Worst Case Scenario North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Case: Man Whose Feet Were Smashed in a Roofing Accident Gets Only $75 out of $70,000 Owed!

January 29, 2013, by Michael A. DeMayo

This is one of those North Carolina workers’ compensation cases that boils your blood and makes you want to stop whatever you’re doing and rededicate your life to reforming the system.

The case concerns the fate of a man named John Ashworth, who worked for Statewide Roofing in Franklin County. In 2008, Ashworth fell off a roof and shattered both feet. His boss, Robert Wayne House, lacked North Carolina workers’ compensation insurance — a sadly not uncommon turn of events these days. As the Charlotte News & Observer exposed last year, tens of thousands of businesses in North Carolina have been (and still are) failing to meet their workers’ comp insurance obligations.

In any event, House owes Ashworth over $70,000 in lost wages. He also owes another hurt worker over $100,000.

The North Carolina Industrial Commission has pressured House to pay off his debts. But, so far, he has paid just $75 to Ashworth. The 53-year-old calls that pittance payment “not even worth my time” and says he spent nearly a third of that money ($25) just on parking and gas while traveling to his hearings out in Raleigh.

For now, the injured roofer gets by on Medicaid, Social Security Disability payments and food stamps. But Ashworth and others fume about the lack of safety net for hurt workers whose employers lack insurance.

The North Carolina Industrial Commission is well aware of the problem.

Over the past few years, the NCIC has heard from around 500 hurt workers (annually!) whose situations “rhyme” with Ashworth’s. The NCIC can award payments. But ensuring that those compulsory payments actually get paid can be an onerous, if not impossible, chore.

When the News & Observer broke the big story last year — that 30,000 plus employers lacked workers’ comp insurance — the NCIC did act, somewhat. It threatened several employers with prison time and massive penalties if they failed to remunerate injured workers. This prompted some employers to pay, but some analysts believe that this process is akin to trying to get blood from a stone.

Many employers, including House, Ashworth’s old boss, are broke themselves. They have no means to provide the funds. That means that Ashworth and others must rely on complicated and frustratingly inconsistent strategies to pay bills and simply survive.

If you or someone you care about has been hurt in a North Carolina workplace, maybe you’re missing out on surprising strategies and legal options that you can leverage to get better results. Call or email the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo right now to schedule a free case evaluation.

 
 

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