Long-Awaited Benefits Decision Favors Families of North Carolina Workers Injured on the Job

This week, the House floor will vote on a revamped compromise bill to overhaul the state workers’ compensation system, the News Observer is reporting. Lawmakers voted to pass the “Protecting and Putting North Carolina Back To Work Act” on second reading by a vote of 106-8.

Our Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyers know the House committee passed the measure last week after a long-awaited decision and the final vote is scheduled for this week. The revised bill is a victory for Carolina families that prevented big businesses from winning a cap on benefits.
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To recap, the original bill would have done the following:

-Insurance companies and defense lawyers could discuss your case with your doctor without your permission or your attorney knowing about it.

-If the insurance company thinks you are “failing to cooperate,” your total disability benefits could be cut off.

-You would have no choice in what doctor you go to.

-Total and permanent disability benefits would end at 500 weeks (there are some extreme exceptions).

The most controversial part of the original bill would have stopped income benefits for most workers at 500 weeks, which is just under 10 years – except for the most severe cases, such as a worker’s loss of both hands or paralysis. The cap still stands under the revised bill, but new exceptions have been made.

“Many may feel that the bill does not go far enough to reduce costs and others will feel the provisions fall short of protecting the interests of injured workers, but in times such as these all sides made compromises, and overall we feel the changes preserve the backbone of our workers’ compensation system that pays fair compensation to injured workers at a reasonable cost to the employers,” said Dick Taylor of the lawyers’ group.

Under the revised bill, workers would be able to qualify for extended compensation as long as they can prove that they have “sustained a total loss of wage earning capacity.”

“The N.C. Chamber fought hard and won major concessions, and yet the common ground preserved in the consensus bill allows North Carolinians to retain a fair workers’ compensation system,” said workers’ compensation attorney Gina Cammarano, a former special deputy commissioner at the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

If you or someone you know has been injured or have a question about a workers’ compensation claim, contact the Lee Law Offices, P.A. Call for a free initial consultation at 1-800-887-1965.

More Blog Entries:

Workers’ Compensation Reform Continues to get Attention of Lawmakers and Injured Workers in Charlotte, elsewhere in State, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, May 19, 2011

Changes to workers’ compensation law heard by North Carolina panel, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, May 10, 2011

Battle over North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Rights Continues, North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, April 23, 2011

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