Union workers often work in industries which have dangerous work conditions and high rates of injuries. Fortunately, union workers can file for workman’s compensation claims like non-unionized employees. Union workers are also entitled to some additional safeguards due to their membership in a union. Additionally, unions like the North Carolina State AFL-CIO and Teamsters Local 71 represent over 100,000 workers across the state and advocate for safer workplaces for employees. If you are a union worker and suffer an injury while working in Charlotte or the surrounding areas, seek out an experienced North Carolina workman’s compensation attorney to handle all the details of your claim.
For a free consultation, contact us at (704) 461-0750.
Common Injuries for Union Workers
The North Carolina Industrial Commission administers the Workers’ Compensation Act. Workman’s compensation is used to provide workers who were injured on the job with money for lost wages and medical treatment, as well as other damages related to the injury. The injury must be an accident which occurred within the scope of employment. For example, a traumatic back injury or an occupational disease that occurs while working may qualify as a work-related injury. North Carolina law requires an employer who regularly employs three or more employees to obtain workers’ compensation insurance or meet the requirements for being a self-insured employer.
Employees who are covered under workers’ compensation cannot later sue their employer for their injuries. The only exception is when the worker can show that the employer intentionally caused the incident which injured the worker.
North Carolina has one of the lowest union membership rates in the United States, likely marking a shift away from industrial positions and into corporate positions. However, many union workers are still employed in occupations which require a fair deal of manual labor, such as:
- Construction workers or bridge workers
- Nurses and other healthcare workers
- Factory workers or steelworkers
- Police officers
Because of being employed in a wide range of labor-intensive industries, union workers often face a plethora of possible work-related injuries, such as:
- Scaffolding falls and other slip and falls
- Head or brain injuries
- Heavy equipment injuries
- Trucking accidents
- Occupational diseases
- Lifting injuries
- Broken bones and fractures
However, unions and agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are steadily pushing employers to make their workplaces safer for union workers and other employees.
Benefits of Filing for Workman’s Comp as a Union Member
A union worker who suffers an injury during a work accident can sometimes be entitled to more protection than a non-unionized employee. For example, what happens when an employee is injured severely enough that they will be unable to continue working for their employer. Under North Carolina law an employer does not have to keep your job vacant until you can return to work; however, as a unionized worker, your union contract may protect your job.
Additionally, unionized employees may have a collective bargaining agreement which gives them additional options if employers challenge their workman’s compensation claims.
In some instances, unions give their representatives the legal right to compel an employer to release data which may assist your workers’ compensation claim. Data could consist of previous records of injuries at the workplace, information about chemicals used at the job, or other pieces of information relevant to a worker’s claim.
These are just some benefits which a unionized worker can receive in a workman’s compensation claim. To truly make the most of a claim for workman’s compensation, a unionized worker should consult not only union representatives but an experienced Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyer as well.
North Carolina law provides many benefits for workers injured during the job, but there are some protections which are not afforded to injured workers. Here are some examples of issues not covered by workers’ compensation:
- Compensation for pain and suffering.
- The insurer/employer do not cover second opinions from other doctors unless it is approved by the insurance carrier or ordered by the Industrial Commission.
- In a contested claim, compensation for attorney fees is not usually required to be paid by the employer.
This list is not exhaustive, and there may be more claims which an injured worker cannot bring during a workers’ compensation claim. To ensure you are completely aware of your rights against your employer, you should speak with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as possible.
Hire a board certified Workers' Compensation attorney today to start fighting on your behalf!