Have you suffered a restaurant or fast food worker injury? You may have a legal right to receive medical treatment as well as wage compensation for your lost time at work – even if you are not a full-time employee. Restaurant jobs pose many injury risks. A 2015 survey by the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health reveals that 87 percent of fast food workers suffered some type of injury in 2014.
North Carolina’s workers’ compensation laws provide coverage to injured employees. Every company that has three or more employees is required – by law – to carry insurance that pays for these claims.
Restaurants are not the only businesses that rely heavily on part-time workers. Many companies use temp employees to meet fluctuating worker demands or seasonal needs. An alarming number of these workers are also injured each day, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, especially if the job requires physical labor. When temp or part-time employees suffer a job-related injury or illness, their workers’ comp benefits can include:
- Payment of all medical bills associated with the workplace injury/illness; including temporary or permanent disability if unable to work
- Compensation for up to 2/3 of lost wages
- Death benefits if a working loved one died due to a temp staff injury
Misclassification of workers as independent contractors is a continuing problem in North Carolina. Some employers intentionally or negligently misclassify their workers as independent contractors and avoid paying for insurance that would otherwise be required. If your boss is not taking Social Security and federal/state withholding out of your paycheck, you might actually be classified as a contractor, even if your employer otherwise treats you like an employee. Misclassification of workers as independent contractors can be considered fraud, and you can report it to the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
Filing a Apex, North Carolina Workers’ Comp Injury Claim
It is your – the injured worker’s – legal obligation to notify your employer in writing immediately or as soon as is practicable if you suffer an injury on the job or a workplace-related illness. Failure to give notice within a 30-day period may result in the failure to obtain any benefits. With your employer’s assistance, you may be directed to seek medical attention, if necessary. In addition to giving notice to your employer, you should also file a Form 18 to notify the North Carolina Industrial Commission of your injury. Your employer should give you a copy of this form, and it is also available online at the North Carolina Industrial Commission website.
Your employer has the right to determine the doctor who treats you. And you must initially submit to this treatment. But if necessary, you have a right to seek a second opinion or even change doctors with the approval of the North Carolina Industrial Commission. The process for changing physicians and/or getting a second opinion can be complicated. An experienced workers’ comp attorney can guide you through each step and represent you before the Industrial Commission.
Sometimes your employer, or its insurance company, refuses to allow treatment for your medically diagnosed fast food worker injury. If this happens, retaining a seasoned work injury lawyer to file a Medical Motion with the Industrial Commission is a good idea if you hope to receive needed treatment.
Third-Party Liability, Harassment and Statute of Limitations in Filing a Claim
Sometimes, a third party – such as a company delivering products to your job, or some other vendor contracted by your employer – may have created the conditions that resulted in your injuries. In addition, if you were in a motor vehicle accident while working and the accident was the result of negligence of a third party, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits and you may be able to file a claim in civil court for personal injury. In this case, you likely need an experienced workplace attorney to file a lawsuit in civil court against this third party for damages. N.C. G.S. §97-10.2(a).
Harassment of an employee who has filed a workers’ comp claim, or any fellow workers who might be witnesses to an employee’s injury, is illegal according to the Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act. N.C. G.S. §95-241. If your employer is harassing you or your fellow workers because of your workers’ comp claim, contact an experienced injury lawyer immediately. REDA also protects injured workers from being fired because of their injury. You have 90 days from the date of termination to file a claim with the NC Department of Labor at 1-800 NC-LABOR.
Generally, an injury-related accident or illness claim must be filed with the Industrial Commission within two years of the date of your work-related injury or the diagnosis of your work-related illness. N.C.G.S. §97-58. But there may be exceptions that extend this jurisdictional bar, which a seasoned worker’s comp injury lawyer can help you identify.
Ready to Defend Your Compensation Rights
If you or a family member has suffered a holiday, part-time or seasonal fast food worker injury, the experienced and sympathetic workers’ comp attorneys and staff at Wilson, Reives & Silverman can help. If you need medical assistance, or a second opinion, we can help you get it; including treatment if you may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder because of your injury.
Don’t go through these distressing times alone. We are at your service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to help you receive the treatment and legal benefits you deserve. Call either our Sanford or Apex location at (919) 928-5843 or use our online contact form to begin the process. The first step is a no-cost evaluation of your case. We will explain all your medical treatment and compensation rights, as well as how – together – we can protect them.