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You should go to work with the expectation that the environment is safe and free from hazards. However, accidents happen at work in Gastonia, NC, leading to someone suffering an injury. Workers are often reasonably concerned after an on-the-job injury and don’t know what their next move should be.
Most employees injured on the job in North Carolina have a right to workers’ compensation and should retain the services of a Gastonia on-the-job injury attorney. With an attorney, you can seek the most in workers’ compensation benefits to help you on the road to recovery. At Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler, we can help when you need an ally to stand up for you and ensure you get the benefits you deserve.
At Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler, we have experience working on workers’ compensation cases in Gastonia and across North Carolina. Many employees have come to us after an on-the-job injury and asked us to represent them and fight against the insurance company. We can work tirelessly to try to get you every benefit you deserve and get you back on your feet.
When people think of job-related injuries, they often jump to blue-collar industries, like working in a factory or on an oil rig. While these industries have a higher probability of injury, workplace injuries can happen to every worker.
Most employees in Gastonia are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits after an accident. This program covers almost everyone injured through unfortunate accidents.
While many workplace injuries come from honest mistakes or bad luck, others come from a place of negligence on the part of another employee or the company. If you believe someone else was responsible for a workplace injury due to negligence, you should speak with a Gastonia on-the-job injury attorney about your next step.
You can file a claim against an employer who did not do everything in their power to make your environment safe for work. North Carolina law requires a company to follow a few guidelines about workplace safety. You may have the ability to file a claim against your employer if you can prove a few crucial elements:
You can work with your lawyer to attempt to establish these facts and build a case to take to trial.
Injuries on the job come in all shapes and sizes. Some are minor and may not even require medical attention, while others may lead to you being out of action for a long time. Let’s look at some of the most common injuries Gastonia workers suffer at the workplace.
Many people disregard slip-and-fall injuries as nothing to worry about and no big deal. This notion couldn’t be further from the truth, as slips and falls are some of the most dangerous injuries an employee may face in their day-to-day work.
Slip-and-fall accidents can lead to injuries to some of the most vulnerable parts of the body. A worker may suffer a concussion or other brain-related injuries. You can also damage your spine, leading to extensive and expensive back surgery. If you fall wrong, you could end up breaking a bone in your leg, arm, or shoulder, requiring medical attention and a cast.
Slip-and-fall incidents can be accidental or negligent. Your employer may not have properly cleaned up a slippery substance on the floor, leading to your fall, or an employer may have left a tripping hazard up instead of removing it for workplace safety. White-collar workers are just as prone to slip-and-fall injuries as those in blue-collar fields.
Repetitive motion injuries can happen to blue-collar or white-collar workers. These injuries occur when someone uses a part of their body similarly for extended periods. The repetitive motion causes strain on a joint or limb until an injury occurs. Unlike something like a slip-and-fall accident, repetitive motion injuries are not as dramatic. These injuries will linger long before the worker realizes it, and fixing them can take plenty of time and money.
Perhaps the most famous repetitive motion injury is carpal tunnel syndrome. Carpal tunnel affects many workers and often requires surgery to properly fix. Other common repetitive motion injuries include bursitis and tendonitis.
It’s difficult to know when a body part is sore because of a repetitive motion injury. You should speak with a doctor if you find yourself experiencing chronic pain in an extremity you use often at work.
While some people spend their entire day in an office or on the factory floor, others may need to use their vehicle for job-related duties. Anyone heading out on the road for their job faces a variety of dangers from other drivers and common roadside hazards.
If you get into an accident and suffer an injury because you were driving for work, you have a right to seek workers’ compensation benefits. Common injuries in car crashes include whiplash, broken bones, and lacerations.
You have a right to seek additional compensation if another driver is at fault for the crash. You should speak with an attorney about bringing a claim against the driver for a personal injury.
Whether you work in the oil and gas industry or on a construction site, blue-collar workers often deal with heavy machinery during their day-to-day duties. Workers have to be careful around any equipment like a bulldozer, backhoe, or excavator, as one wrong move can lead to severe injury or death.
