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.
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Am I entitled to a jury trial to decide my NC workers’ compensation case?
Injured workers do not have the right to sue their employer. Courts allow the possibility for an injured person to receive full recovery for injuries or illnesses--and recoveries include figures for pain and suffering. Injured workers do not have the right to receive compensation for pain and suffering. North Carolina workers' compensation does cover necessary medical treatment expenses, lost wages, and permanent impairments.
Learn about an exception to the above and the terms under which an injured worker may sue their employer.
Is it necessary for me to be a United States citizen in order to collect workers’ compensation benefits?
In North Carolina you do not need to be a United States citizen in order to collect workers' compensation benefits. Also, you do not even need to be a properly documented employee in order to collect workers' comp. Learn the first step to filing workers' comp in North Carolina.
How long do I have to be employed before I am entitled to workers’ compensation benefits in North Carolina?
You do not need to be employed for any specific length of time in order to qualify for workers' compensation benefit payments in North Carolina. You could be injured during your first hour at the job and may still qualify for benefits. You do not even need to be a United States citizen, nor properly documented to work in order to collect workers' comp benefits.
Whether or not you qualify for benefits will hinge on several factors outside your length of employment. Our workers' comp lawyers in Raleigh, Fayetteville and Dunn review qualifications for workers' comp here.
In order to have a valid claim, you will need to make sure you send written notification of your work-related injury within 30 days. If you are concerned or confused about the workers' comp process in North Carolina, check with our workers' comp lawyers for a complimentary and confidential consultation.
If a doctor treated me for work-related injuries, will doctor the doctor bill me?
Medical treatments for work-related injuries do not follow the same medical billing procedure. If you were hurt at work in North Carolina and were treated by a doctor as a result of the work-related injuries, the doctor is not legally allowed to charge you for treatment. Patients who have work-related injuries have their medical bills processed differently.
However, depending on the circumstances of your work injury, there may be a third-party lien placed on the workers' compensation carrier. Learn more about how to avoid and remove liens on personal injury claims.
If a worker is killed in a work-related accident in North Carolina, what can the family recover for the loss?
When it comes to fatal work accidents in North Carolina, generally the family will be able to recover two-thirds of the deceased worker’s average weekly wage for a 400-week period. If the family members are themselves disabled, they could possibly receive benefits for longer than 400 weeks. Raleigh workers' comp lawyer Brent Adams has represented injured workers for over 35 years and explains other ways to maximize benefits in this book on workers' compensation claims.
May I receive workers' comp benefits in North Carolina if I am injured as a result of horseplay caused by myself or a co-worker?
In most cases, yes. Employees who are hurt at work--even if the actions were not part of their job--may still recover workers' compensation benefits. The North Carolina Industrial Commission has taken the position that injuries that result from the gathering of workers stem from the business. This is typically interpreted as meaning the worker would not normally come into such close contact with other workers and is only exposed to them as part of their job.
The term 'horseplay' may encompass joking, goofing around, roughhousing, and more. Every case is unique, and the cirumstances of events should be reviewed with a workers' comp attorney. If the injured worker was the individual instigating the horseplay, and then was subsequently injured, they may still be eligible for workers' comp benefits. Learn more about workers' comp claims when the on-the-job injury was your fault.
If I am assaulted while at work may I recover workers’ compensation benefits?
Yes, a worker who is assaulted at work may recover North Carolina workers' compensation benefits unless the assault is not work-related.
May I receive workers’ compensation benefits if I am injured in a storm or from other weather-related incidents?
North Carolina experiences all types of dangerous weather: Tornadoes, hurricanes, ice storms, snow, flooding, etc. As long as you are acting in the course and scope of your employment, you may likely receive workers' compensation if your injury is clearly work-related.
You may not necessarily have a job that requires you to be outside. You may not necessarily be at work when your compensable injury occurs. What if you were required to ship a package for your employer? Perhaps a tornado hit on your way to the post office. This is likely covered by North Carolina workers' compensation, pending your employer has proper insurance. (Learn what to do if your employer does not have workers' comp insurance.)
Is it necessary that an accident occur in North Carolina in order to collect workers’ compensation benefits?
No. It is not necessary for an accident to occur in North Carolina in order to collect workers’ compensation benefits.
There are many situations an employee may be required to travel out-of-state in the course of their work. Of course, certain conditions must be met. Here our Raleigh workers' comp lawyers review the requirements for NC workers' comp benefits for out-of-state injuries.
If I injure my back at work, but no accident occurred, do I qualify for NC workers' compensation?
