Workers who suffer job-related injuries or illnesses in North Carolina and who seek to file workers compensation benefit claims have two options available to them in seeking assistance. One is to use the North Carolina Industrial Commission, specifically its Workers Compensation Information Specialists Section. Beyond the information generally available on the Industrial Commission website, claimants can also communicate with the Information Specialists Section directly by telephone email or regular mail with questions that they may have.
The Information Specialists Section website provides basic information on how to initiate a benefits claim, including links to some of the claim forms (most notably the Form 18) and a frequently asked questions section. People with simple benefit claims and who do not encounter any difficulties with completing the requisite forms on their own, and those who do not encounter any problems with their employers or their workers compensation insurers may be able to use the Information Specialists Section to help them get started.
But the Information Specialists Section has one key limitation that it readily acknowledges: it cannot provide any kind of legal advice to you. If during the process of initiating your benefits claim you encounter legal difficulties, such as disputes with the insurer or issues with third parties, the Information Specialists Section makes it clear that it cannot help you.
Sometimes the reason for using the Information Specialists Section relates to cost: people may believe that they cannot afford the services of a workers’ compensation insurance attorney even if they get into legal difficulties during the claims process. There are, however, law firms that provide their services on a contingency fee basis which can help to alleviate this concern because you will not owe them anything unless and until you prevail in whatever dispute is holding up your claim.
You can engage the services of an attorney at any point during the process of pursuing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. If you encounter problems of a legal nature that the Information Specialists Section cannot help you with, then rather than going it alone affordable legal assistance is always available to you.