Q & A: Workers' Compensation

What is Workers' Compensation?

Workers' Compensation is a system of benefit payments for people who are injured by accidents arising out of and in the course of employment. If you are injured in an accident, Johnson & Johnson Attorneys at Law P.L.L.C. will file a claim and see it through the North Carolina Industrial Commission. In Workers' Compensation, often injured workers receive temporary total disability payments while they are seeing the doctor or receiving therapy. Workers' Compensation also provides that employers make a stream of payments or a 'lump sum' payment for permanent injury based on an impairment rating, impaired wage earning capacity or permanent total disability.

How long do I have to file a claim?

Within two years from the date of injury. If an employee does not file a form 18 with the North Carolina Industrial Commission the claim is barred unless the employer misled the employee. Unless the employer knows that the injury occurred, the employee must also give written notice to the employer within 30 days after the accident. Failure to do this often results in claims being barred.

What kind of injuries are accidents?

If you are injured and it is not an accident then your claim is usually not compensable. "Accidents" under the act are sudden, unexpected events and are compensable. There must be a slip, a fall, or an error in judgment that would deviate from the worker's job. A compensable accident must also "arise out of" and "in the course of" employment. This means that the risk must be one inherent to the job and not a risk that most people undergo daily, such as driving to work. The accident must also occur as the employee is furthering the employer's business. If the employee is not furthering the employer's business the injury is usually not compensable. But there are exceptions. In Worker's Compensation there are many exceptions to the rules. An attorney from Johnson & Johnson Attorneys at Law P.L.L.C. will see that you claim gets the attention it deserves.

What if the accident was my fault?

Workers' compensation is a fault free system. This means the fault of the employee or the employer is not a consideration for determining if the employee is entitled to benefits. One exception to this rule is if the employee is intoxicated and causes the accident because of his or her intoxication . Intoxication can prevent a successful claim. Another rule is that if the employee intentionally disobeys a safety rule, their compensation will be reduced by 10 percent. This also works the other way. If an employer disregards a safety rule they may be ordered to pay 10 percent more in benefits.

If my Employer carries Workers' Compensation insurance can I sue him the "regular way" people sue each other in court?

Generally NO. There is one exception where an employer tells an employee to do something in which he knows the employee will probably be hurt.

How does my Workers' Compensation claim get settled? What are the things the Commission looks at?

The main goal of the attorneys at Johnson & Johnson Attorneys at Law P.L.L.C. in any Workers' Compensation case sis get your claim settled and your payments started. There are several ways to get your case settled. At some point you will heal as much as your body is going to heal. What we do then is to get the doctor to give you a "permanent impairment rating". For compensation purposes, the body is divided into body parts, arms, legs, etc. The impairment rating is multiplied with the maximum number of weeks for that body part. The second way is based on the wage differential. The third way is for permanent disability and total disability. Often a worker is faced with the choice of a stream of payments or a lump sum, which the company will negotiate to "clinch" your claim. The attorneys at the Johnson & Johnson Attorneys at Law P.L.L.C. can help you with these hard choices.

Why do I need a lawyer?

Most people are not familiar with the ins and outs of Workers' Compensation law.  Claims adjusters and company representatives know the rules and get continuing eduction.  An injured worker needs to "level the field' to make sure his claim is treated with fairness. Often there are procedures or benefits that no one is obligated to tell an injured worker about. A good rule of thumb is that for any serious injury one should have an attorney to represent them. Johnson & Johnson Attorneys at Law P.L.L.C. is here to help. We may be reached at (910) 862-2252

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