Changes to workers’ compensation law heard by North Carolina panel

Businessweek reports how thrilled big business is on the proposed legislation to change workers’ compensation laws in North Carolina.
Our Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyers aren’t surprised by big business’s reaction to saving tons of money at the expense of injured workers. We know that changes to the law could take away an injured worker’s only income and means of providing for their family.

Workers’ compensation law changes have been a frequent topic on our North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog. The bottom line is simple, employers don’t want to pay workers for getting injured on the job.

If passed, the bill would:

-Not allow you to choose your own doctor. You can’t even ask the Industrial Commission to approve a doctor you want.

-Eliminate your medical privacy rights. This means the insurance company can speak to your doctors whenever they want without you knowing about it or getting your approval.

-The insurance company could cut off your benefits if you don’t cooperate with the doctors. “Not cooperating” could be interpreted as missing an appointment.

-Stop benefits after 500 weeks, regardless of your ability to return to work.

-Make you work a lower paying job.

-With few exceptions, stop your benefits after 500 weeks even if you can never work again.

Workers advocates say insurance companies work extra hard to limit payouts by making injured workers go to multiple doctors until one provides an employer-friendly diagnosis. This is exactly what happened to a 42-year-old Franklinville resident injured on the job. In 2007 he was working for a tree-trimming company removing branches from a cell phone tower on a mountaintop. A gust of wind blew the man off the branch which was 30 feet above the ground. He was able to grab another branch and with the help of fall protection gear he didn’t hit the ground. But grabbing the branch caused him damage to his back, shoulder and arm. His employer’s insurance company sent him to five doctors after the first diagnosis. The state Industrial Commission determined this as a pattern of “persistent refusal to provide timely treatment”.

If you are dealing with a work accident in North Carolina or are dealing with a workers’ compensation or disability claim, contact the Lee Law Offices, P.A. today for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 1-800-887-1965.

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