In Lumberton or elsewhere in North Carolina Workers Compensation injury laws work the same. To collect benefits, first, you must be hurt by accident. Second, the accident must occur while you are on the job in the course and scope of your job duties.
Except for back injuries an accident which qualifies you for benefits must be an occurrence which is unusual or out of the ordinary. In other words, if you were just doing exactly what you do in the same way you always do it, you cannot recover. An unusual movement or twisting or other contortion of your body which you did not normally make while performing your work may be sufficient to prove accident, but your presentation of evidence of accident must be very specific throughout the development of the claim. Back injuries are in a special category. When the claimant injures his back while doing the same job in the same way he has always done it, there is coverage due to a special statute governing back injuries. So even if you have no accident in the usual way but there is sudden onset of symptoms of pain and/or numbness in your back, even if you have made no unusual movement, there is still coverage.
Claimants often compromise their case in the initial recorded statement with the adjuster who knows the information in the previous paragraph, but the claimant without a workers compensation attorney usually does not. That is why hiring an experienced workers compensation attorney just as soon after the accident happens is crucial. The adjuster usually asks the claimant if he or she were doing their job in the usual way. What is the natural expected answer to that question, if you don’t stop to think about it carefully? A poorly considered answer could cost you your case.
What do your Workers Compensation benefits cover? Your medical bills, of course. Then, if the doctor keeps you out of work for more than 7 days, you start drawing temporary total disability until the doctor releases you to go back to work on full or restricted duty. How much do you get? That is figured as two thirds of your regular GROSS income per week, not counting overtime and is called the “comp rate”. How long can you draw it? Until the doctor releases you without restrictions or until suitable employment can be found by you or for you to accommodate your permanent restrictions. If the doctor releases you he may give you a rating of your injures; that is, what percentage of the body part injured is impaired permanently. How does that equate to compensation. Each body part is assigned a different number of weeks of disability. Say, you’ve hurt you back, you’ve treated an reached maximum medical improvement so the doctor releases you with a ten per cent permanent rating to your back. Take the 300 weeks the workers compensation statute assigns for the back and multiply by ten percent which equals 30 weeks. Multiply that by the weekly comp rate and you get the value of that injury. At the time you reach maximum medical improvement and get your rating your temporary total disability stops. You could accept this sum and seek no more and you would continue to be eligible for medial benefits as long a no more than two years elapse during which you use no medical services for you injuries.
However, most people do not get a rating without some restrictions. If you have restrictions the employer must find you suitable equivalent work as what you were doing. That is you can’t be made to flip burgers if you had been a highly paid technician. Thus, the company has an obligation to provide vocational rehabilitation at their expense. NOT ONE TIME IN MY TWENTY FIVE YEARS OF WORKING THESE KIND OF CASES HAS A SINGLE CLIENT BEEN FOUND A JOB BY VOCATOINAL REHAB IN THE LUMBERTON OR ROBESON COUNTY AREA. Once an industry knows you have been hurt you are damaged goods and they simply will not hire you, not around here, anyway. As long as you have restrictions they have to continue paying you temporary total disability (remember, two thirds of your regular income, and it is non-taxable the CPA’s tell me).
What the insurance carrier looks at is the likelihood that they may be paying you this amount for the rest of your life. They want to get off the hook. So they will often pay you a great deal of money to end their obligation to mail you weekly payments which could extend well into six figures. Our job as your workers compensation attorney is to make them see their enormous liability and pay to you a much larger sum than you could ever get by simply taking your lump sum for your rating.
Often our clients get a very large settlement this way and then are qualified to receive full Social Security and Medicare which makes up for a significant part of the workers compensation payment which will be stopped after payment of the large settlement sum.
If the client is business minded at all he can often invest some of his settlement in a business venture that will accommodate his disability and at the same time proved his more additional income while reducing his Social Security little if any.
Workers Compensation is highly technical and there are pitfalls along the way too often made by those who represent themselves.
We offer a free first consultation for victims of on the job injuries. The sooner you get an experienced workers compensation attorney the better your likely outcome.