What rights do injured delivery workers have when hurt on the job?
Delivery workers have long played an essential role in the economies of North and South Carolina, and the services they provide have taken on even greater importance since the major surge in online shopping during the pandemic.
Today, delivery companies—including UPS, FedEx, Amazon and USPS—maintain a significant presence and provide many people with steady careers.
Currently, the U.S. Postal Service has over 5,000 employees in South Carolina and around 11,000 in North Carolina. FedEx recently added 1,200 employees to its Charlotte, North Carolina staff, and Amazon added over 500 new employees to the area over the summer. The demand for delivery workers is only expected to rise as people increase their online shopping.
Unfortunately, this increase in demand means delivery drivers are under pressure to work quicker and more effectively, leading to higher incidences of accidents while working—ranging from minor mishaps to catastrophic, disabling injuries and even fatalities.
Serious injuries can have a life-long impact, but fortunately, workers’ compensation provides benefits to pay for medical expenses and lost wages if you’re injured at work.
Common injuries among delivery drivers
Around 83 delivery drivers lost their lives due to work-related accidents in 2019, with a large percentage occurring during deliveries or collections. Moreover, around 8,020 delivery drivers experienced non-fatal work-related injuries that year. These numbers don’t seem to be declining in recent years.
Delivery drivers have a variety of responsibilities and duties. On any given day, they may be tasked with the following:
- Loading and sorting packages
- Maneuvering through crowded areas
Delivery workers are at high risk of suffering overexertion and repetitive motion injuries (like carpal tunnel syndrome) due to the heavy lifting and repetitive actions involved in sorting, loading and transporting items.
There is also constant competition among shipping businesses to reduce delivery times as much as feasible, making slip-and-fall injuries common as well.
Other frequent work-related injuries for delivery drivers include:
- Neck and back injuries
- Cuts and abrasions
- Crush injuries (from falling packages)
- Animal bite injuries
When vehicle accidents occur on the road, delivery drivers are also at risk of:
- Amputated limbs
- Broken bones
What injuries and illnesses are covered under workers’ comp in North and South Carolina?
In North and South Carolina, most employers are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance—a form of insurance that provides benefits to employees who are injured on the job.
Workers’ compensation is no-fault insurance. This means that workers don’t have to prove that their employer was to blame for their accident or injury to receive benefits. Workers only need to prove the following:
- They suffered an injury or illness.
- The injury occurred at work or while they were performing work duties.
- The injury cost them money due to medical expenses or lost wages during recovery.
An injury or illness would not be covered, for example, if it would have happened even if you weren’t working (like a stroke caused by chronic high blood pressure).
How do you file a workers’ compensation claim?
An employee that is injured while driving for UPS, FedEx, Amazon or other private companies must follow the steps required to file a workers’ compensation claim through their employer.
Injured postal workers, however, will go through a different system to obtain compensation since they’re employed by the federal government.
Workers in North and South Carolina should take the following steps to ensure they remain eligible for compensation after an injury:
- Seek medical treatment. With the exception of emergencies, injured workers must get medical treatment from an employer-approved doctor. Never wait to see a doctor after an injury, as any delay in treatment can make it more difficult to tie your injury to a work event, which could hurt your chance at compensation.
- Report the injury to your employer as soon as possible. In North Carolina, workers must notify their employer in writing within 30 days of their injury, and in South Carolina, notice must be given within 90 days. Failure to provide notice within the specified timeframe will disqualify you from collecting benefits.
- Your employer must file a claim. After they receive written notice of your injury, your employer is required to file a workers’ comp claim on your behalf.
- Contact an attorney for help with your claim. If your employer refuses to file your claim or your claim is denied, you should contact a workers’ compensation attorney to ensure your rights are protected.
Workers’ compensation cases can be complicated and stressful, especially if your employer disputes or denies your claim. Working with an experienced workers’ comp lawyer can help reduce the stress that you’re under and could make it easier to get the full amount of compensation you deserve.
When it comes to workers’ compensation, there is a lot of misinformation, myths and misconceptions out there that confuse everyday folks who aren’t sure whether or not they are covered.
What types of workers’ comp benefits are delivery workers entitled to?
Workers’ compensation was created to offer injured workers several important benefits.
You may already know that you can be compensated for your lost wages. Having to take time off of work to get treatment for your injury results in decreased pay, and you can file a claim to recover a portion or all of your wages.
There are also times when you may experience diminished work capacity. This could be a permanent situation that affects how much money you can make over the course of your lifetime. In these cases, you could receive disability benefits that are meant to help you make up for this change.
Your workers’ comp settlement can also cover the cost of your medical care. Medical exams, testing, medications, surgeries and physical therapy all add up. Although your health insurance may cover a portion of it, many delivery workers are left with out-of-pocket costs that can reach into the thousands.
When you file a claim, your lawyer can include documentation of costs that you incurred to help them get paid or reimbursed.
Certain dependents of workers who die as a result of their work-related injuries or illnesses are entitled to benefits for funeral expenses and lost future earnings.
Top workers’ comp mistakes to avoid after an injury
There are 2 common mistakes that workers make after they experience a work-related injury.
The first is trying to brush off an injury as “no big deal.” You are required to report your injury to your employer as soon as possible, so delaying a report could result in your claim being denied.
The second mistake is trying to handle a claim yourself. Workers’ compensation negotiations and settlements can quickly get complicated. In some cases, an employer may try to claim that the injury was a pre-existing condition or that you didn’t follow the right protocols for accident prevention—or you may be tempted to accept a small settlement before you know the full extent of your injuries because you need the money now.
Benefits of hiring a local Charlotte workers’ comp attorney
Working with a knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer who understands the nuances involved with these claims increases your odds of securing the best possible outcome.
Work-related injuries are physically, emotionally and financially damaging. While you focus on healing your mind and body, an attorney can help you start working on making sure that an accident doesn’t permanently ruin your finances. Ensuring that each detail of your case is covered helps you move forward with recovering from a work injury.