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Raleigh divorce lawyerDivorce proceedings can be distressing, but the situation can become hostile once the division of property is determined. Like most states, North Carolina is an equitable distribution state. The term “equitable distribution” evokes straightforward division; however, there is a myriad of complexities, such as devalued or hidden assets, as to how the court determines allocation. A divorce attorney can uncover and evaluate assets and advocate for fair distribution.

North Carolina is also a no-fault divorce state, meaning neither spouse needs to prove or blame the other spouse for the cause of the divorce. So, if adultery was the cause of marital demise, it still will not have any merit in equitable distribution. 

Three Types of Property

In North Carolina, legal separation begins on the date a spouse moves out of the family home. A written agreement or court decree is not necessary to verify that the separation is legally binding. Acknowledgment of the date the spouses reside in separate homes is crucial as it determines what is divisible property. North Carolina categorizes property as separate, divisible, and marital. 

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north carolina boat crash lawyerNorth Carolina's expansive waterways of lakes, rivers, and the Atlantic Ocean, are a recreational epicenter for boating. With 390,305 registered boats that navigate North Carolina's waterways, locals and tourists alike enjoy this popular water activity. In 2020, there were 187 boating accidents with 24 fatalities, making North Carolina one of the nation's leading states in watercraft accidents.

A personal injury lawyer adept in state maritime rules and regulations may be able to secure monetary compensation for injuries, or a fatality, on behalf of the victim or the victim’s family. The statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit in North Carolina is three years from when the boating accident occurred. However, a wrongful death lawsuit is limited to two years from the accident.

Eleven Common Boating Accident Injuries and Fatalities

Boating accident injuries can be traumatic and devastating. Although most injuries suffered in boating accidents are minor, some are so severe that the victims are not fortunate enough to recover fully. Recovery can take an emotional and financial toll on the victim and the victim’s family. Severe injuries can cause life-altering repercussions, like paralysis or brain injury. Tragically, some catastrophic boating accidents result in the loss of life. A personal injury lawyer will help pursue compensation for boating accident injuries, like the following.

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What Is a Presentence Report?

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Raleigh criminal defense lawyerIn some cases, a criminal cases, conviction is unavoidable no matter how good your attorney is. Pleading guilty is sometimes the best move, and trials are always a risk because juries can be wildly unpredictable. After you are convicted or plead guilty, your case moves into what is called the sentencing phase. During this time period, the court will consider a large amount of information to determine what the appropriate sentence might be.  

In some felony or high-level misdemeanor cases, the judge may order a probation officer to conduct what is called a presentence investigation. A lawyer can help you during this period by emphasizing the good facts and circumstances that might lead to a lighter sentence and contextualizing or explaining any issues that could lead to a harsher sentence. Preparing for this phase requires strong criminal defense skills. 

What Information Does a Presentence Investigation Cover?

The goal of a presentence investigation is to put your offense into context so that the court has all the information it needs to determine an appropriate sentence. When these investigations are ordered, they can be extremely important. A good presentence report can mean the difference between prison and probation for some people. Information about you that may be gathered during a presentence investigation includes your: 

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Raleigh hit and run accident lawyerWhile all car accidents have the potential to be dramatic scenarios, nothing compares to the feeling of being involved in a hit-and-run accident. Hit-and-runs occur when a driver strikes another person, vehicle, or property and drives away. According to North Carolina law, if a car accident causes any injury or property damage of at least $1,000, the individuals involved must stop and exchange contact information. If you were injured due to a hit-and-run accident, you may be eligible for financial compensation.

Always Seek Medical Attention After Being Hurt in a Car Crash

If you are hurt in an accident—either as a motorist or pedestrian—it is imperative that you go to the hospital immediately. Although you may think your injuries are minor at the time of the accident, the actual pain of your injuries may be masked by adrenaline. When this “fight or flight” hormone is no longer in your bloodstream, you may realize you are injured far worse than you realize. Delaying medical treatment may aggravate your injuries and reduce your chances of receiving compensation for lost wages or medical bills.

