This post discusses the types of NC Workers' Compensation Disability that an injured worker may be compensated for. Many people believe that if they are injured on the job, then they are automatically entitled to receive workers’ compensation disability benefits. In reality, an injured worker must prove that he/she is disabled to receive any type of wage loss workers' compensation benefits.
NC Workers' Compensation Law
In North Carolina, the Workers' Compensation Act provides medical compensation and wage loss (indemnity) benefits for non-fatal injuries and death benefits for fatal injuries. Medical compensation includes medical treatment and mileage reimbursement for treatment of your on the job injury.
Lost Wage benefits provide monetary compensation due to your inability to earn wages because of your workplace injury. This benefit provides compensation based on the physical impairment of the injured body part as well.
After a work injury, an employee should notify their employer verbally and in writing and also notify the North Carolina Industrial Commission by filing a NCIC Form 18. After this filing, the employer's workers' comp insurance will either accept (approve) or deny the injured employee's claim.
In denied claims, the workers' compensation insurance is refusing to accept that the employee sustained a work injury that they should be compensated for. The employee will receive no benefits unless they proceed to a hearing on their workers' compensation claim. If the workers' comp carrier accepts the employee's claim they will receive one of the four types of NC Workers' compensation wage benefits which are discussed below.
Types of NC Workers' Compensation Benefits
Disability, as used in NC workers' compensation cases, relates to an injured worker’s ability to earn wages rather than his/her physical ability. North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Law defines “disability” as such:
“The term ‘disability’ means incapacity because of an injury to earn the wages which the employee was receiving at the time of injury in the same or any other employment.” N.C. Gen. Stat. §97-2(9). **Please note that the NC workers compensation definition of disability is not related to physical infirmity **
There are four types of disability based compensation in which an injured worker may be entitled to receive based on North Carolina Law. The disability compensation benefits are: (1) Temporary total disability compensation; (2) Temporary partial disability compensation; (3) Permanent total disability compensation; and (4) Permanent partial disability compensation. North Carolina Workers’ Compensation law has changed significantly in recent years regarding disability compensation. It is important to note that the injured worker must prove disability in each category that he/she makes a claim for benefits. An experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney can assist an injured worker in obtaining disability compensation benefits when the employer’s insurance company wants to withhold these benefits.
Temporary total disability benefits (TTD) are the benefits owed to a NC workers’ compensation recipient when they are unable to work for a period of time that is more than 7 days. If an employee is awarded temporary total disability benefits, they will get 2/3 of their average weekly wage, not to exceed $992 per week for claims brought in and after 2018. The injured employee who is awarded TTD should also get their medical bills paid for by their employer’s insurance company. Generally, a worker getting TTD will return back to work at the discretion of their treating physician.
Permanent partial disability benefits (PPD) are assigned to workers who sustain a permanent injury and cannot return to the same work because of the injury. An injured worker who gets a PPD rating is assigned a disability rating by a doctor which is a percentage of injury to that body part. The amount of compensation for the loss of use of a body part is defined by statute.
Temporary partial disability benefits are for injured workers who are capable of returning to work, but not for the same wages they were working for pre-injury. In this case, a worker may be entitled to 2/3 the difference between their pre and post-injury wages in temporary partial disability benefits.
Death benefits may be awarded to the family members of workers who died as the result of an on-the-job injury. They are 2/3 the average weekly wage of the deceased worker, not to exceed $992 per week for 500 weeks. Burial expenses are covered as a death benefit up to $10,000.
An injured worker must prove his/her disability based on certain standards. However, in very limited circumstances, there may a presumption of disability. Although it seems to fly in the face of common sense, simply because an employer has agreed to pay your workers compensation claim does not create a presumption of disability. To summarize the standards: it is essential for an injured worker to provide medical or other proof regarding their inability to earn their pre-injury wages.
Do you need a NC Workers' Comp Lawyer?
If you have been injured in an on the job accident and need to discuss the types of NC Workers' Compensation Disability that may be available to you contact us. NC Workers' Compensation Law can be confusing and it can help to have a Workers' Compensation Lawyer on your side.
We represent Workers’ Compensation clients in Raleigh, Cary, Durham, Fayetteville, Rocky Mount, Wilson, Smithfield, Louisburg, Chapel Hill, Roanoke Rapids and surrounding areas in North Carolina. We do not get paid unless we win and we offer free case reviews by phone, (919) 615-3095.