Want a 10% Reduction in Workers’ Compensation Payout? Better File Those Safety Rules…

Employees injured on the job may be owed compensation under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act. While workers’ compensation is a “no-fault” system, there are some exceptions. For example, in North Carolina, in general, if the injury or death was proximately caused by the employee’s intoxication, no compensation would be owed. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 97-12. The same rule applies for non-prescribed controlled substances. This is good news for the employer, but it only protects employers if the injured worker happened to be intoxicated at the time of the accident.

However, employers can also limit their exposure when an employee willfully disregards a rule or regulation. §97-12 provides for a 10% reduction in compensation when the injury or death is caused by the willful breach of any rule or regulation adopted by the employer and approved by the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

So how does an employer get the protection of N.C. Gen. Stat. § 97-12? First, come up with a well-defined set of safety guidelines specific to your industry, if you have not done so already. Next, file these safety rules with the Commission for approval. Unfortunately, the Commission does not keep a database of approved rules from which you can pick and choose—you’ll need to make sure yours are specifically approved.

So what does this mean for you? Being proactive can save your company money. When an accident does happen, and if it is because an employee did not observe company safety rules, this 10% reduction will not be available unless the company’s specific rule was filed with the Commission. Employers cannot simply point to violations of other safety rules previously approved by the Commission for other companies in the same industry.

It seems that a lot in the world of workers’ compensation involves reacting to things that happen: accidents, injuries, diagnoses, etc. Filing safety rules with the Commission is one of the ways you can proactively take steps to protect yourself and your business, or at least potentially reduce future exposure.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact one of our employment attorneys:

Electronic mail or other oral or written communication to Young Moore and Henderson P.A. in connection with a matter for which we do not already represent you may not be treated as privileged or confidential. Communications are not privileged until the client and lawyer have agreed on legal representation. Please do not send confidential information to us via e-mail or in any other manner without first communicating directly with us about the attorney-client relationship. The transmission of an e-mail request for information does not create an attorney-client relationship. Your initial email should only contain a list of the parties interested in the matter so that we can make sure we have no conflicts before you convey any information about your case.

Accept Decline