What to do when injured at work

Report injury to your employer

It is critically important that injured workers immediately report work injuries to their employer.  Technically, in North Carolina, an injured employee must provide a written notice of the workplace injury to their employer within 30 days of the accident.  In addition, failure to file a claim with the Industrial Commission within two years will bar the claim altogether.  However, even if the injured worker provides written notice within the 30-day requirement, any delay in reporting of a workplace injury of more than a few days is likely to result in the claim being questioned by the employer and workers’ compensation insurer–and possibly denied.  In North Carolina, an employer who admits liability for the claim gets to direct the medical care provided in a workers’ compensation claim.  It is best to immediately report the workplace injury and ask the employer which medical provider to go to for a work-related injury.  Employees who fail to report an injury before seeking their own medical care are likely to have their claims questioned and get into disputes with the employer as to whether or not the employer has to pay for the “unauthorized” medical care.

Even if an accident seems minor, reporting it immediately will help in the event that your condition worsens over time resulting in the need for medical attention and lost time from work.

Get medical attention

With any injury, you should seek treatment at the first sign of symptoms that might be due to your work duties. Being treated soon after you’ve been injured serves two important purposes. First, early treatment makes it more likely that you’ll recover from your injuries faster. Second, immediate medical care creates the necessary documentation that the injury or condition is work-related. When presenting to a medical provider for the first time in connection with a work injury or illness, it is important for the employee to clearly explain to the medical provider what happened at work to cause the injury or illness.  It is very important to keep records of all related medical treatment and to follow the doctors’ orders exactly.

File a compensation claim

In cases where the employer admits liability for workers’ compensation benefits, the employer and its insurer may handle all the filings with the North Carolina Industrial Commission.  However, when a claim is denied or there is unreasonable delay by the employer and insurer in processing the claim, it will be necessary to file an Industrial Commission Form 18 and possibly a hearing request (Form 33).  An employee in this situation should immediately seek consultation with an experienced (preferably Board Certified) North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney.  An injured worker may file these forms without an attorney, but it is not recommended in most cases.  

Hire a workers comp lawyer

At the first hint of resistance to a claim by an employer or its workers’ compensation insurer, an injured worker should seek a consultation with an experienced (preferably Board Certified) North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney.  A worker should not agree to submit to a recorded statement with the workers’ compensation insurer before consulting an attorney.  The injured worker should bring to the consultation copies of every letter, every medical report, every bill, and every Industrial Commission form connected with the claim.  An early legal consultation will help the injured worker know whether or not he/she needs to hire an attorney to get the workers’ compensation benefits he/she deserves.