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Workers’ Compensation

It is important for North Carolina business owners in Waxhaw to determine whether or not they must carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover their employees. Notably, even if an employer does not consider someone who works for them as a traditional “employee,” this does not matter under the law. A business’s failure to carry workers’ compensation insurance when it is required to can result in steep financial penalties. At the same time, if you are an employee who suffers an on-the-job injury, you will want to know whether or not your employer is required to carry workers’ compensation insurance to cover you in such an instance.

What Businesses Must Carry Workers’ Compensation

Under North Carolina law, sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, and LLPs must carry workers’ compensation coverage if the business has three or more regular employees in addition to the actual owner, partner, sole proprietor, executor of the estate, bearer of the trust, or formulators of the LLC or LLP. Whether the employee is full or part time, a seasonal worker, or even a family member does not make a difference. Partners and sole proprietors may excuse themselves from being covered under the workers’ compensation policy.

Under North Carolina law, all types of corporations, including not-for-profits, must carry workers’ compensation insurance if they have at least three individuals in the corporation, including the corporate officers. That being said, the corporate officers may choose to exempt themselves from coverage.

Agricultural organizations must carry workers’ compensation insurance if they have 10 or more full-time, non-seasonal agricultural workers. Companies with at least one employee whose work involves the use or presence of radiation must carry workers’ compensation insurance. Under the law, failure to carry workers’ compensation insurance when required to do so is punishable by monetary penalties between $50 and $100 for each day of non-compliance. Additionally, the employer is liable to the employee for other compensation under the law while it is not in compliance.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits

There are several different types of scenarios in which someone may suffer a work-related injury that negatively impacts his or her life. For one, medical bills must be paid, and often they start piling up quite quickly. If the work-related-injury makes the harmed worker engage in full or even part-time work, he or she will have lost past wages and possibly even future earning capacity permanently. Under these circumstances, workers’ compensation may be able to provide necessary and valuable paid benefits to the injured employee.

In Waxhaw and other parts of North Carolina, workers’ compensation benefits are meant to cover the injured workers’ medical bills related to the on-the-job injury, disability benefit payments for compensation of lost wages and/or earning capacity, and, when applicable, (3) death benefits to the victim employee’s surviving family members and dependents. There are four general types of workers’ compensation benefits available to an injured worker.

  • Temporary disability: In North Carolina once a person misses 21 days of work, he or she will receive temporary disability benefits. The rates and periods of compensation are governed by statute. A worker may be eligible for temporary partial disability or temporary total disability.
  • Permanent disability: When an injured employee has completed his or her healing period from the work-related accident and has reached maximum medical improvement (MMI), but still has impairment preventing work, he or she may receive permanent disability benefits. The rates and time periods of permanent disability are dependent upon the injured worker’s disability rating. A worker may be eligible for permanent partial or permanent total disability benefits.

Of note, an injured worker in Union County may only qualify for lifetime disability benefits for one of the following physical or mental limitations from their injury:

  • Spinal injury involving severe paralysis of both arms, both legs, or the trunk;
  • Severe closed head or brain injury evidence by neurological disorder, communication issues, sensory or motor issues, or other cerebral function issues;
  • Second or third-degree burns over at least 33% of the body;
  • Loss of any of pair of body parts including feet, legs, eyes, or hands.
Suing Your Employer

While you generally cannot sue your employer if you are receiving workers’ compensation benefits, surviving loved ones may sue the employer for the wrongful death of the worker. This is because workers’ compensation does not reimburse – or provide monetary benefits – for damages such as pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, bereavement, and inconvenience. Accordingly, family members of a loved one who suffered and died from an on-the-job injury may be able to recover on a wrongful death claim against the employer, or one against an at-fault third party.

Workers’ Compensation Help in Waxhaw

If you have suffered a work-related injury or have lost a loved one to a work-related accident, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation and/or death benefits. Contact the skilled workers’ compensation attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC to schedule a private consultation. We can explain your rights and obligations under applicable law.