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Common Myths About Workers Compensation. Part One.

If you’re hurt at work, your mind is probably thinking about many things about filing workers’ compensation claims that just aren’t true. The sure way to learn about your rights is to speak with an experienced North Carolina and Virginia workers’ compensation lawyer.

Here are some common myths we find that many people have as well as explanations about what you should know about pursuing a workers’ compensation claim in Virginia or North Carolina.

Myth: You have to prove your employer was at fault for your work accident.

That’s wrong. Workers’ compensation is a compromise that was created on a state-by-state basis over 100 years ago. It was a compromise between employees and employers where each side gave up something to get other things in return. Employees gave up the right to obtain pain and suffering damages for their injuries or illnesses. Employers gave up the requirement that an employee must prove the employer was negligent in order to recover. If you are an employee and you suffered a compensable accident and injury within the scope of your employment, you generally have the right to file a workers’ compensation claim for your medical bills and during the time you are taken out of work by your doctor, you will be able to obtain 2/3rds of your average weekly wage for that period of time. If your claim is accepted/awarded by the Workers’ Compensation Commission, then your benefits could continue for up to 500 weeks, even if you are released to light duty.

Myth: You can’t file a worker’s compensation claim if you are negligent.

That’s false. Even if your carelessness caused a workplace accident, you can still file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Generally, as long as your conduct did not constitute an intentional violation of a company rule, you can and should file a claim with the Virginia Workers Compensation Commission or the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

Myth: Only manual laborers can file workers’ compensation claims.

That’s false. Many workers such as construction workers, warehouse employees, workers in the manufacturing sector, and blue-collar workers do file worker’s claims. But many non-manual laborers can file work injury claims too. Sales clerks, nurses and other healthcare professionals, teachers, financial managers, scientists, and any employee who is legitimately injured while working can file a claim. There are a few exceptions that may apply such as farm workers and railroad workers who may be covered by other laws, or insurance coverage. But most workers in every profession can file a workers’ compensation claim in North Carolina and Virginia.

Common accidents and injuries that white-collar workers and workers in less strenuous industries may suffer include slip and fall accidents, repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome that computer workers are prone to, moving a patient, having to restrain a patient, being physically attacked, being stuck with a needle while working in a hospital, and unfortunately, being the victim of a mass shooting incident or suffering from PTSD from witnessing such an incident or other serious workplace violence. Never assume that you don’t have a valid claim. Call us today. We’ll explain your rights.

Myth: You can’t file a workers’ compensation claim if you have a pre-existing injury?

False. Don’t assume the worst. Your claim does need to be for current injuries but particularly in Virginia, the standard for medical causation is especially liberal. As long as there is some demonstrable aggravation according to your doctor, you should have a valid claim in Virginia, so long as the new injury contributes to your symptoms and disability. Of course, your doctor must be able to give that opinion. In Virginia, that is generally accomplished via an appropriate opinion letter from your treating doctor. In North Carolina, if the claim is contested, your attorney will have to take your doctor’s sworn deposition in order to prove aggravation of a pre-existing condition. Our experienced workers’ compensation lawyer has helped thousands of employees with many different types of medical conditions obtain just recoveries. We’ll work with your treating doctors and independent doctors when necessary to verify what injuries you have and why a prior health condition shouldn’t prevent your new claim from being filed.

Myth: You can trust your employer will Protect your Rights.

False. While it’s nice that you have a good relationship with your employer, you do need to enforce your rights under the Law. Otherwise, you have no rights. Some employers are kind enough to start paying your medical bills and your temporary disability benefits, but that kindness isn’t enough to protect your rights.

First, you need to understand that in most circumstances, employers don’t pay your benefits – their insurance company does. Insurance companies don’t know you. They only know that their job is to pay out as little as possible so they can make more profits. Generally, the employers do whatever their insurers tell them to do.

That means your employer could terminate your benefits at a moment’s notice because you don’t have formal approval of your benefits by the North Carolina Industrial Commission or the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission by way of a Formal Award of Benefits. The insurance companies will often try to deny your claim – by arguing that you’re not an employee, that your injuries didn’t happen during the course of your employment, didn’t ‘arise out of’ your employment, or that your injuries are due to a pre-existing condition.

Insurance companies will also work to show that your injuries aren’t very serious and that you can return to work.

At Joe Miller Law Ltd., our workers’ compensation lawyer files your formal claim for benefits promptly. If you trust your employer, then when the statute of limitations for filing a claim has expired, your employer could cut you off. By filing a formal claim, you preserve your rights.

We also work to obtain a formal order that states that you do qualify for benefits, that your medical bills should be paid, and that you should begin to receive temporary disability benefits. If there are any challenges to your benefits by the employer, we ask for formal hearings where a Deputy Commissioner will determine any contested issues.

Virginia Beach Office

5500-B Greenwich Rd.
Virginia Beach, VA 23462

Elizabeth City Office
(by appointment only)
507 E Main St #K
Elizabeth City, NC 27907

If you are looking at this site, you or a loved one has probably been hurt. If that's true, you've come to the right place. Helping people who have been hurt is what we do. In fact, it is all we do. Joe Miller Law is a law firm concentrating exclusively on representing people who are injured by the carelessness of others or those hurt on the job. We provide the highest quality legal services to people who have been seriously injured. We practice Personal Injury law and Workmens' Compensation law in both Virginia and North Carolina.