How Do I File for Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is referred to as a “forms”-based practice of law. This means that there are a number of legal forms which have to be completed throughout any workers’ compensation claim. The first of these forms is what is known as a Form 18, which must be filed with the North Carolina Industrial Commission in order for an injured worker to open a workers’ compensation claim. The North Carolina Industrial Commission is a state agency comprised of judges and administrative personnel that oversee North Carolina’s workers’ compensation system.
Once a workers’ compensation claim has been opened by filing a Form 18, the workers’ compensation insurer must determine whether to accept or deny the claim. If the insurer accepts the claim, then the insurer is responsible for paying medical expenses incurred due to treatment necessitated by the workplace injury, and the insurer is also required to pay a disability benefit to the injured worker if the worker is written out-of-work by a medical provider, or if the worker is given medical restrictions that his or her employer cannot accommodate.
If the workers’ compensation insurer denies the claim, then the insurer is not responsible for any benefits unless and until a judge finds them responsible. This is a legal decision that often comes down to questions such as the existence of an employer-employee relationship, whether there was an injury by accident, whether the workplace incident caused the injury, or whether the worker is in fact disabled. These types of questions are litigated in a courtroom setting before a judge with the Industrial Commission that is called a Deputy Commissioner.