Is the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation System Fundamentally Fair?

January 16, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Perhaps you have been on workers compensation in North Carolina due to a back injury, car accident, or explosive disaster at a Raleigh manufacturing company. Or maybe you and your spouse are just starting to explore programs like workmen’s comp in North Carolina. In any event, you are likely less concerned with how this system came to be — and whether or not it’s structured fairly or appropriately — than you are with getting results and rebuilding your life.

Fair enough.

However, if you operate unaware of the structural flaws in the system, you could be at a disadvantage. The workers’ comp system is, in many ways, an historical artifact. Workmen’s comp arose as a kind of “grand bargain” between employers and business owners in the late 1900s and early twentieth century. Basically, workers hurt on the job surrendered their right to sue employers in exchange for guaranteed benefits. Many of the original governing principles remain intact today. But the artifacts in the system are neither perfect, nor perfectly designed for the modern era.

For instance, legal issues aside, are the rules regarding mandatory workers’ comp really fair for employers – and for employees? Are the evaluations of injuries appropriate or not? Basically, you can examine any facet of the system, and you might come away thinking that the system is archaic and based on tradition instead of on logic.

Many of the rules, regulations, and laws are, indeed, arbitrary. They may have emerged as political compromises. Or they may stem from bureaucratic decisions made decades ago. The North Carolina workers’ compensation system is certainly not alone in this regard. Practically every government benefits program suffers from the same kind “arbitrariness” corrupting its structure.

The question for beneficiaries (or people who want to become beneficiaries) is: Given the uneven playing field and potential “unfairness” built into the system, how can you make the best decisions to protect your rights, speed up your recovery, and prevent more powerful players (e.g. an insurance company or your employer) from manipulating the system?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Every claimant has different needs and constraints.

That’s why it’s very helpful for claimants to work with an experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm – to understand what you need to pay attention to and, perhaps more importantly, to understand what you can safely ignore. You need to appreciate these distinctions as you rehabilitate, apply for and utilize your compensation, and redesign your life so you can get back to work and back to better health.

More Web Resources:

Life is Unfair: Examples

Dealing with Life’s Inherent Unfairness