| Read Time: 3 minutes | Car Accident

What Happens If You Get Into a Car Accident with No Insurance?

Car accidents happen every single day. However, if you are involved in a car accident with no insurance, it can complicate the situation. Many clients come to us asking, I was involved in a car accident with no insurance—what now? It is common to experience confusion and overall stress if this happens to you. But Mehta and McConnell, PLLC, is ready to help get you on the right track. North Carolina Car Insurance Requirements In North Carolina, drivers are legally required to have car insurance. The minimum amounts of liability car insurance include: $30,000 bodily injury coverage per person per accident; $60,000 total bodily injury coverage for multiple individuals injured in one accident; and $25,000 property damage coverage per accident. These minimum amounts can be used to compensate individuals for injuries and property damage resulting from a car accident. Additionally, North Carolina requires car insurers to include uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance. Uninsured motorist insurance helps protect drivers if they are involved in an accident with an individual that is totally uninsured, and underinsured motorist coverage kicks in when the at-fault party has insufficient coverage. Are There Penalties for Driving Without Insurance? North Carolina has a unique system for assessing penalties for driving without car insurance. The penalty will depend on prior convictions. Penalties usually include: First Offense: $50 civil penalty, $50 reinstatement fee, and possible probation for 1-45 days. Additionally, your registration can be suspended for 30 days. Second Offense: $100 civil penalty, $50 reinstatement fee, jail time or probation for 1-45 days. Registration could be suspended for 30 days. Third and Subsequent Offenses: $150 civil penalty, $50 reinstatement fee, jail time or probation for 1-45 days. Registration could also be suspended for 30 days. Having the minimum insurance required by law is the best way to avoid any repercussions.  North Carolina Is an At-Fault State When it comes to car accidents, some states are fault states while others are no-fault states. In an at-fault state, the person responsible for the accident is liable for the damages resulting from the accident. Therefore, determining who was responsible for causing the accident can greatly affect the outcome. What Happens If You Were at Fault for the Accident? Every accident is different, but if you are driving without insurance and cause a car accident, you are liable. Because you do not have insurance to protect you, you will generally be financially responsible for the other driver’s expenses, including medical bills and property damage. Dealing with car accident claims and lawsuits can be challenging, but a car accident attorney will be your best ally. What Happens If You Were Not at Fault for the Accident? If you were driving without insurance but were not at fault for the accident, you can file a claim against the at-fault driver. You are able to file a claim with their insurance company to receive compensation for your injuries and property damage. You are also able to file a lawsuit against the responsible party. If you plan to file a lawsuit against the other driver, it is important to keep in mind that there is a three-year statute of limitations to do so. Contributory Negligence Determining who is truly at fault for an accident is not always an easy task. In some instances, both parties share some of the responsibility for the accident. North Carolina operates under a doctrine of contributory negligence. This doctrine essentially states that an injured party is not allowed to recover for their losses if they were partially at fault for the accident. Therefore, if the other party is even minimally responsible for the accident, they are barred from recovering.  If you are involved in a car accident without insurance, the doctrine of contributory negligence can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case. Do not hesitate to consult with a qualified North Carolina car accident lawyer. Discuss Your Case with a North Carolina Car Accident Attorney Mehta & McConnell, PLLC, is a brand new firm run by two knowledgeable and highly skilled attorneys. Our lawyers have a background in defense work, giving them the unique perspective they need to successfully represent injured clients. We are dedicated to every client and strive to provide top-quality legal representation. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 3 minutes | Wrongful Death

North Carolina Wrongful Death Settlements Overview

The immense pain of losing a loved one is amplified when their death is caused by the actions of another. While monetary compensation cannot bring a loved one back, it can help ease the financial burdens experienced with their passing. If your loved one has died at the hands of another, Mehta and McConnell, PLLC., is ready to help get you the financial recovery you need and deserve. What Is a Wrongful Death Claim? The North Carolina wrongful death statute states a wrongful death is “when the death of a person is caused by a wrongful act, neglect, or default of another…” Wrongful death typically arises when a loved one’s death is caused by another individual or entity’s act, omission, or neglect.  After someone’s death, the personal representative of that person’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover compensation for the death. If there is a will, the personal representative is often named in the will. If the victim died intestate, or without a will, the court can appoint a personal representative to handle the victim’s estate. Who Can Receive Compensation for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit? Not just anyone can recover financially for the death of another. Typically, only the victim’s heirs can recover from a wrongful death lawsuit. The victim’s personal representative is the only individual allowed to file a wrongful death lawsuit, and they do so on behalf of the victim’s family. The compensation received from a wrongful death lawsuit will go to the victim’s estate. The personal representative can use some of the funds to pay for expenses of bringing the wrongful death action and any outstanding burial or medical expenses. A court distributes the remainder of the money among the victim’s heirs. Heirs are those who would stand to inherit if the victim died without a will, usually meaning spouses, children, parents, or siblings, depending on the circumstances. Damages Available for Wrongful Death Claims in North Carolina After a loved one’s death, certain relatives can seek damages to cover expenses and suffering related to the decedent’s untimely passing. Wrongful death damages can include: Medical expenses; Lost income and benefits; Funeral expenses; The victim’s pain and suffering; Loss of consortium; and Loss of companionship. In some cases, you may also seek punitive damages. Punitive damages are a special type of damages the law uses to punish and deter defendants. If the defendant’s malicious or willful conduct caused the death, punitive damages may be granted. In many instances, damages can be challenging to calculate. A wrongful death attorney will thoroughly review the details of the case to determine what damages are owed.  How Are Settlements for Wrongful Death Determined? Putting a dollar amount on a person’s life is extremely difficult to do. However, in wrongful death claims, a calculation must be made to determine how much recovery is reasonable. To calculate fair wrongful death compensation, courts give a lot of weight to the following criteria: The age of the victim; The victim’s health at the time of death; The victim’s income at the time of their passing; The victim’s earning capacity; Overall value of lost benefits; Medical bills incurred; Funeral and burial expenses; and Ages and needs of the victim’s surviving dependents.  Your wrongful death attorney will review these very specific details to help determine a just wrongful death lawsuit settlement amount. They will also use evidence and documentation to support their conclusion. North Carolina Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations While financial recovery can slightly ease the pain of losing a loved one, you may lose the right to receive any compensation if a wrongful death claim is not filed in time. In North Carolina, the statute of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits is two years from the date of the victim’s death. If you fail to file your lawsuit within the two-year period, you will more than likely lose your right to recover any sort of compensation. Secure your right to recovery after a loved one’s death. Seek the help of a wrongful death lawyer as soon as possible. Consult with a North Carolina Wrongful Death Attorney Mehta and McConnell, PLLC., is a newly formed partnership with a combined thirty years of experience. Our firm aims to provide top-quality legal representation for clients in need. We understand the frustrations that come with a loved one’s death, and we are standing by and ready to help. We offer free consultations. Contact us today, and let’s begin working on your case.

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 3 minutes | Workers' Compensation

Common Types of Heavy Equipment Accidents

Workplace injuries can happen anywhere. Even in an office, injuries can occur. With that said, some workplaces are more dangerous than others. Working around heavy machinery is particularly dangerous.  Heavy equipment accidents can cause severe injuries, more so than other types of accidents. This page will discuss a few of the most common causes of heavy machinery accidents, along with some best practice tips for workplace safety around heavy equipment. If you have any questions about common types of heavy equipment accidents or are in need of a workers’ compensation lawyer, our experienced team is ready to fight for you and get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today to get started. Common Causes of Heavy Machinery Accidents The most common causes of heavy equipment accidents at work correspond with the most common causes of all workplace accidents. According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the three most common causes of workplace injury in the United States are: Overexertion and bodily reaction; Falls, slips, and trips; and Contact with objects or equipment. According to the NSC’s research, these three accident causes account for 84% of all nonfatal injuries in the workplace each year that cause employees to miss at least one day of work.  Overexertion and Bodily Reaction Overexerting yourself while working with heavy equipment can easily cause an injury. Working with heavy equipment may include lifting parts of that machinery. If you overexert yourself in such a situation and drop a piece of machinery, you can easily injure yourself in many ways. Overexertion can also cause fatigue, which presents a clear danger when working with heavy machinery. If you are tired or drowsy while operating a piece of heavy machinery, it is easy to make a mistake. Operating heavy equipment improperly can easily cause malfunctions that can injure you. The same applies if you aren’t working directly with the machinery itself. For example, if you are a spotter for a crane, a fatigued crane operator could easily strike you with the object they are carrying.  Slips, Trips, and Falls A slip and a fall around heavy equipment is just as dangerous as overexertion. You might slip on the ground while someone is operating heavy machinery close by. In such an event, you could fall into or under the equipment. If the equipment is in motion and you fall while it is coming in your direction, you could easily end up crushed. Even though it sounds relatively innocent in many situations, a slip and a fall while working around heavy equipment could easily cause a fatal injury. Contact with Objects and Equipment Contact with objects and equipment is likely the most common cause of heavy machinery injuries. For example, when working with heavy equipment that does any sort of sawing or cutting, physical contact with the wrong part of the machinery can cause serious injury instantly. These types of injuries can easily cause enough damage to make you miss work for a significant period of time. Best Practices for Avoiding Heavy Equipment Injury in the Workplace The best way to avoid any heavy equipment injury is a multifaceted approach.  Be sure to observe your workplace’s safety policies at all times; Always use personal protective equipment (PPE) and ensure that your PPE is in proper working condition; Only operate or work around heavy equipment that you are properly trained to work with; and Maintain awareness of yourself and your surroundings at all times.  If you are fatigued and unable to safely operate machinery, or your PPE isn’t working properly, tell your supervisor. Saying “I’m fine” when you aren’t is a potentially fatal mistake when you work with heavy machinery. What to Do If You Are in an Accident with Heavy Machinery Even if you follow all relevant safety protocols, there is always the risk of accidents. Heavy machinery is dangerous; there is no way around this fact. If you suffer an injury during an accident with heavy machinery, Contact Mehta & McConnell today. At Mehta & McConnell, our board-certified workers’ compensation attorneys have over 30 years of combined experience helping injured workers. Whether your case is relatively simple or very complex, we have the experience necessary to help you recover. If you suffer a workplace injury, you deserve compensation. Contact us online today for a free case review, or call us at  980-446-3301.