Collect as Much Information as Possible and Speak with Witnesses

Every hit-and-run is different. Sometimes you might not even see who or what hit you, let alone a license plate number. If you do see the vehicle that caused the accident, try to make a note of the model, make, or color of the vehicle. If you can, snap a picture of the vehicle or take note of the license plate number. Even a partial license plate number can help police figure out the perpetrator. Furthermore, get names and contact information of anyone who saw the accident. They may become valuable witnesses in the future. It is vital that individuals involved in a car accident write this information down as soon as they are able. The emotional nature of an accident can make recalling information by memory very difficult.

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Raleigh immigration and criminal defense lawyerThe short answer is maybe. In some cases, a criminal conviction can lead to deportation. In other cases, you may be allowed to serve any sentence you are given and remain in the country. The end result depends on several factors, including which crime you are convicted of. If you are not a U.S. citizen at the moment and get charged with a crime, it is very important that you contact an attorney who understands both criminal defense and immigration law. There is too much at stake for you to take any chances with your future in this country. Once you are convicted, the immigration court is likely to take that conviction at face value even if you later have grounds for getting it expunged or otherwise done away with. 

Which Crimes Can Lead to Deportation?

Minor misdemeanors usually do not trigger deportation proceedings, but some more serious misdemeanors can. The line between a deportable offense and a non-deportable offense is not the line between misdemeanors and felonies. Instead, the standard is that “crimes of moral turpitude” can get you deported even if you are here legally. This is not always a very well-defined standard, but it typically encompasses crimes that include some element of dishonesty or suggest that you are a danger to others. Additionally, some aggravated felonies will automatically trigger deportation.

Crimes that can lead to deportation include, but are certainly not limited to: 

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Raleigh criminal defense attorneyWhile everyone would like their criminal charges to be dismissed completely, or to be found not guilty, this is not always a realistic outcome. In some cases, there is overwhelming evidence, like when a crime is clearly captured by security cameras. In other cases, the risk of going to trial and being found guilty is intolerable to the defendant. In cases like these, the best course of action may be to accept a plea bargain. A plea bargain is essentially a deal worked out between a defendant, his lawyer, and the prosecutor. In exchange for a guilty plea, the prosecutor may offer reduced charges or reduced sentencing. Always consult an experienced criminal defense attorney who can evaluate the situation before agreeing to a plea bargain. 

How Does the Plea-Bargaining Process Work?

Typically, the prosecutor makes the first offer to your attorney. This begins the negotiating process. If you have a victim, their opinion may be taken into consideration. You and your attorney will discuss each offer the prosecution makes. This is where having an experienced criminal defense lawyer really helps - they will have a better understanding of how fair or reasonable a given offer is. Eventually, your lawyer and the prosecutor will arrive at a “final offer.” Your options then are to take the final offer or go to trial. 

What Are Some Benefits of a Plea Bargain?

The advantage of trial is that there is always a chance - however slim - that you could be found not guilty, in which case you are free to go with no consequences and no record. The risk is that you could be found guilty even if you are not, in which case you could face harsh sentencing. 

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Raleigh car crash lawyerAfter a car accident, you may be in a state of shock, especially when you or someone you care about has been injured. It can be hard to think clearly. When the driver who caused the crash whips out their wallet and approaches you with an offer, it may be tempting to take it for a number of reasons. It seems easy. You have their plate number. You do not want to deal with an insurance company or a court if you do not have to. However, before you take any kind of “handshake deal” on the side of the road, you may want to know why some drivers may do this—and why taking such a deal is almost never a good idea. Your best bet is to refuse, file a police report, and call a lawyer. 

Reasons At-Fault Drivers Might Have for Offering a Verbal Settlement

A driver who has caused an accident would not make an offer on the side of the road if he did not think it would ultimately benefit him in some way. Often, these drivers are trying to hide something or escape complete liability in some fashion. 

