Then And Now: North Carolina Workers’ Comp Reform Makes Things Better for Employers

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This June, North Carolina Gov. Beverly E. Perdue signed into law the first significant reforms to the state Workers’ Compensation Act since 1994. The changes have received a “thumb’s up” from the state Chamber of Commerce because they are positive for employers. Some of the changes are effective immediately, and others apply to workers’ compensation claims that arise after the effective date. The following is a summary.

Then: This was never defined in the old statute. Case law molded a definition that included employment within the employee’s medical restrictions at essentially the same wage, benefits, and opportunity to advance as in the prior position. As a practical matter, it was extremely difficult for employers to meet this standard.

Now: “Suitable employment” is defined differently, depending on whether the employee has reached maximum medical improvement. Pre-MMI, “suitable employment” is employment within the employee’s medical restrictions, period. Post-MMI, “suitable employment” takes into account the employee’s injury-related limitations, but also his education and experience, and whether the employment is within a 50- mile radius of the employee’s residence.

Please see full bulletin below for more information.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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