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At the Ramsay Law Firm, P.A., our Charlotte workers’ compensation attorneys know there may be some confusion when injured workers apply for the benefits they are entitled to after getting hurt on the job.
Generally speaking, an injured or ill North Carolina employee can file a workers’ compensation claim and receive weekly payments to cover lost wages.
The difficulty in determining the type of benefits the injured person receives, and for how long, comes down to the severity of their injuries including whether they are temporary or permanent and how those specific injuries are calculated against their weekly wages by the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
Here is what injured workers need to know about calculating workers’ compensation benefits in North Carolina.
Determining Your Average Weekly Wage
Workers’ compensation benefits give eligible injured employees a percentage of their average weekly wage by first calculating their gross income, which is the amount they make before any taxes are automatically deducted from their paychecks.
The average weekly wage refers to the amount the worker was making at the time of the injury and may include:
- Hourly or salaried rate
- Overtime and bonuses
- Non-wage allowances, including per-diems like gas, meals, or housing
The total is calculated from the 52 weeks before the date of the injury and averaged by the number of weeks you worked during the current 52-week period. We call this the average weekly wage, or AWW. If you worked less than a year before the injury, a different calculation method may be used.
Determining Your Workers’ Compensation Percentage Rate
Disability benefits in North Carolina are classified into four categories and are based on the severity of the injury and how long it will take to heal, or if a full recovery is possible. They include:
- Temporary Partial Disability (TPD)
- Temporary Total Disability (TTD)
- Permanent Partial Disability (PPD)
- Permanent Total Disability (PTD)
Total disability benefits are capped at 66.66% of the worker’s average weekly wage before the injury. There is also a maximum compensation rate for each year, which is published on the Industrial Commission website.
Partial disability benefits can be based either on return to work for lost wages or a permanent impairment rating. The worker should be given the opportunity to select the best option for their situation. Often insurance carriers tell workers that they can only recovery for their impairment rating when a lost wage claim is more valuable.
Lost wage partial disability benefits are calculated using the difference between the worker’s pre-injury and post-injury weekly income. The lost wage benefits are limited by 66.66% and the maximum compensation rate.
Partial disability benefits based on a permanent impairment rating are calculated according to a percentage of loss, which is determined by the injured person’s physician. The percentage of loss is called a rating. Each body part is assigned a number of weeks for a total loss. The worker is paid for their rating based on the dollar amount of their average weekly wage.
Whether a disability benefit is considered temporary or permanent disability benefit depends upon the status of the injured worker’s medical treatment and recovery. When the worker is in the healing period, the benefits are considered temporary. When the worker is finished treatment and at maximum medical improvement or MMI, the benefit can be considered permanent.
All workers’ compensation injuries are unique and should be discussed with an experienced attorney to ensure injured workers have access to all the benefits they are entitled to under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act.
Common types of injuries our seasoned attorneys have seen in our clients include:
- Brain injuries
- Back injuries
- Broken bones
- Burn injuries
- Complex regional pain syndrome
- Facial injuries
- Falls, including falls from heights
- Head injuries
- Hearing/vision loss
- Heavy lifting injuries
- Herniated disc
- Infections and MRSA
- Injuries requiring surgery
- Knee injuries
- Leg and foot injuries
- Permanent injuries
- Preexisting injuries
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Shoulder and neck injuries
- Spine injuries
- Truck driver back injuries
Are My North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Benefits Taxable?
Workers’ compensation payments in North Carolina are not taxed as income by either the state or federal governments.
If an injured worker returns to work in light or modified duty and receives wages, those wages will be taxed as income.
The particular circumstances of a case may affect the taxability of workers’ compensation benefits, including whether you settle for a lump sum from the insurance company for a permanent partial or total disability claim, and whether any compensation for losses outside of workers’ compensation is included in the settlement.
Our workers’ compensation law firm founder and managing attorney, Martha Ramsay, has been giving a voice to the injured for more than 25 years. She can help you determine the North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to, starting with a free consultation.
Contact Our Workers’ Compensation Specialists in Charlotte, North Carolina at the Ramsay Law Firm for a Free Consultation Today
At the Ramsay Law Firm, our dedicated workers’ compensation law firm in Mecklenburg County provides free consultations to all injured North Carolina employees by calling 704-376-1616 or contacting us online.
Our Board-Certified Workers’ Compensation attorneys and a skilled team of lawyers and support staff in Charlotte are here to handle each detail of your case, so you can focus on your recovery.
All Workers Welcome. Ask Trial Lawyer Martha Ramsay for Help Today.