When I will get a call from someone who suffered an injury at work in NC months or even years ago my first question is always “Did you file a NC workers’ comp claim with the North Carolina Industrial Commission?” Frequently, the response is “I think my employer did.” That’s usually bad news.
The law requires that the employee or his representative give notice of his injury at work in NC to the employer. North Carolina General Statute § 97-22, provides that “every injured employee or his representative shall immediately on the occurrence of an accident, or as soon thereafter as practicable, give or cause to be given to the employer a written notice of the accident…” G.S § 97-23 provides that the notice “state in ordinary language the name and address of the employee, the time, place, nature, and cause of the accident, and of the resulting injury or death…”
Beyond giving notice to the employer, the employee should also be sure to file a workers’ compensation claim in NC with the North Carolina Industrial Commission by submitting a Form 18, with a copy to the employer. G.S. § 97-24 provides that “the right to compensation under this Article shall be forever barred unless (i) a claim or memorandum of agreement as provided in G.S. 97-82 is filed with the Commission or the employee is paid compensation as provided under this Article within two years after the accident or (ii) a claim or memorandum of agreement as provided in G.S. 97-82 is filed with the Commission within two years after the last payment of medical compensation when no other compensation has been paid and when the employer’s liability has not otherwise been established under this Article.”
Occasionally employers or their insurance companies will properly file a workers’ comp claim with the Industrial Commission, but many times they will not. Employers and their insurance companies often take a wait and see attitude to workers’ comp claims. They know that if two years goes by, the claim is likely over.
Employees who sustain an injury at work in NC should be sure to give notice of the injury to their employer as soon as possible. Injured employees should also be sure to officially file a NC Workers’ Comp Claim with the NC Industrial Commission. But an employer who is injured on the job in NC should be careful in how he or she describes how the injury occurred when reporting the claim.