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 5 minutes | Workers' Compensation

Guide to Workers’ Compensation Claims in North Carolina

Workplace accidents happen every single day. Fortunately, North Carolina has workers’ compensation to help to struggle injured workers. Nonetheless, injured employees may not receive all the benefits they deserve, or workers’ comp may deny claims altogether in certain instances. If you suffer a workplace injury, a workers’ compensation attorney in North Carolina can help you.  What Is Workers’ Comp in North Carolina? Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance that most employers are required to have for their employees. This insurance helps ease the financial burdens employees may experience after a workplace accident.  While it may seem simple, sometimes claims are denied, and the road to receiving benefits is a complicated one. A North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney can help you seek the benefits you deserve. North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Laws Chapter 97, Article 1 of the General Statutes includes the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. Among other details, this act requires employers with three or more employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance. There are certain exceptions to this rule, including: Employees of certain railroads; Casual employees; Domestic servants; Farm laborers, when the same employer employs fewer than ten full-time farm laborers; Federal government employees; and Sellers of agricultural products. Employers that fail to carry workers’ compensation insurance may face penalties, felony or misdemeanor charges, or even imprisonment. If you are unsure whether you are an employee covered by workers’ compensation insurance, do not hesitate to contact a North Carolina workers’ comp attorney. What Kinds of Injuries Does Workers’ Compensation Cover? Under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, a workplace injury must: Be the result of an accident; Occur due to your job function; and Happen during the course of your employment. Physical injuries that meet these requirements are likely to be compensable under workers’ compensation. Other types of workplace injuries, like illnesses and diseases, may also be covered. § 96-53 of the Workers’ Compensation Act covers all diseases and conditions that may be approved for workers’ comp coverage. What to Do Following a Work Injury What you do after a workplace accident can greatly affect your health and chances of recovering benefits under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. You should take the following steps to put your health first and preserve your right to workers’ compensation coverage. Seek Medical Attention Your health and safety should always come first. If your injuries are severe, be sure to call 911 right away. If your injuries are less serious, visit your primary care physician or an emergency room as soon as possible. Be sure to let your doctor know you are visiting as a result of a workplace accident.  Gather Evidence If possible, collect any evidence you can. This may include photos and video and witness information. As time goes on, more information will become available, like medical records. Report the Accident Report the accident to your immediate manager or supervisor as soon as you are able to. By law, you have 30 days to report your accident, but the sooner, the better. Your employer will then have to fill out the appropriate paperwork and notify their insurance company. Consult with a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney Contact a workers’ comp attorney following a work accident. Your attorney will help ensure you are getting the appropriate benefits. If there are any bumps along the road, they will be there to help you correct any issues and get what you deserve.  Causes of Workplace Accidents Workplace accidents can occur for many different reasons, depending on the industry you work in. Some of the typical causes of work accidents include: Slip and falls, Falls from heights, Falling equipment, and Equipment malfunction or failure. No matter the type of accident, if it occurred while you were acting within the scope of your employment, workers’ compensation will usually provide benefits. If you have any doubts, discuss your situation with a workers’ compensation attorney. Common Work Accident Injuries Injuries can vary depending on the type of accident. Some common workplace accident injuries include: Neck injuries, Back injuries, Head or brain injuries, Spinal cord injuries or paralysis, Burns, Broken bones, Loss of hearing or vision, or Loss of limb. Depending on the injury, you may need to take extended time off work or lose your ability to work altogether. Talk to a North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney to understand the benefits owed to you. Benefits Available Under Workers’ Compensation Depending on the severity of your injuries, there are certain benefits you may be entitled to under workers’ compensation. Generally, workers’ comp benefits include medical expenses and a portion of your lost wages. The amount of your wage benefits and how long they continue will depend on whether you have a Temporary partial disability (TPD); Temporary total disability (TTD); Permanent partial disability (PPD); or Permanent and total disability. If an employee’s accident results in a death, workers’ compensation will provide death benefits for the family. Can You Sue Your Employer After a Workplace Accident? In short, no, you cannot sue your employer. By providing employees with workers’ compensation insurance, employers are protecting themselves from lawsuits. Therefore, by getting workers’ comp benefits, you are forfeiting your right to sue your employer. While you are not allowed to sue your employer, you may be able to sue a third party. If a third party played a part in your work accident, you might have a claim against that party. If you believe you may have a right to file a lawsuit after your workplace accident, discuss your case with a workers’ compensation attorney. Consult with a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today In the best of cases, you can file for workers’ compensation benefits and receive every benefit owed to you. Still, your claim may be denied or you may not receive all benefits you’re entitled to. In any case, a North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney can be your best ally. Mehta & McConnell, PLLC, is a newly established firm run by two attorneys with over 30 years of combined...

