Workplace Accidents Must Be Reported Quickly to Qualify for NC Workers' Comp Benefits
The law requires that the injured employee or his representative immediately, on the occurrence of an accident, or at least within 30 days, give a written notice to the employer of the accident.
Don’t panic if this written notice has not been given. Actually, it is very rare for an employee to give actual written notice to the employer. In most cases, the employee gives a verbal report of the accident to his or her supervisor. It is the supervisor or someone else in management who makes a written report. If written notice is given at all, it is usually after a workers' comp lawyer is retained. After an attorney is hired, the attorney sends written notice.
The written notice does not need to be complicated. All that is required is that the notice state in ordinary language the name and address of the employee; the time, place, nature and cause of the accident; and of the resulting injury or death. Notice shall be signed by the employee or someone on their behalf. The following is an example of a notice which will meet the requirements of the statute:
To Progress Energy, my employer:
I was injured while working at my job on January 10, 2006 at approximately 10:00 a.m. when I lost my balance and fell from a ladder at the 200 Industrial Drive Plant. When I fell to the concrete floor, I injured my back.
Joe Smith, employee
150 Oak Street
Raleigh, North Carolina
With respect to occupational diseases other than asbestos, silicosis, or lead poisoning, the time requirement for notice to the employer of the occupational disease is the same as set out above and runs from the date that the employee has been advised by a competent medical authority that they has the occupational disease as well as the nature and work-related cause of the disease.
The occupational diseases of asbestosis, silicosis, and lead poisoning involve a separate set of complex rules and regulations. Any employee who suspects they may have any of these conditions should immediately contact an experienced NC workers’ compensation attorney.
Most hearing officers will not deny a claim based upon failure to give written notice within 30 days. This is especially true if the employer had actual notice of the accident and can not show that the employer’s failure to receive written notice put the employer at a disadvantage.
It is rare that a factual situation would result in a finding that the employer was so prejudiced or damaged by the failure of the employee to give written notice within 30 days that the claim would be denied. However, it has happened.
While the failure to give written notice of the accident within 30 days is in the overwhelming majority of the cases excused, the failure to file a claim with the N.C. Industrial Commission within two years from the date of the accident will bar the claim. If a written claim (on a Form 18) is not filed with the Industrial Commission within two years after the claim arises, the claim will be denied.