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How should I initiate a workers' compensation claim?

Workers' compensation laws are intended for the protection of North Carolina employees who are injured in a work accident. Protecting your right to receive benefits such as lost wages, reimbursement for the cost of medical treatment and compensation for a resulting disability requires you to take certain steps to notify others of your claim.

The first thing you should do if you have an accident on the job, and believe that you might be injured, is report the incident to your employer and seek medical treatment right away. Depending upon the nature and extent of the injuries suffered, your employer might direct you to a health care office at the workplace. If no health care provider is available on-site, you should contact your primary care physician or go to a hospital emergency room.

Inform your physician or other health care provider that your injury or illness is related to your job. Workplace accidents usually are billed by your health care provider directly through your employer's workers' compensation insurance carrier. Work-related health care expenses should not be billed to your health insurance company.

Either you or someone acting on your behalf should notify your immediate supervisor or the owner of the company for which you work of the nature and extent of your injury as determined by your doctor. Written notice of the work accident must be given to your employer within 30 days of the accident. The written notice should include the date, time and location of the accident. It should also include a description your injuries.

It is the responsibility of your employer to notify its workers' compensation insurance carrier of the accident and of the injuries that you suffered. Bear in mind that the insurance carrier through whom your employer obtained workers' compensation coverage at your workplace might pay your wages and medical costs, but it acts as the representative of your employer's interests rather than yours.

Workers' compensation is a complex area of the law with specific rules pertaining to the reporting of claims that could result in the denial of benefits if those rules are not followed.

This post is intended as a general overview of the steps to take if you are injured in a workplace accident, but it is not legal advice. If you have specific questions about workers' compensation, it is advisable to address them to an attorney familiar with this area of the law.

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