Workers' Compensation

What is Workers' Compensation?

Workers' compensation is a state-mandated insurance program that provides compensation to employees who suffer job-related injuries and illnesses.  While the federal government administers a workers' comp program for federal and certain other types of employees, each state has its own laws and programs for workers' compensation.  In general, an employee with a work-related illness or injury can get workers' compensation benefits regardless of who was at fault -- the employee, the employer, a coworker, a customer or some other third party.

Are all injuries sustained at work covered?

Generally, most on-the-job injuries are covered, but not all.  There are some limits.  If the injury occurs because the employee is intoxicated or using illegal drugs, the employee would not be covered by workers' compensation.  Personal detours from work-related travel resulting in injury may result in non-covered injuries.  And there are other examples.

Is workers' comp limited to injuries, or does it include illnesses, too?

Many workers receive compensation for injuries that are caused by overuse or misuse of a body part over a long period of time.  For example, repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis, and chrondromalacia can be covered.  Health care workers who contract Hepatitis caused by exposure to contaminated blood is yet another example of how an occupational disease may result from just a one-time workplace exposure.

Can claims be filed for death?

Yes, we have filed and prevailed in many death claims for the heirs and next of kin of workers.  And death claims may be compensable if they result from a workplace injury or exposure that occurs many years earlier.

What expenses does workers' comp cover?

Workers' comp pays hospital and medical expenses necessary to diagnose and treat your injury and also provides disability payments while you are unable to work.  It also may pay for:

  • attendant care
  • housing
  • housing modifications
  • durable medical equipment
  • rehabilitation
  • retraining
  • transportation
  • other benefits.

How long do I have to file a claim?

In North Carolina, you generally have at least two years within which to file a claim.  This time frame may be extended for a long time depending on such factors as whether the claim is based on an undiagnosed occupational disease and the last date the employer paid for related medical bills.

Class Action

What is a Class Action?

A class action is a legal device that allows one person to sue as a plaintiff on behalf of all people who likely experienced the same injury.  Class actions are often brought against corporations, for example, against telephone and credit card companies when they overcharge or otherwise mistreat many customers in the same way.  They also are brought against manufacturers of defective products.  They also may be brought against a company or its officers on behalf of a class of shareholders in the company.  Other examples include:

  • consumers experience dangerous side effects from a drug or medicine
  • employees experience age discrimination
  • purchasers of a company's stock or securities are injured because the company made fraudulent representations about its products or business prospects
  • wrongful denial of benefits due to misclassification of employees as independent contractors.

Do all class members have to participate?

In most cases, no.  After the court certifies the case as a class action, members of the defined class are given an opportunity to "opt out" and pursue individual actions against the defendant, if they prefer.  However, if class members choose not to opt out, they are bound to the results of the case and automatically share in any recovery obtained for the class.

What is the benefit of class action?

Class action is a useful way to prosecute the claims of many people whose injuries added together are significant, but which, individually, would not be large enough to justify the expense of bringing individual lawsuits.

Professional Sports Injuries

Where can a professional athlete file his or her claim?

Often claims can be filed in multiple jurisdictions.

Do all jurisdictions pay the same workers compensation benefits?

No.  The benefits may vary dramatically from state to state.  Some states may not even allow claims for certain injuries, whereas other states do.

Can an athlete file a claim many years after retiring from the League?

Depending on the nature of the claim and the jurisdiction involved, yes.