If you are injured at work it can wreck your health, your income, and your work. In North Carolina, workers’ compensation benefits are meant to help you after an injury or work-related condition until you can get back to work. You may be able to get medical treatment and a part of your lost wages. You also may be entitled to payment for your disability.
Injured workers often ask how much compensation they can expect from their North Carolina workers’ comp claim. Here is an overview of benefits that may apply when you are injured at work.
Temporary Disability Benefits
If you are removed from work for more than seven days because of your injuries or illness, you may be entitled to receive part of your weekly average pay. These workers’ comp payments are called temporary total disability benefits. But you have to be out of work for at least 21 days to get the first week paid. If you are not out of work for eight days, you can still use your sick time or vacation time that you have.
Your workers’ comp pay will be two-thirds of your average weekly wage. The average is of your wages in year before your injury. Overtime wages count toward your average, and some longer periods when you were out of work will not count against you. Some workers with high wages will have their workers’ comp pay capped. The maximum amount that workers can receive if they were injured in 2019 is $1,028. This weekly cap changes each year.
Most workers will receive temporary total disability benefits for up to 500 weeks. But some workers may be eligible for benefits for a longer period. Those extended benefits are available to injured workers who have no ability to earn wages. The benefits must be applied for after receiving 475 weeks of compensation.
Temporary partial disability benefits are available if you can return to work but your injury causes you to earn less money. They equal two-thirds of the difference between your pre-accident wages and what you can earn afterwards. For example, if you made $900 a week before being injured and can now make only $600, you could receive $200 (two-thirds of the $300 difference) for up to 500 weeks.
Permanent Total Disability Benefits
If your doctor concludes that the injury or illness have left you permanently and totally disabled, you will receive weekly payments at the temporary total disability rate for life. These benefits are available only in the most serious cases, which are:
- Severe burns
- Severe brain injury
- Paralysis of both arms or legs
- The loss of both eyes, arms, hands, legs, or feet (or a combination)
Permanent Partial Disability Benefits
You may also receive payments if you are determined to have a permanent partial disability. North Carolina General Statute §97-31 lists the maximum number of weeks of disability payments available for damage to different body parts. Because every award of benefits in North Carolina is based on how much your workers’ compensation rate is, the amount you could receive depends on two things: how much permanent damage you suffered, and your average wages.
The North Carolina Industrial Commission may make additional awards for certain types of partial disabilities. They include up to $20,000 for facial disfigurement and up to $20,000 for permanent disability to any organ.
Additional Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Additional benefits available under the North Carolina workers’ compensation include:
- All necessary and reasonable medical treatment. Your employer or the insurance company can send you to a physician of their choosing, but you can request permission from the North Carolina Industrial Commission to see your own doctor. Mileage to and from doctor’s appointments are also covered.
- Vocational rehabilitation if you cannot return to your usual employment. This includes placement services and education and other help finding a new job that accommodates your disability.
- Death benefits if your injury or illness ends in death. Your spouse, children, and other dependents can receive two-thirds of your weekly wage for up to 500 weeks. They will also be provided with up to $10,000 to cover funeral and burial expenses.
Although many injured workers settle their own claims, a North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney who thoroughly understands the applicable laws can ensure that the settlement you receive is fair and just compensation for your losses. In some cases, you should not settle your workers’ compensation case. You could be better off continuing to receive wage loss benefits.
Contact a Trusted Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
At Copeley Johnson & Groninger PLLC, one of our team members wrote the book on North Carolina workers’ compensation law. Our two board-certified North Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys are there to help when you’re struggling with the benefits forms and wondering how you’re going to make ends meet. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact Copeley Johnson & Groninger PLLC or call 919-646-4220.