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Can I be fired for filing for workers' compensation?

One of people's greatest fears when considering workers' compensation is that they will be fired for filing. This fear is understandable, since nobody wants to feel that they're getting on their employer's bad side, but in reality, you are legally protected from termination based on workers' compensation. Most employees in North Carolina are entitled to workers' comp if they are injured on the job and employers cannot retaliate against them.

In North Carolina, any company with three or more full-time employees is required to provide workers' compensation for on-the-job accidents. In many cases, part-time and temporary employees are entitled to workers' compensation as well. If a contractor is completely independent, they usually will not have the same rights to workers' compensation, but it depends on the specific situation.

What counts as an "on-the-job accident"?

You may be wondering what injuries can actually be compensated. North Carolina defines an accident as any unexpected event that caused someone to become injured, and "on-the-job" means the accident must happen either at your workplace or while you are doing some activity related to your job that is benefitting your employer.

Some of the most common ways that on-the-job accidents occur are through falls, accidents while handling heavy loads, machine accidents, or car accidents. If any of these circumstances or some other on-the-job accident causes you to be injured, consider filing for workers' comp. You will likely be facing medical bills during your recovery and lost wages from time off of work, so workers' comp will ease financial stress while you rebuild.

What is the timeframe for filing?

After an on-the-job injury, it is important to inform your employer of the injury as soon as you can. Next, you should get medical attention, which may have to be from an employer-chosen doctor. You technically have two years to file a workers' comp claim after an injury, but your case will be much easier to prove if you give your employer a written notice of your intent to file within 30 days of the accident.

You do have a bit of time to learn about the process and decide what you'd like to do next, but if your employer is not paying for your medical treatment after the injury, you may want to file sooner rather than later to help cover expenses. Many workers' comp claims are also denied the first time, so receiving workers' comp can be a longer process than people realize.

What if my employer fires me/threatens to fire me for filing?

Your employer legally cannot fire you because you filed for workers' compensation. If you face termination, contact a skilled attorney who deals with workers' comp cases as soon as you can. It is unfair and unlawful for you to be fired because you sought compensation for an injury. An attorney can protect your rights regarding both your injury and wrongful termination.

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