In North Carolina, the statute of limitations for workers’ compensation cases is two years. However, that is provided that you have given “Actual Notice” to your employer within 30 days. In addition to this, The Industrial Commission requires a written claim within 30 days. With these factors aside, the statute of limitations for injuries and occupational disease is two years. If there is a medical disease that was sustained as a result of employment, the statute of limitations is two years from when a competent medical authority confirms the injured worker’s medical condition is related to their work activity.
What Would Be Covered Under Occupational Diseases?
In North Carolina, you can have a potential claim as a result of an accident or as an occupational disease.
Occupational diseases are generally related to repetitive trauma. This commonly includes conditions like Bursitis (inflammation of the bursa sac and joints in the body) and Tenosynovitis (where the linings of different tendons become strained), which often result from physical trauma due to the kind of employment.
Outside of these occupational conditions, various types of poisoning injuries are covered under the Workers’ Comp Act. Additionally, the Workers’ Comp Act has what’s called the “catchall”. This means that if an injured worker can show that they have a disease caused by their employment, and their employment has put them at an increased risk of developing that disease, then it can be covered by the Workers’ Comp Act.
Given that there’s no specific listed disease for carpal tunnel syndrome in the Workers’ Comp Act, it would likely be categorized into a broad spectrum of workplace injury. Many doctors believe that repetitive hand use can be a contributing factor to carpal tunnel syndrome.
For example, if a data entry employee found themselves suffering from the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome due to the repetitive stress of typing data for extended periods, a doctor could determine that their carpal tunnel syndrome was caused by or least contributed from their data entry tasks. This type of situation would fall under the “catchall” claim classification, and their carpal tunnel syndrome should be covered.
Why And How Will Insurance Companies Attempt To Use Delay Tactics To Draw Out Or Deny Workers’ Claim?
One of the big things that insurance companies rely on is for an injured worker to begin the Workers’ Comp process, become frustrated with the complications and delays, and then choose not to continue or prosecute their claim.
Insurance companies have learned that delaying the process of acceptance or denial of a claim in the first place tends to be effective in North Carolina, especially if the applicant is not represented by an attorney. Because of this, it is important to know that the employer and their insurance company have a time limit to accept or deny a claim within 30 days.
Plaintiffs are frequently under the impression that they have 30 days to make a decision about their claim from when their injury happens. Contrarily, the employers and insurance companies often conclude that their 30 days to make a decision doesn’t start until the injured worker has filed a claim.
So, if the injured worker has not filed anything, the insurance company can provide some inexpensive coverage such as physical therapy or cheap imaging studies, but not more expensive treatment such as MRIs or surgery. They can continue providing inexpensive treatment in the hopes that if it becomes expensive they can still deny the claim under the statute and be legally immune. This type of situation can drag on for months and months following a worker’s injury.
The system is set up in the insurance company’s interest to deny claims, or to at least delay the decision-making so that the injured worker is in a constant state of flux. If the injured worker tries to ask for ongoing weekly benefits or any other kind of benefit that might not be provided, they can come back around and deny the claim later. Often, the purpose of insurance companies delaying their decision is so that the injured worker will become frustrated and confused, causing them to make a mistake about what advantages and rights they have with workman’s’ compensation. For more information on Workers’ Comp Cases in North Carolina, an initial consultation is your next best step.