Incorrectly Titled Workers' Compensation Bill Is Misleading

Posted by Christopher Shumate | Dec 17, 2012 | 0 Comments

Several members of the N.C. Legislature have proposed House Bill 709, which they shamelessly titled "Protect and Put N.C. Back to Work". I'll issue you a simple challenge: read the proposal and then explain with a straight face how the title of the bill is legitimate. It simply isn't; the title is nothing more than a political scam. I recently spoke with one sponsor of the bill, who could not tell me two critical things: (1) the legislator couldn't explain why he sponsored the bill - his eventual response was that the title said "something about putting N.C. back to work" and someone he knew asked him to co-sponsor the bill; and (2) the legislator couldn't explain any of the language in the proposed bill.

Harry Payne serves as senior counsel for policy and law at the N.C. Justice Center. He previously served as a state legislator, a N.C. labor commissioner, and chairman of the Employment Security Commission. Thus, Mr. Payne has a little insight into labor and the political process. He points out the workers' compensation system is a carefully drafted compromise by which injured workers gave up their right to sue their employer in regular (civil) court for actual damages caused by negligence in all but the rarest cases. In exchange, employees received the certainty of having their medical bills paid in a compensable claim, with two thirds of their average weekly wage during their period of recovery for on-the-job injuries.

Despite the fact that North Carolina enjoys average rates for workers' comp insurance, and the business climate is ranked at or near No. 1 in the nation, business lobbyists have somehow persuaded the N.C. legislature there is urgent need for reform of this system which works. The result is a proposal so full of problems, it is truly difficult to address them in a blog post. Essentially, the bill gives complete control of the medical care of an injured worker to the insurance adjuster while ignoring all right to privacy of the patient. It further installs arbitrary caps on medical and indemnity (weekly) benefits without regard to the extent of the disability suffered by the worker in most cases.

Many individuals will debate this proposal in Raleigh. However, thousands of injured workers around N.C., and right here in Charlotte, will suffer its effects. The proponents of this bill will not be the ones to suffer; however, their forgotten constituents will see their lives ruined as they face the unfortunate realities of this bill in terms of their medical treatment and their work capacity. If you suffer an injury at work or otherwise, you should contact a qualified Charlotte personal injury attorney promptly to discuss your legal remedy. However, it is crucial that you contact your representative and oppose this bill immediately.

NewsObserver.Com, Another Loss For Working People, 04/21/11

About the Author

Christopher Shumate

Mr. Chris Shumate is a native of Gastonia, North Carolina, and worked various jobs while pursuing his undergraduate and Juris Doctor education, including several heavy manual labor and skilled trade positions. In his practice, Mr. Shumate often encounters circumstances where these prior experiences are helpful in representing you. Upon graduating law school from the University of South Carolina, Mr. Shumate joined one of the Carolinas' larger defense firms, where he represented a diverse set of employers and insurance companies in civil cases and workers' compensation claims across the Carolinas. Chris utilized this experience to obtain a working knowledge of the insurance industry, and build personal contacts used today in representing you. Mr. Shumate ultimately decided he wanted to focus his law practice on assisting those who have been injured, and doing so with the focus on a personal relationship that is uncommon in the bigger firms. Mr. Shumate's also has a passion for assisting those facing the challenges of the criminal legal system. By representing individuals in a variety of criminal and traffic matters, Mr. Shumate works to achieve the best possible result for each client regardless of the charges levied by the prosecution. Chris has tirelessly pursued his mission of helping people from all walks of life throughout the Carolinas with a variety of legal matters. If you are interested in learning more about Chris Shumate and The Shumate Law Offices, please contact us at 704.371.5059. We look forward to assisting you to achieve a positive result in your legal concern. Education J.D., University of South Carolina B.S., University of South Carolina Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice N.C. State BarS.C. State BarU.S. District Court Western District of North Carolina Professional & Bar Association Memberships N.C. Bar Association S.C. Bar Association Mecklenburg County Bar N.C. Academy Of Trial Lawyers American Association For Justice


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