Understanding North Carolina’s workers’ compensation process

There are certain things that people should know about North Carolina’s workers’ compensation program.

When workers in North Carolina suffer an illness or injury in relation to their occupation, the state provides them with the right to seek workers' compensation benefits. These benefits are designed to help cover the costs associated with that injury and assist the worker during the recovery period.

What should I expect?

It is important for injured workers to understand that they need to take certain steps in order to qualify. According to the North Carolina industrial Commission, one of the first things they should do is to report their injury or accident to the right person in their company, in writing. This can be the company owner (if it is a small business) or a direct supervisor. The accident must be reported within 30 days but illnesses have a longer timeline.

The next step is to seek out medical attention for the injury. In most cases, injured workers will have to be treated by a doctor their employer selects but under certain circumstances they can choose their own. Once the report is filed, workers have to wait the specified amount of time for the type of benefits they are seeking.

What things should I avoid?

Companies and insurers will look for ways to deny a worker benefits for an illness or injury. One of the things that people should do is avoid using social media. The Insurance Journal points out that judges are increasingly allowing the submission of social media postings as evidence in civil trials. These postings can include the following:

  • Smiley faces (shows that the worker isn't really in pain)
  • Photos of workers enjoying physical activities
  • Written messages that may contradict a worker's injury claim

Additionally, even photos of drinking with friends can cause problems in workers' compensation cases. ABC News states that one man found this out after pictures he posted on Facebook were presented as evidence by his state's workers' compensation commission. The photos showed him partying with friends even though he claimed he was in excruciating pain. The man had been seeking an extension of benefits awarded to him after he was injured from a falling refrigerator.

Aside from staying off of social media sites, people should not ignore their doctor's instructions or fail to appear at follow-up appointments as this can lead to a denial.

How can a Workers Compensation attorney help me?

A qualified workers compensation attorney can provide injured workers with a support system that ensures their claim is filed in a timely manner, the correct forms are used, there is no information missing, and all supporting evidence is gathered and submitted. Further, a qualified attorney can help an injured worker get necessary medical treatment, or a change of doctor. The attorney can also explain to injured workers the intricacies of workers' compensation and help them understand what benefits they may be eligible for. In the event that a claim is denied, the attorney can examine the reasons for the denial and then assist the worker through the appeals process.

Workers' compensation law can be complex. Seeking legal counsel may help injured workers in North Carolina strengthen their chances for receiving approval.