North Carolina Legal Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
When you or a loved one is injured in an accident, no one hands you a pamphlet containing all of the information you need to understand your case. In this section we strive to answer the basic questions that everyone has in the time following a car accident, on-the-job injury, medical malpractice, abuse, or other accident.
If you don't find the answers to all of your North Carolina injury questions here, we encourage you to contact our Raleigh injury lawyers for answers to questions specific to your case. The consultation is free and confidential.
- Page 2
How Do You Know if You're Eligible for Workers' Compensation?
Workers' compensation is a type of insurance most businesses are required to have for their employees. If you are injured while at work or become ill because of your job, you may be entitled to compensation. Nolo.com discusses the three requirements you must meet in order qualify for workers' compensation benefits. These requirements are as follows:
Your Employer Must Have Workers' Compensation Insurance
Some state laws do require an employer to have workers' compensation insurance; however, this requirement does vary depending on the type of business and the number of employees the business has. Under the North Carolina Workers' Compensation Act, "businesses that employ three or more employees, including those operating as corporations, sole proprietorships, limited liability companies and partnerships, obtain workers' compensation insurance or qualify as self-insured employers for purposes of paying workers' compensation benefits to their employees." The NC Workers' Compensation Act does list a few exceptions to these requirements such as "employees of certain railroads, casual employees, domestic servants, farm laborers with fewer than 10 full-time, nonseasonal farm laborers, and federal government employees." If you are a federal employee, you are entitled to receive benefits based upon the federal governments' workers' compensation plan.
You Must be Employed
According to Nolo, not all workers are employees. To receive workers' compensation benefits, you must be an employee. If you are an independent contractor, you are not an employee.
Your Injury/Illness Must Have Happened at or because of your Job
For example, if you injure your shoulder lifting boxes on the job, or you get sick because of exposure to a dangerous chemical, your injuries are without a doubt, work-related. This gets tricky to determine when you're technically "off the clock," yet injured doing something that is technically work-related. For more information on situations such as this, click here.
What is a Ghost Policy?
A ghost policy is a type of workers' compensation insurance coverage where the owner is excluded, as well as additional employees. This policy does not actually provide workers' compensation benefits unless the employer becomes liable for a contractor or employees. WorkersCompensationShop.com states, "A ghost policy is typically purchased by a subcontractor to satisfy coverage requirements of a general contractor or other entity hiring the subcontractor." These policies are not available in all states.
Is My Job Responsible for My Injury?
Were you injured on your lunch break? At a company picnic? Or any type of company event? Or were you injured while violating work safety rules? Good news, you may still be entitled to workers' compensation.
If You're Injured on Your Lunch Break:
You will not receive workers' compensation if you are injured on your lunch break; however, if you are injured on your lunch break while on the way to pick up coffee for your boss or something of that nature, you might be able to receive workers' compensation. If your company has a cafeteria, and you are injured while in the cafeteria, you might be compensated by workers' comp. as well.
If You're Injured at a Work Event:
Any injuries obtained at work events such as parties, picnics, kickball leagues, etc. will most likely be covered by workers' compensation. For example, if Pamela sprains her ankle while playing volleyball at a company picnic, her injury would be covered by workers' comp.
If You're Injured While Traveling:
If you are commuting to and from work, your injuries will not be covered. However, if you are on a business trip, or you are driving a company car, your injuries will most likely be covered.
If You're Injured While Violating Your Job's Rules:
You are not guaranteed coverage if you are injured on the job while breaking the rules. However, there is still a chance you could receive workers' compensation benefits.
What are the Benefits of Workers' Compensation?
Not only does workers' compensation pay for your hospital bills or any other necessary medical expenses, but it also pays you while you are unable to work. However, you will only receive two-thirds of your regular salary. Workers' compensation may also pay for rehabilitation and retraining, according to Nolo.com.
Do I Need an Attorney's Help for My Dog Bite Case?
By hiring an attorney to assist you and your dog bite case, you can:
- feel at peace knowing the attorney wants to see you receive the compensation you need
- be informed of your rights as a victim of a dog bite,
- and have your case settled quickly
You may want to consider hiring an attorney for your dog bite case if:
- The owner's insurance company is not compensating you for your injuries,
- Your injuries caused life-altering problems,
- You had to see a medical professional about your injuries, or
- You had to have surgery.
If you believe you have a dog bite case and you want to speak with an attorney, click here or call 877-273-6823 to schedule a free consultation.
Who is Liable if a Bicyclist and Car Collide?
