Sometimes an accident is simply an accident where nobody is at fault. In the context of most personal injury cases, the plaintiff tries to establish that, while we often use the term accident, it was actually negligent conduct by the defendant that caused personal injury or wrongful death. This is required for a plaintiff to collect. However, in a workers’ compensation claim, an injured employee can receive benefits if he or she was injured on the job, even if the injury really was caused by an accident that nobody could have prevented.
According to a recent news report from the News & Observer, a worker was killed at a wood products company in Moncure, North Carolina when a large piece of machinery fell on him. Authorities are saying that the 29-year-old worker’s death is under investigation, but they have not released details. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been contacted, as it is their responsibility to investigate all work-related deaths and other serious injuries in the United States.
As our workplace injury attorneys in Winston-Salem understand, one of the major differences between a workers’ compensation claim and a civil action is that no liability or negligence on behalf of the employer is required for an award of benefits.
The reason for this is that lawmakers envision the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act as a compromise between an injured employee’s need for money to pay for medical bills and lost wages and an employer’s desire to avoid expensive litigation that can affect the company’s bottom line.
The main advantage for employees is that they can receive compensation faster without the need for a civil trial. However, it should be noted that the employee is barred from also filing a civil lawsuit if he or she is eligible for workers’ compensation. This is an example of the single recovery principal.
While the employer is required to purchase workers’ compensation insurance from a private carrier or pay into a state injury fund, benefits are limited to medical bills, funeral expenses in the event of a death, and payment of lost wages. Pain and suffering, another type of special damages normally associated with a civil lawsuit, is not available in workers’ compensation claims.
While workers’ compensation was designed to benefit the workers while protecting the company, many employers and their insurance companies will still try to avoid paying out workers’ compensation benefits by denying appropriate claims.
One of the best things an injured worker can do to help insure a quicker award of benefits is to report any injuries to a supervisor or employer immediately. It is important to make sure that an incident report is completed, so there can be no question that the injury occurred while at work. It is also a good idea to get the names of any witnesses to the accident and make sure their statements are included in the accident report.
It is also important to never refuse medical attention. The emergency room doctor will make a diagnosis and include that in the employee’s electronic medical record.
An experienced workers’ compensation attorney will be able to use this information to increase the chances that an injured worker receives a fair and appropriate financial recovery.
If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.
Worker dies at Moncure wood products company, September 27, 2014, News & Observer
More Blog Entries:
Gov. McCrory’s Appointment to N.C. Industrial Commission Sparks Ire, Sept. 6, 2014, Asheville Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog