Hurricanes often deal a severe blow to the state of North Carolina. They interrupt people’s livelihoods, present health hazards, and increase the risks of job-related injuries.
If you were injured on the job as a result of a hurricane, you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, such as:
- Payment for medical treatments
- Payment for wages lost and lost earning potential
- Payment for permanent physical damages
Get a free case evaluation to see if you have a qualifying claim.
3 Important Steps When Making Workers’ Comp Benefits Claims
Payment for medical treatment and lost wages can help injured workers avoid financial ruin and severe health consequences. However, your claim could be denied if you do not follow the proper workers’ compensation claim procedures,
If you are hurt on the job during a hurricane, there are three important steps to take to try to protect your workers’ compensation rights:
1. Report your injury to your employer.
Even after very serious injuries, many workers attempt to “tough it out” and don’t report their job injury to their employer. Maybe they want to show how dedicated they are to their job or they’re worried their employer may fire them. Either way, it can be a mistake with long-lasting consequences. After you’re injured – even if you don’t ultimately file for workers’ compensation – it is very important to document your work-related injury promptly, by providing written notice to your employer and filling out an incident report.
To file a claim, you’ll also need to fill out certain workers’ compensation forms in a timely manner. A Form 18 is the official Report of Injury, and it should be filed with the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) as soon as possible, usually within 30 days of your injury. This form lets the NCIC and your employer know that you are requesting workers’ compensation benefits for your injuries. If you do not file the claim within 30 days of your work injury, then your employer and the insurance company are likely to deny you workers’ compensation benefits. Once the Form 18 is filed, the insurance company has 30 days to file a form accepting or denying the claim, or face possible penalties for not doing so.
Your employer should file a Form 19, Employers’ Report of Injury, immediately after they find out that you got injured. However, you cannot assume that your employer will file the Form 19. Employers often don’t bother to report an employee’s injury until the employee files the Form 18. We have seen many instances where an employer may be aware of an employee’s job injury for a long while, but never reports the claim to the workers’ compensation insurance company or even to the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
We have also seen many instances where an employer denies that they ever knew about the injury. These are all issues that an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, like those with the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, can help you with.
2. Get medical treatment.
If you are injured on the job during a hurricane, obtaining prompt medical care is important for your health and for your workers’ compensation claim.
We have seen many situations in which injured employees:
- believed that their conditions were not that serious, but then realized they were more severe than originally thought
- initially hoped they could “tough it out” and continue to work, only to realize that they made their condition worse by delaying treatment
3. Consult an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney.
Trying to decide if you need a workers’ compensation attorney can be tricky. But the best way is often just to ask! Most workers’ compensation attorneys (like our firm) will do an initial evaluation for free.
It’s almost always worth it to do the free consultation. You’ll want to choose an attorney quickly because workers’ compensation cases can be very complicated, and mistakes made early on can be difficult to correct.
An experienced attorney should lay out all your options, and help you decide what’s best for your situation.
Get a Free Case Evaluation From Our NC Workers’ Comp Lawyers
Our team includes former Deputy Commissioners from the NCIC – one of whom was a state senator who helped write some of the workers’ compensation laws in North Carolina. Also, less than 1% of all North Carolina attorneys licensed to practice are North Carolina State Bar Board Certified Specialists in workers’ compensation law, and we have several of them.*
We’re compensated on a contingency fee basis, which means that there is no attorney’s fee unless we recover for you first.2 And it’s the same whether you hire us early on or late in your case, so it’s better to act quickly.
We will fight hard to try to prove your right to workers’ compensation benefits.
*Figures provided by NC State Bar as of 1/22.