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N.C. workers' insurance commission found guilty of poor oversight

When a person in North Carolina is injured, or, in some tragic instances, killed while fulfilling the duties of their job, a number of governmental and legal regulations are frequently depended upon in order to both restore those hurt and their families to physical health, financial stability, and a position of justified dignity. Many of these regulations are upheld and overseen by the state's Industrial Commission.

Regrettably, a new report released today has tracked repeated inadequacies and outright failures on the commission's part to both see to the provision of worker's compensation insurance for those who need it. As noted by State Auditor Beth Wood's office, the Industrial Commission has repeatedly failed to stop the rise in local businesses who are letting their employee protection insurance plans lapse.

Such plans were either cancelled or allowed to run out by over 11,000 businesses statewide in the last fiscal year; all told nearly 30,000 employers operate without the workers' compensation insurance both required by the law and, at least in theory, overseen by the Industrial Commission.

A major problem with the commission's process appears to be the way in which it checks on businesses' compliance. Companies without insurance are only identified after an injurious or deadly worker incident has occurred. This retroactive approach has allowed many employers to let their compensation insurance plans' slip ping go unnoticed. About 65,000 disability and medical benefits cases for workers hurt on the job are filed and submitted to the commission each year.

Another key point of failure as outlined by the state's Auditor's office has been the enforcement of violation fines. Only 2 percent of the fines doled out to businesses without worker insurance plans were collected. What's more, in numerous cases the wait on a fine's collection has delayed the payment of an injured worker's due financial compensation.

While the Industrial Commission has already promised to work with prosecutors to better investigate North Carolina businesses in addition to hiring experienced outside bill collectors who can expedite the collection of violation fines, the situation is most definitely a discouraging one for employees. When the governmental organization meant to help an injured worker claim compensation fail in their duties, the aggressive legal aid of an attorney is all the more necessary.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, "Report: NC fails to track, punish uninsured firms," Emery P. Dalesio, Feb. 19, 2013

As regulations fail to keep employers from putting their workers at risk, those hurt on the job will need to seek strong legal action. For more information, please visit our Greensboro workplace injury page.

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