Bicycles are recognized as "vehicles" in every state, according to the state's traffic or vehicle code. This means bicyclists are required to follow the same rules as all other automobiles on the road. So, if there is a collision between a car and bicyclist, that means the fault is assigned by "the general principals of negligence."
For example, if a cyclist fails to stop at a stop sign, and is struck by a car, he will be determined as negligent. Therefore, he cannot receive compensation for his losses.
What is the Most Common Cause of Trucking Accidents?
There are several outside reasons that could cause a trucking accident. The same circumstances could also be applied to regular car accidents. However, truck drivers are put under a large amount of stress because of late driving hours and harsh labor treatment. Large 18-wheelers are also difficult to maneuver and sometimes have faulty features. Driver fatigue, driver distraction, poor driving conditions, and brake failure can be a number of reasons for a trucking accident.
If you are driving near an 18-wheeler it is important to remember to:
- stay far enough behind an 18-wheeler so that you can see upcoming traffic lights,
- not get directly behind an 18-wheeler that is backing up, and
- slow down when they pass you.
Who Do I Sue if I am Victim in a Trucking Accident?
Understanding who is liable for a trucking accident can be confusing because there are several people who could be held liable. Here is a list of people that could be at fault in a trucking incident:
- the driver of the truck/trailer
- the owner of the truck/trailer
- the company that leased the truck/trailer
- the manufacturer, and
- the freight loader
According to Nolo.com, the trucking, hauling, and leasing companies argue over who is to blame when it comes time to pay the victim. The best way to receive the compensation you are entitled is to contact an attorney. If you would like to speak with Raleigh-based, trial lawyer, Brent Adams and his team of professionals, call 877-273-6823.
Can a Motorcyclist Without a Helmet Seek an Award from the Other Driver?
In North Carolina, you are not entitled to any compensation if you were not wearing a helmet while involved in a motorcyclist collision. N.C. law requires you to be wearing a helmet when opporating a motorcycle on the road. So, if you are involved in a collision, and you are not wearing a helmet, you are not entitled to receive benefits because you were breaking the law.
Am I Liable is Someone Rear-Ends Me?
Regardless as to the reason you stopped your car, the car behind you will be at fault for the collision. The rule of the road says a car must be a safe distance behind you at all times so that if you stop, they will not hit you. If they hit you, this means they were not a safe distance behind you, leaving them at fault for the collision. The only time the car directly behind you would not be at fault for the collision is if their car is pushed into your car due to the negligence of of a third car.
What Will a Police Officer Do at the Scene of a Collision?
The police officer's purpose is to record the facts of the automobile accident and assign blame. While at the scene, a police officer will record any evidence, give both parties an exchange of information paper, and sometimes issue a citation.
What Benefit Am I Entitled to if I Retire Early?
If you are ill and reaching the age of 62, retiring early may be something for you to consider. However, there are very specific guidelines for each, so it is important to know what would suit your scenario best.
Benefits of Early Retirement:
Once you are 62-years-old, you can apply for SS benefits. You will not be eligible to receive your full retirement benefits if you retire before "full retirement age." The "full retirement age" is 65, so if you start drawing Social Security at 62, but you will only receive 80% of the monthly benefit you would be receiving if you had retired at sixty-five.
Benefits of Social Security Disability:
If you are approved to receive Social Security Disability, you will receive 100% of the monthly benefit you would receive by retiring at the age of sixty-five. The rate will stay the same when it switches to Social Security once you reach the full retirement age.
So, if you are approved for disability, you will receive more each month. If you retire early and you are not approved for disability you will only receive 80% of your monthly pension. However, this may be worth considering depending on your health.
Are Work Credits Transferable from Other Countries?
Some U.S. citizens work outside of America, and they are permitted to receive Social Security with foreign work credits. Having foreign work credits may complicate the benefits process, but it does not take away the citizen's eligibility.
In order for a citizen to still be eligible for benefits, the citizen must be employed by one of the nations America has made arrangments with in order to count your work credits. These countries are listed below:
- The Czech Republic
- The Netherlands
- The Slovak Republic
- South Korea
- The United Kingdom
Foreign work credits are only counted if you do not have enough America-based work credits to obtain Social Security benefits. If your work credits from another country must be counted, you receive partial credit from the SSA. The work credits you accumulated in another country may qualify you for retirement benefits within that country. You may be able to collect U.S. retirement benefits, as well benefits from the country of which you worked.
Can Non-Citizens Qualify for Social Security Benefits?
Although most Americans who receive SSD benefits are U.S. citizens, non-citizens are allowed to receive some benefits under SSDI and SSI.
To be approved by SSDI benefits, non-citizens must follow these requirements:
- They must have a Social Security Number that authorizes them to work in America.
- They must have a B-1 visa, D-1 visa, or a D-2 visa.
- They must be able to prove they are legally in the U.S. while receiving SSDI payments.
- They must meet the medical and technical requirements set in place by the Social Security Administration.
Several non-citizens are exempt from paying Social Security taxes, and if this is the case, they will not be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.
Qualifying for Supplemental Security Income is even more complicated. A non-citizen must me the previously listed requirements, as well as:
- be a "qualified alien" according to Disability Benefits Help, and
- "meet the predefined 'conditions' or circumstances for eligibility."
To read more information about the "predefined conditions of eligibility," click here.
What is the Compassionate Allowance Program?
All Social Security Disability claims were treated equally until recent years. People with severe disabilities were treated just like those without severe issues. After what Disability Benefits Help.com calls, "much public outcry," the SSA developed the Compassionate Allowance Program, which hurries cases for those severely impaired. Applications are finished in weeks versus months or years.
To qualify for the Compassionate Allowance Program, you must suffer from one of the ailments listed here.
If your claim is handled under the Compassionate Allowance Program, you should be approved within weeks and start receiving benefits within one to two months.
In order for this to happen, your application must be filled out correctly. It might be in your best interest to contact an attorney to help fill out your application to ensure you give the SSA all the necessary information they need to approve your claim.
If you would like to speak with an attorney about filing your claim under the Compassionate Allowance Program or seeing if you qualify to file your claim under the Compassionate Allowance Program, click here. Raleigh lawyer, Brent Adams, and his team have been serving the N.C. tri-state area for over thirty years. They will be happy to assist you and your claim. Click here or call 877-273-6823 to schedule a free consultation.
How Does the SSA define Disability/How Do You Qualify?
Nolo.com states that the SSA defines disability as the inability "to perform a 'substantial' amount of work as the result of physical or mental impairment that is expected to last at least 12 months or possibly result in death." In order to be considered disabled, you must:
- Not be capable of performing your previous occupation.
- Be unable to adjust your work due to your illness or injury.
- Must have a medical condition that has lasted or will last for one year or result in death.
How do You Know if You are Disabled?
- If you have been unable to attend work or cannot perform your job due to your condition, you might qualify for SSD.
- If you cannot adjust your work to meet your needs in order to perform your required tasks, you could qualify for SSD.
- If your medical condition has affected you for one year--or will affect you for one year--you could be approved for SSD.
Assessing your claim
If you have any more questions, need help filing, or if you believe you have been wrongfully denied a claim, feel free to contact Brent Adams and his team of trial lawyers. Click here to schedule a free consultation or call 877-273-6823.
What Are Work Credits?
To qualify for Social Security, you must have worked five out of the last ten years. Work credits are awarded to you when you have a full-time, tax-paying job. These credits are based on how much you have earned. They will determine your eligibility for disability, retirement, and survivor's benefits. For 2018, you will receive one credit every time you are paid $1,320 by your tax-paying job.
For more information about work credits, click here.
Will Accepting Financial Benefits from Family Change my SSD?
No, accepting financial assistance from family members will not affect your Social Security Disability award. Gifts will not interfere with your claim but having a job will. Social Security Disability was created to help provide income to those who have been or will undergo a year without work due to an illness or injury. Because of this, it is highly likely your claim will be denied if you can work.
You are allowed to receive help from others while your disability claim is under review. This process usually takes six months. The SSA understands this process is long and frustrating, and they are not going to penalize you for receiving help. However, keep in mind there is a difference between receiving help and having a "steady stream of income," according to Disability Benefits Help. Any regular payment such as investments, annuities, trust funds, etc. could negatively impact your claim.
Should I Apply for Social Security Disability Income or Supplemental Security Income?
Social Security Disability Income
You can only receive Social Security Disability Insurance if you have paid taxes for a certain length of time. In order to withdraw, the Social Security Administration must have decided you have worked 40 work credits, with 20 of those being earned within the last five years. You can qualify with fewer credits if you are working full-time. You can earn four credits per year. If you have worked a full-time job five out of the last ten years, you can qualify, unless you are under 31 years of age.
Supplemental Security Income
These benefits do not have any employment requirements. SSI benefits are typically offered to blind and disabled children or to those who do not have many sources of income. In order to qualify, you must meet the standards set by the Social Security Administration. The income requirements for SSI vary state to state. The monthly benefit awarded to you is decided by Social Security.
How Can I Qualify for SSI if I'm Already Receiving Social Security?
You may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if you already receive Social Security retirement benefits. However, you are not guaranteed to receive SSI. Whether or not you qualify will depend on your state of residence and their rules.