A North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Success Story

January 22, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

In a recent piece on the state of the North Carolina workers’ compensation system, we reviewed the story of Raleigh resident John Ashworth, who suffered career ending injuries to his feet in 2008, when he fell off a roof. Ever since, he’s been battling his ex-employer to collect $70,000 in lost wages. His old boss, Robert House, didn’t have workers’ comp insurance; to date, he’s only paid Ashworth $75.

House claims that he is broke and out of business. Not an uncommon situation.

Last April, the Raleigh News & Observer revealed, in a shocking expose, the 30,000+ state employers lacked adequate workers’ comp coverage.

Critics say that the North Carolina Industrial Commission has been anemic — unable to punish and wrangle employers effectively. Our state lacks a systematic way to deal with these kinds of cases fairly and quickly.

Silver linings do exist, however.

Consider the happier story of Frank E. Boykin, who suffered a brain injury four years ago and lost muscle function, short term memory, and other medical problems. Boykin fell behind on his child support and even landed in jail once because he lacked money to provide his teenage child.

Boykin’s old boss, Andy Salvatore of Smithfield Auto Center, had refused to pay the $120,000+ he owed to the injured man. Eventually, after much heel-dragging, the NCIC acted, and officials arrested Salvatore for failing to appear at an NCIC hearing. The legal action prompted Salvatore to settle Boykin’s claim and provide him $1,000 a month as well as $100,000 in medical bills.

In a conciliatory spirit, an NC Deputy Attorney General told the boss that he would be spared $100,000+ in penalties (for not carrying North Carolina workers’ compensation insurance) if he made good on his arrangement with Boykin.

Meanwhile, advocates for hurt/injured workers in the Old North State want more systematic approach to cases like Boykin’s and Ashworth’s. Perhaps we need to follow the lead of South Carolina, which has a far more robust set of mechanisms for punishing employers who don’t pay claims and also draws on a special state fund that collects $18 million a year for people like Ashworth and Boykin.

Do you need help understanding your rights and potential remedies under North Carolina law? The DeMayo Law team can help. Talk to one of our friendly associates today, and set up a free consultation with us to explore what you might be able to do.