Is Your Work Related Injury Covered By Workers’ Compensation?
If you work in a traditional industry, such as retail, education, healthcare, construction, factory work, etc., then there’s a good chance that your work related injury is covered by workers’ compensation. If you’re wondering whether your injury is covered, there’s a good chance that you’re questioning it because you don’t work in one of these traditional industries, or that your employment designation is unclear. Some examples of situations where your eligibility for workers’ compensation might be questionable include those where you aren’t sure if you are an employee or independent contractor or if you work in a unique environment, like from home.
Are You An Employee or An Independent Contractor?
In some professions, it can be difficult to figure out what your status is, as an employee or as an independent contractor. The difference is important because one is covered by workers’ compensation, and the other isn’t. Employers in North Carolina are required by the NC Industrial Commission to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover any injuries to their employees, if they employ at least three workers. However, they are not required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover injuries to independent contractors.
Yet, some employers intentionally avoid the legal requirement to cover their employees with workers’ compensation insurance by misclassifying them as independent contractors. In other cases, an employer might misclassify their employees unintentionally. This is more common in smaller businesses, where the business owner might make this mistake without any intentional unethical behavior.
If you are an independent contractor, then there is some benefit to this when an injury occurs. You have the option that an employee does not, to sue the employer for a work related injury. Because employees are covered by workers’ compensation insurance, they cannot sue their employers in civil court when an injury occurs. Because independent contractors are not covered by workers’ compensation insurance, they can sue their employers when an injury occurs. However, this is only so if there has been some kind of negligence on the part of the employer.
To determine whether you are an independent contractor or should be classified as an employee, consider the following questions:
Do you work for yourself?
Do you set your own hours?
Do you manage your own projects?
If you answered ‘yes’ to those questions, you are probably an independent contractor. This is true for those who work from home in various occupations, such as freelancers, and for those who work with ride share companies, like Lyft or Uber.
Was Your Injury Actually Work Related?
Another reason that you might question whether or not your injury is covered by workers’ compensation, when you are certain that you are an employee, is if you aren’t certain that the injury was actually work related. Common examples include situations where you were in an auto accident while running an errand for work, but you also ran an errand for yourself. When did the accident occur? On your way to the bank for the company, or on your way to the bank for yourself? Were both transactions completed at the same bank? Depending on the answers to questions like these, your injury may or may not be considered to be work related.
Do You Have a Valid Workers’ Compensation Claim for a Work Related Injury?
When it comes to establishing whether or not you have a valid workers’ compensation claim for a work related injury, there are a lot of questions that you have to ask yourself, and you may need to prove certain points to recover compensation. For instance, if you are injured in an auto accident that is related to work, then you may have to prove that you were engaged in work related tasks at the time, and not on a personal errand.
You will not have to prove negligence, though, because negligence is not relevant in a workers’ compensation claim unless you were doing something you shouldn’t have, such as working while intoxicated or horsing around in a dangerous fashion. In most workers’ compensation claims, you simply have to establish that you were performing tasks related to work and that your injury occurred during this time. If you made a mistake, if your co-worker made a mistake, or if your employer made a mistake, these points are not important. Workers’ compensation coverage is for any injured employee who is injured on the job, regardless of fault.
If your employer or their insurance company denies your workers’ compensation claim, then it may be because they don’t think your injury occurred at work or in the course of work related tasks. You may need to appeal this decision with the help of a North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney. In some cases, you may also have a personal injury claim against a third party, such as in a situation where someone’s dog attacked you while you were completing a delivery for work, or a situation where you were in an auto accident.
Seek a Free Consultation with Brown, Moore & Associates
If you have questions about your eligibility for workers’ compensation in North Carolina, contact Brown, Moore & Associates, PLLC to discuss your claim. If you need to appeal a workers’ compensation claim denial, give us a call. We’ll investigate your claim, establish how the injury occurred, whether it was work related, and then fight for your right to compensation.
If you think you may also have a personal injury claim against a third party, then our personal injury lawyers will be happy to investigate, evaluate, and pursue that claim, as well.
Further, if your employer refuses to report the injury to the workers’ compensation insurance company or if they retaliate against you for filing a claim, contact us to discuss your options. The initial consultation is free, so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain from getting some professional Charlotte workers’ compensation legal team advice about your right to workers’ compensation in North Carolina.