Yes. Work injuries and work illnesses do not need to be tied to one specific accident in order to qualify for benefits. Back injuries may be a result of long-term movements, use of equipment, or other activities required as part of your job. This was not always the law in North Carolina. It was not until 1983 that legislation passed and redefined injury in North Carolina.
If you receive corrective surgeries, pain medication, physical therapy, or other medical treatment due to your back injury - it is important to tell your doctor that your back injury is related to your work. Medical reports will be part of your workers' compensation case and the North Carolina Industrial Commission needs to see documentation of your work-related injury.
Benefits for impairment of body parts, such as one's pack, are paid out according to a schedule of benefits.
If I become unable to work because I was required to make repetitive motions over long periods of time, may I recover workers’ compensation benefits even if I am not in an accident?
Yes, if a worker is required to make repetitive motions as part of their work responsibilities over long periods of time, these movements may eventually impede on the worker's range of movement. Decreased mobility could prevent the worker from doing their job or take away their ability to complete similar work. In some cases, this type of work-related injury could be eligible for workers' compensation benefits.
What benefits am I entitled to if I am injured in a work-related accident?
The benefits to injured workers fall under three main categories:
- Wage replacement, which generally equals two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage while they’re out of work.
- Payment for all medical expenses related to the job-related injury or illness.
- Compensation for permanent injury to parts of the body. The amount of benefits available for permanent impairment depends upon the particular part of the body that is impaired and the degree of impairment. In addition, a worker may recover for disfigurement caused by scars or other conditions.
The family of a deceased worker killed in a work-related accident may recover benefits for at least 400 weeks.
Curious how your injury claim is valued? Our firm has a department dedicated exclusively to workers' compensation claims in North Carolina and we provide free case evaluations.
Who decides whether a workers' comp claim will be paid if my employer refuses to pay voluntarily?
If an employer refuses to voluntarily pay worker compensation benefits, the North Carolina Industrial Commission can hear the worker's case can be heard and the IC might force the employer to issue benefits.
The case is initially heard by a deputy industrial commissioner. However, either party has a right to appeal a deputy commissioner’s decision to the full Industrial Commission. This process might be long, but our North Carolina workers' comp attorneys can explain how to effectively prepare documents, prepare evidence of a work-related injury or illness, and help ensure your case is properly prepared for officials.
If my work-related accident injures a part of my body which had previously been injured, can I still recover workers' comp benefits?
Yes. North Carolina Workers' Compensation benefits provide compensation for injuries and illnesses that arise in the course and scope of your employment. If you are concerned you will only receive partial benefits because you had previously been injured in a non-work accident, that may not be the case. Workers may receive full comp benefits for work injuries that exacerbate or worsen a pre-existing condition.
How the North Carolina Industrial Commission treats cases involving pre-existing conditions is not consistent. Read more about pre-existing conditions related to workers' comp or contact our workers' comp lawyers in Raleigh.
If my employer is late in paying my weekly workers’ compensation benefits, what can I do?
If a North Carolina employer is more than 14 days late in making a workers’ compensation payment, the Industrial Commission will impose a 10% penalty. This penalty should give enough incentive to the employer to pay benefits on time. In the event that an employer continues to delay payments or fails to make payments, the injured worker should contact the workers' compensation carrier. If this still proves to be ineffective, the worker can file a motion with the Executive Secretary's Office and request the 10% late penalty fee for each payment that is more than 14 days late. Be sure to maintain and include proper documentation throughout the process, which a workers' compensation lawyer can assist you with.
How long may I continue to receive NC workers’ compensation benefits?
Injured workers in North Carolina may continue to receive workers' compensation benefits until they are able to go back to work earning the same or greater wages that they earned before they were injured. If an injured worker can never go back to work at all, they are entitled to weekly compensation benefits for the rest of their life. However, this benefit payment does not increase with inflation and will remain fixed.
Can I receive more than two-thirds of my average weekly wage in NC workers' comp weekly payments?
Yes, if your injury was caused by your employer’s willful failure to comply with a law or a safety regulation, the employer will have to pay a penalty. Learn more about the increase in North Carolina workers' comp benefits.
What if my condition worsens after NC workers' comp benefits stop?
If your condition worsens after an order or supplemental award of benefits is made, you can apply to the North Carolina Industrial Commission for additional benefits. You must do this within two years from the date the last North Carolia workers' compensation payment was made.
If you have entered into a “clincher agreement" which has been approved by the Industrial Commission, you can never ask for additional benefits.
If I do not like the authorized treating physician that my employer provides me, can I change doctors?
Injured workers who are not happy with the treating physician provided by their employer may only switch doctors if they obtain a special order from the North Carolina Industrial Commission.