In this information-fueled age, many injured workers look to the internet for information about North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits when they are injured at work. For the web savvy worker and workers’ compensation practitioner, there is a ton of helpful, and free, information on the web. This post will focus on the wide variety of information available through the website of the North Carolina Industrial Commission. Please keep in mind that the best way to understand the sometimes confusing world of “workers’ comp.,” as it is affectionately known, is to consult a workers’ compensation attorney, but the following links give some good basic information about workers’ comp. in North Carolina.
The website of the North Carolina Industrial Commission is a good place to begin. The North Carolina Industrial Commission (sometimes abbreviated as NCIC, or, simply, IC) is the state agency that administers workers’ compensation benefits. The main website is a good resource in and of itself, and it also provides helpful links to other websites with information about NC workers’ comp. A good jumping off point on the IC website is the annual bulletin, which includes a general overview of workers’ compensation benefits. The bulletin also contains a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs), also found elsewhere on the website, that are specifically geared towards injured workers who are unfamiliar with the workers’ comp. system.
For the injured worker who does not have an attorney, the Workers’ Compensation Information Specialists Section (formerly called the Ombudsman section) can be useful. Information Specialists are employees of the Industrial Commission whose job it is to assist injured workers who are not represented by an attorney. Also helpful is the contact page for the rest of the staff of the Industrial Commission, where you can find the address and telephone numbers of most Industrial Commission employees.
Most of the procedural steps involved in bringing a workers’ compensation claim in North Carolina are accomplished by using specific Industrial Commission forms, which can be found on the IC website. One of the most important forms for an injured worker is the Form 18 (link to PDF document), which must be filed as soon as possible after a worker suffers an injury. The Form 18 is what officially begins a workers’ compensation claim. Even if your employer files a Form 19 (link to PDF document) reporting your injury, you still must file a Form 18 yourself if you are unrepresented. If you retain an attorney, he or she will fill out this and all other forms for you.
The North Carolina State Bar certifies some attorneys as specialists in Workers’ Compensation, and the Industrial Commission’s website provides information about which attorneys are specialists.
For those who have some time, or for workers’ compensation attorneys and other professionals, a significant amount of the law that governs workers’ comp. cases, which comes from various sources, is available. The statutes relating to workers’ comp. are a good place to start. Most of the relevant statutes are found in Chapter 97 of the North Carolina General Statutes, which is the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act
This act creates the NC Industrial Commission, and provides the legal framework for the NC workers’ comp. system. The Industrial Commission also promulgates a number of rules that govern workers’ comp. cases, including rules about the role of rehabilitation professionals in workers’ comp. claims. There is also a free database that provides access to Industrial Commission decisions, North Carolina Court of Appeals decisions, and North Carolina Supreme Court decisions that interpret and expand upon the statutory and regulatory framework for NC workers’ compensation law
Still have questions about an aspect of workers’ comp. or your workers’ comp. case? In addition to contacting an attorney, you can browse a list of employees at the Industrial Commission that is organized by who you should contact in reference to questions about specific subjects.
Good luck and happy hunting! Don’t hesitate to leave a comment or contact me if you have questions about where to find other sources of workers’ compensation information on the web.