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Helpful Information


What To Do When You're Injured On The Job In North Carolina:


1. Report the injury in writing.

Most companies have a form to report an injury. You should notify your supervisor and/or human resources department to request a notice of accident form. If you simply complain about an injury, pain, or give an oral report to your supervisor, you run the risk of the supervisor failing to report the injury, forgetting, and/or denying that you ever reported the injury. A written report removes all doubt. Under North Carolina law, employees are required to report injuries within 30 days of the accident; however, you should NOT wait that long. If you did not report the accident within 30 days all is not lost. There are some exceptions.

2. Consult an attorney.

Attorneys generally work on contingency fees, which means that they do not charge any fees unless there is a recovery. Although you may not need an attorney immediately (in fact, the vast majority of cases proceed through the system without attorney involvement), it should not cost you anything to consult with an attorney to initially evaluate your claim (99% of attorneys in this field do not charge anything for the first consultation). Also, attorney's fees must be approved by the North Carolina Industrial Commission, so an injured worker should not be paying anything to an attorney for representation without that approval. It is particularly important to talk to an attorney about preserving evidence, taking photographs of the accident site, and possibly getting experts involved very quickly, particularly in serious injury cases. Most injured workers are concerned about medical attention (as they should be) and are not thinking about preserving evidence in order to prove a legal claim under workers' compensation law, or a claim for civil damages against a negligent individual or company who may have caused the injury but who is not an employer. The first few hours after a serious injury are crucial. You can be sure that the insurance company is taking adequate steps to protect their interests. You should do likewise.

3. Seek medical attention if necessary.

Many workers are tough and believe that the pain will go away in a few days. Sometimes it does. If it does not, and you have waited several weeks before you went to a doctor, the insurance company will be suspicious that your injury occurred outside the workplace at a time later than you claim, or that the injury wasn't serious enough for you to seek medical attention. So, if necessary, seek medical attention soon after your injury.

4. Make sure your claim is filed properly.

The North Carolina Industrial Commission in Raleigh is the government agency that administers the Workers' Compensation Act. It has jurisdiction of all claims but before they can take jurisdiction a claim must be filed, or some admission of liability must be made by the employer. It is the better practice for the employee to go ahead and file a claim (Form 18), particularly on a serious injury.

5. Cooperate with the investigation.

Before an insurance company will pay workers' compensation benefits it wants to make sure that an injury actually happened at work. You will probably be contacted by an insurance company adjuster who will take a recorded statement. Try to have information available which will help the adjuster verify your injury. For example, if there was a co-worker there at the time who will verify your injury, have the co-worker's name and telephone number available. Be specific about the time of the injury and exactly how it happened. However, if you are taking medicines and/or feel like you're confused and unable to discuss your injury clearly, wait until you feel better. Discuss only those matters concerning the accident and do not allow the questioner to ask about personal matters. The purpose of the statement is to determine whether you had an accident and will be used to determine whether your case is accepted or denied. The statement is crucial to your claim and should be taken seriously. You should be honest and forthright at all times.

6. Keep notes.

Every time an insurance adjuster contacts you they make an entry in their records. You should do likewise. Unfortunately, some injured workers have been given misleading or inaccurate information. You should keep a notebook and put down the date, name and time that anyone called you, as well as the actual words spoken to you. This information may be crucial to explain why you took certain actions, and what you were told.

7. Cooperate with medical care.

Make sure that you listen carefully to instructions given to you by your physician and follow those instructions carefully. Be clean and neat when you attend your appointments and if for any reason you cannot make an appointment, please be sure to call and notify the doctor's office. If you just "don't show" that notation is made in your chart and it will be used against you to claim you are unreliable. If your physician is uncooperative, unpleasant or seems overly company-oriented to the extent you believe you are not getting adequate medical attention and care, you can request a change of doctors with the insurance company. If they refuse (and in all likelihood they will) then you need to write the North Carolina Industrial Commission and request a change of physician. The Industrial Commission has the ultimate authority over medical care, not the insurance company.

We hope these suggestions will help you if you are ever unfortunate enough to be injured on the job. The failure to follow these guidelines can lead to the failure to process your claim properly and cause unnecessary delays in receiving compensation. By following these guidelines, you will increase your chances of having your claim fairly determined.

Forms

Form 18:

If you have been injured on the job, you need to file a Form 18 with the Industrial Commission within two years of the date of accident.

Form 18M:

To request additional medical compensation, fill out a Form 18M and submit it to the Industrial Commission.

Form 25T:

For travel reimbursement requests, fill out a Form 25T and submit it to the Industrial Commission.

Form 25P:

For prescription reimbursement requests, fill out a Form 25P and submit it to the Industrial Commission.

Job Search Log:

It is also important to keep a log of your job search.

For additional Forms and information, please visit the North Carolina Industrial Commission website by clicking here.