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 4 minutes | Workers' Compensation

North Carolina Statute of Limitations on Workers’ Compensation Claims

Workplace injuries or illness often result in lost wages, mounting medical bills, and anxiety for you and your family.  In North Carolina, suffering an injury on the job may entitle you to benefits and a portion of your wages through a workers’ compensation claim. However, North Carolina workers’ compensation law requires you to file your workers’ compensation claim to receive benefits. More importantly, you must understand the statute of limitations for workers’ compensation in North Carolina to avoid the dismissal of your claim. Consult with a qualified North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney to represent you through every step of your claim and ensure you receive the just compensation you deserve.  What Is Workers’ Compensation?  Workers’ compensation insurance helps protect employees from financial loss when they are hurt on the job or get sick due to a work-related issue. The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act provides that all businesses employing over three employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ compensation provides benefits to workers injured on the job and includes the following types of benefits: A portion of lost wages,  Medical treatment, and  Death benefits.  Contact a workers’ compensation attorney to determine whether you qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. It’s important to note that North Carolina law provides special exemptions of coverage under the Act. These include the following types of employees: Employees not in the course of the trade, business, or profession of the employer,  Employees of certain railroad companies,  Household employees,  Farm laborers working for someone with less than ten full-time laborers, and Federal employees. Employees are not responsible for paying workers’ compensation benefits. Additionally, employers may not escape the requirement of workers’ compensation by merely referring to workers as independent contractors. It’s essential to file any claims for workers’ compensation within the statute of limitations to avoid your claim’s dismissal. What Is the Statute of Limitations on My Workers’ Compensation Claim? In North Carolina, the statute of limitations on workers’ compensation claims is two years. This means that you must pursue a claim for workers’ compensation within two years of your injury. However, North Carolina law also requires that you first provide notice of your injuries or illness to your employees within 30 days of the injury. You must file your workers’ compensation claim with the North Carolina Industrial Commission.  Many employees fail to file their claim within the statute of limitations for workers’ compensation or make other mistakes in pursuing their claim, such as:  Failing to report the injury in writing first to their employer; Waiting to see a doctor and not getting a medical evaluation of their injury or illness; or  Failing to adequately document the injury or illness. Many injured workers hesitate to file their claims if they plan to work for the same employer. However, your employer may not terminate your employment or take adverse action against you based on your filing a workers’ compensation claim. The Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA) protects individuals who engage in protected activities under the Act, such as filing a workers’ compensation claim. However, an employer may terminate you if your injury renders you unable to work. Despite your termination, as long as you file your claim within the statute of limitations for workers’ compensation, you will continue to receive workers’ compensation until you can work.  A workers’ compensation attorney can assist injured workers in filing their claims.  Your attorney should possess an understanding of workers’ compensation laws in North Carolina. Studies have shown that individuals often experience greater success when they retain an attorney to assist in claims against insurance companies. When it comes to catastrophic costs due to lost wages and ongoing medical injuries, a workers’ compensation attorney works to pursue every type of benefit owed to you under your workers’ compensation claim. What Is Covered by Workers’ Compensation?  Not all workers’ compensation injuries involve physical injury. Workers’ compensation coverage may also include mental illness and occupational diseases.  Workers’ compensation coverage may provide benefits for the following: Injuries suffered due to an accident while on the job; Illness caused by exposure to toxic substances at work; Repetitive stress injuries that get worse over time due to your work; and Death resulting from such an illness or injury. Once you receive workers’ compensation benefits, you may not seek recovery from your employer through a separate personal injury lawsuit.  In situations where your workers’ compensation coverage fails to adequately pay for all the expenses you incur due to your injury, there may be situations where you may pursue a lawsuit against a third party. A possible third party may include manufacturers of equipment directly related to your injury or another business associated with your employment. Consult with a qualified attorney to determine what options are available to you in pursuing additional compensation for your injuries. Who Can File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?  When a North Carolina employee is injured on the job or develops an occupational illness, they are generally eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. The two-year statute of limitations begins from the initial date of accident or, in the case of occupational diseases, when a qualified medical expert diagnoses the employee and relates the disease or condition to their occupation.  How to File a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Claim The first step in the workers’ compensation claim process is to notify your employer of the injury. It is important to do this within 30 days of the injury. Notification should be provided via written notice, but can be verbal if giving written notice is not feasible.  As an employee, you should then file a Form 18 Notice of Accident to Employer and Claim of Employee with the North Carolina Industrial Commission, which serves as an official claim filing. As noted above, an injured employee has two years to submit this form.  Contact Us  The board-certified attorneys at Mehta McConnell Law will assist you at every stage of filing your workers’ compensation claim. We understand the statute of limitations for workers’ compensation claims and evaluate your case to...

