In a perfect world, a workers’ compensation claimant should never need a lawyer.
North Carolina workers' comp law protects injured workers and provides a reasonable set of benefits for the injured worker. The North Carolina Industrial Commission, which administers the workers’ compensation law, provides a mechanism for injured workers to enforce the payment of benefits which the law provides.
However, employers and their insurance companies are profit-making entities. Employers are usually corporations, most often big corporations, who have no soul and no conscience. Insurance companies are always corporations and likewise have no soul and no conscience. Their goal is to save themselves as much money as possible by shortchanging the injured employee.
That being said, it is a fact that the vast majority of workers’ compensation claims are not contested and no lawyer is ever involved. It could very well be that you will not need a lawyer to help you with your workers’ compensation case. If the employer and its insurance company follow the law and provide all the benefits which the law requires, you do not need a lawyer.
Our North Carolina workers' compensation book (which we send free to North Carolina injured workers) is a very helpful guide for you to learn about the benefits to which you are entitled. By reading this book you will have a general idea of what your employer and its workers’ compensation carrier are obligated to provide you.
Most cases involving minor injuries and limited time out of work will not justify the expense of a lawyer. However, if there are serious injuries involving permanent injury or which involve long periods of time out of work, you should at least contact a North Carolina workers' comp lawyer for a consultation.
Most workers' comp lawyers will not charge for an initial consultation (we do not) and your issues may be solved without retaining an attorney.
There are certain critical stages a lawyer should be involved with in order to prevent costly mistakes:
- When your doctor tells you that you have reached “maximum medical improvement."
- When your employer notifies you that work is available for you but you do not feel that you are physically able to return to work.
- When you sense that you are being followed and videotaped by private detectives.
- When your employer files a motion with the Industrial Commission to terminate your workers’ compensation benefits.
- When the insurance company tells you that they want to settle your claim on a “clincher agreement."
- When your family member has been killed in a work-related accident and you are making a claim for workers’ compensation benefits.
- When a vocational rehabilitation counselor has been assigned to your case.
- When the nurse rehabilitation counselor is talking to your doctor outside of your presence or when they insist on being in the examination room with you and the doctor when you are being examined.
- Any time that you just “don’t feel right” about your employer and any of its representatives and you do not feel that they are treating you fairly.
When you consult with a North Carolina workers' comp lawyer there is no requirement or obligation for you to actually hire that lawyer. In many cases, a short conference with an attorney will be all you need.