I read an article on-line the other day describing an employee of a large laundry company who died when he fell into an industrial dryer. Readers were asked to comment on the story, and I was not surprised to read a string of posts blaming the worker for his own death and questioning why workers’ comp should pay if the employee was partially at fault. While this was not a NC workers’ comp case I do hear that all the time.
Workers’ compensation is a trade-off. Simply stated, employers are required to provide only limited wage replacement and medical benefits, and injured employees do not have to show fault. In North Carolina, injured workers receiving workers’ compensation benefits receive only two-thirds of their Average Weekly Wage while they are out of work. There is no compensation for pain and suffering or for the general inconvenience of being injured, as there is in the tort system. On the other hand, an injured NC worker can receive workers’ comp even if he or she was at fault in causing the injury. Ideally, workers’ compensation is designed to be a system offering expedited basic benefits to the employee at a reasonable cost to the employer. The underlying concept is that “industry should be responsible for its own wreckage.” Whether the workers’ comp system in NC actually functions that way now is certainly up for debate.
Please feel free to email or call to discuss you NC workmans comp claim with a North Carolina workers’ comp attorney.