Workers' Compensation Law

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation

Every day, workers in North Carolina risk their health as they put a shift in for their employers. They could be injured while repairing machinery, or suffer an occupational illness as a result of a dangerous work environment. However they are affected, a work-related injury can have a significant impact on their lives and their future.

Workers in North Carolina are protected by Workers’ Compensation rules which regulate how injured workers can apply for benefits after an accident. They explain the timeframe for making a workers’ compensation claim and lay out the benefits an employee might be eligible to receive.

What are North Carolina’s rules on workers’ compensation?

Workers’ compensation exists to support employees when they are injured as a result of an accident in the course of their work, or who suffer an occupational illness because of a hazard in their work environment.

When a person suffers an injury at work, workers’ compensation benefits are paid to cover:

  • Death benefits
  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages as a result of the injury

If an injury or illness is severe enough that a worker cannot return to their previous livelihood, workers’ compensation benefits could also cover “vocational rehabilitation”. This is to support them to retrain in a different role.

A worker cannot claim workers’ compensation if the injury was caused as a direct consequence of:

  • Intoxication (unless the alcohol was supplied by an employer in a supervisory capacity)
  • Being under the influence of illegal drugs
  • Wilfully attempting to injure or kill themselves

What is workers’ compensation insurance?

Workers’ compensation insurance exists to cover employers when a workplace accident occurs. In North Carolina, almost every employer must have insurance, which will cover most forms of injury. When a claim is made, an employer will choose the physician or medical establishment where a worker must be treated.

Some employers are not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance, including employers of:

  • Casual employees
  • Domestic servants
  • Farm laborers, where less than 10 full-time farm workers are regularly employed
  • Federal government workers in North Carolina
  • Less than three employees

The existence of workers’ compensation insurance means that, in general, an employee cannot sue their employer when an accident occurs.

How do I make a claim for workers’ compensation in North Carolina?

An injured employee in North Carolina must give written notice of the injury to their employer within 30 days. They must then file a claim for workers’ compensation within two years of the accident happening. A worker loses all rights to claim compensation if they miss this deadline.

If workers’ compensation is awarded, no compensation is payable for the first seven days after an accident. However, if the injury results in a disability of more than 21 days, compensation will be paid from the date the accident happened.

If a claim for workers’ compensation is rejected, you have the right to appeal the decision. It is often advisable to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney, who can advise you on the process, your rights, and the strength of your appeal.

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