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Gastonia Workers Compensation Attorney

Gastonia Workers’ Compensation

On-the-job injuries and accidents are more common than many of us realize. Whether you are a white-collar or blue-collar employee in Gastonia, NC, you run the risk of suffering an injury at work. While some are minor and require no treatment, others are severe and will demand consistent medical care for a proper recovery. When you need help with your medical bills, workers’ compensation can help.

If you’re having difficulties with your claim, you may want to speak with a Gastonia workers’ compensation attorney and law firm to help with your case, such as Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler. Your Gastonia lawyer can help you through the process and fight for you to get the benefits you deserve on your road to recovery.

Best Gastonia Workers Compensation Attorney

Can Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler Help With My Workers’ Compensation Claim?

At Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler, we have experience working with many clients dealing with a hang-up in the workers’ compensation process. Many of our clients struggled to get the compensation they deserved, and we fought to get them a better deal to help with their recovery.

When you are looking for a Gastonia workers’ compensation attorney, you’ll want someone with experience. Our firm and its attorney have won awards for our work in employment law and personal injury. We offer free consultations so you can get an idea of how we can help and what to expect from your case before spending any money.

What Is Workers’ Compensation?

Workers’ compensation is a system employees can use to seek reimbursement for lost wages and medical bills. Companies pay workers’ compensation to employees who suffer injuries in the course of their work duties. In Gastonia, the North Carolina Industrial Commission oversees workers’ compensation regulations and hears any appeals when an employer denies an employee coverage.

Most employees in North Carolina are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits. If you’re not sure if you qualify, you may want to speak with a workers’ compensation attorney and see if they believe you have a case.

What Kind of Injuries Can I Cover With Workers’ Comp?

Injuries and illnesses happen daily in North Carolina workplaces. No matter what industry you work in, you will run the risk of finding yourself in danger. Of course, some industries are more dangerous than others. For instance, you will have a higher chance of ending up injured when you work in construction than if you are a white-collar office employee.

Let’s look at some of the most common injuries that happen at work and if they qualify for benefits:

  • Slip and falls: Falls are one of the most common injuries at work. While they may sound somewhat innocuous and minor, slip and falls can cause severe injuries to employees. You risk hurting your head, neck, or back during a fall, all crucial parts of the central nervous system. An injury to any of these body parts may leave you with nerve damage and lifelong debilitation.
  • Repetitive stress injuries: Doing the same thing over and over again will affect your joints and cause them to suffer overuse injuries. Repetitive stress injuries can affect your knees or other joints. The most common repetitive stress injuries we see are carpal tunnel syndrome and tendonitis. You will have difficulty proving these injuries resulted from work, so you may want an attorney to help you advocate your case.
  • Equipment accidents: Construction sites and other blue-collar environments often employ heavy machinery like bulldozers or dump trucks for moving material or shaping the land. Any accidents involving heavy machinery can cause massive damage to an employee and result in broken bones, amputations, or even death. You’ll want workers’ compensation to cover the long road to recovery after an equipment accident.
  • Workplace violence: Work should be a safe place without any fears of assault. Unfortunately, sometimes tensions flare up, and one employee attacks another. When you suffer an assault at the hands of a coworker, you may be able to apply for workers’ compensation to help with any medical bills you have as you recover from the attack. You may also have grounds for a claim against the assailant.
  • Vehicle accidents: Some jobs require their employees to drive as part of the regular duties of the job. Driving on the job opens an employee up to the risk of a car crash, and these are sometimes covered under workers’ compensation. Vehicle accidents to and from work generally do not qualify for workers’ compensation, as you need to be driving as part of your job’s duties.
  • Burns: Some employees work with open flames or other hot materials that can lead to burns if the employee does not handle them properly. These burns, whether from a flame or a chemical, are often eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
  • Acquired illness: At times, work exposes us to harmful materials or chemicals that have adverse effects on our long-term health. Proving work led to an illness is difficult, as you’ll need to showcase that you developed the illness through your job and that the work put you at greater risk of developing the affliction. You cannot, for instance, seek workers’ compensation for catching a cold at your job.