Helpful Phone Numbers

Helpful Phone Numbers

Consumer Product Safety: 800-638-2772
NC Attorney General's Office on Consumer Protection: 919-716-6400
NC Disability Hotline: 800-772-1213
NC Department of Labor: 800-625-2267
NC Department of Insurance: 800-546-5664
919-807-6750
NC Division of Employment Security Commission: 888-737-0259
NC Governor's Office: 800-662-7952
NC Department of Human Services: 800-662-7030
NC Industrial Commission: 800-688-8349
NC Department of Veterans Affairs: 800-827-1000
919-807-4250
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (7233)
Nurse Healthline: 800-420-6877
Occupational Safety and Health: 800-NCLABOR (625-2267)
Division of Aging and Adult Services: 919-733-3983

Auto Accident Tips

Every year thousands of people die in the first few minutes after a car crash. Many of these deaths could have been avoided if the first people on the scene knew what to do.

Here are a few tips:

1) Put on emergency flashers

Pull beyond the accident and turn your flashers on. This calls attention to you but also keeps you out of the way of emergency crews.

2) Call for help if possible

Know the exact location when you call and be sure to stay online until the emergency dispatcher hangs up. If you are needed to administer first aid tell someone else to call for help.

3) Turn off the ignition of all vehicles

This simply reduces the risk of fire. Remember to check for spilled gasoline or downed power lines before approaching the accident.

4) Do not make things worse

If the victims are awake and conscious tell them not to move. Remember: Never move a victim unless there is an immediate, life-threatening danger such as fire, leaking fuel or rising water.

Insurance Disputes?

Any disputes with your medical insurance carrier?

The North Carolina Department of Insurance is ready to assist those who have a dispute with their medical insurance carriers. If you have a problem, question or concern regarding your medical insurance company or coverage, send them a letter detailing your complaint. No phone calls please; the department will only respond to complaints submitted in writing. The department will notify you that they have received your complaint within ten days. Typically, the department will respond to your complaint within four to six weeks of your initial letter. The Department of Insurance is a state agency funded by your tax dollars. It's your right and they are there to serve you. So, if you have a complaint with your insurance company, write to them at:

The North Carolina Department of Insurance

P. O. Box 26387

Raleigh, North Carolina 27611

Need a new doctor?

Health focus: Looking for a new doctor?

If you are looking for a good doctor you can trust, the Information Age has generated many new services that can help you learn more about a doctor's history and training. If you want to confirm the credentials of your doctor contact the American Medical Association, which has put its file of 650,000 U.S. physicians at http://www.ama-assn.org/ (once there, follow links to "Physician Select"). If you are seeing a specialist, a doctor's certification can be checked by phone. For medical doctors call 800-776-2378. For osteopathic doctors call 800-621-1773 ext. 7445. Finally, you can also look for negative information on a doctor by looking at the "Questionable Doctors" volumes published by the Public Citizen Health Research Group. The volumes compile discipline reports from medical boards in all 50 states and also on a state by state basis. The complete volumes cost $250.00 and state reports $15.00 each. To order, call 800-410-8478.

If you drive, read this!

Traffic accidents happen every day. And even though you may be a good driver there's no assurance that the other guy on the road is as careful as you are. If you're in an accident, follow these simple guidelines to protect your legal rights.

  • Stop - Don't drive on; it's against the law.
  • Assist the injured - Call a doctor or ambulance for anyone who is seriously injured. Don't move an injured person or provide any hands on care unless your know you aren't going to cause further harm.
  • Protect the scene - Do what you can to prevent further accidents. Use flares, flashlights, or someone to warn oncoming traffic that an accident is ahead.
  • Call an officer - Even if there are no apparent injuries, call the police department, sheriff or highway patrol. Their official report may be of great assistance should any claims of liability be made later.
  • Do not comment - North Carolina law requires only that you give your name, address, the license plate number of the vehicle you are driving, and exhibit your driver's license to any person affected by the accident.
  • Assist the officer - Cooperate and relate the basic facts briefly. You need not give an opinion as to the cause of the wreck. You have the right to consult a lawyer before making any statements.
  • Identify the other driver - Obtain the driver's name, address, insurance and license plate number. Ask to see the driver's license, as well.
  • Record Witnesses - Obtain the full name, address and phone number of any and all witnesses as soon as you can. You may need these later.
  • Take notes - Record everything; measure skid marks, note car positions, note all physical evidence that will disappear over time. Take pictures if possible.
  • When to leave the scene - Only after you have addressed each of the above items is it safe to leave the scene of an accident.
  • Comply with financial responsibility - North Carolina law requires drivers to carry insurance. Failure to comply will result in revocation of your driver's license and vehicle registration.
  • Inform insurance company - Make a complete report to your insurance company; this should be done immediately after the accident.

As a final note, don't hesitate to call us if we can help. Too often we are consulted months and sometimes years after the collision, and then valuable evidence my have been lost, destroyed or otherwise become unavailable. There's no consultation fee when you call. This call could be one of the most important phone calls you ever make.