When You’re Injured in an Accident, Don’t Wait to File a Report
Injuries at work can be tricky. Sometimes you don’t sense exactly how injured you are until days later. Perhaps you don’t feel much pain or you hope that the pain will decrease and soon go away. In other instances, employees are afraid to file a report — or they simply don’t know where to begin. Whatever the reason, neglecting to file a report is a big mistake. Failure to report an accident is a common reason employers and insurance carriers try to deny cases. When a workman’s comp case is denied with a Form 61, the insurance carrier is essentially refusing to pay for medical treatment and workers compensation benefits, which means the injured worked is prematurely forced to return to work in pain because he or she cannot afford to be out of work — and often cannot afford the medical treatment.
Make sure this doesn’t happen to you.
When you are injured at work, report the accident immediately. When you do, insist on a written incident report and be sure to s
eek medical treatment to corroborate your claim. Do not wait months or even weeks to make it known that you were injured at work. And don’t allow fear of being fired or reprimanded prevent you from reporting the incident in a timely manner.
If you have any questions or concerns about the steps to take following an injury at work, the legal team at Oxner + Permar is here to help guide you through the process and ensure that your rights are protected.
Workers’ Compensation: Why hire an attorney?
When it comes to workers’ compensation, I know many clients think they can go it alone: that they’ll save money in the long run by not hiring an attorney and trying to figure the process out for themselves. While at first this might seem like a cost efficient way to go, there are a few things people don’t consider when they chose not to hire an attorney.
Say you try to go it alone and you run into a problem with your workman’s compensation. You realize that you missed a vital step along the way, or the insurance company is refusing to fully cover you. You may even realize your injury is more extensive than you had initially thought and now need additional coverage. While filing the paperwork may have been easy, going back and fixing these problems is much more difficult. It’s at this point that you would hire an attorney.
What many people don’t realize is that the fee for an attorney is the same whether we’re working your case for two years or two months. Generally the fee is about 25 percent of the settlement. This means that it makes much more sense to obtain an attorney earlier in the process.
An experienced attorney will help you avoid potential problems and navigate the pitfalls of obtaining workers’ comp benefits. This ensures a smooth process and helps ensure that you’re receiving the most benefits with the shortest wait possible. At Oxner + Permar we have extensive experience with workers’ comp cases, so we know what to look for when it comes to dealing with a workman’s comp case.
An attorney’s fee is taken from the settlement and therefore the same whether we work with you for two months or two years. Having an experienced attorney on your side can mean the difference between a headache of a case and a smooth, easy process.
Making Up For a Loss in Wages
Here’s the scenario: You find yourself injured at work, and while your employer’s workers’ comp benefits cover your medical bills, you find that your employer has reduced the number of hours you work to accommodate your light-duty work restrictions. Despite your workman’s comp benefits, you’re still coming up short when it comes to income, but you can’t ask for more hours, because you need to respect your reduced hours in order to recover and maintain your worker’s comp benefits.
This may seem like a no-win scenario for you, but the good news is there’s a solution! Did you know that you might also be entitled to payments for loss of income? Just because you’re receiving worker’s compensation doesn’t mean everyday life stops. On top of medical expenses, you still need to cover bills, groceries, and other daily necessities. Payments for loss of income protect your right to take the time to heal and can help you keep yourself afloat while working fewer hours.
If you have any questions about whether or not you are entitled to payments that cover loss in income be sure to contact an attorney. At Oxner + Permar our experienced attorneys are always happy to talk to you about your rights, and help ensure that you’re being protected.
Did you know that you could be entitled to benefits that cover a loss in income? If you find yourself losing out on work hours while receiving workers compensation benefits, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney to find out if you are eligible.
How Long Do I Have to File My Claim?
I have many clients who are worried about how long they have to file their workers’ compensation claim after a work injury—and how long it might take for an insurance company to deny or accept their claim. Here’s what a general timeline looks like:
You have 2 years to file Form 18 Notice of Accident to Employer and Claim of Employee.
- This time starts from the date of your injury or the last date of payment of medical compensation or weekly benefits.
- In the case of occupational diseases, this time starts from the date that your doctor advised you that you have a work related disease or two years from the first date of disability (for example, the first time you were written out of work completely or assigned light duty work restrictions that your employer cannot accommodate.)
Form 18 is filed with the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC).
Form 18 will notify your employer and their workers’ compensation insurance company that you got hurt at work or have an occupational disease.
From the date the NCIC acknowledges your Form 18, the insurance company has 30 days to formally accept or deny your claim.
Although you have up to two years to file your Form 18, we always recommend filing sooner rather than later. You don’t want to find yourself coming up against deadlines, and it’s always best to get statements while the event is still fresh in everyone’s minds.
The process to claiming workers’ compensation benefits can be long, but submitting your claim early can help reduce the time to your first benefit check.
It Was My Fault That I Got Hurt At Work. Can I Still Get Workers’ Compensation?
Many clients ask for my guidance to determine whether or not they qualify for workers’ compensation benefits if it was their own fault that they were injured on the job.
The answer is Yes! But it is a common misunderstanding to think the opposite. North Carolina is a “no-fault” system, meaning it does not matter if it was your fault that you got hurt at work you are still eligible for workers’ comp benefits.
There are, however, a couple exceptions of which you should be aware:
- You are not entitled to compensation if the injury was caused by your intoxication or illegal drug use (note: this exception does not apply if the employer provides the alcohol). The burden is on the employer to show that the employee was considerably impaired and that the impairment is what actually caused the injury.
- You are not entitled to compensation if your injury was the result of your intentional act to injure or kill yourself or someone else.
What if the reason for your injury was that you were not following safety rules? Good news. Even in that instance, you are still due workman’s comp. But keep this in mind: Even though an employee’s failure to follow safety rules does not keep them from getting workers’ comp benefits, it may allow the insurance company to reduce the benefits they receive by 10% due to the employee’s willful failure to comply with safety rules.
Would you like to know more about your rights in a worker’s comp case? Or do you need someone to help you navigate the process, put your mind at ease and make sure your rights are protected? At Oxner + Permar, that’s exactly why we’re here and why we love to do what we do.