Even the most careful employees may find themselves injured because of a piece of heavy machinery. These workers often have recourse to seek workers’ compensation or to file a claim against someone for negligence.
Your place of business should be safe from physical hazards, as well as safe from any violence from coworkers. However, this is not always the case when tensions flare and coworkers get into heated arguments. You have a legal right to workers’ compensation if someone assaults you at work, as the government expects your employer to create a safe environment for you to do your job.
Proving workplace violence will likely take a witness who saw the incident occur. You’ll need someone to back you up and explain your side of the story and how the incident went down. Security camera footage is also useful for proving your case. The coworker who assaults another person is liable for a criminal charge under North Carolina law.
If you work with hazardous materials, you may end up developing an illness from work. These illnesses can give you lifelong health problems and may even affect your ability to work in the future. Some of the most common illnesses people acquire through the workplace are cancer and respiratory issues. If you want to file a worker’s compensation claim for these conditions, you’ll need to prove the illness came as a result of your job and not from exposure elsewhere.
Proving an acquired illness is one of the most difficult challenges for an on-the-job injury attorney. You’ll want to find a Gastonia attorney who can formulate a sound legal plan to showcase how you acquired the illness.
The North Carolina Industrial Commission handles workers’ compensation claims in the state and will be the primary agency you and your employer will deal with. The state outlines its workers’ compensation guidelines in Chapter 97 of the North Carolina General Laws.
North Carolina requires businesses with more than three employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover the company in case of accidents. There are some exempt industries in the state, but the majority of people will work for a company with insurance to cover any claims.
It’s the million-dollar concern of every employee who’s suffered an injury: whether you qualify for workers’ compensation or not. While there is no perfect method or one-size-fits-all approach to determining if someone qualifies for workers’ compensation, we can provide some general guidelines on who qualifies.
First, you need to determine if you are an employee who is eligible for workers’ compensation. In North Carolina, most employees can file for compensation after an injury or incident, though some industries and types of employment exclude workers’ compensation filings. Some of these examples are:
If you aren’t sure if you fall into one of those categories, you should speak with a Gastonia workers’ compensation attorney about your situation and see if you qualify for benefits. Even if you don’t fall into one of the above-mentioned industries, you still will have to prove a few crucial elements before you can receive workers’ compensation benefits.
Chiefly, you must demonstrate the accident happened at work during your regular duties. The injury needs to have happened while on company property or while off-property doing something for the company. You cannot use an injury you suffered at home as part of your workers’ compensation claim.
The general scope of your duties means you didn’t go out of your way to get injured. If you were in a restricted area you didn’t have access to, you may not be eligible for benefits. Likewise, you may lose access to compensation if the company can prove you weren’t acting appropriately while at work.
If you were goofing off or not following agreed-upon safety codes, you will have a tough time seeking compensation for your injury. You also will miss out on your benefits if you were intoxicated while at work or impaired in some other way.
The insurance company will also try to find ways to discredit your claim and showcase how it didn’t happen in the general scope of your duties. You’ll want an attorney on your side who can advocate for you and explain the situation to the insurance company or a judge. You may not be able to advocate for yourself in a way that will secure you the help you need with your medical bills and other expenses.
North Carolina places a statute of limitations on any workers’ compensation claims to avoid bogging down the courts with old cases. As such, you only have a limited amount of time after a workplace accident or injury to report it to your employer and file for workers’ compensation before the state will no longer consider it.
North Carolina places a two-year statute of limitations on any workers’ compensation claims. You’ll need to report the incident and begin the procedure in this two-year window or risk losing your benefits.
Two years sounds like a lot of time to start a claim, but it can pass by for people in the blink of an eye. You’ll likely be worried about recovering from the injury or the illness, and once you’re better, it’s business as usual as you reacclimate to working again.
Most people with legal knowledge will encourage you to report your accident and file a workers’ compensation claim immediately after the accident. Reporting early gives you the greatest chance at securing a payout and gathering the appropriate evidence. It also means the incident is fresh in everyone’s mind, and you can collect any witness testimony while people still remember what happened.
