Who Can Get Workers’ Compensation Benefits in North Carolina?
The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act requires nearly all employers to provide workers’ comp benefits. These benefits pay for medical care and replace partial wages when a worker is injured on the job. If you were recently hurt in a workplace accident, you may be eligible to receive workman’s comp benefits, even if the accident was partially your fault. Read on to hear the Charlotte workers’ compensation attorneys of Dewey, Ramsay & Hunt, P.A. explain who is eligible for workers’ comp in North Carolina, and how to improve your chances of qualifying for benefits.
Who Qualifies for Workers’ Comp in North Carolina?
The short answer to this question is that virtually any employee is eligible for workers’ compensation if he or she is injured at work. Of course, as with any legal question, there’s always more information to unpack.
First, it’s important to define what it means to be injured “at work,” which covers two potential accident scenarios:
- Injuries that occur in the workplace – for example, if you are injured in a construction site fall accident.
- Injuries that occur while you are working for your employer, even if you are not physically at your work location. For instance, you might qualify for benefits if you are hurt in a work-related car accident in North Carolina. Even though you were not at your office or building, you can still potentially qualify due to the car wreck, because your accident and injuries were work-related. This is established by one of North Carolina’s workers’ compensation statutes, G.S. § 97-2, which defines an “injury” to include “injury by accident arising out of and in the course of… employment.”
Next, it’s important to understand what types of businesses – and in turn, what types of employees – are covered by workers’ compensation laws. Generally speaking, the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act makes it mandatory for all employers with at least three employees that operate within the state to provide workers’ compensation insurance coverage. This doesn’t apply only to major corporations, but also to small businesses, family-owned businesses, and even trucking owners or operators who are classified as independent contractors.
Workplace injuries that occur in certain industries, such as the rail transport industry or U.S. Post Office, are covered by federal laws instead of the state-run workers’ comp program. However, while such exceptions occasionally arise, most workers are entitled to file claims with the state, whose workers’ comp program is administered by the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC).
If your employer claims that he or she is not required to provide workers’ comp, there’s a chance that he or she is breaking state laws. If your employer tells you that you do not have the right to file a claim – or that there will be retaliation if you do – you should immediately notify an experienced attorney, ideally one who is also a Board Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialist. Working with an attorney improves your odds of success when seeking benefits, because in addition to ensuring that your paperwork is filed properly, your lawyer will also make sure that there are no errors slowing down your claim, that your employer is complying with the law, and that you are equipped with the necessary evidence and medical records to support your claim.
While most work-related injuries qualify for coverage, it’s important to note that the law creates a few exceptions where claims will be denied. Some of these exceptions are covered under G.S. § 97-12, which outlines three situations where benefits cannot be awarded:
- Certain injuries caused by intoxication, “provided the intoxicant was not supplied by the employer… to the employee.” (If the employer did supply the alcohol, the worker may potentially be eligible, depending on the circumstances.)
- Injuries that occur while the employee is “under the influence of any controlled substance,” such as marijuana, cocaine, Adderall, Ambien, methamphetamine, Xanax, or OxyContin.
- Intentionally self-inflicted injuries.
Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Can Help You File for Benefits
For a full overview of state workers’ comp laws, you might be interested in reading our guide to workers’ compensation in North Carolina, which discusses issues like workman’s comp eligibility, types of injuries that are covered, and how much compensation is available.
While guides can be a helpful starting point, we would also encourage you to contact Dewey, Ramsay & Hunt, P.A. for a free legal consultation. We have more than 20 years of experience handling all stages of the workers’ compensation claims process in North Carolina, including claim denials and returning to work after an injury. We are here to protect your legal rights as we guide you through the system.
To talk about your claim confidentially, contact Dewey, Ramsay & Hunt, P.A. online, or call (704) 376-1616 for a free consultation with our Charlotte work injury lawyers. You’ll never be charged any legal fees unless we recover compensation for your injury.