Big North Carolina Workers’ Compensation News as Governor Perdue Signs HB 237

July 3, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Unless you’ve been living under a rock – and/or you’re not that concerned about North Carolina workers’ compensation – you have probably been reading a lot about Republican Nelson Dollar’s sponsored bill, HB 237 – a measure designed to compel lax employers to get appropriate North Carolina workers’ compensation insurance coverage or risk the opprobrium of the North Carolina Industrial Commission. Governor Beverly Perdue signed HB 237 into law last week…but not everyone is happy about her decision!

In fact, both the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters and the North Carolina Press Association – as well as state editorial boards – asked Perdue to veto the bill.

Why are so many people so unhappy with it?

Before we get into that question, let’s step back to the source of the drama. The News & Observer (a paper based in Raleigh) broke a pretty amazing story last month – revealing that potentially tens of thousands of employers lack appropriate workers’ comp coverage.

Why is this a problem? It’s a problem because, if/when workers get hurt on the job, and their bosses lack coverage, the cost of care gets passed down to the taxpayer and/or the worker does not get full and fair treatment or reimbursement.

It’s a big deal.

Indeed, the News & Observer piece is probably the reason why lawmakers acted in such haste to deal with the issue. The problem is that HB 237 comes with a provision designed to keep certain information private – that is, information passed from the NC Rate Bureau to the NCIC. This could be problematic because if the Rate Bureau chooses, it can bar injured workers, for instance, from learning whether or not an employer has workers’ comp coverage.

Groups opposed to the bill argued that HB 237 will reduce the transparency of the North Carolina workers’ compensation system; supporters countered that half a loaf is better than none – that the law will help hurt workers get proper repayment for lost wages and medical bills.

What will happen because of HB 237?

•    Will the new law encourage employers to play more by the book?
•    Will the media groups ultimately be convinced that the provision is relatively innocuous?
•    Will hurt and injured workers (and their families) ultimately get better treatment?

These questions may have profound implications if you or someone you love needs good care – and reimbursement for any harm suffered. Connect with the team here at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo for a free and fair consultation.