Reasons the driver who caused your crash might be trying to settle on the scene include: 

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Wake County domestic violence charges attorneyThere is often much more than meets the eye in domestic violence cases. The classic narrative of an abusive man hitting his wife or girlfriend and going to jail for it simply does not reflect the reality in most contemporary domestic violence cases. Domestic violence most frequently occurs in the home, away from the prying eyes of potential neutral witnesses. Police often arrive to find a chaotic scene and very upset individuals. In the absence of obvious injuries, it can be quite difficult to figure out exactly what happened and who is primarily responsible for any violence that may or may not have occurred. If you are facing domestic violence charges, there are a few facts and considerations surrounding this charge that you should be aware of. 

What Should I Consider if I Have Been Accused of Domestic Violence?

Whether you are guilty or not, being charged with domestic violence has the potential to be a life-altering offense. Due to the not-always-accurate assumptions surrounding these cases, your career or educational opportunities could be affected. If you are up against this charge, you should be aware of these concerns: 

  • Self-defense - It is strikingly common for the victim of intimate partner abuse to be arrested while attempting to defend themselves. Abusers can be shockingly convincing when the police arrive. 
  • Family matters - The definition of domestic violence in North Carolina is not limited to violence between those who are currently in a romantic relationship. Violence between other close family or household members as well as former romantic partners can lead to domestic violence, rather than simple assault, being charged. 
  • False allegations - Allegations of domestic violence are often made during a contentious divorce or even a serious argument. These allegations are sometimes false, and made for the purpose of gaining the upper hand in divorce or child custody proceedings. 
  • Protection orders - After a domestic violence arrest, you may be served with a protection order, at or even in advance of your arraignment. This order will likely instruct you not to return to the premises where the alleged assault occurred or to contact the victim. In most cases, this means you cannot go home. It is very important that you obey this order - you do not want to be arrested a second time for violating it. Return to the premises only accompanied by the police to gather your personal items as the order instructs. 
  • Difficulty of dismissal - Even if the alleged victim wants to drop the charges, they may not have that choice. Prosecutors are very reluctant to dismiss domestic violence cases and may continue to prosecute these cases even over the victim’s objections. 

True domestic abuse is a very real problem in our society, across every socioeconomic level. However, domestic violation allegations do not always reflect the reality of your situation. If you have been charged with domestic violence, it is important to secure strong legal representation. 

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shutterstock_608376650.jpgIt is reasonable to assume that you do not need to hire an attorney if you are not guilty of a crime. However, if you are suspected of engaging in criminal activity or you have been charged with a crime, it is important that you hire an attorney regardless of your innocence.  If you are required to appear in court, it is possible to represent yourself, should you wish to do so. Even though you have every right to self-represent, it is not advised that people facing criminal charges do so.  There are many reasons to hire a lawyer, even if you are not guilty of the charges you are facing. 

Charges Do Not Indicate Guilt 

Being charged with a crime does not mean you are guilty of the crime. It simply means you are suspected of the crime. 

The presumption of innocence is an integral part of the U.S. legal system. Even though innocent people often face criminal charges, they still need to defend themselves against the charges they are facing. 

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shutterstock_1168999522.jpgIf you have been the victim of a car accident or other injury-causing incident in North Carolina, you might be wondering what your options are. Often, injured victims are able to receive compensation for the bodily harm and physical damages they experienced. However, as with many legal cases, there is a statute of limitations in place for personal injury claims in North Carolina. But what is it? And how can you go about filing a personal injury claim in North Carolina? We are here to answer these questions for you today. 

What is a Statute of Limitations? 

For starters, it is helpful to know what a statute of limitations is in the first place. In the world of law, a statute of limitations refers to a period of time in which a certain type of legal action must be made in order for a victim to pursue compensation or justice. You can think of it as a time limit. 

In the context of a personal injury claim, the statute of limitations varies depending on where the incident took place. According to the law in North Carolina, most personal injury claims must be pursued within three years.  If you sustained injuries in a car accident that was not your fault, and the car accident took place in North Carolina, then you will have three years from the date of the event to file a personal injury claim. Three years may sound like a lengthy period of time, but it is always wise to act sooner than later.

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north carolina personal injury lawyerSuffering serious injuries in a car crash is always a traumatic experience, but it is even more heart-wrenching if the accident was caused by drunk driving.

