If you have suffered a job-related injury, you should contact an experienced North Carolina personal injury attorney who can first determine whether you should file a Workers’ Compensation claim or pursue a different remedy.
Workers who seek to receive compensation for injuries suffered on the job or as a result of their work in North Carolina must file a “Notice of Accident to Employer and Claim of Employee” (Form 18) with the North Carolina Industrial Commission. The workers must generally give written notice of the accident within 30 days of the accident occurring. However, if they file notice late, they may still be able to pursue their Workers’ Compensation claim–if they can provide a reasonable excuse for the delay.
For example, in a recent case, the injured employee testified at a hearing in front of the full Commission that he had initially thought that his injury was minor and would get better on its own; however, when time passed and he realized that he in fact had suffered serious harm, he filed written notice, even though months had passed since the injury had occurred. The North Carolina Industrial Commission determined that in that case the excuse for the delay was “reasonable,” because the employee gave written notice as soon as he reasonably knew the extent of the injury.
However, even if the commission determines that the worker provided a reasonable excuse for failing to give written notice within 30 days of the accident, the claim will not be allowed to proceed if the Commission determines that the delay “prejudiced” (i.e. harmed) the employer. There are two ways in which the employer may be prejudiced by the delay: first, if the delay makes it more difficult for the employer to investigate the facts of the accident, or, second, if the employer can show that its costs would have been lower had the employer been given a chance to provide treatment for the employee’s injury without delay.
If the Industrial Commission determines that the excuse provided by the employee was reasonable, it is the employer’s responsibility to prove any prejudice that may have arisen from the delay; otherwise, the worker’s claim will be allowed to continue.
If you are considering filing a Workers’ Compensation claim in North Carolina, you should consult an experienced attorney familiar with North Carolina laws, who can help you pursue your legal rights to the fullest.
The attorneys at Lee & Smith are happy to provide a free consultation regarding your workers’ compensation case. Please contact us by phone or email.