If you have been involved in a serious work accident, you may have suffered more than one injury. This is where your workers’ compensation claim can get complex.
The insurance company does not always do what you think they may or should do. It is vital to get every dollar that you deserve, especially when you have suffered a series of permanent injuies. You benefit from working with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer, who can help you with the claims process and when it comes time to settle your case. Contact the Wilmington, NC workers’ compensation lawyers at Horton & Mendez to discuss your case and learn how we can help with a claim for multiple injuries.
If You Suffered Multiple Injuries on the Job, Notify Your Employer of Each One
You’d need to notify your employer of each of your injuries under North Carolina law. You have 30 days to notify your employer of your injuries.
A common problem is that you may not know of all your injuries at the same time. Your employer may claim that you did not give them notice of some of your injuries in time.
While all your injuries should go on one form, you may only learn of certain injuries after you have filed the initial claim. It’s common that later on, you recognize some of the complexities involved with your situation, and that’s the reason why you need a lawyer when you have suffered multiple injuries. There are many ways that the insurance company can make it more difficult to file a workers’ comp claim for more than one injury.
File One Form for Multiple Injuries
After notifying your employer, file your Form 18.
There is a distinction between suffering multiple injuries in one accident and suffering injuries in multiple accidents. If the former is true, you would file one form for your claim. If you were involved in more than one accident, you would need to fill out a separate claim form for each incident.
The insurance company would make a decision based, in part, on the information that you provide on your forms. It is important to be as comprehensive as possible on your initial claim to avoid any issues. You do not want to have to file an appeal because it would delay when you receive benefits, if you are even able to receive them at all.
You Reach One Workers’ Comp Settlement for All Your Injuries
When you have suffered multiple injuries at work, you obtain one settlement agreement with the insurance company that covers all of your injuries. However, things are nowhere near as easy as you think. Never underestimate the ability of the insurance company to make things more complicated if it will save them money.
The Insurance Company May Act in Unexpected Ways in a Settlement
The insurance company does not always do what you expect when you are trying to reach a settlement that involves multiple injuries. North Carolina assigns impairment ratings for certain injuries that are expressed in a percentage. North Carolina also assigns a number of weeks for the loss of a body part. For example, if you lose sensation in your thumb, the doctor may assign a rating of up to 100%.
As an example, a doctor can assign an individual a rating of 80%. That would then be multiplied by what they would receive in benefits over 75 weeks. Someone may have suffered an injury to the knuckle on their index finger that renders it immobile. In that case, they would receive 45% of their benefits for 40 weeks.
You would think that the insurance company would add the amounts together for each of the injuries that you have suffered and would make that your settlement. It does not always happen that way. The insurance company may use math that results in you getting less in benefits than you thought. Insurance companies may use a multiplier to one of the injuries instead of adding them both together, leaving you with less money.
Reaching a Settlement for Medical Expenses Can Be Challenging
There is another challenge if you are trying to negotiate a lump-sum settlement of your medical costs. Each injury is separate, and they may require their own separate course of treatment.
However, the insurance company may conflate injuries and try to reduce the amount they pay you for medical treatment.
You Can File an Appeal if Necessary
In any workers’ compensation case, you have the right to file an appeal if you have disagreements with the insurance company. If the insurance company will not pay you enough, or if they will not cover reasonable medical expenses associated with your injuries. You need an experienced workers’ compensation attorney to give you the best possible chance of winning an appeal or to represent you in settlement negotiations.
Fighting the insurance company is the last thing that you want to do when you are dealing with a permanent injury. However, you do have some leverage when you are fighting against the insurance company. They must pay for their own legal defense, while your attorney works for you on a contingency basis.
Your attorney may be able to negotiate a favorable settlement without having to take your case all the way to an appeal hearing. In some cases, insurance companies end up even worse off when they lose an appeal.
An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can give you peace of mind during a very difficult time in your life that should be spent recovering.
Contact a Wilmington Workers’ Compensation Attorney Today
At Horton & Mendez Injury Attorneys, we have helped countless clients who have suffered injuries on the job. We are known for our attentive customer service and for getting results for our clients. You can speak to one of our workers’ comp lawyers today to learn more about your case involving multiple injuries. We offer free consultations to prospective clients.