Answer, yes. If you do not file your workers’ compensation claim on time, you could forever lose your right to file the claim and you would not be able to collect for your on the-job injury.
There are two time periods you should be aware of. The first time involves how soon should you tell your employer about your injury. The real answer is immediately after you have obtained proper medical care. The legal answer is that North Carolina law requires injured workers to report their on the-job injury to their employer in writing within 30 days.
However, if you are reading this after the 30 days has expired, do not panic. Make your claim as soon as possible. Chances are your failure to make this claim within 30 days will not keep you from collecting.
The second time period if the time within which you have to notify the North Carolina Industrial Commission. North Carolina law requires that you notify the Industrial Commission of your work-related injury within 2 years from the date of the injury. This notification must be in writing and preferably on the proper North Carolina Industrial Commission form, a Form 18. You can download a Form 18 here and use to file your claim. If you fail to notify the Industrial Commission in writing of your work-related injury within the two year period, you will not be able to make your claim. This is a much more rigid rule than the rule relating to how soon you should notify your employer of your injury.
Many times workers get lulled into a sense of security by conduct of the employer which leads them to believe that their claim has already been filed by the employer. Don’t let this happen to you. No matter whether you are receiving benefits from your employer, if you do not have a lawyer to take care of you, you need to be sure to file that Form 18 within the two year period no matter what.
There is no harm in filing the Form 18 if you do not need to. However, if you need to file it and don’t, you will not be able to collect.