Thankfully, North Carolina law allowed people injured by drunk drivers to file a personal injury claim and pursue compensation. A successful claim may result in significant compensation, known as damages, that addresses the victim’s financial losses.

Compensation Available to Drunk Driving Victims

The injured party may be entitled to damages that compensate them for injuries they incurred as a direct result of the defendant’s wrongdoing. Damages are intended to make the victim “whole again.” 

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shutterstock_271476920.jpgThere are many thorny issues that are difficult to resolve during divorce, and children are first among them. Of course, custody and visitation rights are at the heart of many disputes. To help facilitate an understanding between the parties, the court will have the ex-spouses attempt to come up with a parenting plan that they both agree on. A parenting plan is basically an agreement between separating spouses that delineates how they plan to raise their children.

Here are three matters that a parenting plan should address:

Custody and Visitation

The plan should outline the custody and visitation rights of each parent. Joint custody involves both parents sharing physical and legal custody of the child. Parenting time is usually split between the parties. The child may spend the week at the mother’s house and then go to the dad’s house for the weekend. A parenting plan is a great way to get this arrangement down in writing.

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What Is a Crime of Moral Turpitude?

Posted on in Immigration

shutterstock_1072282619-1-min.jpgA criminal conviction can have tremendous immigration consequences. However, these consequences are largely determined by the nature of the crime, and whether the offense can be classified as a crime of moral turpitude.

From the perspective of the U.S. Government, crimes of moral turpitude raise serious questions about the convicted person’s personal character and their desirability as foreign residents. Thus, a conviction often has serious implications for an immigrant’s ability to remain in the country or obtain a more permanent status.

When Is an Offense Considered a Crime of Moral Turpitude?

There is no statute delineating what is or is not a crime of moral turpitude. Defining the term has often been left up to the courts, which have historically considered the defendant’s intent and the recklessness of their behavior in their determination.

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north carolina immigration lawyerA conviction for driving while impaired (DWI) has serious consequences, no matter the circumstances. However, the ramifications are even greater when you are an undocumented immigrant or hold only a green card.

After a DWI conviction, a citizen might have questions about their financial situation if they face fines or their driving privileges if they face a license suspension. An immigrant, on the other hand, might have concerns about their ability to even remain in the country.

The uncertainty of the situation is magnified by the enigmatic complexity of the U.S. immigration system. Immigration law is filled with antiquated terminology and is notoriously fickle.

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NC immigration lawyerSince 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which is commonly known as DACA, has allowed immigrants who came to the United States as children to remain in the country. However, these immigrants were dealt a major blow recently when a judge in Texas ruled that the DACA program is illegal. Immigrants will need to be sure to understand what this ruling means for them and whether they have options for avoiding deportation.

Effects of the Ruling

The DACA program was put in place by President Barack Obama in 2012, and it applied to immigrants who entered the United States before reaching the age of 16, have lived in the U.S. since 2007, and do not have a lawful immigration status. Those who met the requirements of the program could receive a deferral of any deportation actions for two years, and they would have authorization to work during this time. A person could also apply for renewals and receive additional two-year extensions to their deferral period.

On July 16, 2021, a federal judge in the Southern District of Texas issued a ruling stating that the DACA program is illegal, and a permanent injunction was put in place prohibiting the government from continuing the program. This injunction applies to any new DACA applications, and deferral cannot be granted for any applications received by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after the date of the ruling. The federal government has stated that it intends to appeal this ruling. New DACA applications may be submitted, but deferrals or employment authorization cannot be granted to those who had not previously received DACA protections.

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NC defense lawyerWhile all criminal charges should be taken seriously, there are some types of offenses that are likely to result in severe penalties, including a long prison sentence, life in prison, or even the death penalty. Because violent crimes involve significant harm to an alleged victim and their loved ones, they are taken especially seriously by law enforcement. Murder and manslaughter can lead to particularly serious penalties, and those who have been accused of these crimes will want to understand the nature of the charges and their options for defense.

