Area Of Concern – NC Workers Comp Reform
This is a major reform to NC Workers Comp Vocational Rehabilitation. As I had posted last time, there is one area of concern with the NC laws that were updated on June 24, 2011.As I also mentioned in my last post,I have handled, audited, or administered over claims in over 40 states.
This is from the law firm Teague, Campbell, Dennis, and Gorham’s summary of the so-called reforms.Please see my last post for a link to the summary.
A major compromise with the plaintiff’s bar led to inclusion within the reform act of N.C.G.S. § 97-32.2, a new statutory provision dealing with vocational rehabilitation. In response to a concern that, with the new 500 week cap on total disability benefits and the fact that wages will no longer be a factor in resolving the issue of suitable employment, injured employees might be placed in low paying jobs without having received either vocational rehabilitation or job retraining, the new statutory provision states that “if the employee (i) has not returned to work or (ii) has returned to work earning less than 75 percent of the employee’s average weekly wages and is receiving benefits pursuant to G.S. 97-30, he may request vocational rehabilitation services,” including “education and retraining in the North Carolina community college or university systems so long as … [it is] reasonably likely to substantially increase the employee’s wage-earning capacity following [its] completion.”
I may be paranoid, but this looks very similar to the California Workers Comp Statutes of the 1990s and early 2000s. The vocational rehabilitation laws in CA were more liberal than what I have read in these new additions. As well all know, it is the interpretation of the statutes that are the most important.
Vocational rehabilitation benefits in CA ran rampant.There were a large number of cases that took the statutes from something similar to this to a file needing Voc.I worked with Voc Rehab companies in CA that were so busy they could not hire enough workers.
As I said earlier, I could be wrong, but it is better to be prepared now than later.
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