On Thursday, June 27, the NC House voted to pass legislation that affects your rights under workers’ compensation laws.
The bill changes the ways the Industrial Commission can order treatment when the insurance company has denied it. In an emergency the Industrial Commission will have to order the treatment within five days of a motion. Motions for non-emergency medical treatment could take longer. In some instances, the Industrial Commission will have up to 60 days to make a decision about an injured worker’s medical care.
The bill also changes one way to restart workers’ compensation benefits when the insurance company has stopped them. The new process allows for either a telephone or in-person hearing and sets new time limits. The bill also disapproves many of the other rules recently adopted by the Industrial Commission.
Over the past several weeks, Senate Bill 174 underwent intense negotiation. The original version of the bill was much different than the version that passed. That version required formal hearings to restart an injured worker’s compensation when it was unjustly stopped by the insurance company, even when they were violating the law. This could have delayed payments by months or even years.
The prior version of the bill also threatened injured workers’ medical benefits, taking away their rights to get a quick decision from the Industrial Commission, sometimes delaying treatment by years. In addition, it shifted court costs to the injured worker for needing to ask for a hearing for medical treatment or to restart compensation.
Many workers and their family members contacted their representatives. Those efforts told legislators to compromise and in the end made a much better bill.
Thank you for your calls, emails and input. Your continued attention to this matter is greatly appreciated.
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