According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 100,000 workers will miss time from work due to a hand injury. North Carolina law entitles you to medical coverage of your hand injury and a portion of your lost wages when you successfully file a workers’ compensation claim.
Our team of Wilmington workers’ compensation attorneys at Horton Mendez Injury Attorneys can assist you when you have a complex workers’ compensation claim, or you have received a claim denial or rejection of your necessary medical care. We do not let insurance companies push our clients around, no matter the circumstances.
Types of Work-Related Hand Injuries
The hand is the most commonly injured body part in work injuries. It is what directly touches your work. As such, there are many ways that you can get hurt. Here are some common examples of work-related hand injuries:
- Amputations: Suffering a crush injury or becoming injured by work equipment are common reasons that lead to amputations.
- Dislocations: A fall or trauma to your wrist can move it out of place.
- Burns: Working around intense heat or chemicals can cause serious burn injuries.
- Fractures: You can be injured when breaking a fall or when something falls on your hand.
- Sprains: Soft tissue injuries are common in physical jobs.
- Repetitive stress: The constant use of your wrist and hand can cause strain injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome, which can limit your range of motion.
Treatment can aid in a full recovery. However, you may be unable to work so long as you cannot fully use your hands.
If you have suffered a repetitive stress injury, you should see a doctor quickly and get detailed documentation. Insurance companies love to deny repetitive stress claims because they believe that these claims are difficult to connect to your job.
How Much You Can Expect in Benefits for a Hand Injury
Your workers’ compensation benefit depends on the type of injury you have. If you have suffered a temporary total disability, you will be paid benefits that equate to two-thirds of your average weekly wage, up to a statutory cap of $1,184 per week. Unless you can show permanent injury, you will only be allowed to receive benefits for up to 500 weeks.
If you have suffered a permanent disability, you may be entitled to a settlement based on the extent of your injury. Based on the results of a medical examination, you will receive a disability rating that quantifies the extent of your injury. If you have lost a finger, you may not be considered fully disabled, as you can still have some ability to work.
The North Carolina Industrial Commission has a standard chart that it uses to assign disability ratings based on the exact type of finger injury. For example, the loss of sensation in one or more fingers can keep you from working entirely. You can qualify for a disability rating of up to 100 percent.
Here are some other examples of disability ratings for specific hand injuries:
- Limited range of motion in the wrist: 10 to 25 percent
- Immobility of wrist in suboptimal position: Up to 100 percent
- Loss of a finger: Dependent on which finger was lost
If you have a partial disability, it is multiplied by the rate of compensation that you will receive if you are fully disabled. For a permanent injury, you can negotiate a settlement, where you will receive all your money upfront. You can still receive a settlement even if you can work again in some capacity.
An attorney can help negotiate your settlement agreement with the insurance company.
How to Start a Claim for Workers’ Compensation
The crucial first step to a workers’ compensation claim is notifying your employer of the injury. Preferably, you should do this in writing, so there is no dispute over whether you actually gave them the necessary notification. North Carolina law requires you to give notice within 30 days of the injury, or else you may lose your right to file a claim entirely.
Then, you will prepare the actual claim to file. You will gather the necessary documentation that includes:
- Medical records that show the diagnosis of your injury
- Testimony that connects your injury to your job
- Forms filled out by your medical professional
- Documentation of your average weekly wage
You will file the necessary form to open a claim with the North Carolina Industrial Commission. The insurance company would respond to your claim, informing you if your claim was accepted or denied. If your claim was denied, you would need to file an appeal with the Industrial Commission. An objective administrative law judge will then decide your claim, as opposed to the self-interested insurance company.
Contact a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
The lawyers at Horton Mendez Injury Attorneys can help guide you through what is usually a complex and challenging process. Insurance companies love to make things much harder than they need to be, knowing that you critically need the benefits. Our attorneys are here to fight for you when you need it.
First, you should contact us to schedule your free initial consultation. You can send us a message online, or you can call us today at 910-405-7751. You do not need to pay us for our services unless you win your case.