With medical care more costly to consumers than ever before, it’s no wonder that after you suffer an injury at work, your first thought is likely to be how you’re going to afford to pay for the treatment you need. Serious injuries and illnesses can sideline you for weeks, months, or longer. Eventually you run out of sick days (if you had them in the first place,) and you stop receiving a paycheck.
Workers’ compensation is meant to compensate for costs associated with a work-related injury or illness. That includes lost wages and other benefits — not just medical costs. If you qualify, you will be compensated for a percentage of your lost wages. North Carolina pays temporary total disability benefits for more than seven days of missed work. Once you’ve been out of work for that long, benefits kick in at two-thirds of your wages up to a maximum weekly benefit (the cap for 2019 is $1,028).
If you are able to return to work, but you are earning less because your injury prevents you from performing your former job, you can receive temporary partial disability benefits. These benefits are two-thirds of the difference between your old salary and your new, lower salary.
In addition to medical and wage benefits, you may be entitled to mileage reimbursement for traveling to receive medical care and coverage for rehabilitation, prescription drugs and job placement services. Workers may also be entitled to death benefits for dependent family members (two-thirds of wages for up to 500 weeks), and funeral and burial expenses (up to $10,000).
The primary benefit to employers covered by workers’ compensation is that it protects them from employee litigation over injuries. The benefit to you is that you don’t have to go to court and wait for a determination: you can receive payments almost immediately. But workers’ compensation won’t cover 100 percent of your wages or pay for your pain and suffering. If a third party was at fault for your work-related injury, such as a manufacturer of a defective piece of equipment, you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover for pain and suffering damages even if you also filed a claim for workers’ compensation. Should you and your employer not be able to come to an agreement about your injury and what caused it, you may be able to settle and receive a lump-sum payment.
Clearly, the ins and outs of workers’ compensation can be complicated and confusing. An attorney who has experience in area can help you understand the pros and cons of filing a claim and whether you have a case against your employer or a third party.
The Lanier Law Group, P.A. has years of experience helping clients throughout North Carolina file claims for workers’ compensation and successfully appeal denials. We offer full-service support and strong legal advocacy at our offices across the state. Call us toll free at (855) 757-4204 or contact us today for a free consultation about your case.