Murder and Manslaughter Charges Under North Carolina Law

An offense is generally considered to be murder if a person has wrongfully caused the death of someone else. The specific offense a person may be charged with will depend on the circumstances of the case. The laws in North Carolina define murder-related offenses as follows:

  • First-degree murder - A person may be charged with this crime if they allegedly killed someone in a manner that was deliberate, willful, and premeditated. This charge will also apply if a person allegedly committed murder through poisoning, starvation, imprisonment, or torture or if murder was committed alongside another violent crime or attempted violent crime, including sexual assault, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, or another felony involving the use of a deadly weapon. First-degree murder is a Class A felony, and the maximum sentence for this offense is the death penalty or life in prison without parole.
  • Second-degree murder - A person may be charged with this offense if they allegedly killed someone in a manner that was not deliberate or premeditated. If a case does not meet the standards for first-degree murder, a person may be charged with a Class B1 felony, which has a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. If a person allegedly killed someone by committing an inherently dangerous act, or if they acted recklessly in a way that showed a disregard for human life, they may be charged with a Class B2 felony, which has a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.
  • Voluntary manslaughter - This offense involves intentionally killing someone else due to circumstances that would cause emotional distress to a reasonable person. A person may be charged with this crime if they allegedly killed a person while they were in the “heat of passion.” This is a Class D felony with a maximum prison sentence of 17 years.
  • Involuntary manslaughter - This crime involves unintentionally killing someone else due to reckless or negligent conduct. A person may be charged with this offense if they accidentally killed someone while they allegedly were committing a non-violent crime or if they caused someone’s death while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This offense is a Class F felony, which carries a maximum sentence of four years and 11 months in prison.

Contact Our Smithfield Violent Crime Defense Lawyers

If you have been charged with murder or a related offense, you will need to take the correct steps to mount an effective defense and determine how you can avoid being convicted. At Vasquez Law Firm, PLLC, we will help you determine the best defense strategy, and we will fight to protect your rights from the beginning to the end of your case. Contact our Johnston County criminal defense attorneys at 919-533-7000 to set up a free consultation today. Hablamos español.

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NC divorce lawyerIf you and your spouse are getting a divorce, you likely have concerns about how your property will be divided, especially when it comes to your family home. A house is not only one of the most financially valuable properties for many divorcing couples, it also may carry the most sentimental value. For parents of younger children, the home can also be a source of stability for the family at an unstable time. With all of this in mind, you should be sure that you are prepared for the possibility of dividing your home in the divorce and that you have a plan to achieve your priorities.

Obtaining a Property Valuation

A home purchased during your marriage will most likely be considered a marital asset, which means it will factor into the division of marital property in some way. As such, it is important to understand how much the house is worth. Depending on the shifts in the housing market, the current value of your home may be quite different from the price at the time you purchased it. A professional like an appraiser or realtor can help you determine the value based on the home’s condition and the market in your area.

Understanding Your Options for Dividing the Home

Knowing your home’s value, you can better determine how you want to handle this property in your divorce. One option is to sell the home and divide the proceeds equally, but this may be undesirable if you want to stay in the home for your own sake or your children’s sake. Another option is to negotiate an agreement with your spouse that allows you to keep the home while they keep other marital assets of similar value. It may even be possible to work out an arrangement in which you continue to own the house together while your children are still living at home and then sell the property at a later date.

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NC injury lawyerAgriculture is the largest industry in North Carolina, employing more than 100,000 workers throughout the state each year. However, it is also one of the most dangerous industries for work-related injuries due to the physical labor involved and the presence of occupational hazards. Farmworkers who are injured on the job may be able to obtain relief through workers’ compensation benefits, or by filing a personal injury claim against the at-fault party.

