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Union workers often have some of the most dangerous jobs. Like non-union workers, union workers are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if injured on the job.

While workers’ compensation for both are similar and the benefits will ultimately be the same, the process, support, and workers’s rights can look different for union workers in North Carolina.

In many instances, union workers have more rights, protections, and benefits than non-union workers.

Union Employee Injury Benefit

Workers compensation is a form of no-fault insurance the employer provides for the employee. In exchange for benefits and protections, the employee typically forfeits the right to sue the employer for injuries or illnesses incurred while working. 

While union and non-union employees are entitled to workers’ compensation insurance, union workers possess more rights and protections than their non-union counterparts. 

Typically, union workers have access to protections that non-union workers might not. For instance, union workers have easier access to information regarding workers’ compensation insurance, the benefits, how to file for benefits, where to seek medical treatment, and generally what to expect. 

Unlike a non-unionized worker, a labor union member may have job security. For example, they may be entitled to have their jobs held for them for a specific time following an injury or keep their health benefits active while recovering.

Union workers’ compensation benefits will be the same for an injured union worker as a non-union worker. The type and amount of benefits will depend on factors unique to the individual employee, regardless of union membership.

Types of Benefits

Types of workers’ compensation benefits that you may be entitled to, depending on the extent of your injury, could include:

  • Medical benefits—coverage of all reasonable and necessary medical treatment related to your injury;
  • Temporary total disability (TTD) benefits—temporary compensation for lost wages if your injury prevents you from working only short-term;
  • Permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits—partial compensation for a permanent injury that prevents you from working permanently; and
  • Vocational rehabilitation—job training or placement assistance if you cannot return to your previous job due to your injury.

Your medical expenses, anticipated medical treatment, lost wages, and severity of impairment will determine your workers’ compensation benefits. 

Workers’ Compensation Benefits and the Union, Charlotte, NC

Union workers are generally subject to collective bargaining agreements in which the workers, through representatives, negotiate their employment contracts with their employers to determine terms and conditions of employment.

Union workers must abide by the rules outlined in these agreements regarding workers’ compensation benefits. Most will reflect North Carolina state law, but employers may have special rules that apply.

When filing a workers’ compensation claim, you should always familiarize yourself with your union contract. Your workers’ compensation or union attorneys can assist you.

Collective bargaining agreements can also be beneficial to employees by providing other assistance such as:

  • Advising of the worker’s right to arbitrations under certain circumstances;
  • Advising of their right to report OSHA and safety violations without retaliation; and
  • Advising of possible benefits under medical or family leave laws.

Our experienced union workers’ compensation attorneys can help you assess and understand your rights and obligations under any collective bargaining agreement.

Common Union Job Injuries

Union jobs are often in dangerous environments and require physical, high-risk, manual labor. Many industries have unionized workers, including:

  • Construction,
  • First responders,
  • Healthcare workers,
  • Commercial truckers,
  • Manufacturing,
  • Airline and airport employees,
  • Automobile industry workers,
  • Electricians, and
  • Plumbers.

Union workers face work hazards daily, and while the cause and types of injuries can vary widely, common injuries we routinely see include:

  • Broken bones,
  • Traumatic brain injuries,
  • Neck and back injuries,
  • Spinal cord injuries,
  • Loss of limbs,
  • Crush injuries,
  • Burn injuries,
  • Occupational illnesses, and
  • Death.

You may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits if you suffered any of these injuries while working in a union. Our experienced North Carolina attorneys will assess your case and advise you on your legal options.

What Steps Should You Take If Injured on a Union Job?

While the steps you should take after a union or non-union job injury will generally be the same, there are some nuances to be aware of when seeking workers’ compensation benefits as a union member. 

1. Report Your Injury

As a unionized worker, you must report your injury to your employer and union representative. You must inform them of the accident and injury as soon as possible.

2. Seek Medical Attention

Should your injury require immediate medical attention, you should always seek emergency treatment by calling 911 or going to your local emergency room.

Otherwise, employers and insurance companies often require you to see approved doctors for work-related injuries. You must see a physician approved by the insurer to avoid liability for the cost.

Always follow all physician’s recommendations, treatments, and overall recovery plan.

3. Keep Thorough Records

You should document everything you can about your accident and injury. Keep your medical records, out-of-pocket bills, insurance paperwork, and receipts. 

4. Consult an Attorney

After a work injury and filing a workers’ compensation claim, your employer will likely ask you to answer questions and participate in an interview. We strongly encourage you to secure representation from your workers’ compensation attorney, union representative, or both to protect your rights. 

Our workers’ compensation lawyers are seasoned advocates for injured union workers. We have the knowledge, skill, and resources to fight for you if your claim is denied or unreasonably delayed.

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorneys

At Mehta & McConnell, PLLC, we have over 30 years of combined experience representing injured workers. If you are a union member recently injured while working, we are here to assist you and ensure you receive all the benefits you are entitled to. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Author Photo

Jason McConnell

Jason McConnell is the managing attorney of Mehta & McConnell Injury Lawyers, a Charlotte, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation law firm. In his free time he enjoys playing golf, cooking, traveling and following the UNC Tar Heels and Carolina Panthers.

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