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 3 minutes | Workers' Compensation

What Is Light Duty Work in North Carolina?

Suffering an injury on the job can be a stressful experience. You may wonder whether workers’ comp will cover any medical bills. You may also wonder whether your employer plans to offer light-duty work while you recover. Contact a qualified workers’ compensation attorney to determine what expenses workers’ comp covers as well as your rights and obligations with respect to light-duty work. What Is Light Duty Work? If you are receiving workers’ comp, light duty work may be an issue that has come up for you. Light duty applies to situations where a person is capable of returning to work but, because of their injury, can only perform certain aspects of their job. Options for light duty work may include the following, depending on your injury: Fewer hours,  Job modifications to prevent reinjury, or A new position.  Workers’ compensation pays only a portion of your wages while you are unable to work. Therefore, if you are receiving workers’ comp, light duty work can allow you to receive more of your normal income than you would have otherwise. Workers’ Comp Light Duty: How Does It Work? The Department of Labor encourages employers paying workers’ comp to offer light duty positions to injured workers.  Your employer is not required to offer you a light duty position if you suffer an injury on the job. Additionally, your employer may not force you to return to work early if you are not physically able to do so. However, if your employer offers you light duty work that complies with limitations set by your physician, then you must accept their offer. Your return to work hinges on your physical capability to perform your job tasks without reaggravating your injury. A physician’s recommendation determines when you may return to your pre-injury work.  Your employer must expressly make any light duty job offer. Absent a formal job offer, you possess no obligation to return to work. Based on the job’s light duty requirements, the law does not require your employer to pay you the same wages you earned before your injury. Upon accepting the light duty job offer, you must work this job until your recovery completes.  Can I Work While on Light Duty Waiting on a Workers’ Comp Claim? You can still receive workers’ comp benefits while performing light duty work. However, there are some ways your light duty work may affect workers’ comp. Compensation  In most cases, when a worker obtaining wage replacement benefits is able to return to work, their workers’ compensation wage replacement benefits end. However, if someone is working on light duty while waiting on a workers’ comp claim, they may continue to be eligible for some wage benefits. If the worker is unable to earn the same wages that they earned before their injury or has to work fewer hours while on light duty, they will be eligible for temporary partial disability benefits. Compensation equates to two-thirds of the difference between your pre-injury wages and your post-injury wages. Calculation of your temporary partial disability rate is completed on a week-by-week basis with a maximum of 300 weeks permitted from the accident date. Rehabilitation  Additionally, if your injury requires vocational rehabilitation, your employer must pay for these services if your pay is less than 75% of your earnings pre-injury. For this reason, many workers find their employers maximizing their wages, despite light-duty work, to avoid paying for vocational rehabilitation.  Medical Benefits Any medical costs or expenses incurred that resulted from your work-related injury must be paid by the workers’ comp insurance. The workers’ comp insurance company forwards these expenses to the Industrial Commission for review as to their reasonableness. If approved, the workers’ comp insurance pays your bills. Light-duty work does not affect your ability to receive compensation for your medical costs. Even if you continue to work, the workers’ compensation insurer will be responsible to pay for any ongoing medical treatment related to your workplace injury.  Contact Us Mehta & McConnell, PLLC attorneys are board-certified workers’ compensation lawyers prepared to assist you on the road to recovery after a work-related injury. Our attorneys work to ensure you receive all the benefits you are entitled to, even if you are working on light duty. Contact our office today to receive a free consultation. We can answer any questions you may have regarding light-duty and workers’ compensation benefits.

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 3 minutes | Workers' Compensation

When is Disability Compensation Paid in North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Cases?

