Workers' Compensation is the primary legal system where employees injured while acting within the scope of their employment may generally seek compensation for physical injuries, illnesses, death and lost wages from their employers in North Carolina. It's important to note that this system generally covers workplace accidents regardless of fault so tort defenses such as Contributory Negligence generally don't apply.
The following article contains general information about Workers' Compensation in North Carolina. We strongly recommend that you seek the assistance of a licensed Matthews Workers Compensation Lawyer at the earliest time possible if you have been hurt at work. This blog is not to be construed as legal advice
Basically, the North Carolina Workers' Compensation Act (NCWCA) was passed into law to replace the standard Personal Injury process for instances where employees are injured while acting within the scope of their employment. The act vests primary adjudication authority of Workers' Compensation (WC) claims with the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) rather than with the courts through the general civil litigation process where other Personal Injury matters are handled. The NCWCA provides that all employers must secure payment of compensation to employees for personal injury or death by accident arising out of and in the course of employment. When an employee is injured, written notice must be given to the employer of the employees' injuries as soon as possible and the standard WC Form 18 should be filed with the NCIC to expedite WC claims through the process, which may ultimately require appearances before the NCIC and appellate review in the North Carolina Court of Appeals.
The simple answer is no. N.C.G.S. § 97-2 defines employers as:
Again, the simple answer is no. N.C.G.S. § 97-2(2) defines employees as:
No! An employer who retaliates or engages in discriminatory action against an employee who filed a WC claim may be sued under the North Carolina Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (NCREDA). McDowell v. Central Station Original Interiors, Inc., 712 S.E. 2d 251 (N.C. Ct. App. 2011). It's important to also know that an employer cannot sign a contract with you where the employer relieves themselves from their obligations required under the NCWCA. No contract or agreement, written or implied, no rule, regulation, or other device shall in any manner operate to relieve an employer in whole or in part, of any obligation created by this Article, except as herein otherwise expressly provided. N.C.G.S. § 97-6.
N.C.G.S. § 97-2(6) defines "injury" and "personal injury" as only injury by accident arising out of and in the course of the employment, and shall not include a disease in any form, except where it results naturally and unavoidably from the accident. With respect to back injuries, however, where injury to the back arises out of and in the course of the employment and is the direct result of a specific traumatic incident of the work assigned, "injury by accident" shall be construed to include any disabling physical injury to the back arising out of and causally related to such incident. Injury shall also include breakage or damage to eyeglasses, hearing aids, dentures, or other prosthetic devices which function as part of the body; provided, however, that eyeglasses and hearing aids will not be replaced, repaired, or otherwise compensated for unless injury to them is incidental. N.C.G.S. § 97-53(13) includes a catch-all clause which incorporates into coverage: Any disease, other than hearing loss covered in another subdivision of this section, which is proven to be due to causes and conditions which are characteristic of and peculiar to a particular trade, occupation or employment, but excluding all ordinary diseases of life to which the general public is equally exposed outside of the employment. WC Law contains numerous other nuances of injuries that are covered and certain scenarios where coverage under the NCWCA will be extended or denied.
To initiate a WC claim an employee generally shall provide a written notification to their employer of their injury that states the name and address of the employee, the time and place of the accident, the nature and cause of the accident, and details about the resulting injury or death. Next the employee should file a standard Form 18 with the NCIC regarding the accident. These steps generally should be taken within 30 days of the accident and the Form 18 shall generally be filed no later than 2 years after the accident.
The next steps of the process involve actions by the employer and typically their WC insurance provider, which may require you to appear before the NCIC and ultimately before the North Carolina Court of Appeals. The NCWCA also provides cumbersome schemes for determining recoverable damages for lost wages, reduction in pay due to movement at work from injuries, and costs for medical bills, prescriptions and damages and incidental cost issues related to WC claims. Due to the complex nature of the NCWCA and the fact that insurance companies may try to deny your claim, we strongly encourage you to seek the advice of a licensed Matthews Workers Compensation Lawyer before you decide whether to embark on pursuing a Workers' Compensation claim. To schedule a consultation today, contact Panchenko Law Firm. This blog is not to be construed as legal advice.