Closure in Outrageous Case Sparks Applause from the North Carolina Workers' Compensation Community

March 14, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

One of the most talked about North Carolina workers’ compensation stories has come to a resolution that’s been widely celebrated. As this blog reported several months ago, an ex Illinois state trooper, Matt Mitchell, had sought workers’ comp benefits in Illinois for injuries he sustained in a Thanksgiving 2007 crash that left two young women dead. Last Friday, an arbitrator rejected Mitchell’s quest for benefits — in no uncertain terms.

Mitchell’s driving had been egregious by any standard. He had been travelling at 126 miles per hour (!) when he zipped across the median strip on I-64 and killed the girls. As arbitrator Jennifer Teague wrote, the officer “simultaneously drove at speeds in excess of 120 miles per hour on a highway replete with holiday traffic, wrote e-mails on his car computer, and took a personal call lasting almost 4 minutes long… [what he did created] a substantial and unjustifiable risk resulting in a gross deviation in the standard care in his duties as an Illinois state trooper… his conduct was egregiously outside the scope of employment.”

When Mitchell first sought workers’ comp benefits for the accident, unsurprisingly, his act elicited a chorus of angry rebukes — even from parties normally sympathetic to workers’ comp plaintiffs.

The fact is, when claimants make outrageous claims for benefits, all parties in the system suffer. Imagine you’re a hurt worker in Illinois. You tell a friend that you need workers’ comp to pay your family’s bills. Ordinarily, your friend might be sympathetic. But then say in his mind he associates you with this trooper who killed two girls and then begged the state for benefits. He might not be so inclined to see your claim in a positive light!

This is just one of the many challenges that people seeking North Carolina workers’ compensation benefits face. If you need assistance with your matter, get in touch with a reputable North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm at your earliest convenience to avoid making mistakes and to protect your rights as potential claimant.

More Web Resources:

Matt Mitchell verdict on the Thanksgiving 2007 crash