, and depending on the extent of your injury, you may need more time than someone else. However, in many cases, in order to continue receiving benefits you will need to return to work. This can be troublesome for some people, especially since workers’ comp law does not require that you’re pain-free or symptom-free prior to returning to work.
But keep this mind: While you might have to return to work, you may not have to return to the exact job you were working before your injury. If you’re still suffering from pain or other symptoms, there’s a good chance your physician has placed workplace restrictions on you. This means you will need to be given work that does not aggravate your injuries.
If your employer is willing to accommodate your restrictions, it’s important to discuss the details of your new job description with your physician. That way they can determine whether or not you are fit for that kind of work.
In many situations, your employer will be required to provide a formal job description for your doctor to approve before you can return to work. This will help ensure that you will continue to recover and not make your injuries worse after returning to your job. Working with your doctor and employer will help your transition back into the workplace go as smoothly as possible.
Don’t unnecessarily aggravate your injuries! Check with your doctor to make sure you are fit to return to work. If you have questions about your workers’ comp claim, be sure to contact the experienced attorneys at Oxner + Permar for a free consultation.
What Happens If My Employer Refuses to Acknowledge My Workers’ Comp Claim?
This is a totally reasonable concern. Not all employers are thrilled at the thought of having to be responsible (even in part) for your workplace injury. They might resist and even try to say that your claim is ridiculous and holds no water. They might refuse to follow the proper procedures that go along with your workers’ compensation claim.
Fortunately, your employer is required to acknowledge your claim. When they do so, if they wish to make the case that they are not liable for your claim, they must present that case to the Industrial Commission. They will do this by filing Form 61, which will detail the exact reason for their denial of liability.
If your claim is denied by the insurance company, you may request a hearing before the Industrial Commission. You can do this by submitting a Form 33. This is a request for a hearing. During your hearing, your case will be reevaluated and a final verdict will be reached.
This may seem like a long process, and often times it can be. But don’t worry; you will not be billed by medical providers during this time. Medical providers can only bill you after it has finally been determined that you are not compensable by workers’ compensation.
If you have any questions about filing Form 33 to request a hearing, or about your employer’s refusal to acknowledge your claim, don’t hesitate to contact one of our attorneys. With more than $275 million and awards and settlements, Oxner + Permar has the experience to get you the benefits you deserve.
Is My Employer Allowed to Terminate Me Following a Workers’ Comp Claim?
Filing a workman’s comp claim takes courage, and I understand. Often, clients express concern that their employers might try to fire them. This is a natural worry for some employees. The good news is that typically, employers will not terminate an injured worker after he or she has been hurt on the job.
It is important to know, however, that based on North Carolina employment laws, filing a claim does not ultimately protect you from being fired—so it is true that there is a possibility you could lose your job. If an employer does terminate you, based on the filing of a workers’ compensation claim, there is a good chance that you have a viable retaliation claim against the employer. Make sure you have someone looking out for you and your rights—someone who thoroughly understands North Carolina workers’ compensation laws and how to make wrongs right if you’ve been injured on the job. Don’t feel intimidated into not filing the workman’s comp claim that you rightly deserve. With a team like Oxner + Permar, you’ll have years of experience and successful litigation on your side.
Throughout your employment, be sure to never give your employer a reason to let you go. Show up on time. Perform your job well. Address your supervisor in a professional manner. If you find that your employer does terminate you after you’ve filed a claim, remember: You don’t need to fight alone.
Take every precaution to prevent you employer from terminating you following your workers’ compensation claim—including hiring an attorney for support.