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Legislature moves to raise compensation to injured workers

A house representative in the North Carolina state legislature has prompted a move to rewrite Senate Bill 101 in what is commonly called a 'gut and amend" procedure designed to fast track changes to standing laws. The bill addresses the cap on compensation for injuries related to organs or organ loss due to a workplace accident or injury.

In its old form, the bill provided $20,000 for compensation for an organ injury unless that organ is addressed elsewhere in the law. The new bill would raise that compensation limit to $41,600. The amount reflects the change in value of money between 1987 and 2014. Lawmakers see this as a reasonable adjustment for inflation, keeping the value of the compensation on track with the times, according to reports.

Opponents of the change, primarily businesses and merchant organizations, warn that the change would dramatically increase the costs of some claims. They also warn that the law could be abused because the definition of an organ under the law is not clear. Lawsuits in the past have attempted to claim multiple awards for the same accident by defining multiple organ injuries. For example, a claim may stipulate that the lung tissue and the lung fluid are two separate organs. Lawmakers have addressed this complaint with the reasoning that organ definition may need to be looked at in the future but that the rise in compensation is an immediate need for workers.

This law change is very important for workers' compensation claims. It will allow injured workers to gain a more reasonable compensation for their injuries. The new amounts introduced by the bill are more appropriate with the modern costs of medical expenses.

Source: WRAL, "Bill could raise compensation for severely injured workers", Mark Binker, June 04, 2014

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