In 1929, the legislature of North Carolina enacted the Workers’ Compensation Law. Prior to the enactment, only actions based at common law were available to an injured worker. The problem was that at common law there really was not an effective way to recover even medical expenses from an employer. With the industrialization of America in the beginning of the 20th century, many workers sustained horrific injuries (like mangled hands caught in machines) often leaving workers with no ability to earn a living. As more and more North Carolinians left the farm for the textile mills, more and more people suffered debilitating injuries. Unless the worker could prove negligence by the employer he was left without any remedy - no payment for medical bills, no payment for lost wages and no payment for any permanent injury. However, if an injured worked could show negligence, the jury awards were often significant. The hardships and burdens on the employee were substantial since actions at common law could take years to resolve. Thus North Carolina followed many other states and enacted the Workers’ Compensation Act as a compromise. That law, which we still use, is designed to provide injured employees with certain protections and to protect employers by limiting liability.
WHEN DOES WORKERS’ COMPENSATION APPLY?
An employee who sustains an injury by accident while in the course and scope of employment is entitled to the protections of workers’ compensation. There are three elements to a claim. These are (1) an employee-employer relationship existed; (2) the employee sustained an injury; and (3) the employee was in the course and scope of employment at the time.
WHAT DOES WORKERS’COMPENSATION PAY?
Generally, workers’ compensation provides three basic benefits. First, all medical bills related to the injury are paid by the employer’s insurance carrier. Second, the employee receives two-thirds (2/3) of his or her wages while out of work under doctor’s orders. And third, if there is a permanent injury then the injured employee is entitled to additional benefits.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SUSTAIN AN INJURY ON THE JOB?
First, report the injury to your employer immediately. Second, make sure you reported the injury to your employer. Third, report the injury to your employer. Finally, call the Draper & Wagner, for a free consultation. Reporting the injury to your employer and timely filing a claim with the Industrial Commission is critical.
DO I NEED TO HIRE A LAWYER?
Not necessarily. Many claims are resolved without an attorney ever being involved. Do I need to consult with a lawyer? A better question is why would you not consult with an attorney? We offer a free initial consultation. During the consultation we will provide our opinion as to your best course of action. If, we agree that it would be best to hire an attorney our fee is a contingent fee, no money upfront and the fee is based on a percentage of the recovery. As with all laws, it seems simple, but with insurance claims, nothing is simple. If you have sustained an injury on the job, please call for a free consultation.