Workers Compensation – Protecting the Rights of Employees and Employers


Today on North Carolina Law TV, David Daggett,
Injury and Disability Lawyer from Daggett Shuler Law out of Winston, Salem talks to
us about worker’s compensation. What modern worker’s compensation laws as
we know them today came about after the industrial revolution mainly after World War II. Before
that we had what we called sweat shops, those were the days of child labor and that sort
of thing and the common notion was is that laborers, your manual laborers, were simply
interchangeable parts. We would throw them on what I would call the scrapheap of life.
Now, your employer pays worker’s compensation insurance but there’s a limited recovery on
the worker’s compensation because the injured worker also gives up their right to bring
a liability claim against the employer. That’s all next on this episode of North
Carolina Law TV. Worker’s compensation is the idea of compensating
a worker for injury sustained while on the job. This is a concept that dates back to
the days of Hammurabi’s Code in 1750 B.C. We can trace the progression through history
the rise and fall of the popularity of having worker’s comp in different societies. But
by and large the majority of our societies have had some sort of established system that
affords compensation to people who are hurt or killed while working.
Today, every state in the United States has worker’s compensation laws to protect employees
and employers as well as their families. When workers are injured on the job they and their
families can suffer. Medical costs can quickly skyrocket, victims and their families can
struggle to make ends meet because of the loss of income. The system also protects employers
from being overwhelmed by having to pay out of their pocket for their workers’ injuries.
Worker’s compensation is a crucial part of our legal system today. That is also a complex
one that is often confusing to many people. David Daggett is here today to talk to us
about the ins and outs of worker’s compensation law and to answer some common question. David, thank you for coming today. Thanks for having me. I appreciate having you. That was quite an introduction. I mean that’s
complicated just in what you were reading out with your introduction to the show. Well, it’s interesting how long worker’s
compensation has been considered and has it always been before worker’s compensation in
the United States what did you see? Well, I don’t know much about worker’s compensation
and going back to Hammurabi’s Code but modern worker’s compensation laws as we know them
today, came about after the industrial revolution mainly after World War II. Before that we
had what we called sweat shops, those were the days of child labor and that sort of thing
and the common notion is that laborers, your manual laborers, were simply interchangeable
parts. We would throw them on what I would call the scrapheap of life if they got injured
or hurt at work. What happened is worker’s compensation laws came around, like you said
in the introduction, to protect both the employee and the employer.
So the way it works is, is if you’re injured at work you don’t have to prove fault or
anything else. If you’re injured at work you’re entitled to worker’s compensation. Even if it’s your own fault or a co-worker’s
fault. Even if it’s your own fault or a co-worker’s
fault. Now, your employer pays worker’s compensation insurance but there’s a limited recovery under
worker’s compensation because the injured worker also gives up their right to bring
a liability claim against the employer. When did they give up that right? By virtue of the statute and by virtue of
being employed. So, you cannot “sue” your employer if you get injured at work. So that’s where protects the employer. It protects the employer, too. Now, you know,
it’s interesting, you hear the political debates and you hear people on both sides. You don’t
hear anybody talking about there’s two sides to the story from the employer there’s two
sides, from the employee there’s two sides. Worker’s compensation is to provide some benefits
to the employee who’s injured at work so we don’t throw them on the scrap heap of
life and it provides a level of predictability and protection for the employer who’s just
trying to run their business, okay? So worker’s compensation provides a limited
recovery, typically it’s two thirds of your income up to a certain amount, and pays for your
medical expenses. That’s good news for the employee. They don’t have to worry about
getting medical treatment and they get two thirds of their salary while they’re out. For the
employer they know that in advance and they don’t have to worry about liability claims
and that sort of thing. Does that make sense? That’s right. So it’s a limited recovery system that puts
some predictability in it for both the employee and the employer. Now, where they can get
really, really complicated and really, really difficult is if you get injured at work and
your long-term income earning ability is impaired. That makes it a more drastic situation the
laws get much trickier and much more complicated that’s when you need some experienced help
involved. Okay, so… I jumped through that pretty quick. So let me see if I understand. So, this is
a shorter term thing that you’re covered and the company’s covered and the employer is
covered. But if it’s longer term then there’s a lot more questions, there’s more laws involved,
there’s more of a… Well, what happens is is typically if you
have an injury you recover and you go back to work. You don’t need lawyers involved,
the system should take care of itself, okay? If you have a more severe injury that impairs
your long-term earning ability that’s where the laws get trickier and more complicated
and certainly they should because you’ve got responsibilities. If you can’t go back
to your job or have to take a lower paying job or can never work again that’s a completely
different story because you got to protect yourself and your family. And there’s laws
there to do that. They’re just very complicated and they’re very tricky which is why you need
somebody that’s got a lot of experience to help you through that process. To help you navigate it so that you can be
protected in the long-term. To navigate the system for the long-term,
that’s correct. So it’s really good to hear what point and
injury if it’s going to be long-term that you really shouldn’t be handling that yourself
now or it’ll be helpful to have someone who knows how to do it. Right. If you have permanent injuries, permanent
medical treatment, ongoing care, maybe need wheelchair or some other accommodation or
can’t go back to work ever. Right. So it sounds like if you have a job
that you can’t do that type of job anymore. If you can’t do that type of job anymore. Right. Right. Well that’s really good information.
Is there anything else that you think we should know about this before… Well. I think the important thing is is for
injured workers to know that they do have rights under the system and they need to know
who to turn to and where to go to get their claim handled in a proper manner. Right. Well thanks for sharing that with us. We only have a short amount of time. It’s
complicated but we only have a short amount of time. Well thank you. Thanks. It’s very helpful.
Well, if you or someone you know needs assistance in this area with worker’s compensation claim,
you can call David’s office at (336) 724-1234. Until next time, this is Nancy Hollett for
North Carolina Law TV.

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