In this article, you will learn about:
- The three most critical steps to take when reporting your workers’ compensation claim.
- What entities you need to report to, the time frame, and how to stay consistent with your claim.
What Are The Proper Steps To Take If You Believe You Have A Valid Workers’ Compensation Claim In North Carolina?
First and foremost, you must report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. The reason you want to report your injury as soon as possible is that any delay in reporting will be used against your case and attack your overall credibility. Not only does delaying your report put your case in jeopardy, but the law also requires that an injured worker report their injury within 30 days in writing. That requirement is not as strict if the employer already has what’s called “Actual Knowledge” of the injury. This means the employer is aware that you were hurt and had to go to the hospital for treatment. If your employer doesn’t have Actual Knowledge and you don’t report your injury in writing within 30 days, the defendants can use a notice defense that they weren’t sufficiently notified per the statute that requires the employee’s notification of the injury claim to the employer.
The second thing you need to do is get medical treatment. It is important that you report your injury (what happened and how it happened) to a medical professional as quickly as possible. This is not just for the legal basis of your claim, it is also for your own personal health and safety to get a diagnosis and understand what you should be doing in order to successfully recover.
Third, it is necessary to report your injury to The Industrial Commission. You have 30 days to file a claim with The Industrial Commission in writing in what’s called a Form 18. Again, that requirement can be lessened if the employer is already aware of your injury and has Actual Notice of the claim. That 30-day requirement will rarely be held against an injured worker as long as the employer is well aware of the claim. Quite often, the employer can be slow in notifying the insurance company of their employee’s injury. As a result, it can be beneficial for the injured worker to contact the insurance company themselves and file a claim.
Most employers, because they’re required to by law, will hang a poster up in a common area that contains information regarding how to contact The Industrial Commission as well as the proper insurance companies. One of the big mistakes that people can make is when they see the employer taking down reports and information on the accident, they think everything’s taken care of. Contrarily, it is actually the injured worker’s obligation to make these reports within 30 days to both the employer and The Industrial Commission. It is important to understand that when the employer takes note and files the incident, they are doing so on behalf of themselves for the insurance company, not on the injured worker’s behalf.
It is critical that there is consistency between what you tell your employer, The Industrial Commission, your doctor, and the insurance company. Any kind of inconsistency in these reports puts your credibility in question, which is incredibly detrimental to your claim.
One of the key things that our firm advises our clients to do is when they report to their employer in writing, give that same report and description to the insurance company, their doctor, and The Industrial Commission. This ensures that there is consistency to your claim and your credibility will not be disputed. When someone else is taking notes of what you’re telling them, there are often many differences in the way things are stated and described. It is worth noting that when you entrust somebody else to describe what you’re telling them, there is some amount of risk that they’re not going to be consistent with or accurate to your account of the story.
Our firm relentlessly pursues claims for our clients, with our hands-on approach to practicing law. Whatever workman’s compensation case you may have, our thoughtful and skillful work ethic will prove to be a valuable asset to your legal representation.