Who Qualifies for Workers’ Comp?

Under a mandate from the North Carolina Industrial Commission, almost every employer has to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This mandate applies to nearly every business with three or more employees in its workforce. The commission does provide a few exceptions to the rule and employees who don’t qualify for workers’ compensation. These exceptions are for:

  • Casual employees: These are employees who don’t work regular hours and do work outside of the company’s typical business model.
  • Some agricultural workers: The government provides an exception for some agricultural businesses. These businesses must employ less than ten full-time, non-seasonal workers to qualify for an exception from carrying workers’ compensation insurance.
  • Domestic employees like butlers and maids
  • Railroad employees
  • Federal government employees
  • Corporate officers: Corporate officers have the right to voluntarily waive their protection under workers’ compensation. Regardless of whether they wish to have access to worker’s compensation, these officers still count toward a business’s overall tally of how many employees it has.
  • Certain sawmill, trucking, and logging companies

To qualify for workers’ compensation, you’ll need to showcase that you have a legitimate injury and it happened as a result of your work. You cannot use an injury you sustained at home as a reason to file for workers’ compensation. Your company’s insurance agent will want you to establish the moment you suffered the injury and ask for evidence and witnesses to corroborate your story.

Your injury must have occurred during the normal course of your job. The inciting incident could be an honest mistake or negligence, but you must have been doing your job while it happened.

An insurance company will look for ways to discredit your attempts to seek workers’ compensation. They may attempt to show that you were doing something unrelated to work or that you were messing around when the injury happened. Additionally, if you were intoxicated at the time of the injury, your employer’s insurance company may deny your claim for workers’ compensation.

How Do I Apply for Workers’ Compensation in Gastonia?

Filing for workers’ compensation can be an easy process in some cases, but many times, the situation turns ugly. Having a lawyer on your side for the process isn’t mandatory, but it will help you avoid some of the biggest hurdles. Regardless, we have a step-by-step guide to help you understand the basics of applying for workers’ compensation. You may still want to speak with a Gastonia attorney to see if your injury qualifies for benefits.

After an injury, you need to keep your cool and follow the proper procedure so you don’t put your benefits in jeopardy. The first step is to report your injury to the appropriate person. In most cases, this will be a supervisor or human resources representative. You’ll need to detail the situation and what led up to the injury. Ensure the person you talk to makes an official report of the injury and sends it through the proper channels. Don’t let somebody convince you that you don’t need workers’ compensation when you suffer an injury.

Your company will likely ask you to speak with a workers’ compensation physician to diagnose the injury and come up with an estimated recovery time. The doctor will also assign you a disability rating of how much you will be able to work.

These doctors are not always entirely impartial in their analysis of a patient. One of their primary concerns is getting you back to work as quickly as possible, and they may try to lowball your recovery time. You can always go to a second doctor to seek a second opinion if you are unhappy with your initial diagnosis. You can then use both these doctor’s notes to state your case when fighting for workers’ compensation coverage.

After the doctor visits, you may need to speak with an insurance agent as they try to ascertain what happened. You can hire a Gastonia workers’ compensation attorney to work with you and walk you through some of the basic questions. When all the paperwork is done, you’ll have to wait for the verdict to come in. The insurance company will either accept or deny your claim. This process usually takes a few weeks, though it can get bogged down in bureaucracy in complicated instances.

What if I Don’t Agree With the Outcome of My Workers’ Compensation Case?

Sometimes, you see your workers’ compensation settlement and feel it isn’t enough to cover your injuries. In other instances, your company may deny your claim you believe is valid. If you aren’t happy with the verdict, you can speak with a Gastonia workers’ compensation attorney to see if you have grounds to appeal.

