Workers' compensation coverage is an important resource for injured employees. It is all the more important given the fact that it is typically the only avenue of compensation available to workers when they are injured on the job. One important principle for employees to realize, though, is that when they are injured on the job, it is their responsibility to claim workers' compensation coverage. This is true regardless of the circumstances of the accident.
There are several important responsibilities injured employees have with respect to workers' compensation claims in North Carolina. First of all, workers have the responsibility of providing timely notification of the accident or occupational disease. This includes notifying their employer within 30 days of when an accident occurs. If the condition is an occupational disease, notice must be provided when the employee first receives a diagnosis regarding the nature and work-related cause of his or her condition. Failure to timely notify an employer can result in denial of compensation.
In addition, workers' compensation claims must be filed with the state within two years of the relevant date, or the claim is time-barred. This can be done either by the employee or the employer. If the employer fails to take steps to file a timely claim, the injured employee is responsible for doing so.
Injured employees are responsible for following through with medical treatment offered by their employers, whether that treatment is offered directly or by referral. When necessary medical treatment or referral for treatment is not provided, employers may seek out treatment from a physician or facility of their own choosing.
Employees are also responsible for obtaining authorization for work absences from their treating physician, as well as documentation of work-related medical restrictions ordered by the treating physician. These documents must be provided to the employer as soon as possible after they are received.
Injured employees are responsible for providing all information requested by third party administrators, and for notifying their supervisor or workers' compensation administrator of any payments received for temporary total disability benefits received after they have returned to work. Finally, there is also the responsibility of cooperating with the workers' compensation process.
For injured employees, it is important not only to understand their own responsibilities, but also their employer's responsibilities, and their rights, under state workers' compensation law. Working with an experienced attorney helps ensure an injured worker's is best situated to receive the compensation to which he or she is entitled by law.