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.
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.
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.
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 of your life. Injuries that entitle you to these benefits include:
- Certain losses of multiple body parts,
- Certain spinal injuries involving severe paralysis,
- Certain head/brain injuries that cause permanent disturbances,
- Third-degree burns over at least 33% of the body, and
- Second-degree burns over at least 33% of the body.
Basically, if your injury prevents you from returning to suitable employment, your employer needs to compensate you.
Sometimes injuries make permanent and visible differences in your body. If your work injury caused disfigurement, compensation could be included in your permanent partial disability payments, or your disfigurement could entitle you to as much as $20,000 in additional compensation.
A workers’ compensation settlement can come with limits you might not anticipate.
Child support obligations, Medicare rules, Social Security benefits, or unemployment benefits could reduce your settlement amount or restrict how you spend the money. Experienced attorneys are aware of these potential restrictions and can help you navigate them successfully.
Contact an Attorney for a Successful Negotiation
The attorneys at Mehta & McConnell, PLLC, have what you need for a successful settlement: skill, compassion, and dedication. We have more than 30 years of combined experience, and we get results. Contact us online or call us at 980-222-0135 for a free consultation.