What is the workers’ compensation “injury-by-accident” rule?

Unlike many other states, in North Carolina workers may only be eligible for injury-related compensation if the injury was the result of an “accident.” Unfortunately, employees who do not know about this injury-by-accident rule will run into a lot of trouble when filing a workers’ compensation claim.

However, an accident may not need to be a literal slip, trip or fall to qualify for compensation. In some cases, a covered injury can result from an unusual or unexpected event that disrupts the usual work routine. Additionally, certain types of injuries, such as hernias, back and neck  injuries, are eligible for coverage if the injury is caused by a specific traumatic incident of the work assigned, such as routinely lifting a heavy box, that does not quite rise to the level of an “interruption of the normal work routine.”

Types of accidents that are less obvious

An accident may be an obviously disastrous event, such as a structural collapse, chemical spill or fall. However, an injury may also qualify for workers’ comp if it is the result of some unusual circumstance that interrupts or alters an employee’s normal work routine.

For instance, a worker who suffers an injury while performing a new type of task or a task that is not part of his or her regular routine has probably had an “accident” and should be eligible for a compensation claim. But when the insurance company asks for a recorded statement, the worker must tell all those details in the statement in order to get his injury covered!

Injury exceptions to the accident rule

Certain types of injuries do not require that an accident occur to qualify for compensation. In the case of hernias, ruptures and spinal injuries, workers’ comp may cover the injury, but only if the employee can pinpoint a specific job-related event (a specific traumatic incident of the work assigned) that caused the physical harm.

North Carolina’s injury-by-accident rule often trips up workers who may not realize how important it is to be able to prove that their injury was the result of either an accident.  The Bollinger Law Firm offers free consultations for injured workers who need guidance about a potential compensation claim. Get legal advice before you give any statements about how you got hurt. We will help you identify the little details that make the difference.

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