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.
If I’m a Contract Worker, Do I Have Joint Employers?
Many people have multiple employers. Sometimes this is because they are working more than one job. At other times, it’s because they are contract employees. It also could be because their job falls under the umbrella of two companies. Your individual situation determines how your case will be handled.
For instance, there was a case in 2013 concerning a woman who worked as a housekeeper for the Crothall Services Group. Through Crothall Services she was contracted out to Novant Health, Inc. in order to provide cleaning services. She was assigned to work at Forsyth Medical Center. As she was leaving to take her lunch break, she fell in the parking lot and injured her left shoulder. The parking lot was owned and managed by Novant.
The woman returned to work, but was later fired for smoking an e-cigarette during an unauthorized break. Not only was the break unauthorized, but Corthall’s policy required that she follow Novant’s no-smoking policy while at the hospital. After she was let go, she filed a workers’ compensation claim against both Crothall and Novant. However, both companies denied her claim.
When she tried to appeal her case, the court ruled in favor of Crothall and Novant because she was only employed by Crothall, not Novant, and since she was injured on Novant’s property, she was not eligible for workman’s comp.
The problem here was that these two companies were not her joint employers. If she’d been doing the same work for both companies, the situation would have been different. An experienced attorney can help you navigate small differences such like this and help you approach a case in the way that gives you the best chances of settling in your favor. So if you’ve been injured at work, don’t hesitate to contact an attorney as soon as possible.
If you’re doing contract work, there’s a good chance that you do not have joint employers. Feel free to contact the experienced attorneys at Oxner + Permar for a free consultation to find out how this affects your case.
Case Spotlight: Injured Trucker Trying to Return to Work
In previous blogs, we’ve mentioned that we often have clients who are unsure about what kinds of cases we take. The truth is we take a wide variety of workman’s comp cases and work with clients from all kinds of industries — from nurses to construction workers to anything else you can think of. Your injury doesn’t even have to have taken place in North Carolina. As long as your company is located here, there’s a good chance we’ll take it on.
For instance, one of our current clients is a truck driver for a company located here in North Carolina. While driving through West Virginia, he got into a single vehicle accident. As a result, he broke his right elbow, tore his right tricep, injured his clavicle, tore his rotator cuff and injured his neck. After the accident, he continued experiencing headaches.
The good news was that workers’ compensation covered his surgery on his elbow and tricep, and paid him weekly checks. However, he still needed surgery on his rotator cuff. Our client is in his late 50s, and unsure whether he’ll be able to return to his job without further surgery. That’s when he reached out to Oxner + Permar. Our client has asked for our help to ensure that he receives his full medical treatment in order to regain full use of his arm and shoulder. Because if he is unable to return to work, what will he do? A lot rests on his case.
We are currently in the process of working with him to ensure that he receives full coverage of his treatments. Should he be unable to return to work, we’ll look at alternative options together to try to figure out his best course of action — because the most important thing to us is making wrongs, right!
If you’ve been injured at work, don’t hesitate to reach out. With more than $275 million in awards and settlements, Oxner + Permar has the experience to ensure you receive the benefits you need to aid in your recovery and get you back to work.