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NC Workers Comp Reform – One Huge Area Of Concern

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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.

Picture Of NC Workers Comp Employee Sitting Row
StockUnlimited

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.

Vocational Rehabilitation

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.”

Picture Of Chief Talking To NC Workers Comp Army Injured
Wikimedia Commons – U.S. Department of Defense Current Photos

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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James Moore

Raleigh, NC, United States

About The Author...

James founded a Workers’ Compensation consulting firm, J&L Risk Mgmt Consultants, Inc. in 1996. J&L’s mission is to reduce our clients’ Workers Compensation premiums by using time-tested techniques. J&L’s claims, premium, reserve and Experience Mod reviews have saved employers over $9.8 million in earned premiums over the last three years. J&L has saved numerous companies from bankruptcy proceedings as a result of insurance overpayments.

James has over 27 years of experience in insurance claims, audit, and underwriting, specializing in Workers’ Compensation. He has supervised, and managed the administration of Workers’ Compensation claims, and underwriting in over 45 states. His professional experience includes being the Director of Risk Management for the North Carolina School Boards Association. He created a very successful Workers’ Compensation Injury Rehabilitation Unit for school personnel.

James’s educational background, which centered on computer technology, culminated in earning a Masters of Business Administration (MBA); an Associate in Claims designation (AIC); and an Associate in Risk Management designation (ARM). He is a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and a licensed financial advisor. The NC Department of Insurance has certified him as an insurance instructor. He also possesses a Bachelors’ Degree in Actuarial Science.

LexisNexis has twice recognized his blog as one of the Top 25 Blogs on Workers’ Compensation. J&L has been listed in AM Best’s Preferred Providers Directory for Insurance Experts – Workers Compensation for over eight years. He recently won the prestigious Baucom Shine Lifetime Achievement Award for his volunteer contributions to the area of risk management and safety. James was recently named as an instructor for the prestigious Insurance Academy.

James is on the Board of Directors and Treasurer of the North Carolina Mid-State Safety Council. He has published two manuals on Workers’ Compensation and three different claims processing manuals. He has also written and has been quoted in numerous articles on reducing Workers’ Compensation costs for public and private employers. James publishes a weekly newsletter with 7,000 readers.

He currently possess press credentials and am invited to various national Workers Compensation conferences as a reporter.

James’s articles or interviews on Workers’ Compensation have appeared in the following publications or websites:

  • Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS)
  • Entrepreneur Magazine
  • Bloomberg Business News
  • WorkCompCentral.com
  • Claims Magazine
  • Risk & Insurance Magazine
  • Insurance Journal
  • Workers Compensation.com
  • LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites
  • Various trade publications

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