| Read Time: 5 minutes | Personal Injury

What Is the Average Workers’ Compensation Settlement Amount in North Carolina?

There are a lot of wonderful tradeoffs for your hard work: money, skills, relationships, etc. But sometimes a work accident can damage your health. Fortunately, many employees who suffer a work injury are eligible to receive workers’ (or workman’s) compensation benefits to compensate them for lost earnings and for required medical treatment.  Sometimes it is best to receive your benefits through a workers’ compensation claim, while in others it may be in your best interest to settle your workers’ compensation claim. If you are an injured worker interested in settlement, you should understand what determines worker’s compensation settlement amounts in North Carolina, and how the attorneys of Mehta & McConnell may be able to assist you. Workers’ Compensation Benefit Statistics According to the National Security Council, the average cost of a workers’ compensation claim for 2017 and 2018 combined was $41,003. This average does not mean you will receive that amount in a settlement, but rather gives you an idea of a claim’s potential value. There is no real average workers’ compensation settlement amount because your settlement depends on the nature and severity of your injury, the body part(s) injured, and the amount of money you earned prior to your injury.  Finally, the extent of your recovery will also determine, in part, the overall value of your claim.  What Kinds of Benefits Can I Receive in a Workers’ Compensation Claim? Many injured workers in North Carolina choose to resolve their workers’ compensation claims via a Compromise Settlement Agreement.  Workers’ compensation settlement amounts in North Carolina normally represent a portion of the total benefits you would have received in a claim if you had remained in the workers’ compensation system. Although in some cases you may settle a portion of your claim while leaving other benefits open, the purpose of a Compromise Settlement Agreement is usually to resolve the entire claim.  The two main areas of compensation afforded to injured workers in North Carolina are medical compensation, and wage loss compensation. Another term for wage loss compensation, or compensation for the time you miss from work, is called indemnity compensation.  Medical Benefits In an accepted workers’ compensation claim, your employer has the right to direct your medical care to the doctors they choose.  In return, they are required to pay for all reasonably necessary medical care, so long as it is intended to offer relief, shorten the period of disability, or cure the disease or condition caused by the accident. While this system can give workers access to care they might not otherwise have, it is not always the best. You might decide to settle your claim so you can change doctors as you please and direct your own medical care.  When is a good time to settle your workers’ compensation medical claim? Only when you are relatively certain as to the full extent of your injury, and have a good idea of what kind of future medical care you will require, and for how long you will need it. Pay close attention to your doctor’s treatment recommendations and their prognosis for your condition. Although there is no magical workers’ compensation injury settlement calculator that applies to everyone, you can use your doctor’s recommendations and the North Carolina Industrial Commission Medical Fee Schedule to figure out how much your employer may spend on your medical treatment. Indemnity Benefits In many cases, a work injury not only creates a need for medical care, but also causes financial loss in the form of time out of work and lost wages. Workers’ compensation covers your financial losses by replacing the wages you could not earn during your recovery, and compensating you for any permanent impairment caused by your accident. Your average weekly wage (AWW) is a large part of determining the amount of indemnity benefits you are entitled to. Calculating your correct average weekly wage is not always straightforward, and can be difficult. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help make sure your AWW is calculated fairly so that you receive the maximum amount of compensation you are entitled to. Temporary Total Disability Compensation If your work injury takes you completely out of work for more than seven days, you may be eligible to receive temporary total disability (TTD) benefits to replace part of your lost wages. The compensation rate for your TTD benefits is calculated to be two-thirds of your average weekly wage. These benefits have a statutory minimum and a statutory maximum.  Temporary Partial Disability Compensation Your temporary partial disability (TPD) benefits cover your wage loss when you can work but your injury requires that you work less than usual. Your TPD rate is two-thirds of the difference between your pre-injury AWW and the amount you are able to earn after your injury. Permanent Partial Disability Compensation Unfortunately, not every injured worker makes a complete medical recovery after a work-related accident. Furthermore, even if you do make a good recovery and are able to return to work once you have reached maximum medical improvement, you may still be entitled to receive an award for permanent partial impairment (PPD). The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act provides compensation for permanent impairment based on the location of and severity of your injury and your TTD rate. Depending on your injury, you could receive these benefits for up to 300 weeks. Vocational Rehabilitation If you are unable, due to injury, to return to your prior occupation, or if your work injury causes you to earn less than 75% of your pre-injury average weekly wage after returning to work, you may be entitled to receive vocational rehabilitation services. These services can cover the cost of job training, re-education, vocational counseling, or job placement services to assist you in finding gainful suitable to any permanent work restrictions you may have. Permanent Total Disability Compensation We hope this does not happen to you, but sometimes a work injury is so severely disabling that you are entitled to receive payments at your TTD rate and medical care for the rest...

