Understanding Worker’s Compensation
Many times when you get a new job, you may be excited about the new position and possibly the benefits package that comes along with the new position. However, many people likely do not inquire if their new employer has workers’ compensation insurance and assume that if they are injured while on the job, the job will take care of the related costs. Unfortunately, it does not always happen this way. The North Carolina Industrial Commission has established guidelines that employers must follow in regards to workers’ compensation insurance, but some companies do not follow them and find loopholes within the guidelines.
Under North Carolina law, any company that has three or more regular employees is required to have workers’ compensation insurance or to qualify as a self-insured employer. However, just as anything else, this law does have some exceptions. There are three notable exceptions: use of or presence of radiation at the employment site, sawmills and logging operators and the federal government. Employers who employ one or more employees whose work involves the use or presence of radiation is required to have workers’ compensation insurance. Employers who employ less than ten employees, saws and logs less than sixty days in six consecutive months and the principal business is unrelated to sawmilling or logging are also an exception to North Carolina’s workers’ compensation. Federal workers’ compensation matters are handled through the United States Department of Labor as opposed to the North Carolina Industrial Comission. Finally, agricultural employers are not required to have workers’ compensation insurance unless they employ ten or more regular, full-time employees.
It is essential to understand exactly what an employee is. Article One, Section two of the Workers’ Compensation Act defines an employee as:
…every person engaged in an employment under any appointment or contract of hire or apprenticeship, express or implied, oral or written, including aliens, and also minors, whether lawfully or unlawfully employed, but excluding persons whose employment is both casual and not in the course of the trade, business, profession, or occupation of his employer, and as relating to those so employed by the State, the term "employee" shall include all officers and employees of the State, including such as are elected by the people, or by the General Assembly, or appointed by the Governor to serve on a per diem, part-time or fee basis, either with or without the confirmation of the Senate; as relating to municipal corporations and political subdivisions of the State, the term "employee" shall include all officers and employees thereof, including such as are elected by the people. The term "employee" shall include members of the North Carolina National Guard while on State active duty under orders of the Governor and members of the North Carolina State Defense Militia while on State active duty under orders of the Governor. The term "employee" shall include deputy sheriffs and all persons acting in the capacity of deputy sheriffs, whether appointed by the sheriff or by the governing body of the county and whether serving on a fee basis or on a salary basis, or whether deputy sheriffs serving upon a full-time basis or a part-time basis, and including deputy sheriffs appointed to serve in an emergency, but as to those so appointed, only during the continuation of the emergency.
If an employer is required to have workers’ compensation insurance but fails to do so, they may face excessive penalties. A business may incur a minimum of $50.00 per day and up to $100 per day, depending on the number of employees that the company has. In addition, an employer may be charged with a misdemeanor, charged with a felony or may be imprisoned. The North Carolina Industrial Commission Compliance and Fraud Investigative Division conducts investigations on employers who are not within compliance with the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act, employees who are suspected of committing workers’ compensation fraud and insurers and health care providers who are suspected to be in criminal violation of the Workers’ Compensation Act.
If you feel that you are entitled to Workers’ Compensation, contact one of our skilled attorneys to discuss your possible options and your legal rights. You may contact one of our seasoned attorneys to schedule a consultation at (704) 714-1450.