The Statute of Limitations on Workers’ Compensation Claims in North Carolina
If you become injured on the job in North Carolina, you can qualify for financial benefits by filing a workers’ compensation claim (also known as “workman’s compensation” or “workers’ comp”). If your claim is accepted, you will begin receiving benefits for your medical bills, plus a portion of the wages you were earning before your workplace accident. Additional benefits may also be available, depending on what type of injury you have sustained. However, you will not receive any benefits if you wait too long to file your claim. Therefore, it is crucial to act swiftly if you have been injured at work. In this article, the Charlotte workers’ comp lawyers at the Ramsay Law Firm explain some basic rules about a law called the “statute of limitations,” which creates important deadlines for injured claimants.
What is the Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations plays a critical role in shaping virtually every type of lawsuit and claim. Put simply, the statute of limitations is a deadline. The length of the deadline, and who it affects, depends on the nature of the case. For example, in a criminal case, the statute of limitations might prevent a prosecutor from filing charges after a certain time. In a personal injury case, the statute of limitations plays a different role: setting a deadline for the victim to bring a claim.
The statute of limitations depends on two factors:
- Where the case is being filed. Every state has its own statutes of limitations. The typical range is somewhere between one and six years.
- What the case is about. For example, North Carolina’s statute of limitations for claims involving breach of contract is different from North Carolina’s statute of limitations for claims involving libel or slander.
North Carolina workers’ compensation has two time limits: reporting the injury to the employer and filing a claim with the Commission.
How Long Do You Have to File a Workers’ Comp Claim in NC?
Generally, North Carolina’s statute of limitations for workers’ compensation claims is two years. The two-year clock starts ticking on the date the victim is injured. Other personal injury claims in North Carolina, such as car accidents or slip and fall accidents that are not related to the victim’s job, have a three-year statute of limitations. There is a different deadline for occupational diseases.
While the statute of limitations allows up to two years for filing a claim with the Industrial Commission, it is unwise to delay, for several reasons:
- Workers’ compensation claims depend heavily on medical evidence, which is used to (1) diagnose your injuries, (2) prove that your injuries were caused by work, and (3) reveal information about how much your health (and earning capacity) is expected to improve in the future. Waiting to bring a claim can cause critical evidence to deteriorate – and creates more opportunities for evidence to be lost or discarded.
- Unexpected issues can arise that cause delays in the processing of your claim. If you wait until the statute of limitations is about to expire, there may not be enough time to deal with unanticipated events.
- The sooner your claim is accepted, the sooner you will begin to receive benefits. If you qualify for benefits, why wait longer than necessary to receive them?
To ensure that your claim is not barred, you must report the injury to your employer as soon as possible – within 30 days of your accident – and file your claim well before the statute of limitations expires. The claim must be filed using Form 18 (Notice of Accident to Employer and Claim of Employee, Representative, or Dependent), which must be submitted to the North Carolina Industrial Commission. Not only can the Charlotte workers’ compensation benefits lawyers of the Ramsay Law Firm help you get this process started – we can also file an appeal on your behalf if your claim is denied. If the employer knows of the injury, the employee is excused from giving them written notice.
If you fail to file your claim before the deadline set by the statute of limitations, there can be dire consequences. To directly quote one of North Carolina’s laws on this subject, G.S. § 97-58(c), which deals with occupational illnesses, “The right to compensation for occupational disease shall be barred unless a claim is filed with the [North Carolina] Industrial Commission within two years after death, disability, or disablement as the case may be.” If your claim is “barred,” it means that your claim will be prevented from proceeding any further through the legal system. If this occurs, you will permanently lose your chance at recovering compensation, which is why taking timely action is so critical.
Charlotte Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Offering Free Consultations for Injured Employees
The Charlotte denied workers’ comp claim attorneys of the Ramsay Law Firm have decades of experience helping injured workers file claims, challenge claim denials, and challenge the termination or reduction of their benefits. Now, let us apply our extensive experience to your claim. If you were injured at work, or if your husband or wife was in a workplace accident, our Charlotte personal injury attorneys can evaluate the situation and determine the strongest strategy for pursuing compensation. For a free consultation, contact the Ramsay Law Firm online, or call us today at (704) 376-1616.