A Compassionate Look: The North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Insurance Problem: Part 1 – Employees

June 21, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

Research conducted by the Charlotte News & Observer has found that up to 25,000 businesses (or so) in North Carolina may not have adequate (or any) workers’ compensation insurance, in violation of state laws.

In general, if a company conducts business in the state — and employs four plus people — that company must either carry insurance or have assets to self-insure to provide for the medical care and other costs of injured workers.

The North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) has authority to punish businesses that do not comply with these North Carolina workers’ compensation insurance rules. But in reality, the NCIC is not exactly a stern taskmaster. This means that many businesses skate by with less than adequate coverage, and that leaves the entire system vulnerable to problems.

Say someone who works at an underinsured business gets injured and needs care. The costs of that care will get passed on to us all, ultimately, in the form of higher taxes. There is another subtle and indirect – but possibly even more dangerous – consequence of the “underinsurance” problem. Namely: when hurt workers lack guarantees of reimbursement, they may delay or defer care that they need. As a result of deferring care, then may take far longer to heal… and their injuries can costs thousands more than they should have.

Hurt workers are not without recourse, however. They can sue their companies or try to get the NCIC to mediate an agreement. But it can be a mess.

If you haven’t been hurt, but you suspect your employer is underinsured or uninsured…

Ask questions, now, before someone DOES get hurt. Document all conversations about the subject, and time and date stamp them. If your employer lacks insurance, urge him or her to investigate the proper coverage right away. Often, business owners fail to get insurance simply because they don’t know they need it… or because they’re “too busy” dealing with other aspects of running the company. Owners need to know that this is not a matter that can be deferred – in certain cases, employers can even risk jail time.

If you’re already been injured

The team at the experienced Charlotte workers’ compensation law firm, DeMayo Law, can talk to you about your situation and help you plan your next steps. We can help you stay grounded, in control, and strategically focused on getting the right benefits, connecting with quality resources, and pursuing all avenues to get fair treatment.