How Long Do Workers Comp Settlements Take in North Carolina?

How Long Do Workers Comp Settlements Take in North Carolina, Durham

Accidents at work can happen in any industry or line of work. Because of the hazards and risks associated with their jobs, industries including construction, mining, manufacturing, and transportation are prone to experience work-related injuries. Nevertheless, any worker may get hurt on the job.

NC workers can receive medical care and some of their lost wages by filing a workers’ compensation claim. The mechanism for workers’ compensation is intricate. Therefore, it is best to let a Durham workers’ compensation attorney with experience in North Carolina handle your claim. Our attorneys at The Law Offices of Constantinou & Burkert are prepared to assist you in obtaining the most workers comp benefits possible.

“How long does it take to negotiate a settlement?” may be on your mind. Negotiating a workers’ compensation settlement in North Carolina might take a long time. Fighting the insurance company on your own is not necessary. Allow our legal professionals to represent you in negotiations with the insurance adjusters.

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation

North Carolina workers’ compensation law requires businesses with more than three employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Certain workers, like those employed by railroads, independent contractors, and temporary labor, are exempt from the law. 

A noncompliant employer may be prosecuted for a felony and sentenced to prison. Additionally, the employee’s compensation will be the employer’s responsibility. Thus, an employee may file a damages lawsuit against the employer. Seeking legal counsel is best because the workers’ compensation claims procedure can be intimidating. 

If you are hurt at work in North Carolina, you can be eligible for the following workers’ compensation benefits:

Temporary Total Disability Benefits

Your doctor may suggest you take a leave of absence from work to heal following an accident. These benefits give you financial compensation if you can’t work because of injury or illness.

Medical Care

If you are hurt at work, your employer is supposed to cover the cost of your medical care. Hospital stays could fall under this category. Usually, the insurance company, through your job, pays for these medical expenses.

Physical Therapy

If you experience chronic pain or repetitive stress injuries, this type of treatment can be beneficial. It can enhance strength, realign imbalances, restore movement and function, and relieve pain.

Prescriptions

Your insurance company and employer might have to pay for prescription drugs following a work injury.

Vocational Rehabilitation

If you are eligible for vocational rehabilitation, you have sustained a workplace injury or an illness. These programs, which include career advice, on-the-job training, retraining, and assistance with job searching, help injured NC workers return to work after their recovery.

Necessary Travel Expenses

With the help of experienced workers’ compensation lawyers, you can file a claim for travel expenses, including parking fees and gas costs.

How Long Does It Take to Get Workers Comp?

The injured worker (or their Durham workers’ compensation attorney) and the insurance company negotiate until they reach a deal throughout the workers’ compensation settlement procedure. You can accept or reject the insurer’s settlement offer or request a more favorable offer after it has been made. The negotiations will continue until both parties agree upon a settlement.

When an employee has a lifelong disability, has no lawyer, and refuses to settle, a workers’ compensation case usually takes 12 to 14 months to resolve. If a workers’ compensation attorney represents you, settlement talks may take longer.

The rationale for this is that a skilled workers comp attorney will recognize the value of your case and prevent the insurance company from duping you into taking a lowball offer.

If an attorney represents you, reaching a settlement may take 18 to 20 months.

Even though the workers’ compensation settlement talks could take longer, you’ll need a strong lawyer to fight for the most compensation.

How Long Do Workers Comp Settlements Take in Durham, North Carolina

NC Workers’ Compensation Settlements: Things to Consider

Workers’ compensation settlement talks drag on for so long because the insurance company typically makes a lower initial offer than you are entitled to. However, you must consider the following factors before you and your workers’ comp lawyer decide on a settlement.

Medical Expenses

Your hospital stays and workers’ compensation payout must cover doctor appointments and treatment expenses. The insurance company’s offer will be based on these costs.

Future Treatments Cost

You must budget for future medical expenses, such as surgery, therapy, and prescription drug prices. If you take a settlement without considering these factors, you risk paying for subsequent treatments using your own money.

Presence of a Disability

Certain workplace injuries result in a worker’s temporary or permanent disability. Does the settlement adequately cover the lost wages and diminished earning potential that resulted from your disability? If not, it was a mistake to accept it. 

There is no defined time for the settlement negotiating process because every case is different and has various factors to consider. However, you should receive your money four to eight weeks after the deliberations.

What Does Workers’ Compensation Pay?

Workers’ compensation covers medical care, disability, and death. The severity of your illness or injury will determine the amount of workers’ compensation benefits you receive. 

  • Subject to certain limitations, the insurance company covers relevant medical care and gives an employee treatment options in accepted cases. Put otherwise, you are not allowed to choose your physician. Mileage spent on travel from and to appointments may occasionally be reimbursed to an insurance company.
  • Determining your “Average Weekly Wage” is crucial since it will determine how much disability benefits you receive. When unable to work due to an injury or illness, you will get settlements known as “temporary total disability,” which equates to 66 & ⅔ of your typical weekly wage. When an injury prevents you from returning to work, you may be eligible for “temporary partial disability” payments, which cover 65 percent of your pre-accident wages and post-accident earnings. Unless you fall under one of the narrow exceptions, you are eligible for a maximum of 500 weeks of temporary whole or partial disability benefits. A doctor may assign you a “rating” when your treatment is over, entitling you to reimbursement for “permanent partial disability.”
  • If an employee passes away due to a compensable illness or accident, the beneficiary may receive 500 weeks’ benefits. The North Carolina Workers Compensation Act specifies who is entitled to benefits and how much. Funeral expenses may be reimbursed up to $10,000.00 under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act.

Factors Affecting a Workers’ Compensation Settlements Timeline

Common reasons for a workers’ compensation settlement delay include:

The Employee

The process is not just slowed down if an employee does not aggressively follow up on their boss regarding the injuries and the requirement for treatment. It might not even start in a lot of situations. It is not unusual for injured workers to put off hiring an attorney for months or years while waiting for their employer to act.

The Employer

The employer likely did not tell the workers’ compensation insurance company if the supervisor neglected to report the injury or to send the worker for treatment.

Denied Claims

Several defenses are frequently the basis for an initial denial.

  • Defenses that can frequently be overcome include those based on lack of notice or the presence of a pre-existing condition.
  • Other defenses may be more problematic. If the employer contests the injury’s connection to the job, the anticipated settlement duration increases from six months to a year or more. Long-running lawsuits involving intricate and hotly fought issues are not unusual.

It cannot be emphasized enough that a workers’ compensation attorney is necessary if an employee’s claim is denied.

Other Factors

  • Life happens. Sometimes, unrelated family or health situations that affect the employee put their claim on hold until those issues are resolved.
  • Another injury occurs. If an employee sustains a new workers’ compensation injury and wants to make a second claim, the previous claim will be placed on hold while the second claim’s complete process is carried out.
  • Workers’ compensation cases are intended to be slow. Dockets are slow-moving. Obtaining reports and paperwork may take a while. It takes time for even the simplest problems and far longer for the most complex.
  • Communication with the opposite party doesn’t happen. Even while the workers’ compensation system is meant to operate slowly, it will go even more slowly if the company, its insurance adjuster, or its lawyer doesn’t respond. Receiving a response from the insurance company takes months.

 

How Long Do Workers Comp Settlements Take in North Carolina

What Happens When a Workers’ Comp Case Goes to Trial in North Carolina?

If you cannot reach a settlement, a hearing may be necessary. A workers’ compensation judge, a Deputy Commissioner, presides over hearings. There will be testimony and evidence from both sides, and doctors will typically testify in a deposition following the hearing. After submitting all relevant evidence, the parties present written arguments, and the Deputy Commissioner decides on awarding benefits. Benefits will be disbursed under the Deputy Commissioner’s orders if you win your case at trial. However, any party may appeal a Deputy Commissioner’s decision to the “Full Commission.” Three commissioners make up this panel that makes appeal decisions. Parties may occasionally file an appeal with the North Carolina Court of Appeals. 

Structured Settlements vs. Lump-Sum Settlements

It is crucial to understand that neither party may be pressured to settle a claim in full under the terms of the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. Although you can request on “Form 26A” that the insurance firm pay the cost of any rating you obtain from your doctor, this is just a partial settlement, and you will still be entitled to medical care for at least two years after Form 26A approval. It does not preclude you from fully settling a claim—this is frequently the case following an injured worker’s completion of medical care. It means that the North Carolina Industrial Commission must approve any settlement of a workers’ compensation claim in North Carolina and will result from a compromise between the parties. 

The optimal settlement choice depends on your situation. Consult with a workers’ compensation lawyer to review your options and ensure you choose the right action for your needs.

How Long Do Workers’ Compensation Benefits Last in North Carolina?

The severity of your injuries will determine how long you receive workers’ compensation benefits. In the event of a minor injury, your benefits can be limited in time. If your injury is more severe, though, you might be eligible for benefits for a longer time. According to the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, the maximum number of disability benefits someone can receive is 500 weeks, with some exclusions, such as paralysis or losing two limbs. As long as certain criteria are met, medical care can continue indefinitely. 

Benefits are often paid to an injured worker at least until their level of medical improvement is reached. When your treating physician determines that your condition is stable and no significant changes are anticipated, this is known as maximum medical improvement (MMI). A doctor’s rating of the injured body part(s) is also known as the MMI.

How Can an Attorney Help In A Workers Comp Case?

A workers’ compensation lawyer with experience knows how to deal with issues as they come up, including delays, denials, and mistreatment. The best action for someone injured is to protect their rights and interests by hiring one.

  • Representing in court: The judge is an attorney (or ex-attorney). Lawyers represent the employer. You need to have one as well. If you want to go pro se or represent yourself, the judge will not be able to support you or offer legal advice other than telling the employee to speak with an attorney. Furthermore, the proposed settlement is frequently “pennies on the dollar” in comparison to the amount of a workers’ compensation settlement that a knowledgeable attorney may secure on your behalf.
  • Knowing when and how to provide evidence to the judge: The most significant problem in a workers’ compensation claim is frequently how serious any permanent injuries are. The employer has a strong incentive to discover the least permanent damage. Why? Because a smaller settlement corresponds to less damage.

Our workers’ compensation attorneys are skilled at refuting a medical report that appears to be skewed more toward the employer’s financial interests than the actual injuries sustained by the employee. Call our law firm at (919) 683-1302 for a case review or evaluation.

Let Us Represent You In Workers’ Compensation Settlement Negotiations!

If you were hurt in an office accident in North Carolina, you should hire an expert attorney to assist you with your claim and represent you during settlement negotiations. The insurance company will try to underpay you.

At Constantinou & Burkert, our legal team can assist you in obtaining benefits for lost wages, medical costs, and disability. Our lawyers have fought for the rights of injured workers in North Carolina for many years, helping clients achieve hundreds of successful results.

Call our workers’ compensation attorneys today for a free case review and evaluation. Call our law firm at (919) 683-1302 to schedule your consultation.

Free In-Depth

No Obligation Case Evaluation

 

(919) 683-1302

matt@cblawnc.com

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Angela Smith

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