For example, if you slipped and fell at work because the carpet was loose and don’t report it until a year later, the evidence may be gone. The company could have replaced the carpet by then, and you will have a tougher time proving something that happened a year ago rather than a few days ago.
When you suffer an injury at work, you’ll have a lot of emotions swirling through you. You’ll likely feel anxious as you wonder what will happen to you and how severe the injury is. You’ll feel overwhelmed because you aren’t sure what to do, and you will be dealing with a lot of physical pain as well. The important first step after a workplace accident is to stay cool, calm, and collected.
You should report the injury to your superior as soon as it happens and file the appropriate paperwork to begin the workers’ compensation process. Once you have made an official report of the injury, you will want to contact your doctor and have them look at your injury and make a diagnosis on what to do for recovery. After visiting your doctor, you may want to speak with a Gastonia on-the-job injury attorney about your case and retain their services. Your attorney can guide you through the process and ensure you file everything properly and promptly.
The company and its insurance company will likely ask you to see a worker’s compensation physician who can assess your disability rating. You will also need to speak with your company’s insurance company and answer their interview questions. Your attorney can help you through this process and prepare you for the interview and expected questions.
You should receive a notice from your employer about your claim and whether the insurance company approved or denied the action. If the insurance provider approves your claim, it will outline the benefits you should receive. These will likely cover your medical bills and any disability benefits you will earn. Your attorney can oversee this approval and check if the settlement is acceptable. If you find you aren’t making enough to cover your medical expenses or any time missed from work, you and your attorney can open negotiations and try to haggle for a better deal.
If the insurance company denies your claim outright, you can speak with your attorney about the possibility of appealing the decision. Suppose you cannot agree with the insurance company. In that case, you’ll need to lodge an official complaint with the North Carolina Industrial Commission and begin the formal process of fighting for your benefits.
Workers’ compensation comes with a few typical benefits. The most obvious benefit is securing payments for all your medical expenses related to the injury. If your injury requires a long-term recovery with frequent appointments to the doctor’s office, your employer’s insurance company should cover the costs.
Aside from medical costs, your employer should pay for any time you miss from work. This only applies to injuries where you are unable to perform your job for a period. You will have to work with the insurance company to determine a fair rate of compensation to make up for any time missed. Your employer may also offer to pay for pain and suffering. The insurance company intends this money to offset the emotional distress you suffered from the incident.
In the event a loved one dies while in the course of their work-related duties, the family may be eligible for death benefits. The family will likely need to file a wrongful death claim against the employer to receive monetary benefits.
A Gastonia on-the-job injury attorney can help you immensely when trying to get the workers’ compensation benefits you deserve. Some employees have little trouble and no friction when filing for workers’ compensation. Other times, the employer or their insurance company plays hardball and attempts to deprive a worker of benefits from an on-the-job injury.
In situations like these, an attorney can help you navigate the process and fight for your right to compensation. Your attorney will likely have experience working against insurance companies in the past and can use the law as a weapon to help you seek compensation.
Attorneys will also know what a fair deal is and can advise you on if the offer from the insurance company is worth taking. If your lawyer doesn’t find the deal reasonable or believes you may be missing out on benefits, they can advise you to take a new path and try to fight for what you deserve. If you find some negligence that led to your injury, you can have your attorney file a claim against your employer or coworker who caused the incident. You can use these funds to aid in your recovery or maintain your standard of living while you can’t work.
An attorney can also take some of the stress off of you. In a workers’ compensation claim dispute, you will be trying to recover from an injury and won’t have time to argue with insurance agents. You can entrust tasks to your attorney so you can focus on getting better.
If you suffered an injury at work and need legal help, you should speak with a Gastonia attorney who can help you through the process. You may have a right to file a claim against your company or seek workers’ compensation.
At Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler, we have years of experience dealing with on-the-job injuries and helping people seek the restitution they deserve. Contact us for a free case consultation and to get the ball rolling on your legal help. Remember, time is of the essence when it comes to workers’ compensation, so don’t waste time, and let us help you today.
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