If you have filed a North Carolina workers’ compensation claim and the insurance company has accepted it to be compensable, you are entitled to receive disability compensation if you lose wages at work due to your injury.  The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act defines “disability” as the “incapacity because of injury to earn the wages which the employee was receiving at the time of injury in the same or any other employment.” If your wage-earning capacity has been reduced or completely extinguished due to your work injury, then you are owed disability benefits. Workers’ compensation disability benefits are not considered taxable income by either the state of North Carolina or the federal government. As you can imagine, disability benefits are expensive for insurance companies.  They will take steps throughout your case to avoid paying disability benefits or stop the benefits you are receiving.  If the insurance company is successfully able to stop your disability benefits, then it will be a long and uphill battle to get them restarted.  The board-certified North Carolina workers’ compensation specialists at Mehta & McConnell will advise you of your rights to disability compensation. We will fight to protect your disability benefits and increase the value of your claim. Contact us today to get started! Your Rights as an Injured Worker Your average weekly wage at the time of injury will be used to calculate the amount of weekly disability compensation you are entitled to receive.  Attorneys use an Industrial Commission Form 22 and supporting wage records to calculate an injured worker’s average weekly wage.  The employer is responsible for completing Form 22 and producing supporting wage records.  Industrial Commission Rules give employers a strict deadline to produce Form 22 and wage records. Our experienced workers’ compensation attorneys will help you calculate the amount of benefits you are owed in your case.   Types of Disability Compensation Temporary Total Disability Benefits You are entitled to receive temporary total disability benefits if you are completely out of work due to your compensable work injury. The insurance company must pay you temporary total disability benefits in the amount of 2/3 of your pre-injury average weekly wage.  The North Carolina Industrial Commission each year establishes a maximum weekly amount for temporary total disability benefits.  An injured worker can receive up to 500 weeks of temporary total disability benefits.  After 425 weeks have passed since the date of first disability, an injured worker may make an application to the Industrial Commission to extend temporary total disability benefits beyond the 500-week limit. Temporary Partial Disability Benefits If you have returned to work after a compensable injury but are earning less than your pre-injury average weekly wage, you may be entitled to receive temporary partial disability benefits.  Your entitlement to temporary partial disability benefits is calculated by subtracting your post-injury average weekly wage from your pre-injury average weekly wage. You are entitled to receive 2/3 of the difference as temporary partial disability benefits.  Temporary partial disability benefits are often calculated on a weekly basis because your wages may fluctuate from week to week.  You cannot receive weekly temporary partial disability benefits for an amount greater than the annual maximum weekly amount for disability benefits set by the Industrial Commission. You can receive temporary partial disability benefits for up to 500 weeks, subject to certain conditions. Permanent and Total Disability Benefits In cases involving catastrophic injuries, an injured worker may qualify for permanent total disability benefits. A permanently and totally disabled injured worker will be able to receive temporary total disability benefits for the remainder of their lifetime unless their employer can prove they are able to return to suitable employment.  A permanently and totally disabled worker is also entitled to receive medical treatment for their compensable injuries for the remainder of their lifetime. Proving Your Claim for Disability Compensation The injured worker has an ongoing burden of establishing entitlement to receive disability benefits. This can be a week-to-week burden in certain cases. Just because you were entitled to receive disability benefits in a previous week does not guarantee your entitlement to receive the same benefits in the future.   The rules for proving your claim for disability benefits are complex. The burden of proof can vary depending on the type of the injury, the posture of the case, and the type of benefits claimed.   As already mentioned, insurance companies do not like paying disability benefits. Insurance companies will often force injured workers to prove their entitlement to receive disability benefits. Experienced legal representation by a board-certified workers’ compensation specialist will enable you to maximize your recovery of disability benefits.   Contact Us Today You don’t have to go through the hurdles of proving your disability claim alone. Let us see if we can help you increase the value of your North Carolina workers’ compensation claim. Contact us online or call us at 980-446-3301 for a free and confidential initial consultation with a board-certified workers’ compensation specialist.

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 3 minutes | Workers' Compensation

What You Need to Know if Your North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Claim is Denied

After you are injured at work, your employer and its workers’ compensation carrier will likely file a written report of the injury.  You will be given a copy of the written report and you will then have the option to file a workers’ compensation claim on a North Carolina Industrial Commission Form 18.  The information you write on Form 18 will be used to evaluate whether your claim is compensable.  It is prudent to consult an experienced attorney before completing Form 18 to ensure you don’t include information that will weaken your claim. After you file a Form 18, the insurance company has 30 days to decide whether to accept or deny your claim.  Depending on the circumstances and severity of the injury, the insurance company may decide to accept or deny your claim even before you file a Form 18. What Happens if My Claim is Denied? The Defendants will file a Form 61 if they are denying your claim. The Form 61 will list the reason(s) for the denial.  The following are some common reasons for denying workers’ compensation claims in North Carolina: The Defendants claim your injury was not caused by an accident. The Defendants claim your employment did not place you at an increased risk and cause you to develop an occupational disease. The Defendants allege your impairment or intoxication was the cause of your work injury. The employer claims you were not their employee on the date of injury. The Defendants don’t think you are credible. The employer claims it didn’t receive timely notice of your injury. If your claim is denied, you have the burden of proving to the North Carolina Industrial Commission that your claim should be found compensable.  It can be difficult to establish a compensable claim without having an experienced workers’ compensation attorney representing you.   Both of the attorneys at Mehta & McConnell are certified by the North Carolina State Bar as specialists in workers’ compensation law.  To become board certified specialists, they had to pass a rigorous examination and complete a review process by their peers.  We have successfully litigated cases before all levels of the North Carolina Industrial Commission, Court of Appeals, and Supreme Court.  We will help you evaluate if litigation makes sense in your case and if so, we know the steps to take to increase your chances of receiving a favorable decision. Can the Insurance Company Only Deny Parts of My Claim? In some cases, the Defendants will acknowledge you sustained a compensable injury, but they will deny that certain medical treatment is related to your injury.  Or, the insurance company will authorize your medical treatment but argue that you are not entitled to receive disability benefits. The North Carolina Industrial Commission has administrative procedures for resolving some of these disputes in accepted claims.  Either party can appeal an administrative decision and request a full evidentiary hearing. Can I Sue My Employer for Denying My Claim? Injured workers often wonder if they are suing their employer if they file a workers’ compensation claim.  A workers’ compensation claim is not a lawsuit in civil court.  Instead, the workers’ compensation system was created as a substitute for civil lawsuits.  Workers’ compensation claims in North Carolina are filed with the Industrial Commission, which is a state administrative agency.  The Industrial Commission administers your workers’ compensation claim and will decide any disputes that arise in your claim. If your claim is denied, you will have to prove it is compensable at a full evidentiary hearing.  There are legal elements that must be met for your claim to be compensable.  You have the burden of proving each and every element of your claim.   The hearing process is lengthy and can consume you emotionally.  The hearing process is often not cost-effective, and it will take months or even years to receive a final decision in your case.  Furthermore, there is no guarantee you will receive a favorable decision.   You will have an opportunity to explore a settlement of your claim prior to proceeding to hearing.  Almost all cases proceed to mediation before the hearing.  A reasonable settlement at mediation is often a better outcome for an injured worker than going through the lengthy hearing process because you will be able to receive monetary compensation for your injury and move on with your life sooner. If your case is denied, we will evaluate your chances of prevailing at the hearing.  We will help you decide whether a settlement makes sense in your case.  Contact us for a free consultation about your claim.  Remember – we don’t get paid unless you do.  We will work to obtain the best outcome for you, either through settlement or litigation.