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Personal Injury

Do All Workers’ Compensation Claims End in a Settlement in North Carolina?

You may hear a lot about settlements when it comes to Workers’ Compensation claims. You may also be asking yourself “Do all workers’ compensation cases end in a settlement?” No, not all North Carolina Workers’ Compensation cases end in settlement, but some should.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that more than half of private workplace injuries in North Carolina were severe enough to require time off from work, job transfers, or work restrictions. Severe workplace injuries can redefine the way you support your household, and you should have financial options in those cases. If you have been injured in a work incident and are unsure if you should let your claim run its course or settle, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you decide. What Can a Workers’ Compensation Settlement Cover? You have up to 30 days after you get hurt at work to notify your employer of your accident. If your employer accepts your work injury claim, you could be entitled to a number of benefits, including:  Partial replacement of lost wages due to injury; Compensation for permanent impairment; Compensation for disfigurement;  Vocational rehabilitation services; and  Injury-related medical care. A settlement should cover all or some of the benefits mentioned above.  Are There Different Kinds of Settlements? Yes, there are different kinds of workers’ compensation settlements in North Carolina. Depending on the facts of your claim, you may want to enter into a full or partial settlement.  Full and Final Settlement of Your Claim: The Compromise Settlement Perhaps the scariest, but sometimes the most useful, settlement you can enter is a compromise settlement. This kind of settlement has the nickname “the clincher” because you give up your rights to receive workers’ compensation benefits after the settlement is approved. A compromise settlement can be risky if you are not certain that your injury will not require additional medical treatment in the future. It is also never certain that you will not have additional injury-related wage loss in the future. However, this kind of settlement can help you avoid the uncertainty and burdensome restrictions of the workers’ compensation system. Hiring an experienced attorney greatly reduces the risk in a compromise settlement. An attorney knows how to negotiate for maximum recovery and they have the expertise to steer you away from settlements that are not worth the risk.   Settlement of Only Your Permanent Impairment Benefits: The Form 26A Settlement If you think that all workers’ compensation claims end with healthcare providers completely curing injured workers, you are mistaken. In many cases, the medical benefits only bring an injured worker to “maximum medical improvement.” This means that the injured worker’s condition has become stable after treatment. If you reach maximum medical improvement without making a full medical recovery, you receive a disability rating. Your employer’s insurance pays you based on that rating.  However, there is a chance your medical provider will not give you a fair rating. Once you receive a rating from your authorized treating physician, you also have a right to receive a second opinion on that rating from a physician of your own choosing, paid for by your employer. Once you have received a rating, you may wish to resolve only the indemnity portion of your claim via a Form 26A settlement that pays for and closes the permanent disability portion of your claim. After entering a Form 26A settlement, you still have the right to receive medical care. If your condition changes, you have two years from your last compensation payment to request additional medical care. Settlement of Only Your Temporary Disability Benefits: The Form 21 Settlement One of the hardest parts of dealing with a work injury is not being able to do what you did before. This change in abilities can include your ability to work. If your work injury requires that you work fewer hours, or no hours, during treatment, you can receive temporary disability benefits. A Form 21 settlement allows you and your employer to settle on the amount of wage-loss compensation you receive. Once again, if you need additional medical compensation, you need to apply for it within two years of your last compensation payment.  Why Settle a Workers’ Compensation Case? While helpful for many, the workers’ compensation system can be unpredictable and restrictive. In an accepted workers’ compensation claim, your employer and their insurance carrier chooses the doctors who will treat you for your injury, and their decisions can affect what kind of disability payments you receive.  If your employer denies your claim, or if you do not agree with the decisions of your authorized treating physician, a hearing may be required to make any changes. A hearing can be time-consuming and stressful and the Industrial Commission might rule against you. With a settlement, you have more freedom to decide the course of your healthcare. A settlement can also protect you from the risk of an unfavorable ruling at a hearing.  How Can a Lawyer Help Me with Settlement? An important factor in receiving a fair settlement is understanding the full value of your claim and the right timing for entering into a settlement. You should not settle your claim until you know what your future medical and financial needs will likely be. Experienced attorneys know when the time is right to settle, and how to obtain the maximum value for your claim. Reach Out to an Attorney for Help Do all workers’ compensation cases end in a settlement? No, but you should contact an experienced attorney if you’re thinking about settling your case. At Mehta & McConnell, PLLC, our attorneys have over 30 years of combined experience. We are knowledgeable and dedicated to the plight of the injured worker. Contact us online today, or call us at 980-222-0135 for a free consultation. 

