North Carolina Workers’ Compensation
Put our experience to work for you
Workers’ Compensation Cases Can be Confusing
We understand the confusion and frustration that often results when you get hurt on the job. While coping with pain and injuries and working towards your physical recovery, there are phone calls to be made, forms to be filled out, communication that must take place between your employer, insurance companies, doctors’ offices, nurse case managers …. the list goes on and on.
Knowing your rights is half the battle, and the Wilder Pantazis Law Firm can help you obtain the benefits you deserve
Meeting with an attorney is always recommended when you’ve been hurt at work, as the workers’ compensation system is very complex and it is often difficult to figure out which benefits are available to you and how to go about receiving them.
Annemarie Pantazis is a Board-Certified North Carolina Specialist Attorney in Workers’ Compensation Law.
She is nationally recognized and the recipient of many honors and awards during her time practicing law, including recognition in several categories as a Best of the Best North Carolina Super Lawyer in 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018. She is the author of several publications on workers’ compensation, is regularly invited to speak as an expert in North Carolina workers’ compensation law, and teaches continuing legal education classes on the subject.
Beau Wilder has been litigating North Carolina Workers’ Compensation claims for 10 years. He aggressively advocates for injured workers from start to finish. In Beau’s practice, this means assisting clients in the early stages of filing the Form 18, all the way to a trial in front of Deputy Commissioners and appeals in front of the Full Commission.
- Regularly working to secure all benefits owed to you, according to your case
- Communicating with the insurance company and the adjustor assigned to your claim;
- Assist with authorization for medical treatment;
- File your travel reimbursement requests;
- Order your medical records;
- Discuss your treatment with you and/or your doctor;
- File the correct forms with the Industrial Commission;
- Recommend physicians for second opinions;
- Negotiate a settlement to your claim;
- If necessary, try your case before the Industrial Commission.
Our firm will also explain how other available benefits, such as Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security Disability, Short Term Disability, Long Term Disability, your Health Insurance policy, and any third party claims affect your workers’ compensation claim.
Payment & Fees
Consultations with Our Attorneys for Workers’ Compensation Cases Are Always Free of Charge.
All workers’ compensation cases are taken on a “contingency fee” basis. This means that you pay no money up front for a lawyer and there is no fee for a consultation. Instead, your lawyer will take the fee as a percentage of your settlement. The law in North Carolina generally restricts an attorney from changing more than 25% of your settlement or award. You are still responsible for any costs associated with obtaining the settlement or award, such as the fees for gathering your medical records. These costs do not have to be paid up front; instead, they will be reimbursed to the attorney out of the settlement proceeds.
Common North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Questions Answered
Injury by accident In North Carolina
The word “accident” in North Carolina Workers’ Compensation is a potential pitfall for many employees that are injured at work. In many other states, the injury itself is the accident. However, in North Carolina, an injury, in and of itself, is not an accident. In North Carolina Workers’ Compensation law, an “accident” is an interruption of the normal work routine by an unlooked for and untoward event. An injury while doing normal work in a normal manner is not an accident. An accident in NC is a deviation from the normal work routine, such as a fall, some assaults, increased volume or pace of work, and literally hundreds of other unlooked for events. There are also exceptions to the general “accident” rule. For example, if a worker has immediate onset of pain in their spine while performing work related duties, this is considered an accident. This exception is called a specific traumatic incident.
Why North Carolina’s “accident” rule is such a problem
Most people that get hurt at work assume that it will be covered by workers’ compensation. However, the insurance adjusters that administer the claims are looking for ways to deny coverage. The adjusters will set up recorded statements and ask questions in a way to make it seem as if there was no “accident.” For example, a baggage claim handler for an airline could have injured her shoulder while loading a bag into an airplane. Under these circumstances, the adjuster could ask: “You weren’t doing anything wrong or different than normal were you? You were doing your job the normal way that you have always done it, weren’t you?” Most employees would answer, “No, I wasn’t doing anything different; yes, I was doing my normal job in the way I was trained to.” The injured airline employee would not think to mention the many things that could be unusual about why she was injured, such as the bag being too heavy and awkward; the bag slipping backwards and falling backwards; not having the correct number of people to help with the baggage; or something in the bag that shuffled causing it to slip. Any of these small facts could be an accident that caused her injury, but failing to mention these in a recorded statement can make the claim difficult or impossible.
There are hundreds of cases interpreting the different circumstances where an injury was an “accident” or not. Please call the North Carolina Board Certified Workers’ Compensation Specialists at Wilder Pantazis Law Group for a free consultation.
Filing a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Claim
How to Report a Claim
The law says that you have 30 days from the date of your accident to report any injury to your company. However, the sooner you can notify your company, the better. The best way to give notice is in writing to your immediate supervisor or to the human resources department. Be sure to keep a copy of your written notice because it will help you prove your case. Your written notice should include the day of the accident, the time of the accident, a small description of the accident, and a list of what parts of your body you hurt. It does not have to be a formal letter. Writing a short note will satisfy the notice requirement.
If your injury prevents you from giving written notice, ask a friend or a co-worker to tell your employer what happened and that you will give written notice as soon as you are able to do so. Also, it is a good idea to tell your co-workers what happened in case your supervisor denies receiving notice of your claim.
What is a Form 18?
A Form 18 is the form that must be filed with the North Carolina Industrial Commission within 2 years from the date of your injury. If you do not file this form within two years, you may be disqualified from receiving workers’ compensation benefits. You can contact a friend, an attorney, or the North Carolina Industrial Commission for help filling out this form.
The number for the NCIC is (800) 688-8349. You will need to send two copies of this form to the Industrial Commission, one copy to your employer, and keep one copy for yourself. Click here for a Form 18.
What if Your Claim is Denied
The insurance company must make a decision if it is going to accept or deny your claim within 30 days of receiving your Form 18. (In some cases, it will file a conditional acceptance if it needs more time to investigate the claim.) If the insurance company accepts your claim, follow the advice above. If it denies your claim, you may still have rights under the law. It may be wise to hire an attorney to determine if there are grounds for filing an appeal of the denial. If the case has merit, your attorney will file a request for hearing with the Industrial Commission. This is a formal lawsuit against your company and its workers’ compensation carrier. Your attorney will gather evidence and respond to questions from the insurance company’s lawyer.