Workplace injuries can be serious and often leave the injured employee with significant medical bills and lost wages. If you’ve been injured in the workplace, you’re likely wondering what benefits may be available to you. That’s where worker’s compensation benefits come in. These benefits exist to help employees who were injured while on the job. Here, we’ll look at the seven different types of worker’s compensation benefits.
Benefits that cover medical expenses are the ones that generally come to mind when employees think about worker’s compensation benefits. These benefits pay for hospital and other medical expenses necessary to identify and treat a work-related injury. In North Carolina, these expenses include diagnostics, general physician visits, specialist visits, and medications needed for your injury.
The insurance company will choose the physician you see for your medical care. However, if you do not agree with the care plan provided, or if the physician determines that treatment is unnecessary, you may request a new physician and file a motion to compel treatment. In these cases, it’s beneficial to work with an experienced worker’s compensation attorney familiar with the process.
Disability benefits are intended to compensate you for work that you miss and wages you lose due to your injury. These benefits fall into four different categories depending on the type of disability your injury causes:
Temporary Partial Disability
A temporary partial disability is one that prevents you from doing your normal job for a limited amount of time. For example, maybe you can only work a few hours a day instead of the full day, or you can’t complete certain aspects of your normal job. Temporary partial disability payments will help make up the difference between your pre-injury earnings and the reduced earnings you receive due to your injury.
Temporary Total Disability
If you have a temporary total disability, you’re unable to work at all, but only for a limited amount of time. These payments will come in the form of weekly benefits equal to two-thirds of your average weekly wage pre-accident, up to the maximum compensation rates set by the North Carolina Industrial Commission. Under North Carolina law, you will not receive compensation for the first seven working days after your injury. After that seven-day grace period, your weekly payments may begin. Temporary total disability payments are temporary, so they will end when you are recovered or if your physician determines you will not make a full recovery.
Permanent Partial Disability
The amount to which you are entitled is based on a determination by your physician, also called a PPD or permanent impairment rating. If your physician determines you will not make a full recovery, your disability benefits will move into the permanent category. A permanent partial disability means that your workplace injury prevents you from doing parts of your normal job.
As with many aspects of the worker’s compensation claim process, the PPD rating you receive is subject to appeal. You have the right to get a second opinion on your PPD rating. An experienced worker’s compensation attorney can keep you apprised of all your options and help you evaluate the PPD rating and settlement offers you receive.
Permanent Total Disability
If you’ve been injured in a way that prevents you from working, you may be entitled to permanent total disability benefits. These benefits apply to workplace injuries that are so severe that they significantly impact your quality of life and render you unable to earn a wage. These may also be injuries that will advance over time, causing other conditions, illnesses, or impairments to develop.
Under North Carolina law, to be eligible for permanent total disability, one of the four following conditions to be present:
- The injured employee must have lost any combination of two of the following:
- The injured employee must have suffered a spinal injury that resulted in paralysis of the upper body, lower body, trunk, or whole body.
- The injured employee must have suffered a head injury or brain damage that resulted in permanent disability.
- The injured employee must have suffered second or third-degree burns to at least one-third of their body.
Rehabilitation benefits cover medical and therapeutic rehabilitation, such as physical therapy, required for the injured employee to recover. North Carolina also offers vocational rehabilitation benefits. Vocational rehabilitation benefits apply to injured employees who cannot return to their former employment. These benefits may include on-the-job training for a new position, transferable skill evaluation, job search assistance, and tuition assistance.
When a work-related injury leads to the death of an employee, worker’s compensation death benefits may provide support to the deceased employee’s family. These benefits will be paid to relatives who were financially dependent on the deceased employee, usually a spouse or children. The primary purpose of death benefits is to compensate the financially dependent relatives for the loss of the financial support provided by the deceased employee. However, up to $10,000 in burial expenses may also be available.
Sometimes, the relationships between the deceased employee and the financially dependent relative may create complex issues, causing death benefits to be one of the most argued worker’s compensation benefits. If your family dynamic involves unmarried partners, stepchildren, children born outside of marriage, or other relatives that financially depend on the deceased employee, such as parents or siblings, it’s wise to contact an experienced worker’s compensation attorney to guide you through the claims process.
Contact an Experienced Worker’s Compensation Attorney
If you or a loved one has suffered from a workplace injury, let us deal with the legal issues. Our experienced team of attorneys is dedicated to advocating for your rights and getting you the maximum benefits available. Contact us for a free evaluation. We’ll review your worker’s compensation claim and provide you with honest feedback and a plan of how we can help you.