The Bollinger Law Firm, P.C.

Proposed bill could change worker comp rules in North Carolina

When a North Carolina employee is involved in an work accident at work, whether it is in the field or in the office, they or she hasve the right to file a workers' compensation claim within a specific time frame. Through the claim process, it is possible for medical costs can be covered and sometimes even replace lost wages. For instance, wWhen a home improvement center employee was involved in a fall accident, she was able to file a special medical motion and get her a leg braces within days of filing because of the debilitating pain she was suffering. However, a new bill reportedly would change all that by changing certain workers' compensation rules.

If the new bill, which has been titled -Disapprove Industrial Commission Rules, -passes, injured employees like this worker would not be able to receive immediate medical treatment. Instead, there would have to be a full trial in front of the Industrial Commission, where both parties would have the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses. This would end up delaying workers' compensation claims up to 45-60 days, according to one expert. It could be weeks before an injured worker could be scheduled for a hearing, leaving the employee in pain unnecessarily and without any means of coverage for necessary medical needs or expenses.

Where previously employees filled out a form to get workers' compensation checks reinstated if they were cut off, the new bill would require a hearing prior to reinstatement. AIn additionally to this, employees would have to cover certain court costs that the company used to cover.

Proponents of the bill claim that it willould allow the Industrial Commission the opportunity to discover which court costs are truly necessary and keep down overall expensescosts, which would eventually benefit the other workers. The new bill is an attempt to make the process fair for both sides. However, injured employees like the one who received her brace within days beg to differ-she has been waiting since December of last year for a the decision on a her hearing that was held on her request for shoulder surgery and other medical treatments.

As the House considers the bill, North Carolina residents should not be deterred from filing workers' compensation claims in case of a worker's ' accident. It is an employer's duty to cover medical expenses related to a work accident.

Source: wsoctv.com, "9 Investigates: NC Bill would change workers' comp rules," Linzi Sheldon, May 22, 2013

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