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How does workers’ compensation cover for lost wages?

On Behalf of | Jan 3, 2024 | Workers' Compensation

While workers’ compensation triggers whenever a worker suffers either a work-related injury or occupational disease, the insurance does more than just cover for medical expenses.

If a work-related injury or illness prevents a worker from immediately reporting back to work, workers’ compensation can cover any wages the worker might lose while away. What is this benefit, when can a worker receive it, and how long does it last?

Lost wage compensation

In the event an occupational injury or illness results in an injured worker’s disability, lost wage compensation will apply. These compensation payments are weekly, at 66 2/3% of the worker’s average weekly wage, up to a maximum amount established by the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) each year. This benefit lasts until the worker is able to return to work.

While the employer’s insurer pays this benefit weekly, the NCIC can sometimes authorize monthly payments.

Disability must exceed seven days

This lost wage compensation doesn’t automatically trigger every time a worker suffers a disability, however. The disability must require the worker to take more than seven days off work for this benefit to apply.

In addition, the worker won’t receive compensation for the first seven days of lost time unless their disability forces them to take 21 or more days from work.

For instance, if a worker takes a leave to recuperate from a work-related fracture injury for 18 days, they’ll only receive compensation for 11 days. This is because their leave didn’t reach the 21-day threshold required to retroactively trigger benefits for the first seven days.

While there’s no compensation for the first seven days of missed work, workers are still free to go on leave without pay or use any sick or vacation leaves.

On top of covering medical expenses, workers’ compensation can also cover an employee’s lost wages while they’re away recuperating. However, workers can only receive this benefit if their employer or employer’s insurer approves their claim. If you have suffered either a work-related injury or illness, consider speaking with a legal professional who can help you appeal a denied claim.