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 4 minutes | Workers' Compensation

What You Need to Know About North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Laws

The Workers’ Compensation Act governs workers’ compensation claims in North Carolina. The North Carolina Industrial Commission administers workers’ compensation claims.  The Workers’ Compensation Act gives the Industrial Commission the authority to enact rules that must be followed in claims.  An experienced workers’ compensation attorney will ensure your claim complies with this complex set of laws and rules. How Does Workers’ Compensation Work in NC? Workers’ compensation is “compromise legislation.” An injured worker can receive workers’ compensation benefits even if their mistake contributed to their accident.  In exchange, the injured worker cannot sue their employer in civil court and seek certain damages such as pain and suffering. The injured worker can usually only recover damages for their lost wages and payment for their medical treatment related to their injury. Disputes in workers’ compensation claims usually arise over the wage loss benefits and medical treatment an injured worker is entitled to receive.  You may feel you are not receiving the treatment necessary to recover from your injury. Or, you may not be receiving payment for your lost wages.  A workers’ compensation attorney can pursue your claim before the Industrial Commission. Statute of Limitations for Workers’ Compensation in NC You should report your injury to your employer as soon as possible. Verbal notice is generally acceptable, but it is preferable to report the injury in writing. In fact, the Workers’ Compensation Act requires you to provide a written report of your injury within 30 days unless you can satisfy one of the exceptions to this requirement.   Providing your employer notice of your injury does not meet you have filed a workers’ compensation claim. You have two years from the date of your injury to formally file a claim. You must file your claim on an Industrial Commission Form 18.  This form must be carefully completed as it contains your description of the events that caused your injury. The Form 18 you file with the Industrial Commission may be later used by the Defendants to attack your credibility. If there are any disputes in your claim, either party can file a Form 33 to request a hearing.  There is no statute of limitations for filing a hearing request as long as you have timely filed a workers’ compensation claim. Coverage for Workers’ Compensation Insurance Just like you buy auto or home insurance, your employer must purchase workers’ compensation insurance unless they are a very small business.  Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company will likely be responsible for paying for your benefits. When you file a workers’ compensation claim, you are filing a claim against both your employer and its insurance company. Some large employers are self-insured. This means they are directly responsible for your benefits, at least up to a certain amount.  Even these large employers often have a third-party administrator, such as Sedgwick or Gallagher-Bassett, which handles their workers’ compensation claims on a day-to-day basis.   The insurance company or third-party administrator will assign your case to a claim representative, commonly known as an adjuster.  The insurance adjuster is the person responsible for issuing the benefits owed to you and administering your claim. Workers’ Compensation Benefits There are two primary types of workers’ compensation benefits. The first is wage loss benefits, also known as disability benefits.  If your injury causes a loss in your capacity to earn wages, then you have a claim for disability benefits. You are entitled to receive 2/3 of your pre-injury average weekly wage if you experience a total loss of earning capacity.  If you are still able to earn wages after your injury but at a lower amount, you are entitled to receive 2/3 of the difference between your pre-injury and post-injury average weekly wage if you can prove your injury is the cause of your lost wages.  Disability benefits are generally tax-free.   The second primary workers’ compensation benefit is medical treatment.  Your employer and its insurance company are responsible for providing medical treatment reasonably necessary to effect a cure, provide relief, or lessen the period of your disability.  Medical treatment in workers’ compensation claims often includes treatment with an orthopedist, physical therapy, prescription medication, and surgery. There are also lesser-known types of medical treatment such as attendant care and vocational rehabilitation benefits. Both of the attorneys at Mehta & McConnell are board-certified specialists in North Carolina workers’ compensation law. With over 30 years of combined experience, we will ensure you receive all the medical and disability benefits you are entitled to under the law.   Frequently Asked Questions We understand you never expected you would be injured at your job, and you certainly never thought you would need to hire a workers’ compensation lawyer.  We hope the questions below and the content on our website will answer your questions and ease your mind about your claim. How do I pay my workers’ compensation attorney?  We know most people cannot pay legal expenses out of pocket. The good news is you will not pay us out of your pocket. Our fee for our representation is 25% of any monetary benefits we are able to recover in your workers’ compensation claim. We don’t get paid unless you do. What is I was injured while driving for work?  If you are driving to and from work, you likely do not have a valid workers’ compensation claim.  The “coming and going” rule bars workers’ compensation claim for injuries sustained while a worker drives to and from their job unless the trip meets on of the exceptions to the rule.  You may still have a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver.  If you were driving for a work-related task and you were hit by an at-fault driver, then you have both a workers’ compensation and a personal injury claim. The workers’ compensation carrier will have a lien against any recovery in your personal injury claim unless the lien is negotiated or waived.  We handle both personal injury and workers’ compensation matters.  We will work to ensure you receive maximum recoveries from both claims. What happens to my job after an injury?  Your employer is not required to keep...

Continue Reading

| Read Time: 3 minutes | Workers' Compensation

Top Ten Most Common Workplace Injuries in North Carolina

Our work environments can often be filled with hidden dangers. In this article, we will discuss some of the most common workplace injuries, many of which may not be as obvious as you may think. Lifting Injuries One of the easiest ways to become injured at work is from lifting heavy objects. Your job may require you to lift things as a normal activity, or very rarely. However, injuries caused from lifting may be compensable in either case. Overuse Injuries Other injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tenosynovitis, or other similar injuries to the ligaments and tendons and soft tissues, may be caused by overuse or repetitive use of the same body part.  Overuse or repetitive motion injuries can be compensable in North Carolina if the work environment exposes the worker to a higher risk of the development of these conditions than would otherwise be found in the everyday environment. Slip-and-falls Slips, trips, and falls are not uncommon in the workplace. They may be caused by a temporary hazard, such as a puddle of water in a bathroom or break room, or simply an unexplained stumble.  In North Carolina, slips, trips and falls can be compensable if they are caused by a condition of the workplace, or if the reason for the fall is unexplained. Falls from Heights Many occupations in North Carolina, whether in the construction fields or in manufacturing and warehousing employments, require workers to work on ladders and other types of elevated platforms.  Falls from heights can be devastating, resulting in multiple, serious injuries. These types of accidents and resulting injuries are compensable in North Carolina, regardless of the fault of the employee involved. Motor Vehicle Accidents Although accidents during our daily commutes are not typically compensable, motor vehicle accidents that arise while we are performing duties necessary to our employer can be.  If your job requires you to operate a motor vehicle, as a delivery driver perhaps, or to visit customers of your employer, accidents that occur in those cases can be compensable. Cuts and Lacerations Many manufacturing jobs require individuals to operate machinery and tools that can cause lacerations to the hands and other body parts. Whether relatively minor or requiring stitches to repair, these injuries can be compensable in North Carolina. Furthermore, the scarring that results from such injuries may also entitle the injured worker to compensation. Inhaling Harmful Fumes/Toxic Substances Many manufacturing environments can be dusty and dirty places. Poor ventilation and the lack of requirements for personal protective equipment can create situations where individuals may become sick from inhaling harmful substances. Whether such conditions arise over time, or suddenly from a one-time exposure, these injuries can be compensable in North Carolina. Exposure to Loud Noise Similar to instances of inhaling harmful or toxic substances, many workplaces, whether enclosed manufacturing facilities or outdoor construction sites, can be places where constant high volumes of noise are encountered.  Over time, even with the use of personal protective hearing equipment, some hearing loss may occur.  These types of situations are often compensable in North Carolina. Burns (from open flames, hot equipment, negligence of other co-workers) Whether you are working around hot equipment in a manufacturing facility, or as a cook in a commercial kitchen, or as a mechanic at an auto-dealership, burns are often routine injuries experienced in the work environment.  Burn injuries can be more severe than initially anticipated and can lead to permanent scarring and even nerve damage.  It is important that injured workers be compensated for these types of injuries. Traumatic Brain Injuries These types of injuries can be difficult to diagnose and treat. Often, employers question the severity of these types of injuries, and recovery can take months or even years.  It is important that workers suffering from Traumatic Brain or closed head injuries seek treatment from the proper medical specialists in order to fully diagnose and treat their conditions. These types of injuries are often initially denied by employers and may require significant litigation before the injured worker is fairly compensated. When Should You Hire A Workers’ Comp Attorney? If you have been injured at work or have questions about workers’ compensation claims, our experienced North Carolina workplace accident lawyer can meet with you to discuss your case and answer any questions or concerns you may have. Let us see if we can help you increase the value of your claim in a cost-effective and efficient way.  Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.

Continue Reading