One of the trade-offs in workers’ compensation is that you receive no direct payment for pain and suffering. You’ve undoubtedly heard this phrase being used in the context of people who bring lawsuits for auto accidents, slip and falls, medical malpractice, etc. Basically, if you bring a claim in District or Superior Court you may make a claim for pain and suffering. But you usually don’t receive anything from the defendants in your claim until the entire claim is settled.
Workers’ Compensation claims do not operate in the court system and they don’t operate under those laws. Rather than going to court your case is under the jurisdiction or control of the North Carolina Industrial Commission. The Industrial Commission is the government agency which handles all workers’ compensation claims in North Carolina. If there is a dispute the workers’ compensation case is heard by a deputy commissioner, not by a jury and a judge. And you cannot bring a claim for pain and suffering. The tradeoff was that in accepted claims you don’t have to wait until the end of your claim to get paid. While that may not seem fair now imagine receiving no weekly checks and no medical treatment. That’s not how it works today. This tradeoff of getting fewer benefits under workers’ compensation but getting them more quickly was part of the politicial deals which lead to the workers’ compensation laws and system we have today.
While you don’t receive direct payment for pain and suffering as a direct part of your workers’ compensation claim, pain is a component that a doctor is supposed to consider when assigning the permanent partial disability rating. While some doctors appear unclear on this the Industrial Commission rating guide does include it. This is where a workers’ compensation attorney can come in. Because we have dealt with many of these doctors on many occasions we can easily show them the workers’ compensation documents from the Industrial Commission which should get the doctor to change the rating as necessary.