Getting injured is a traumatic experience. But the injury itself can often just be the beginning of the hardships an injury brings. Having to spend money seeking medical treatment, while at the same time being too injured to work and thus earn the money necessary to cover the treatment, can seem like a never-ending cycle with no relief.
That’s one of the reasons that North Carolina has such strong laws regarding workers’ compensation. The state wants to make sure that its workers are protected against injuries they suffered in the workplace. Rather than take on the negative fallout of an injury alone, the state wants to ensure that you get help dealing with your injuries and your bills so you can heal quicker with less stress.
Who is Eligible for Workers’ Comp in North Carolina?
Every business with more than three employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance thanks to The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. This means that it doesn’t matter if your business is a corporation, sole proprietorship, limited liability company or a partnership, it must carry workers’ compensation insurance if it employs more than two people.
However, it is important to define what counts as an employee for these purposes. For example, a sole proprietor, member of an LLC or a business owner or business partner do not count as employees. This doesn’t mean that they are necessarily without coverage, they could be able to get coverage depending on the circumstances but in general they don’t contribute towards the three employee rule.
Those who are not eligible for workers’ comp in North Carolina include casual employees, which are those without specific hours and who can leave the job without any notice, domestic household employees, farm workers (when there are less than 10 employees), those employed by the federal government, railroad employees and corporate officers who have chosen to be excluded from workers’ comp (though they still count towards the three employee threshold).
An independent contractor may count as an employee for purposes of workers’ comp eligibility. The North Carolina Industrial Commission determines if an independent contractor is an employee by looking at factors such as how much control the employer has over the contractor. Employees that could be eligible in this manner include part-time employees, seasonal workers, unlawfully employed individuals and temporary workers.
What Bills Does Workers’ Comp Cover?
Workers’ compensation in North Carolina covers a number of different elements. Which of these you will need to have covered depends on the circumstances of your particular workplace injury. Not every injured employee needs to make use of each of these categories but it is always good to know that protections are in place to help you with each should you need it.
In North Carolina workers’ compensation covers:
- Missed Wages: An injury can easily cause you to lose wages. You may have to miss work in order to seek medical treatment or you may be incapable of working until the injury heals. In either case, seeking compensation can help you to make up for wages lost in this manner.
- Illness: It is possible for your working conditions to contribute to both short and long term illness. If you become sick because of the circumstances of your employment then you can seek compensation to help.
- Ongoing Care: Some injuries are serious but heal over time on their own, such as when you break a wrist. But other injuries result in the need for ongoing care, like physical therapy after breaking a leg or like an ongoing battle against a work-caused illness.
- Repetitive Injury: Not all injuries happen in a quick, dangerous moment. Some injuries occur because of repetitive movements and it could take anywhere from weeks to months or even years for the injury to develop and make itself known.
- Funeral Costs: In cases where an employee dies because of a workplace injury, their family members can still apply for workers’ compensation for things like missed wages. They can also apply for workers’ compensation for help in affording the cost of a funeral.
- Accidents: When people think of workers’ compensation, they often think of an accident such as a slip and fall or other clear incident of this nature. While workers’ compensation covers far more than this, it absolutely covers accidents as well.
- Disability: In some cases, an injury may prevent you from ever returning to work. If your job is to climb telephone poles to fix the power lines and you lose an arm or a leg, that career is no longer feasible. Workers’ compensation can help with making up for wages missed to a disability, as well as providing money to seek training for a new career path.
How Do I Apply for Workers Comp in North Carolina?
When you are injured or sick because of something that happened on the job it is your responsibility to report this to your employer within thirty days. You can also, but aren’t required to, file a claim with the state’s Industrial Commission.
You can file a workers’ compensation claim by filling out a Form 18 within two years of the injury. This form shows your relationship with the employer, the injury and how your work caused it and that the losses you’ve suffered are covered by workers’ comp.
Where Can I Get Help with a Workers’ Comp Claim in North Carolina?
North Carolina has done a good job of making it fairly easy to find out information about workers’ compensation and how to place a claim but even then the process isn’t as clear as it could be. If you are having trouble finding the information you need or figuring out what forms you need to fill out and what steps you need to take, then it can be a good idea to reach out to an attorney that is well versed in workers’ compensation laws.
The law firm of Laura S. Jenkins is filled with such attorneys. We make it our business to understand the law around workers’ compensation inside and out and we keep up with every change as it happens. If you need help with workers’ compensation for any reason, give us a call at (919) 241-5002 and we’ll do everything in our power to help.