On January 17, 2017, the North Carolina Court of Appeals found that Darrell Thompson and his wife are entitled to attendant care benefits. His employer, International Paper Company, will have to pay. Mr. Thompson was severely burned in an explosion by extremely hot chemicals. Mr. Thompson’s wife had to leave her job to care for him and continue caring for him even when she returned to work. The company refused to pay for any care performed by his wife at all. It refused to pay even though they would have had to hire someone to do the care if she hadn’t done it!
Why Mr. Thompson’s case is important
Sometimes a work injury is so serious that family members need to continue the care for the injured worker at home. Many times the company or the insurance company does not want to pay for the continuing care because it can last a long period of time and it costs them money. But that is not what North Carolina Workers’ Compensation law says.
What does the law provide for injured workers?
The law says that employers have to pay for medical treatment that is reasonable, to cure, to give relief, and to limit disability. The company should not get a free pass. Injured workers deserve that care.
But not only does the injured employee need the care, the family members are burdened with the constant need for medical attention. Often they need to take time away from work and forget about their own needs to attend to the loved ones. Those caregivers should be compensated for their care.
What does an injured worker do when care is denied?
He can ask for the care to be ordered by the North Carolina Industrial Commission. We now know from the court’s decision that:
- Attendant care must be prescribed by a health care provider authorized by the employer
- Any prescription for care is enough, even it is oral
- There has to be evidence supporting cutting off attendant care
As an attorney for injured workers, Valerie Johnson knows that the employer and the insurance company often don’t want to pay for care. When you have questions about any benefits for injured employees, call Valerie Johnson for workers’ compensation answers at 919-240-4054.