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NC Lawmakers Examine Workers’ Comp Cap


Posted on May 26, 2009

For at least another year, North Carolina businesses will not be able to change workers compensation state laws and put a cap on the amount of money injured workers can receive in the wake of an on-the-job injury.

The bill, which saw support from a number of key legislators as well as many corporations around North Carolina, would have cut off workers' compensation benefits for those over 65 after six years of payments. Although workers would have the option to appear before a state commission to receive lifetime workers compensation benefits, money would certainly be limited for many.

Those in favor of the bill, including Rep. Bruce Goforth, D-Buncombe, and Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, who introduced the legislation argued that the bill would cap workers compensation therefore making the state more competitive in attracting businesses and lowering the number of cases of workers compensation fraud.

"In the name of jobs ... we need to make sure we're the lowest-cost place to live and do business," Rep. Dale Folwell, R-Forsyth, told lawmakers.

Those opposing the bill, including workers compensation lawyers and advocates for the elderly including the AARP, argued that it would leave injured seniors unable to work living in poverty and unable to pay their ongoing medical bills.

"Maybe in Virginia the poor schmuck worker gets hammered worse than he does in North Carolina," but that's no reason to change the law, said Rep. Bill Faison, D-Orange.

The bill failed due to a missed time limit - too much opposition and not enough time meant a missed deadline for House and Senate bills. Some supporters of the bill are considering altering the bill in minor ways in order to get it heard this year instead of tabling it until next time around.

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