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Personal Injury

Can I Receive Workers Comp for a Repetitive Motion Injury?

When most people think of workplace injuries, accidents resulting in serious injury often come to mind. However, work injuries do not necessarily need to be the result of an accident. In some cases, repetitive movements can have a negative effect on the body, leading to permanent injury. You might be wondering, Can repetitive motion cause injury? The short answer is yes. If you wish to file a workers’ compensation claim, it is important to first understand workers’ compensation insurance, what repetitive motion injuries are, and how you can file a workers’ comp claim to receive your benefits. When you’re ready to file your workers’ compensation claim, Mehta & McConnell, PLLC, is ready to help you. What Is Workers’ Compensation? Workers’ compensation is a type of insurance most employers must carry for their employees. If you are an employee and suffer an injury at work, you can file a workers’ compensation claim to receive benefits. In exchange for providing these benefits, your employer is protected from lawsuits. And by filing a workers’ comp claim, your employer cannot typically be sued. However, if a third party plays a role in your work injury, you may be able to sue that party. This is a complicated area of law that your lawyer can help you with if you think it applies to you. Your workers’ compensation benefits should ideally be enough to cover your expenses and disability, if any exist.  If you suffer an injury at work, filing a workers’ compensation claim can help relieve some of the financial burden.  Workers’ Compensation Benefits The workers’ comp benefits you are entitled to receive will entirely depend on the type of injuries you’ve sustained and their severity. Benefits can include: Medical expenses, Lost wages, Temporary disability benefits, and Permanent disability benefits. In the most unfortunate circumstances, workers’ compensation will also cover death benefits and funeral expenses. If you are unaware of the benefits you can expect, discuss your case with a North Carolina workers’ comp attorney. What Is a Repetitive Motion Injury? Some jobs require employees to move their bodies in such a way that can eventually lead to harmful physical wear and tear. These movements can include repeated physical movements, posture or positions held for long periods of time, or overexertions. These movements cause stress on the body, resulting in damage to soft tissue, nerves, tendons, ligaments, or muscles. Once you’ve suffered a repetitive movement injury, it can make it difficult or even impossible to perform regular job functions. Common Types of Repetitive Use Injuries Repetitive motion injuries often become noticeable with certain lingering sensations in different parts of the body. These can include: Pain,  Tingling, Numbness, Soreness, and Weakness. Repetitive use injuries can vary depending on the job performed, but some of the most common kinds of injuries include: Carpal tunnel syndrome, Tendonitis, Bursitis, Tennis elbow, and Stress fractures. If you believe you’re suffering from a repetitive motion injury, do not hesitate to seek medical attention. Allowing a doctor to examine you can provide answers and allow you to file a workers’ compensation claim. Steps to Take for Your Workers Compensation Claim If you have a repetitive motion work injury, you may consider filing a workers’ compensation claim. It is important to follow certain steps to preserve your right to file your claim and receive your workers’ comp benefits.  Report Your Repetitive Use Injury Once you’ve discovered your injury, it is important to report it to your employer or immediate supervisor within 30 days. Be sure to make your report in writing, keeping a copy for your records.  Get Your Medical Records Visit your doctor to get a thorough diagnosis. Once you understand your repetitive motion injuries, you can follow your doctor’s directions and begin treatment. Your doctor will ensure everything is well recorded in your medical records for your workers’ compensation claim. Initiate Your Workers’ Compensation Claim If you wish to file your claim on your own, you can file a Form 18 with the Industrial Commission. It is important to begin your claim within two years to avoid forfeiting your right to workers’ compensation benefits. There are risks with filing a Form 18 without an attorney. The Form 18 is your first opportunity to describe why you have a compensable repetitive motion claim.  North Carolina workers’ compensation law only allows compensable repetitive motion injuries when strict legal standards are met.  If you state something incorrectly on the Form 18, you can bet it will be used as a basis to deny your claim by the insurance company. Consult with a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney Workers’ compensation claims can be challenging, especially when it comes to repetitive motion injuries. When you file your workers’ comp claim, it is best to do everything correctly and timely, helping ensure you get a fair chance at receiving the benefits owed to you. A North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney can help handle your claim to get the financial recovery you need during this trying time. Mehta & McConnell, PLLC., was founded in 2021 to help injured clients when they need it most. Our attorneys have over 30 years of combined experience. They spent most of that time working as defense attorneys, which taught them to fight hard for their clients while giving them a unique perspective. At our firm, you can expect care, compassion, and exceptional legal representation. Let’s discuss your case and see how we can help you. Contact us today.

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