One of the first questions an injured worker can be faced with is choosing which state to file their workers’ compensation claim in. Usually the answer is obvious and easy. If a North Carolina worker is injured in North Carolina, working for a North Carolina company, then the workers’ compensation claim can be filed in North Carolina. Specifically, the claim can be filed with the North Carolina Industrial Commission, which is the government agency charged with administering workers’ comp cases in NC. But when accidents do not fit this easy pattern complications can arise. This is especially true as workplaces become more mobile and fluid.
Each state has its own workers’ compensation system, with its own set of laws and rules. Among other things, these rules determine which workers’ comp claims the state’s system has power or “jurisdiction” over.
What cases can I file in North Carolina?
The North Carolina workers’ compensation system has jurisdiction over almost all injuries that occur within the state. Injuries that happen in a state other than North Carolina can be covered by NC workers’ comp if:
- the employer’s principal place of business is in North Carolina;
- the last act of the contract of employment happened in North Carolina;
- the worker’s primary place of employment is in North Carolina.
Each of these three circumstances can result in denied claims and be the subject of litigation. The specific facts of the case will determine whether North Carolina has jurisdiction over the workers’ comp claim.
Frequently, more than one state will have jurisdiction over a claim. For example, if a worker gets injured in Georgia while working for a company headquartered in North Carolina, there may be jurisdiction over the claim in both North Carolina and Georgia. In this circumstance the worker should compare the laws of the applicable states and choose to file the claim in the state that provides the best workers’ comp benefits or is the most convenient.
It is sometimes possible to file a workers’ compensation claim in one state even if the claim has already been filed in another. In this situation the insurance company in the second case will typically get a credit for any amounts paid in the first case. But an injured worker should be aware of the applicable notice and filing deadlines when considering a change in jurisdiction.
What if I have a NC workers’ comp case and want to move?
But what about the situation where a worker has a North Carolina workers’ compensation claim, but wants to move out of state? Moving will not change the jurisdiction of the claim. So, a worker who has a NC claim but moves to Florida will continue to have a North Carolina claim. Such moves can create complications though, especially with medical treatment for the workplace injury. It can sometimes be difficult to find an out-of-state doctor willing to accept payment for services under the North Carolina Industrial Commission Medical Fee Schedule.
What should I do if I don’t know where to file my workers’ comp case?
It is important for an injured worker to quickly assess the jurisdictional options for filing their workers’ compensation claim and then promptly file it. For information on how to file a workers’ comp claim in North Carolina, go here.
Kevin Bunn is Board-Certified in North Carolina workers’ compensation law by the North Carolina State Bar. Please feel free to call or email for your free consultation for your workers’ compensation claim.