Every worker deserves to come home at the end of each day safe and unharmed but, sadly, this isn’t always the case. Devastating workplace accidents happen every day, leaving hardworking individuals and their families across Wilmington with huge medical bills and unimaginable challenges.
If you’re in this situation, you may be wondering, "What are my rights under workers' compensation?” While many injured workers know workers’ comp coverage is there to protect them in the event they get hurt on the job, a lot of people don’t fully understand their rights; and we understand why! The workers’ comp system can be extremely complicated to understand and knowing your rights can be much more difficult than it seems.
It is for this reason our workers’ comp attorneys at Speaks Law Firm have broken down what you need to know about workers’ comp and your rights after suffering an injury on the job in Wilmington, NC.
Breaking Down the North Carolina Workers' Compensation Act
In accordance with the North Carolina Workers' Compensation Act, employees have a right to financial benefits if they get hurt at work to the extent that their injuries prevent them from working. To facilitate this, your employer has to have some type of workers' compensation insurance coverage to protect employees in the event you or another employee gets hurt on the job.
Workers’ compensation is also a no-fault system. Unlike other injury cases, this typically means that you do not have to prove another co-worker or your employer caused the accident that led to your injuries. With most North Carolina workers’ comp matters, if you were injured in an accident on company time, you have a right to be compensated for your accident-related expenses, such as your medical bills and a portion of your lost wages.
Workers' Comp Coverage Exception
While workers' compensation is a no-fault system, there are a few factors that can affect your ability to receive benefits. For the most part, you can be reasonably sure that you're covered if you're injured in an accident at work. However, there is an exception that’s important to note.
In order to qualify for workers' comp benefits, your accident must fall under North Carolina’s definition of ‘accident.’ Workplace accidents are legally defined in the state of North Carolina as incidents in which an employee is injured in a way that's not expected nor intended. While controversial, this definition is interpreted as any injury that’s the result of something that does NOT occur regularly at your job.
For example, imagine you work in a warehouse and lift boxes all day. If you twist your ankle while moving a box, you probably won't be covered since that's part of your common routine. If you trip over an out-of-place pallet jack or slip on a wet spot and twist your ankle, however, you would likely have a right to benefits.
Some Injuries Can Be Difficult to Prove
When you're trying to get workers' comp, there are a few types of injuries that may make the process difficult. Back injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome, for example, are notorious for being difficult to claim workers’ comp benefits for. Back injuries typically develop over a long period of time, so you'll need significant evidence to demonstrate the causal relationship between a work accident and your injury.
The same is true for carpal tunnel, but there's an added layer of difficulty surrounding claims for this condition. Even if you can connect it to your work, it will likely be difficult to separate it from your routine work events.
However, if you’ve developed back problems or suffered any injury or condition as a direct result of your job, don’t lose hope. You have rights and you’re not alone! Our experienced workers’ comp attorneys have been helping injured workers in Wilmington, North Carolina, receive the compensation they need for their work injuries for years, and we may be able to help you, too!
Let Us Speak for You
If you have any questions about your rights under workers' compensation in North Carolina, Speaks Law Firm is here to help. We represent good people through tough times and you can always count on us to fight for what you and your family truly deserve after a workplace accident.