Should I wait to notify my employer about a work-related accident?

Sep 02 2014

No. You must act quickly.  North Carolina General Statutes Section 97-22 requires an injured employee to give written notice to his employer of an injury or accident as soon as practical or within 30 days of the date of the injury or occupational disease.  An injured worker should fill out North Carolina Industrial Commission Form 18, entitled Notice of Accident to Employer and Claim of Employee, Representative, or Dependent and submit it to the Industrial Commission and their employer.

What happens if a person waits?  There is an exception to the 30-day rule if an employee can show a “reasonable excuse” for the failure to provide written notice and that the employer has not been “prejudiced.” But many times the insurance carrier will deny the claim because of the late notice and the case ends up in litigation.  

Whether or not an employee has a “reasonable excuse” depends on the circumstances.  For example, in Peagler v. Tyson Foods, Inc., the Court of Appeals noted that “A reasonable excuse may be established where the employee does not initially know of the nature or probable compensable character of his injury.” The Court also noted that the plaintiff did not “initially understand the nature or character of his injury .… [and] that plaintiff had a third grade education and was illiterate.”

In any event, it is best not to wait and create unnecessary difficulties with your workers’ compensation case.  Contact us today if you have any questions.

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Adam G. Linett

Adam G. Linett, the founding member of A.G. Linett & Associates, PA, enjoys practicing law as a trial lawyer. After graduation from Duke Law School in 2000, he moved to New York where his work primarily focused on defense litigation and appellate work in a number of jurisdictions across the United States.

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