Injury Risks for Farm Workers

Agricultural workers may be at risk of on-the-job injuries due to all of the following causes:

  • Overexertion and repetitive stress - Farm labor often requires heavy lifting, bending, stooping, and repetitive motions over long periods of time. Workers may suffer injuries of the bones, muscles, tissues, and joints, whether due to one-time overexertion or ongoing stress.
  • Heatstroke - Farm work takes place largely outdoors, often in high temperatures. Workers can suffer from injuries and conditions including heatstroke, heat exhaustion, hyperthermia, and dehydration.
  • Equipment and traffic accidents - Agricultural employees often work with or around machinery and equipment including tractors, combines, planters, plows, and rakes. They may also be responsible for transporting agricultural materials on the roadway. Injuries may happen due to equipment malfunctions or rollovers, negligent operation, or traffic accidents.
  • Chemical exposure - Farmworkers may be responsible for spraying pesticides or herbicides or working closely with crops that have been treated. These chemicals can be dangerous if they are ingested or inhaled, or if they come into contact with the skin or eyes.
  • Grain bin accidents - Grain bin workers can suffer injuries due to particle inhalation or suffocation.

Options for Compensation

Some agricultural workers, especially those who work full-time for large farming operations, are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits through their employer if they are injured on the job. These benefits cover an employee’s medical expenses and part of their lost wages due to temporary or permanent disability. However, depending on the type of injury, employees may sometimes face challenges in demonstrating that their injuries were caused by their work.

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NC immigration lawyerIf you have come to the U.S. as an immigrant, you may be unsure as to whether you should take the additional steps necessary to become a U.S. citizen. Perhaps you still strongly identify with your native country, or you have heard that the naturalization process can be difficult. Or, perhaps you feel that your status as a lawful permanent resident is sufficient. However, there are many important benefits that are only available to immigrants after they attain citizenship. You may want to seriously consider these benefits and whether they can make a meaningful difference for you and your family.

Rights and Benefits of U.S. Citizenship

When you become a naturalized U.S. citizen, you secure many different rights and benefits. Some of the most notable include:

  • Voting rights - U.S. citizenship is required in order to vote in any federal elections, including elections for President and U.S. Senators and Representatives. Many state and local elections also require voters to be U.S. citizens. Gaining citizenship allows you to exercise your voting rights and have a say in important issues that affect you and your community.
  • Elimination of travel restrictions - Lawful permanent residents can delay their eligibility for citizenship or lose their legal immigrant status altogether if they spend too much time traveling or living outside of the U.S. After becoming a citizen, these restrictions no longer apply, meaning you are free to visit family outside of the U.S. without incurring unexpected consequences. As a U.S. citizen, you are also eligible for a U.S. passport, which can help you travel internationally with fewer restrictions.
  • Protection from deportation - Even lawful permanent residents can be at risk of removal if their Green Card expires or they are convicted of a serious criminal offense. While citizens are of course still subject to state and federal criminal laws, they cannot be deported in connection with a crime.
  • Family visa benefits - Compared to lawful permanent residents, U.S. citizens generally have a higher priority when petitioning for a family visa. After becoming a citizen, you can more easily arrange for the immigration of your spouse, children, parents, and even your siblings and their families.

While becoming a naturalized citizen can be challenging, it may be well worth it. An immigration attorney can help you understand your eligibility to apply and guide you through the process.

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NC injury lawyerAccording to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 3,000 North Carolina construction workers suffered an occupational injury or illness in 2019. Around 1,800 of those workers either had to miss time at work or return to work with restricted abilities. Work-related injuries can have severe financial consequences due to the costs of medical treatment and the loss of wages and earning ability. If you have been injured in the course of your work duties on a construction site, it is important to understand your options for securing financial compensation.

Filing a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Claim

In most cases, an employee who is injured in the course of their work for a North Carolina employer is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. This is true whether the injuries were caused by the negligence of the employer or another party, a freak accident, or the employee’s own actions (provided that the injuries were not a result of the employee’s intoxication, willful violation of a safety rule, or intentional self-harm). Workers’ comp benefits provide for the full cost of necessary medical care for the employee’s injuries, and in some cases, temporary and permanent disability benefits that cover two-thirds of the employee’s lost wages for a duration determined based on the length of recovery and the extent of the employee’s impairment.

For the best chance of success in securing workers’ compensation benefits, it is important that you notify your employer and file your claim as soon as possible so as to avoid missing deadlines. You may also want to hire an attorney to help you resolve any disputes with your employer or their worker’s comp insurance provider, or to appeal a denied claim.

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