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Workers’ Comp Exclusive Remedy Provision Prevents Bad Faith Claim

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An injured worker in North Carolina recently attempted to bring a bad faith claim against an insurer while his workers’ compensation claim was still active. He filed the lawsuit against First Liberty Insurance Corporation, claiming an intentional infliction of distress and bad faith and saying the company was involved in a great deal of purposefully wrongful conduct while it was handling his claim.

First Liberty filed a motion to dismiss these claims on the grounds that the North Carolina Industrial Commission had exclusive jurisdiction over the case. The trial court denied this motion and First Liberty appealed, with the Court of Appeals then reversing the trial court’s decision. According to the trial court’s reversal decision, the exclusive remedy provision of the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act prevents the worker from filing a lawsuit for a bad faith claim and intentional infliction of distress.

Because the court determined the claims brought by the worker were considered indistinguishable from claims the court had previously found to be the exclusive jurisdiction of the Industrial Commission, it had to rule that the case must be dismissed due to a lack of jurisdiction.

Additional rules implemented

This is a complicated matter for the layperson to understand — and perhaps the court realized this, as it issued a new, more straightforward rule along with its decision. From this point forward, all claims connected to an employer’s or insurer’s handling of a workers’ compensation claim in the state fall under the jurisdiction of the Industrial Commission, whether the conduct alleged in the lawsuit was negligent or intentional.

To learn more about your legal options if you’ve suffered a workplace injury, turn to the knowledgeable North Carolina workers’ compensation attorneys at Lanier Law Group.

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