If you have been injured in the workplace, then it is at least possible that you can make a claim for workers' compensation benefits. But, how do you take this general knowledge and apply it to your specific injury situation?
One of the most important things that you must do to initiate and preserve your claim for workers' compensation benefits is to file the necessary paperwork. In North Carolina, this means understanding the Form 18.
The Form 18, which is available online, is your gateway to filing a benefits claim for a work injury. It is a one-page document that seems simple, but it is critical that you not only complete it and send the original to the North Carolina Industrial Commission within two years of the accident but also that you complete it accurately.
The failure to do either of these can result in your claim being denied.
Although the Form 18 has a two-year time limit and a copy should be provided to your employer, it should not be confused with the notice of accident that you must provide your employer within 30 days of the accident. This is a separate requirement, and can be met by simply providing a written statement to the employer detailing the occurrence of the accident and when it happened.
Another consideration when completing the Form 18 is to make sure that you are filing the right version. The Form 18 has three variations: the standard version will be suitable for most claims, but if your work injury is related to a lung disease such as asbestosis or silicosis, then you will need to use the Form 18B.
There is also a Form 18M to use for certain additional medical expense claims, but it should not be used in lieu of a Form 18 to file a benefits claim.
It is certainly possible to complete and file a Form 18 on your own. But it may be advisable, as part of your overall workers compensation benefits claim process, to enlist the assistance of a law firm to ensure that all of your required documentation is completed in a timely and proper manner so that any delays in claim processing can be minimized and any possibly claim errors can be avoided.