Navigating workers’ compensation can be daunting and confusing for an injured employee. Although your employer and insurance company know a lot about workers’ comp matters, it may be the first time you’ve been injured on the job or suffered an illness arising from the job, so you may be unsure about the process. Here’s what you need to know.
What is workers’ compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a compulsory system that requires employers to provide benefits to employees who sustain on-the-job injuries. As a tradeoff, employees are barred from suing their employers, so workers’ compensation becomes the injured worker’s only means of recovering lost income, ongoing care, and medical expenses.
What should you do if you’re injured on the job?
If you are injured on the job, then you need to seek medical treatment. Not only is it good to receive treatment for your own well-being, but it will also help support your workers’ comp claim.
You’ll need to describe the workplace accident or injury to your doctor so it can be treated as a workers’ compensation expense. If you haven’t received any medical treatment, then it’s likely that your claim will not be taken seriously.
Your employer may send you to a doctor or medical provider. You need to see this provider, even though you are also allowed to visit your own doctor.
What role does your employer pay in workers’ comp claims?
You will need to notify your employer of the workplace injury or illness as soon as you can, but definitely within 30 days. Do this in writing, even if you’ve already verbally informed your employer about the accident.
Your employer will give you the forms necessary to file a workers’ comp claim. Complete these forms as soon as you can and keep a copy of them for your own records. You should be careful with how you describe a workplace accident or injury because what you say can be used against you.
How can I file a claim for workers’ comp?
After you return the completed forms to your employer, your employer will file a notice of injury with its workers’ compensation insurance provider. But keep in mind that you’re still responsible for filing your own claim.
In Virginia, you must file a claim with the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission within 2 years of an accident. North Carolina also gives injured employees 2 years to file a workers’ compensation claim with the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
What should I do after I file a workers’ comp claim?
If your employer has provided a doctor for your medical treatment, you need to follow the care instructions and attend appointments. If you don’t, you put your potential workers’ comp benefits at risk.
The employer or its insurance carrier will either accept the claim or deny the claim. You have the right to appeal if your claim has been denied.
Workers’ compensation law and procedure can be complex. Don’t put your benefits at risk because you haven’t consulted with an attorney. At Hunter & Everage, we can advise you how to maximize your potential to receive benefits. Our experienced lawyers are ready to help you with your workers’ comp claim in Richmond, Virginia, and Charlotte, North Carolina.