Many injured workers in North Carolina are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. However, just because the law covers you does not mean that getting fair workers’ compensation benefits is automatic or easy. North Carolina workers’ compensation law is complicated, and you must avoid making mistakes that could impact your benefits.
13 Things Not to Do During a Workers’ Compensation Claim
As you work toward getting fair workers’ compensation benefits for your work-related injury or illness, it is important not to:
- Forget to report your accident. You must report your work-related accident to your employer within 30 days. Your report should be written and should include the date, time, place, accident cause, and general nature of your injuries.
- Fail to file Form 18. To formally begin a workers’ compensation claim, Form 18 must be filed with the North Carolina Industrial Commission within two years of your accident. You do not need to wait two years to submit Form 18, however. Instead, you should file it as soon as possible.
- Fail to see a doctor. Prompt medical attention is essential to your health and your workers’ compensation recovery. Do not put off seeing a doctor if you are injured or ill.
- Forget to tell the doctor about all of your symptoms and accident details. It is important to tell your doctor the truth about the accident and your symptoms for two reasons. First, this information allows your doctor to make a more accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Second, your medical records may be necessary evidence in your workers’ compensation claim. The more you share with your doctor, the more detailed your medical records may be and the more useful they may be for your workers’ compensation claim.
- Disregard the doctor’s advice. If you fail to follow medical advice, the workers’ compensation insurer will likely argue that you made your injuries worse. Workers’ compensation may not pay you some or all of your benefits.
- Forget to seek a second opinion. In North Carolina, you have to see a doctor chosen by your employer for workers’ compensation purposes. However, you always have the right to a second opinion, and you should not hesitate to get one if you are unsure about the diagnosis or treatment plan offered by your current medical provider.
- Go back to work without medical clearance. Your employer or the workers’ compensation insurance company may pressure you to go back to work. However, you should not go back to work—in any capacity—unless your medical provider says that you are ready to perform the job duties safely.
- Refuse work when you have medical clearance. While you shouldn’t go back to work too soon, you also can’t stay out of work if you have permission from your doctor to go back to work. Of course, you can get a second opinion about your medical clearance to work if you disagree with your doctor.
- Fight with your employer. Arguing with your employer will not help your workers’ compensation case. Instead, it will likely hurt your relationship with your employer and damage your reputation in the industry.
- Forego your right to vocational services. If you can’t return to the job you did before you got hurt, but you can still work, you may be eligible for vocational rehabilitation services at no cost to you. Vocational rehabilitation services can help you identify and find jobs based on your skills, education, experience, and interests.
- Give a recorded statement to the insurance company. The insurance company may use your words against you in a way that you did intend. Do not give a recorded statement to the insurance company without speaking with a workers’ compensation lawyer first.
- Rely on the insurance company or your employer to look out for your interests. Regardless of what they say to you, the insurance company and your employer are looking out for their interests and not yours. You need an attorney whose job it is to advocate for you.
- Settle your claim without talking with a lawyer. Once you settle a workers’ compensation claim, you won’t get additional compensation in the future. You need to make sure the settlement you are accepting fairly compensates you for all of your injuries.
Consult a Lawyer to Prevent Workers’ Compensation Mistakes
You can prevent the mistakes described above with the help of an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. Schedule a free consultation with the lawyers who wrote the book How to Get Top Dollar$ for Your Workers’ Compensation Claim today to learn more about your protecting your right to a fair workers’ compensation recovery.