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Change in Law Expands Workers' Rights


Posted on Aug 17, 2007

north carolina workers comp lawNorth Carolina Lawyers Weekly wrote that a case handled by Raleigh workers' comp lawyers at Brent Adams & Associates is one of the 50 most significant cases of the year. The North Carolina work injury case expanded the right of workers across the state.

The Court of Appeals held that when a worker is required to supply their own vehicle to use while at work, they can collect full workers' compensation benefits if injured while driving to work. The long-standing rule in North Carolina was that an injured worker cannot recover workers' compensation benefits if injured while traveling to or from work. This case created an exception to this rule.

Norma Hollin was a home health nurse whose employer required her to use her own private vehicle to travel among the homes of her patients. Her employer reimbursed her for the cost of travel between the homes of her patients. It did not reimburse her for travel from her home to the home of her first patient of the day nor for her trip home after she treated her last patient.

Mrs. Hollin was tragically injured in a car crash while driving to the home of her first patient on May 20, 2003. Unfortunately, the collision was Mrs. Hollin’s fault. Therefore she could not collect for her injuries from a motor vehicle liability insurance policy. Her only source of recovery was from her workers' compensation claim.

The employer denied her claim based upon the rule that the injured worker cannot collect on a workers' compensation claim if injured while traveling to or from work. Her employer pointed out that it was not responsible for paying her travel expenses incurred while traveling to or from work.

The Industrial Commission agreed and dismissed Mrs. Hollin’s claim. Mrs. Hollin’s workers' comp lawyers in Raleigh at Brent Adams & Associates appealed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals reversed the Industrial Commission's decision and held that Mrs. Hollin was entitled to full workers' compensation benefits.

These benefits include payment of all her enormous medical and hospital bills and two-thirds of her average weekly wages for the rest of her life, or until she is able to return to work. This case created an important exception to the "going and coming" rule which still applies in North Carolina. For an excellent commentary on this case by writer Michael Lowery, read Carolina Journal Online.

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