WORKERS’ COMP FOR EMPLOYERS AND WORKERS
Both employers and workers need to know the law of Workers’ Compensation. Not knowing your rights and responsibilities can be costly.
1. Remember that Workers’ Comp covers not only accidental injuries on the job, but also occupational diseases. For example, neck problems are common for dental hygienists, and shoulder problems are common for construction workers who do a lot of overhead work.
2. Not all workplace injuries are covered by Workers’ Comp. The injuries must be “accidental,” meaning something out of the ordinary work routine happened.
3. If you were partly at fault for your injury, it does not necessarily defeat your claim.
4. To keep your claim alive, it is essential to report your injury to your employer (supervisor will do) as soon as possible. A written or email report or notice is best. You must also file a Form 18 with the N.C. Industrial Commission, which can be found at the Industrial Commission’s website (www.ic.nc.gov). If a Form 18 is not filed within 2 years of your injury, you lose your right to pursue the claim.
5. Once you have healed as much as you are going to (called maximum medical improvement), you may have choices about how to settle the permanent disability part of your case. The insurance company will not tell you about those choices; they will send you the paperwork for the one they prefer, which will be the one least expensive for them.
6. If your condition gets worse and you haven’t settled in a way that closes your case, you have two years from the last check or last medical care to re-open your case for additional compensation and/or medical care. If you wait past that period to file the necessary form with the Industrial Commission, you lose your rights.
1. The N.C. Industrial Commission recently began a crackdown on employers who are required to carry Workers’ Comp insurance, but who do not. A business is required to have insurance if it has 3 or more employees, regardless whether they are full-time or part-time.
2. Businesses cannot avoid having to carry Workers’ Comp insurance by calling employees independent contractors. If a worker works entirely for you, uses your tools, works hours that you set, and gets specific directions from you, he is likely an employee (legally speaking), regardless what you call him.
3. If your business hires subcontractors, be sure subs provide you a certificate of their own Workers’ Comp policy. If your sub is hurt and doesn’t have her own insurance policy, she probably has a claim against your company’s policy.
4. For many businesses, buying a Workers’ Comp insurance policy may not be as expensive as they think. Premiums are based on payroll and on the type of work. Insurance is expensive in lines of work where injuries occur often, like construction, home health care, auto repair, etc. Others, like those doing office or customer service work, tech companies, and retail businesses without heavy lifting, may find premiums are not as expensive as they may think.
5. When getting a quote for Workers’ Comp insurance for your business, ask your agent to quote it with and without covering you as the owner. Many times the extra cost to cover the owner is minimal, and makes economic sense. If not, at least you are making an informed choice.
Whether you are an employer or a worker, you can obtain more information about Workers’ Comp from the N.C. Industrial Commission (www.ic.nc.gov or 1-800-688-8349) or from an attorney whose practice includes Workers’ Comp.