If you have a compensable workers' compensation claim, you will likely be entitled to receive disability compensation if your injury prevents you from earning your pre-injury wages. The North Carolina Workers' Compensation Act defines "disability" as the "incapacity because of injury to earn the wages which the employee was receiving at the time of injury in the same or any other employment." The Industrial Commission will look at your wage-earning capacity to determine if you are disabled.
Your average weekly wage will impact the amount of weekly disability compensation you are entitled to receive for your loss of wages. Attorneys use an Industrial Commission Form 22 and supporting wage records to calculate an injured worker's average weekly wage. Please bring your wage records to your free and confidential initial consultation. If you don't have your wage records, we can request them from your employer.
If you are completely out of work due to your compensable work injury, then you are entitled to receive temporary total disability benefits. The insurance company must pay you temporary total disability benefits in the amount of 2/3 of your pre-injury average weekly wage. Temporary total disability benefits are not taxed. The North Carolina Industrial Commission each year establishes a maximum weekly amount for disability benefits. As such, high-earning workers may not be able to receive a full 2/3 of their pre-injury average weekly wage in temporary total disability benefits.
An injured worker can receive up to 500 weeks of temporary total disability benefits. After 425 week have passed since the date of first disability, an injured worker can make an application to the Industrial Commission to extend temporary total disability benefits beyond the 500-week limit. In cases involving catastrophic injuries, an injured worker may qualify for permanent total disability benefits. An injured worker deemed to be permanently and totally disabled is entitled to receive temporary total disability benefits for the remainder of their lifetime, unless their employer is able to prove the injured worker can return to suitable employment. A permanently and totally disabled worker is also entitled to receive medical treatment for their compensable injuries for the remainder of their lifetime.
The rules for qualifying for extended compensation or permanent total disability benefits are complex. The entitlement to permanent partial disability benefits can vary depending on the type of the injury. An experienced workers' compensation attorney can help you analyze whether you qualify for these benefits. If you qualify, our workers' compensation attorney at the Olsinski Law Firm can help you prove your case.
If you have returned to work after a compensable injury but are earning less than your pre-injury average weekly wage, you may be entitled to receive temporary partial disability benefits. Your entitlement to temporary partial disability benefits is calculated by subtracting your post-injury average weekly wage from your pre-injury average weekly wage. You are entitled to receive 2/3 of the difference in temporary partial disability benefits. Temporary partial disability benefits are often calculated on a weekly basis because your wages may fluctuate from week to week. You cannot receive weekly temporary partial disability benefits for an amount greater than the annual maximum weekly amount for disability benefits set by the Industrial Commission. You can receive temporary partial disability benefits for up to 500 weeks, subject to certain conditions.
The injured worker bears an ongoing burden of establishing entitlement to receive disability benefits. This can be a weekly burden. Just because you were entitled to receive disability benefits in a previous week does not guarantee your entitlement to receive the same benefits in the future. Insurance companies will often force injured workers to prove their entitlement to receive disability benefits. An experienced workers' compensation lawyer can help you prove your right to receive disability benefits that compensate for the loss of wages.
The Olsinski Law Firm can help ensure you receive the correct amount of disability benefits. Contact us to discuss your claim.