If you’re already collecting workers compensation benefits, you may wonder how long they’ll last. It’s not like unemployment where, every time you claim your weekly benefits, the system tells you how much you have left to claim. You don’t even have any management over your workers comp payments. This is why we always recommend that our clients hire one of our employment lawyers in Greenville, North Carolina at the start of their claim. This way, we can ensure that it’s handled properly from day one.
If you’re worried that your benefits are about to run out and you don’t think you’re ready to return to work, relax. If you truly don’t think you’re fully healed, we can help. One of our injury lawyers in Greenville, North Carolina can arrange to have an independent doctor provide a second opinion. If, however, you think you’re coming close to the expiration of your benefits, that’s another story.
Here, we’ll explain the various ways in which your workers compensation benefits can end. We will explain what it means when your doctor says you’ve reached “maximum medical improvement.” We will also explain why very few cases ever last much longer than a year or so.
You Won’t Receive Benefits if You Aren’t Approved for Workers Compensation
We always remind our new clients that they can’t receive any workers compensation benefits until their claim is approved. In order for that to happen, you must meet certain requirements. North Carolina has the same requirements that most other states have. At a minimum, you must meet the following criteria:
- your injury must have taken place on company time
- your accident must have taken place on company property
- if you work remotely or on the road, then your injury must have occurred while you were acting within the scope of your normal employment
- you must report your injury immediately to your manager or human resources department
- you must agree to be treated by a state- approved workers compensation physician
- you cannot be under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of your workplace accident
- you’re not allowed to work for any other company while you’re collecting workers compensation benefits
- you must participate in your medical treatment
As long as you meet these criteria, there’s a good chance you’ll receive your benefits. If, for some reason, your claim is denied, your employment lawyer in Greenville, North Carolina can always file an appeal.
North Carolina is One of the Most Generous States When It Comes to Workers Compensation Benefits
There are some states that only offer their workers one- or two-years’ worth of benefits. North Carolina is much more generous when compared to these other states. In North Carolina, you’re allowed to collect workers compensation benefits for a period of 500 weeks. If you do the math, you’ll see that this comes out to be almost 10 years. In all the years that our employment lawyers in Greenville, North Carolina have handled these types of cases, very few, if any, of our clients have collected benefits for that long.
Once our clients reach the one-year mark, we usually ask an independent physician to determine if they’ve suffered any partial or total permanent disability. If they have, we then try to negotiate a lump sum settlement with their employer. The last thing anybody wants is to have somebody collecting benefits for that length of time. Not only does the case get stale, but both your employer and their insurance carrier would rather the matter be resolved once and for all.
Your Benefits End When You’ve Reached Maximum Medical Improvement
It’s important to understand that you can’t just choose to collect workers compensation benefits for 500 weeks. Once your workers compensation docs are determined that you reached maximum medical improvement, you’ll be asked to return to work and your benefits will cease. If you feel that you’re being asked to return to work before you’re physically ready, make sure to let one of your injury lawyers in Greenville, North Carolina know. They can have you seen an independent doctor he will make their own determination as to whether or not you would benefit from future medical treatment.
Keep in mind, there’s only a 50/50 chance that your employment lawyers in Greenville, North Carolina will succeed in this effort. If your employer and their insurance carrier are insistent that you are ready to go back to work, you’ll be left with one of two choices. You can either go back to work and start collecting your normal wage, or your injury lawyers in Greenville, North Carolina can file a lawsuit against your employer under workers comp. Since this is a last resort, your attorney will do their best to negotiate a settlement of your claim. It’s doubtful that your employer would risk a lawsuit if you’re only asking for another month or two of treatment.
Your Injury Lawyers in Greenville, North Carolina Will Probably Settle Your Case Anyway
One of the main reasons very few cases we handle ever get to the 500-week expiration mark is that we settle most of our cases. If any of our clients suffered a permanent disability, we would simply consult the North Carolina workers compensation guidelines to determine how many weeks of benefits they would be entitled to.
If you’re not familiar with how the workers comp system works, every state has its own schedule of various types of injuries. Each injury is assigned a certain number of weeks’ worth of benefits based on its severity.
For example, if you are now permanently blind in one eye because of a workplace accident, your claim would be worth a significant number of weeks. This is because blindness is one of the worst permanent injuries you can suffer.
If, however, the only permanent injury you suffered was to your wrist, you may only be entitled to 30 or 40 weeks of additional benefits. Whatever the total dollar value of the assigned number of weeks equates to is the amount your attorney will try to settle for.
It’s a Good Idea to Meet with an Employment Lawyer in Greenville, North Carolina Sooner Rather than Later
Regardless of how far along you are in your workers compensation claim, it’s a good idea to meet with one of our employment lawyers in Greenville, North Carolina. You can call our office and schedule your free, initial consultation at any time.