Most North Carolina workers’ compensation claims are resolved through private settlement, not adjudication. If there is a significant dispute, you can expect the insurance company to bargain hard and to raise every possible objection. Retaining an experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer to do the negotiating for you (where only you can approve a final settlement) is likely to optimize the amount you end up with.
Workers’ Compensation Settlement Classifications
Your claim could be settled in the following ways:
Lump Sum Payments
You are eligible for a lump sum payment if you were off work for more than four months due to your injury, and if you are receiving weekly benefits . This amount might be calculated to cover medical expenses, lost wages or both. Many people, for example, negotiate a lump sum payment for medical expenses but take weekly wage replacement benefits to cover lost wages.
A comprehensive settlement is likely to be broken down as follows::
- Past, present and future medical expenses: The national average settlement/judgment across all workers’ compensation claims is about $22,000, although amounts vary greatly from individual to individual. It is critical that you do not underestimate future medical expenses, because you won’t be able to return to the settlement table to ask for more later, at least not for the same injury.
- Lump sum wage replacement means compensation for past, present and future loss of wages arising from your injury. Although this is a substitute for weekly wage replacement benefits, you generally do not have to include this in your settlement if you don’t want to.
- Vocational Rehabilitation: If you need to change to another job because of your injury, you may be offered job training and employment counseling services.
- Death Benefits: Death benefits are available to certain dependents of employees who died as a result of a workplace accident or condition.
Following is a description of the official rate schedule:
- The general rule is that if you are totally disabled, you will be entitled to two-thirds of your average weekly wages each week.
- The maximum possible weekly compensation is $1,028 per week (as of 2019 — this amount is adjusted every year). You cannot receive any more than this for lost wages no matter how high your wages were before your injury.
- If you are only partially disabled (and are therefore able to earn a certain amount wages despite your disability) , you will receive two-thirds of the difference between your previous wages and your current wages. For example, if your previous sages were $1,000 per week and your current wages are $700, so that you are making $300 less per week than you were before your injury, you will receive two-thirds of $300, or $200 per week.
It is possible to negotiate payments that deviate from the rate schedule.
We’re Waiting to Hear From You
John A. Hedrick is not your ordinary North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer. In addition to enjoying over 20 years of experience winning workers’ compensation claims for his clients, he is Board Certified in workers’ compensation law by the North Carolina Board of Legal Specialization.
If you intend to apply for workers’ compensation, or if you are already involved in a dispute, contact us by phone at 919-626-3895 or complete our online contact form. We serve clients from Raleigh as well as all over North Carolina.