Injured Workers Finally Getting the Help They Deserve

When workers get hurt on the job, they can rack up thousands of dollars in medical expenses and lost wages. Reputable employers carry insurance to cover their employees’ work-related costs. In fact, workers’ compensation insurance is required for employers who have three or more employees.

The News & Observer conducted an investigation into how well local companies follow those laws. The results were frightening. According to an article published in today’s News & Observer, tens of thousands of employers don’t carry the required insurance. In addition, when workers became injured, the state Industrial Commission has done little to make sure that their medical bills are paid. The good news is that the investigation results were eye-opening to the Commission:

“In response to the issues you raised, we now have some concrete plans,” said Pamela Young, chairwoman of the North Carolina Industrial Commission, the state agency charged with enforcing the workers’ comp laws.

Those plans include a contempt hearing involving more than a dozen employers on May 22 to settle workers’ claims that have dragged on for years, and special hearing to deal with lingering uninsured cases. Companies that ignore the commission’s orders to pay their workers will be called back, as well.

According to Joseph Hodgin, a Workers’ Compensation lawyer with HensonFuerst Attorneys:

We should all applaud the Industrial Commission for cracking down on uninsured employers.  Our state’s workers are our most important resource.  The idea of leaving them hurt without any meaningful way to receive medical attention is unacceptable.

I am pleased to see that the Industrial Commission is taking action that will positively affect all of us.  Make no mistake, the problem of uninsured employers does not just affect injured workers.  When an employer does not carry insurance, many injured workers do the only thing they can, which is to turn to public assistance for help.  This assistance is funded by our tax dollars.  Cracking down on uninsured employers helps all of us.

According to the news article, Pamela Young says she has been working to establish a process for dealing with uncooperative employers since 2009. Tracy Curtner, an attorney currently in private practice who used to work for the Commission said that she had already created a contempt procedure in 2008, and that it was “set and ready to go” back then.

Whatever the reason for the delay, we’re happy that it appears that action will finally be taken. Injured workers–and all North Carolina residents–deserve better than uninsured and unlawful employers.

To read the full story in the News & Observer, click here:  NC agency will force employers to pay

To learn more about Workers’ Compensation rights, visit our dedicated webpage here: HensonFuerst Workers’ Comp

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