At Copeley Johnson Groninger PLLC, we do not believe that hardworking citizens must accept serious injuries as “part of the job.” We have vigorously represented injured workers across North Carolina and two members of our firm are Board-Certified Specialists in Workers’ Compensation law. With offices in Durham and Charlotte, North Carolina, we represent clients statewide before the North Carolina Industrial Commission and state appellate courts.
Problems with Your Claim?
Free Consultation at (919) 240-4054
When you are injured on the job, you may have many questions about your rights and entitlements under North Carolina workers’ compensation law:
- How long do I have to file a claim?
- I was hurt on the job. Why was my claim denied?
- What if my employer orders me back to work before I’m healed?
- Do I have a right to see my own doctor?
- How do I get a second opinion on a disability rating?
- Am I entitled to benefits for my spouse’s work-related death?
- Can I get benefits for an occupational disease?
The experienced workers’ compensation attorneys of Copeley Johnson Groninger PLLC can answer those questions and fight for you. Our knowledge of the Industrial Commission system and workers’ rights under state law enables us to appeal denied claims with a high rate of success and qualify clients for all benefits to which they are entitled. We work closely with you to ensure you receive proper medical care and that you are not forced back to work when you are still ailing. If your injuries result in a long-term or permanent injury, we will fight to get the disability benefits you need and deserve.
If you have been injured at work, contact board-certified lawyers at (919) 240-4054. In a free consultation, Leto Copeley or Valerie Johnson can explain and protect your legal rights.
What You Should Know When You’re Injured on the Job
Copeley Johnson Groninger PLLC provides the following information to help you understand the basic framework of the workers’ compensation system. This information is by no means comprehensive and is not meant to be a substitute for competent legal advice.
What is the North Carolina Industrial Commission?
The Industrial Commission is the state agency that administers the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. The Industrial Commission consists of Deputy Commissioners, who hear cases where there are disputed issues, and Commissioners, who hear appeals from Deputy Commissioner decisions. The Industrial Commission also hears motions in workers’ compensation cases and reviews agreements between employees and employers. You can access the NCIC Web site at http://www.ic.nc.gov/.
Am I covered by the Workers’ Compensation Act?
Most employers in North Carolina are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. You are probably covered if: your employer regularly employs three or more people; you work for the state, a county, or a city; your employer has purchased workers’ compensation insurance; or you work for a construction subcontractor.
What should I do if I am injured?
Most importantly, you should get medical treatment for your injury. You should tell your employer immediately about your injury, and notify your employer in writing within 30 days after the injury. If your doctor diagnoses you with an occupational disease, tell your employer in writing within thirty days. Make sure you get a copy of your written report to the employer.
You must also file a claim with the Industrial Commission to protect your right to benefits. Usually this means filing an Industrial Commission form, called a Form 18, within two years of your date of injury. It is not enough that your employer files an employer’s statement of injury, otherwise known as a Form 19. When you file a Form 18, you should also give a copy to your employer.
Am I entitled to benefits?
You are entitled to benefits if you have an accident at work or suffer from an occupational disease that meets the requirements of the Workers’ Compensation Act. If you are a dependent of someone who has died in a work-related accident, you are probably entitled to benefits.
To what benefits am I entitled?
If you qualify, you are entitled to payment of your medical bills and a percentage of your lost wages, if you are out of work more than seven days. You may also be entitled to additional benefits, such as a disability rating or compensation for loss of a body part or disfigurement.
A few other important things to know:
- If you are receiving Social Security benefits, long term disability benefits or some other type of compensation for your disability, there may be an offset or reduction in your benefits if you also receive workers’ compensation benefits. It is important that you see an attorney to make sure that you are receiving the full benefits to which you are entitled.
- You do have the right to ask the Industrial Commission for permission to see a doctor of your choosing. However, if you are treated by your own doctor without getting permission, you may jeopardize your benefits. You should seek legal assistance or contact the Industrial Commission if you have a question about changing doctors or getting a second opinion.
- There are different ways to “settle” workers’ compensation claims. One type of settlement is called a compromise settlement agreement, commonly known as a “clincher” agreement. Signing a clincher agreement means you give up all rights to future workers’ compensation benefits in exchange for a sum of money. Other types of agreements are completed on Industrial Commission Forms 21 and 26. If you sign one of these forms, your workers’ compensation case may remain open but you will be giving up certain rights and the rights you retain will be limited in duration. An experienced attorney can help you decide whether you are making a decision that is best for you.
- There are rules governing what medical and vocational rehabilitation professionals can and cannot do in your case. For example, you have a right to a private medical examination and you have a right to be present when the rehabilitation professional speaks with the doctor, except in special circumstances. For further information about these regulations, follow the previous link to the Industrial Commission website.
See our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page for further information about workers’ compensation Law.
Durham • Charlotte • Statewide • Free Consultation
You may be having difficulties supporting yourself or your family because of your injury. The right lawyer can help you address the stress of your injury and the hassles of dealing with an insurance company, your employer, and medical providers: