The North Carolina legislature, for the second time in six years, is thinking about cutting workers’ compensation benefits. The highly contentious change could limit benefits to 9 ½ years instead of the current lifetime duration.
Supporters think that reforming North Carolina’s workers’ compensation law is needed for job growth. The statistics from the state Governor’s Office and the Bureau of Labor Statistics don’t show that to be true. Nationally, North Carolina is ranked 3rd in declining unemployment and 4th in job growth. As a matter of fact, in the last 12 months North Carolina has gained 36,000 jobs. North Carolina is ranked among the top 10 states in business development by such publications as: Forbes, Business Facilities, Pollina Corporate Real Estate, CEO and Site Selection.
North Carolina’s workers’ compensation premiums are $2.12 per $100 of payroll, which is .08 above the national average. Our premiums are better than 22 other states, most of which have recently made changes to their workers’ compensation laws. In fact, North Carolina premiums have dropped 15% from 2008 to 2010, which is more than New York, California and Texas, which have all had recent workers’ compensation reform.
An insider in the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry admits reforms in Pennsylvania only had a slight effect on workers’ compensation premiums. Instead of insurance company’s spending money on injured workers, they use it to pay doctors to review the worker’s medical records and often question the treatment plan recommended by the injured worker’s doctor.
Moving expenses from employers and their insurance company to the public sector meaning taxpayers will foot the bill through programs like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Medicaid and Medicare. Experts have testified before Congress regarding the reduction of benefits over the last 10 years and how hard it is to even qualify for assistance.
In some states, changes included no upward adjustments for attorney’s fees. In some cases this reduces their fees to around minimum wage — making it harder for workers to find quality representation. Injured workers who can’t find representation are sometimes forced to accept whatever offer is made, if any.
Injured workers and their families should protect their rights by immediately contacting a workers’ compensation attorney. A lawyer can advise clients of the current state of the workers’ compensation law and work to maximize benefits for sick or hurt employees.
If you are dealing with a work accident in North Carolina, contact our workers’ compensation lawyers in Greensboro, Charlotte and Asheville. Call the Law Offices of Lee & Smith today for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 1-800-887-1965.