North Carolina employers and employees alike may not be aware that companies within the state with three or more employees must carry workers’ compensation insurance. Those companies that fail to comply with this rule may face severe penalties, including a fine of up to $100 a day and, if a worker gets hurt on the job in the meantime, the worker’s treatment cost is added to the fine. According to the executive secretary of the North Carolina Industrial Commission, enforcement of these rules is strict because uninsured workers do not have any other recourse, forcing them to turn to public assistance or pay out of their own pocket.

Workers’ compensation claims have increased in the state over the last year. Claims rose by 18 percent last year compared to the year before that. The Industrial Commission is taking the increase seriously and has even increased their workforce dedicated to investigating both accusations of fraud and compliance issues.

Through data sharing with relevant companies, the Commission is trying to ensure the information they acquire about companies and insurance is what is actually happening in the field. If the numbers do not match up, then the Commission investigates to ensure companies who claim they are carrying workers’ compensation are actually doing so.

Injured workers may not be aware they have a right to file a workers’ compensation claim. Treatment for injuries may be expensive and ongoing, and receiving compensation for these medical costs as well as for time taken off from work often helps workers recover faster. It also raises awareness about unsafe working environments that can be investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration so similar accidents can be prevented from occurring in the future.

Source: The Daily Herald, “State Official discusses workers’ comp issues with Valley residents,” Roger Bell, April 25, 2014