By Attorney Jesse S. Shapiro
Tip 1: Immediately Report the Injury to Your Supervisor
North Carolina law and the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act require employees to report workplace injuries to their employer immediately or as soon as is practicable. You may lose your right to benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act by failing to notify your supervisor/employer of the injury.
Tip 2: Document the Injury in Writing
Many employers have a form for documenting work-related injuries. If there is no form, find some paper and document the injury including a description of what happened, what you were doing and the time and place of the injury. If possible, have your supervisor sign the written report.
If there are witnesses to the accident, identify them and have them make a written statement as well. Get copies of all statements and keep them for your personal records. If a written report is not generated, be aware that your employer could deny that you ever provided any notice of the injury.
Tip 3: Seek Medical Attention as Soon as You Can
If you wait too long (even a day or two) to go to the doctor after a workplace injury, the insurance company may doubt that the injury occurred at work and argue/claim that your injury occurred somewhere else or at a time other than what you have claimed. A great way to verify your claim and injury is to obtain a timely report from a doctor or medical professional that outlines the date, time and circumstances surrounding your injury.
If you get hurt and your employer directs you to go to a particular medical facility, follow their direction and provide a detailed account to the doctor, P.A., nurse, etc. of how your injury happened. Most medical offices will have an intake sheet for you to fill out. Make sure that you document that your injury occurred at work.
Tip 4: Make Sure Your Claim is Filed Properly
All workers’ compensation claims in North Carolina are regulated and overseen by the NC Industrial Commission in Raleigh. All injury claims must be filed with the Commission before they can take jurisdiction over your case. Injured workers must file an Industrial Commission Form 18, while the employer must file an Industrial Commission Form 19. Industrial Commission Rule 04 NCAC 10A .0104 requires an employer to provide an injured worker with a blank Form 18 to complete. The employee should also receive a copy of the employer’s completed Form 19, which will be of assistance in filling out the Form 18.
Tip 5: Make Your Own File and Journal
Make note of all calls, emails and other communications that come from your employer, the workers’ compensation carrier and/or their attorney(s) that concern your case. Include the date, time, who you spoke with and the subject of the conversation. In addition, keep copies of the following:
- All Industrial Commission Forms that have been filed
- All letters, text messages or other communications about your case. (You can take and save/print screen shots of text messages).
- All medical records, prescriptions and work notes
- All bills for medical treatment and prescriptions
- All reports of injuries
Plus One: Talk To An Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney
To put it quite simply, if your car breaks, you do not call a plumber to come and fix it for you. You want a mechanic; even better, you would like to have a mechanic who has dedicated his career to fixing your exact type of car. An experienced workers compensation attorney is a lot like that mechanic. He or she will have the knowledge and experience to advise you about your problem and help you navigate what can be a very complicated process.
Attorney Jesse Shapiro is certified by the NC State Bar as a Specialist in NC Workers’ Compensation Law. Consultations with Attorney Shapiro are free. If you’ve been hurt at work, it is worth your while to have a talk with someone who understands the system and can help advise you of your rights.