The North Carolina Industrial Commission, tabbed with enforcing workers’ compensation compliance among employers, has collected $1 million in fines in the last year, according to the Insurance Journal. NCIC also charged 100 employers with misdemeanors for willfully going without coverage. Raleigh’s News & Observer has been tracking this issue for years, reporting in 2012 that as many as 30,000 NC employers who were legally required to purchase workers’ compensation policies had not, and that more than 11,000 companies either canceled policies or let them lapse. Employer noncompliance created a situation in that year where 71 injured workers were not properly covered by workers’ comp policies.
A related issue is the misclassification of workers who should be covered by workers’ comp as independent contractors who would be responsible for their own insurance. Governor McCrory has instructed NCIC to take aggressive steps to end misclassification and issued an executive order on December 18, 2015, creating the Employee Classification Section within NCIC to address the issue.
Generally speaking, North Carolina law requires employers with three or more employees to carry workers’ compensation insurance. However, when an employer does not purchase insurance, the worker can still pursue a claim under the Workers’ Compensation Act against the uninsured employer. Although in theory, the worker has the same rights, the process of enforcing those rights against an uninsured employer is much more complicated than filing a no-fault workers’ compensation claim. The worker must have a hearing before the NCIC and then convert that ruling into a civil court judgment in Superior Court. This is a very time-consuming ordeal, and the plaintiff worker may find that the employer has shielded assets, so there is no money to pay the judgment. The NCIC’s aggressive pursuit of scofflaw employers should help ensure that more workers are covered, so they can avoid a protracted legal case to get the benefits they deserve.
If you have been hurt on the job, get reliable counsel from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Call Lanier Law Group, P.A. today at (855) 757-4204 to schedule a free consultation.