North Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Act covers two categories of work-related claims – occupational diseases and injuries by accident. Unfortunately North Carolina, as compared with most other states, takes a strict view of what constitutes an “injury by accident.” Years ago, our legislature made it easier for claims involving back injuries and hernias, setting the requirement for those injuries as needing a “specific traumatic incident.” This has resulted in justice for more employees who have injured themselves performing needed tasks for their employees and who injured their back or sustained a hernia.
But what if employees are performing work for their job and sustain an injury to any other body part, such as their knee or their shoulder? They will be required to show that they have had an accident – an unusual event which they were not expecting – or their claim is likely to be denied. Even if there is no dispute that an employee injured themselves at work and while performing work tasks, these injuries are frequently denied if the employee cannot identify an unusual event causing the accident. Some workers whose claims have been denied include a Lowe’s employee who tore her rotator cuff while trying to pull down a box from an overhead shelf; a correctional employee who tore his rotator cuff performing a drill that was considered “routine”; and a bridal shop employee who tore her meniscus in her knee while attempting to fit a customer with a dress. If any of these people had instead injured their backs performing these duties, their claims would have very likely been accepted and paid.
The long-term solution to this harsh requirement will necessarily involve our legislature altering the definition of what constitutes an injury by accident, to provide coverage for all body parts without a showing of a “slip, trip, or fall.” In the meantime, if you’ve been injured at work, it is crucial to understand the requirement to have had an accident and to get a professional legal opinion regarding your rights under the Workers’ Compensation Act.
Kellum Law Firm’s workers’ compensation attorneys have many years’ of experience handling all manner of work-related accident claims. We’ll provide you with an initial consultation free of charge and free from any obligation to retain our legal services. At your free consultation, you’ll meet with one of your experienced workplace injury attorneys who will go over the details of your case and present you with options for moving forward with an injury claim. At this point, you can leave the meeting and take the time to decide for yourself whether or not to follow the advice of our attorney and decide whether or not you wish to retain the services of Kellum Law Firm.