If you are injured at work in North Carolina, or while working anywhere in the country for a North Carolina employer, then you need to take prompt action to report your injury to your employer.
You should first give your employer verbal notice of your accident and your injury. If you have an occupational disease, which is a condition such as carpal tunnel that develops over time, then you should give your employer verbal notice of the condition as soon as you learn about it. In an accident situation, you need to get medical attention as required by the injury. Don’t hesitate to call 911 for an emergency; reporting the incident to the employer can wait until you are done at the emergency room!
Under NC law you are also required to give your employer written notice of the incident that hurt you. You need to provide this written notice within 30 calendar days of when it happened. You need to describe how you were hurt–the accident or incident itself–and you need to disclose the nature of your injury as well. The North Carolina Industrial Commission has a form designed for this purpose–the Form 18 Claim form, which can be filled out online at the Commission’s web site and then sent to both the Commission and the employer. However, if you plan to do this yourself, it is advisable to first contact a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Specialist Attorney for a free consultation in order to learn how to fill out this form properly. Using the wrong word or not giving enough detail about how you were hurt can result in a denial of your claim that may take months to overturn.
If you fail to give this written notice within 30 calendar days, then the employer and its insurance carrier have a defense to your workers’ compensation claim. The law provides that notice given to the employer is deemed to be notice to the insurance carrier, so you do not need to worry about notifying the insurance carrier separately. The employer has a contractual duty to notify the carrier promptly when the employer learns of your claim.
There are some exceptions to this 30 day notice rule, but the better practice is to always file the written notice with the employer within 30 days, and not risk your claim on an exception to the rule. You have two (2) years to file this notice of claim with the North Carolina Industrial Commission, so getting the notice to the employer on time should be your first consideration after the initial emergency medical care is received.
North Carolina workers’ compensation law is complex and it changes a bit every month when our appellate courts release a new decision. In 2011, our General Assembly passed a reform bill that made large and far-reaching changes to the law. If you are injured at work in North Carolina, it makes sense for you to contact a North Carolina Board Certified Specialist in Workers’ Compensation Law for a free initial consultation before you start filing legal papers to begin your claim. Doing it right the first time is much easier than doing it incorrectly and then having to hire a lawyer to help you fix it later.
The Bollinger Law Firm, PC, is based in Charlotte, but takes workers’ compensation cases across North Carolina. Founded in 1999, the firm has a strong reputation as a law firm of advocates for injured and disabled people.