Understanding Workers’ Compensation in North Carolina
The History of Workers’ Compensation
The very first state to implement comprehensive workers’ compensation laws was Wisconsin in 1911. This was the natural result of years of reform efforts for workplaces in the United States, and was largely based on laws that already existed in Europe. By 1948, 45 other states had implemented workers’ compensation acts, including North Carolina.
Before these acts were passed, employees had very few options when they were injured on the job. They could file tort actions against the employer, but the law tended to favor the employer over the injured employee in such cases. Yet, as the public pushed for reforms, more and more juries were deciding against the employers, which motivated them to seek out ways to minimize their risks and losses, ultimately leading to the aforementioned workers’ compensation laws.
Workers’ compensation was a fairly popular idea among employers by 1910, because it minimized their liability for accidents and prevented workers from filing tort actions against them. The employers appreciated a system that allowed them to identify their level of risk and to obtain insurance for that risk in the form of workers’ compensation insurance. Employees were also happy with the idea because they were assured of receiving compensation for work-related injuries. Thus, worker’s compensation laws were established as a sort of compromise, ensuring that employees would be covered for medical expenses and lost wages, and their employers would be protected from lawsuits. Other tradeoffs in the system include that a worker can still be compensated through workers’ compensation even though the accident injury may be caused wholly or in part by the injured worker. In the normal civil justice system, a worker would not be allowed to make any such financial recovery to assist with medical expenses or wage loss. On the other hand, while the civil justice system allows a financial recovery for “pain and suffering,” the workers’ compensation system does not allow any recovery for “pain and suffering” damages.
One way to make sense of the purpose of workers’ compensation is to compare the injured worker to broken machinery. The employer needs workers as much as it needs the machinery that keeps the business running. If a machine breaks in the course of business activities, the employer must pay for the machine to be repaired. Likewise, if a worker is injured in the course of business activities, the employer should be responsible for making that worker whole again.
How Workers’ Compensation Works
Workers’ compensation laws vary by state, though there is typically a state agency which is tasked with handling workers’ compensation claims. The North Carolina Industrial Commission handles such claims in North Carolina.
The process of filing a workers’ compensation claim involves the same standard forms, filled out by the injured worker and the employer, and submitted to the North Carolina Industrial Commission. There are many requirements for these forms that can be complex for workers to manage, and it is not uncommon for mistakes to be made in this process. This is why we recommend that anyone who is injured on the job contact an experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney to ensure that every step is completed correctly.
In most states, including North Carolina, workers’ compensation benefits are only applied to workers who have an occupational disease or an injury that was caused by their employment duties. If you are an employee and you were injured in an accident or have been diagnosed with an occupational disease, and the injury or disease is directly related to your employment, then you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
What To Do When You’ve Sustained a Work Related Injury
If you have been injured on the job or have been diagnosed with an occupational illness, then you can file for workers’ compensation benefits with or without the help of an attorney. However, the majority of workers will find it much simpler and will be more successful if they seek the advice and representation of a North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer from the beginning. This is the best way to ensure that you don’t miss any steps or run out the statute of limitations. Also, keep in mind that workers’ compensation insurers are always trying to minimize their payouts in order to maximize their profits. Many injured workers do not even recognize when the insurance company is taking advantage of them or not treating them fairly. The initial claim will need to be filed with the North Carolina Industrial Commission as soon as possible and also maintain adequate records of your injury and medical treatment. If you miss any information or deadlines, you might be denied for compensation and even become ineligible to pursue compensation for your injury in the future.
To improve your likelihood of receiving workers’ compensation benefits, for advice of filing for workers’ compensation in North Carolina, and for dedicated Charlotte workers’ compensation legal representation every step of the way, contact Brown, Moore, and Associates for a free consultation and guidance through the system of North Carolina workers’ compensation.