Winston-Salem Workers Compensation Lawyers – Work Place Accident Attorneys
The injured worker is often taken advantage of because they do not know their rights. Your Winston-Salem employer may not tell you of all the rights you have and the insurance company is strictly concerned with minimizing the cost of your claim. This means you may not have all the available information regarding job retraining, overtime pay benefits, wage differential benefits, statute of limitations, notice requirements, repetitive traumas, maintenance payments when being retrained and settlements.
Winston-Salem Worker’s Compensation benefits may include:
- Medical Care – The injured party has the right to all reasonable necessary treatment to cure or relieve the effects of the injury. Included under medical treatment compensation are all medical bills, prescriptions, and even roundtrip mileage to the hospital.
- Temporary Disability – If the injured party must take time away from work due to medical reasons related to the injury, he or she might be entitled to temporary disability payments. That would provide him or her with partial compensation for lost wages. There are specific maximum and minimum limits to the pay rate, but this normally equals about two-thirds of one’s average weekly gross pay, and is paid out every two weeks.
- Permanent Disability – If a worker can’t completely recover from the effects of an injury, he or she could be entitled to a monetary award for his or her permanent disability. Permanent disability means that the injured party has lost some ability to compete in the open labor market of uninjured workers.
- Vocational Rehabilitation – If an injury prevents a return to one’s former job, assistance in getting another job (vocational rehabilitation) might be included in workers’ compensation benefits. During vocational rehabilitation, a partial income is distributed, similar to temporary disability. The vocational rehabilitation benefit usually has a maximum monetary limit, and may be replaced by an offer of different or modified type of work from the employer.
An employee may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits when he or she is injured in the course and scope of his or her employment. When each and every element of this claim is proven, workers’ compensation benefits become available to the employee.
An employee must give notice to his employer of an injury on the job by filing a written notice. This notice of an accident should be filed within 30 days of the date of the accident. The absolute limit for filing a written notice is two years.
Injuries that typically arise out of and in the course of employment include:
- Broken / fractured bones
- Back problems / pain
- Knee problems / injuries
- Grip loss
- Heart attacks
- Wrist injuries (carpal tunnel syndrome)
- Shoulder pain
- Neck pain
- Slips / Falls
After missing 7 days consecutively form work, an injured worker may be entitled to temporary total disability compensation. TTD is paid weekly, and this amount, also known as the compensation rate, is 66% percent of the injured worker’s average weekly wage. An injured worker is also entitled to have his medical treatment arising from the at work injury paid for by the Worker’s Compensation insurance company; however, the Worker’s Compensation insurance company generally has the right to direct the medical treatment. Related prescriptions and reimbursement for mileage for medical treatment may also be payable to the injured worker.
After a person has reached maximum medical improvement, the treating physician assigns a permanent partial disability rating to the particular part of the body that was injured. The worker is paid for his or her permanent partial disability based on a numerical formula laid out by statute. Additionally, there are alternative ways to calculate the compensation a person is due for his or her permanent partial disability.
The description above is a very brief summary of the Worker’s Compensation system. However it does point out that person’s benefits are specifically limited under the Worker’s Compensation Act. Because the benefits available are limited, it is extremely important that an experienced attorney help you to evaluate and maximize your claim.
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 time. 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.
Can I Sue My Employer Instead of Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
In most cases the answer is no. Workers’ compensation systems were established as a tradeoff in which employees gave up the right to sue employers in court for their injuries, in exchange for the right to receive workers’ compensation benefits regardless of who was at fault for their injuries. Most employers are required by law to provide workers’ compensation insurance for the benefit of their employees. In exchange for providing that insurance, employers are protected from defending personal injury claims brought by employees in civil actions.
Dealing with the workers’ compensation system can be very stressful. Not only do you have to deal with the stress of your injury but you also have the hassle of dealing with an insurance company, your employer and medical providers. You are probably worried about whether you will receive your benefits and whether you are protecting your rights. You may be having difficulties supporting yourself or your family because of your injury. Contacting the right lawyer can help you address these issues in the way that is best for you.
If you have been injured at work you have a right to workers’ compensation benefits and you may want to consider contacting a Raleigh lawyer. Even if you are already receiving benefits, it may be to your advantage to consult an experienced Raleigh attorney to ensure that you are receiving the maximum benefits available under the law.
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