Are Manufacturers Celebrating June Changes to North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Law?

October 3, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

According to a recent article in the Charlotte Business Journal, business leaders throughout the state are still in a state of giddy glee regarding recent changes to North Carolina workers’ compensation law. According to the President of North Carolina’s Chamber of Commerce, Lew Ebert, the reforms – the first such changes to the law in 17 years – have helped make the state more competitive. Ebert and other business leaders long complained that North Carolina had gotten “behind” other states in terms of their workers’ comp laws.

They pointed out that our state’s injury rate is one of the lowest in the United States; whereas the average cost per North Carolina workers’ compensation claim was pretty high at $42,000. According to the Charlotte Business Journal, the changes in the law will also influence insurance premiums for businesses, thus helping them stay competitive. Lat Williams, a marketing vice president based in Charlotte, told the Business Journal: “North Carolina is probably B or C” but thanks to the changes, the state “will probably upgrade to B, and it might even go up to A.”

Manufacturers also see other “wins” including:

• The size of the North Carolina industrial commission has been shrunk;
• The reforms allow certain employers to more easily communicate with employee physicians and give workers temporary, light-duty jobs.

Lawmakers designed the law, ideally, to help both employers and employees. For instance, the Charlotte Business Journal article details one provision that, at least in theory, might help both workers and employers: “Workers on light duty will still earn as much as if they were on workers’ comp, or up to two-thirds of their previous salary. If the new job pays less, workers’ comp makes up the difference.”

So is it all a win-win? Manufacturers and employers win as well as workers?

At this point, it’s too early to tell. From a worker’s perspective, the final compromised bill passed in June was certainly better than the original draft proposed – the earlier drafts were tilted even more towards industry.

But if you need assistance with a claim or a possible claim, you don’t have to deal with your situation in a vacuum. A qualified, competent, experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can help you figure out your next steps.

More web resources:

How changes in workers’ comp will affect NC manufacturers

An overview of the new NC workers’ compensation laws


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