North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Reform Passes State Senate

June 16, 2011, by Michael A. DeMayo

Last Thursday, a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Reform Bill – also known as HB709 – passed the state senate. The final vote was unanimous: 46 to 0. On June 1, as regular readers will recall, the NC House passed a similar initiative by a lopsided margin of 100 to 3. The North Carolina workers’ compensation reform is the first of its kind in 17 years. Although Republican lawmakers and business groups pushed the bill, the legislation ultimately morphed into more of a compromised reform. The AFL-CIO, Employers Coalition of North Carolina, Chamber of Commerce, and countless business, insurance and workers rights groups as well as trial lawyers all collaborated to create this. For instance, Governor Beverly Perdue, a Democrat, happily reported the legislation.

What the reform will do:

• Temporary total disability benefits will be capped at 500 weeks (approximately 9.5 years)
• Injured workers may be able to petition for extra temporary total disability benefits of another 425 weeks
• Partial disability benefits bump up from 300 weeks to 500 weeks
• Death benefits to family members of workers killed on the job will also bump up from 400 weeks to 500 weeks
• When workers reach a threshold known as “maximum medical improvement,” the definition of what will then constitute “suitable employment” will change. A article summarized this new definition nicely: “a job the employee is capable of performing while considering physical limitations, education, experienced and vocational skills.”

What will these reforms mean for you and your potential claim?

In the abstract, it’s impossible to say. An experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation law firm can annualize your situation and suggest a best path forward. Even if you feel like your case is pretty cut and dry, you may nevertheless benefit from talking with a repeatable law firm to ensure that you maximize your benefits and minimize your chances of running afoul of bureaucracy, red tape, or other problems.

More Web Resources:

North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Reform Bill

Employers Coalition of North Carolina


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