If your attorney agrees an appeal is in order, they will need to inform the insurance company you disagree with the verdict. Then, your attorney will file an official complaint with the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

Workers’ Compensation Disability Ratings in Gastonia

In the event of a major accident, you’ll want to see an emergency physician to provide first aid and any immediate treatment you need. After you get your immediate medical attention, you’ll have to speak with a workers’ compensation doctor who gives you a disability rating. These ratings range from 1 to 100 and describe how much you can work in the near future while recovering from your injury.

A second opinion may be necessary if you disagree with the doctor’s prognosis on your health and ability to work.

What Kind of Benefits Can I Expect if I Get Workers’ Compensation?

Every workers’ compensation case is unique, but there are some guidelines and precedents we can look at to see what an employee should expect after an accident or contracting an illness. Your benefits will fall into two categories: medical and disability coverage.

Medical coverage will help you pay for any debts you have stemming from the injury. You should expect payments to cover any hospital bills, prescription costs, and emergency transport you needed in the immediate aftermath of the injury.

Your workers’ compensation will also cover any long-term medical bills you might have pertaining to your injury. Your workers’ compensation should cover future hospital visits for additional work or surgery. Additionally, if you require any at-home care or accommodations, the insurance company should cover them as well.

Your disability coverage will vary depending on your rating and how much you can expect to work while recovering. You will get partial disability benefits if you can still work but cannot work for as long or as much money as you used to. So, if you need a reduced schedule or workload, your disability benefits should help cover some of the lost income.

North Carolina also mandates insurance companies provide total disability benefits for employees unable to work. You should expect these benefits to cover roughly two-thirds of your usual salary. A worker making $1,000 per paycheck will get a disability payment of around $667 for as long as they remain on the program. You can keep your total disability benefits for as long as you cannot work or for 500 weeks.

Can You Get Additional Restitution Other Than Workers’ Compensation?

While workers’ compensation can be a life raft for an employee after an accident, some may wonder if there is any way to seek additional restitution. Generally speaking, workers’ compensation laws prevent an employee from filing a claim against their place of business for an injury. However, there are some instances where an employee has the right to seek legal action against their employer or coworker.

First and foremost, if you find out your company does not carry workers’ compensation insurance, you will have the legal right to seek restitution in the form of a claim. If there was negligence involved, you may also have a case for a claim against an employer. For instance, you noticed there was a loose patch of carpeting in your office and reported it to your boss as a danger. If you slip and fall on it after your company fails to replace it, you may have the basis for legal action for negligence.

Filing a claim against a coworker will depend on whether the other party acted recklessly or maliciously. If a coworker causes an injury through an honest mistake or accident, you likely won’t have any grounds for legal action.

Do I Need an Attorney for My Gastonia Workers Compensation Claim?

You can handle a workers’ compensation claim without additional help if you want, and if all goes smoothly, you should be able to navigate the situation with relative ease. However, employers and their insurance companies may try to deny your benefits if you aren’t careful. When you’re not getting everything you believe you deserve, an experienced Gastonia workers’ compensation attorney can help.

Your attorney can help you with the filing process and check your paperwork to ensure the insurance agent won’t hold it up over a technicality. An attorney can also direct you to an appropriate doctor if you need a second opinion on your injury.

You’ll likely be feeling some anger and resentment after an injury and want to file a claim against your employer. An attorney won’t have that same emotional closeness to the case, and they can give you a more rational and unbiased look at your chances of successfully taking an employer to court. They will still approach your case from a place of empathy, but they won’t be so caught up in emotions they’ll miss the forest for the trees.

Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler: Experienced North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

At Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler, we understand that workers going through the process of trying to get compensation for their injuries sometimes need help along the way. Whether you just need an attorney to oversee the paperwork and check your work or you want an objective answer to what you should expect in a settlement, we can help.

Contact us today and see how Ayers, Whitlow & Dressler can help you through your workers’ compensation situation. We can give you an idea of how we help with a consultation. Time is of the essence with workers’ compensation cases, so don’t wait to enlist the help of an experienced Gastonia workers’ compensation attorney.