How Long Do Workers’ Compensation Claims Take in NC?

Injured person filling a workers' comp claim

An injury at work can have serious consequences for the employee. In addition to health concerns, there is also the question of income and how to pay for expenses. The benefits available to an injured worker through workers’ compensation can help with medical and living expenses — but getting the full benefits you’re owed involves paperwork and red tape. An experienced North Carolina workers’ comp lawyer can cut through this red tape for you, helping you seek the full amount you’re owed as quickly as possible.

With over 40 years of experience representing people like you in workers’ compensation claims, the attorneys at Poisson, Poisson & Bower, PLLC, know you have questions about your legal claims due to your injuries. Let’s explore some of these issues here.

For specific answers to your individual questions, contact our offices today for a free consultation with one of our experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyers.

Timeline of a Workers’ Compensation Claim in NC.

How long a workers’ comp claim takes in NC will depend on two major factors: how quickly you initiate the process, and how quickly your employer’s insurance provider meets their obligations.

Generally speaking, the timeline looks like this:

  • Report the injury to your employer. You must report the injury to your employer in order for the workers’ comp process to begin. The sooner you report the injury, the sooner you can potentially collect your benefits. If you are unable to report your injury for any reason, try to find a coworker who can notify your employer on your behalf.
  • Seek medical attention. The diagnosis and treatment of your injuries are crucial to your health, and to provide an accurate record for your employer and their insurer. The initial diagnosis may come from your personal physician or an ER doctor. It is possible that your employer or their insurance company may require you to see their designated physician for diagnosis and treatment. You can request another physician, but the Industrial Commission will need to approve the request.
  • File forms. You and your employer have to file report forms with their insurer or the NC. Industrial Commission. This must be done within five days. The employer’s form is Form 19, and yours is Form 18.
  • Receive notification of acceptance or denial. Your employer, their insurer, or the NC Industrial Commission will notify you within 14 days.
  • Payments begin. Payments for medical care will begin as soon as your claim is approved. Benefits for lost wages will only begin seven days after the date of the injury, and you will receive payment for the first seven days of missed work only if you are off work 21 days or more. In some instances, payments may begin while the injury is investigated further, pending a final decision.

This timeline changes somewhat if you are initially denied benefits or you believe your claim is undervalued. If you dispute the denial of benefits or believe the benefits you have received are insufficient, you can appeal the decision. It is advisable at this time to contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer in North Carolina.

First, you’ll be required to enter a process of mediation with a neutral third party. If mediation is inadequate, a request for a hearing can be held with a Deputy Commissioner. This appeal is usually held within 30 to 60 days after the mediation effort. If the Deputy Commissioner’s decision is appealed, it will subsequently go to the full commission. The notice of appeal of the Deputy Commissioner’s decision must be made within 15 days.

NC Workers’ Compensation Deadlines and Statute of Limitations

How much time do you have to file a successful workers’ compensation claim? You must report your claim within two years of the injury, though it is best to report the claim as soon as possible. If you wait longer than two years, the Statute of Limitations will expire, meaning you will no longer be able to file a valid claim.

Here are some of the most crucial deadlines for filing a successful workers’ compensation claim:

  •  Initial report – You should immediately report your injury to your employer. This must be done orally and in written form within 30 days of the injury. Seek medical treatment as quickly as possible. Your employer may designate a physician for diagnosis and treatment.
  • File forms – Your employer is required to file Form 19 — and should submit a copy to you — within five days. You will need to file Form 18 within five days as well.
  • Wait seven days – Your workers’ comp benefits will begin seven days after the injury. These benefits will not cover the first seven days of lost income but will instead start with the second week of lost income. If you must miss more than 21 days of work, you will receive payment for the first week of lost work. This benefit will be shown in the next payment.

How Long Do You Get Workers’ Compensation Benefits?

Workers’ compensation benefits will be paid weekly for as long as you are unable to work. The benefits will be two-thirds (66.6%) of your regular income, up to a limit. In some cases, the payments may be paid every month. The payments are adjusted each year, with a cap on the amount paid out each pay period.

How to Protect Your Right to Full Workers’ Compensation Benefits

What can you do to maximize your chances of receiving the full workers’ compensation benefits you deserve? The most effective way to protect your rights to full compensation benefits is to collect records of the accident that led to your injury as well as your subsequent medical treatment.

Some of the most useful records to your case include:

  • A record of the injury itself – Photos are an excellent place to start, and your cellphone’s camera should be enough. Take photos of the accident scene, including what caused the injury, if possible. Photos of the injury are also important.
  • Medical records – Have the treating physician make a record for your files. This should include diagnosis of the injury and recommended treatments, including medications and therapy.
  • Treatment records – Like medical records, the treatment records should provide evidence of your recovery process. This record should include the physician’s treatment recommendation, as well as any prescribed medications and therapy sessions. Show the dates when treatments were done and medications were taken.

Work with an experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer to protect your right to maximum benefits through the workers’ compensation system.

Contact a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

Poisson, Poisson & Bower, PLLC, is committed to protecting your right to workers’ compensation benefits. If you’ve been hurt on the job, we can help you seek the money you need for your medical treatment and your lost wages.

Contact us today online or by phone for a free consultation with one of our North Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys.