Jay Gervasi, P.A. Attorney at Law
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Safety net needed for N.C. workers with uninsured bosses

In December, a nine-member Legislative Services Commission was entrusted with launching a study on North Carolina's workers' compensation benefit laws. Depending on the outcome, the state could be looking at either minor or major changes to the current benefits, wages, and tax policies surrounding the benefits.

As North Carolina's Congress begins its study into workers' compensation benefits, perhaps the panel should keep in mind the story of one man who fell off of a roof while at work and shattered both feet back in 2008. His employer did not have adequate insurance as required by state law and ultimately has failed to make the man financially whole in any way, shape, or form. The man is still owed over $70,000 in lost wages and is now disabled four years after the incident.

While he gets by on Social Security Disability (SSD), food stamps, and Medicaid, he is hoping that when the study comes out, that the state will modify its policies to reflect that of many of the states surrounding North Carolina. Other states provide for workers in this situation whose employers cannot pay the claim by providing a safety net fund.

That fund would be set aside for lost wages and medical bills to be paid quickly while injured workers seek the damages owed by their former employer. This would prevent injured employees from experiencing financial ruin on top of the physical and mental stress caused by the injury. When the employer is also broke, a safety net fund would greatly alleviate financial stresses for people in similar situations as the one described above.

It is estimated that over 30,000 employers who are required to carry adequate insurance do not. Reports have also found that it is difficult to track down these businesses and force them to comply with state law.

If you are having difficulty collecting on your workers' compensation benefits owed or are just in need of assistance in filing the correct paperwork, please consult an attorney who practices in the area of workers' compensation. They will be able to assist you in finding a remedy to your legal and financial difficulties.

Source: charlotteobserver.com, "Seeking help for hurt N.C. workers," Mandy Locke, Dec. 27, 2012

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