Statesville, North Carolina Settles $175K Workers Comp Claim

Posted on Dec 09, 2008
firefighter injury claimsIn 2004, Statesville, North Carolina firefighter Saifullah El-Amin injured his right knee during a training session in which he was required to carry a dummy up and down a ladder. In 2006, El-Amin fell in a hole while on duty, seriously injuring his left knee. As a result of the second injury, the fireman retired after a 30-year career. He was one of the first African-Americans ever to be hired by the Statesville Fire Department in the mid-1970s.

Since his injuries were directly related to his job and his retirement, Saifullah El-Amin filed workers’ compensation claims against the city through the North Carolina Industrial Commission.

Local news reports revealed that the city disagreed with the amount that El-Amir sought. Until mid-June of this year the case was at an impasse. However, this week the North Carolina Industrial Commission notified Statesville officials to pay $175,000 by the close of the month.

These low six-figure claims are especially hard for the city to handle, since Statesville does not carry insurance for any claim less than $300,000 and must pay for any smaller claims using taxpayer dollars. Over the last four fiscal years, the city has paid out just under $1 million on 246 workers’ compensation claims, at an average o 60 per year and $3,731 per claim. Although there have been a few individual claims that run in the low six figures (including one claim for $218,714 in July of 2003) El-Amin’s is one of the largest the city has had to handle, putting a strain on the current budget. Most cases are minor and therefore less expensive to cover, such as small incidents of burns or rashes from poison ivy. These cases often settle for less than $1,000 each.

At the regular meeting of the Statesville City Council on Monday, it was agreed that $100,000 would be reallocated to pay the workers’ compensation, in addition to the $75,000 that had originally been budgeted for the particular case. The fiscal year ends on June 30.