North Carolina Appellate Court Discusses The Workers’ Compensation Exclusivity Rule in Misdiagnosis Case

A common question that we encounter as seasoned Asheville personal injury lawyers is whether a particular injury accident can be brought forward as a civil claim or whether it must be addressed through North Carolina’s workers’ compensation system. Under the exclusivity rule, if an injury happens during the course and scope of employment, it must be treated as a work injury. This means that the injured worker is barred from bringing a civil claim against his or her employer except in a few very limited scenarios. If you were injured and have questions about the best way to go about receiving the compensation that you need and deserve, we are standing by to assist you.

A recent case discussed the difference between bringing a civil injury claim and a worker’s compensation claim. The plaintiff originally filed a civil claim for negligence against his employer stating that the company nurse diagnosed him in a negligent manner after he suffered a stroke at work. Before filing this action, the plaintiff had also filed a claim with the North Carolina workers’ compensation commission based on the same scenario. The judge in the workers’ compensation claim denied his request for benefits and medical expenses reimbursements on the basis that the injury did not take place at work and did not arise out of the course and scope of his employment. The plaintiff did not file an appeal.

In the civil claim, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss on the basis that the facts giving rise to the claim were related to his occupation and therefore should be asserted as a workers’ compensation claim. The lower court denied this motion on the basis that there was no relation between the injury that the plaintiff pled in his complaint and his occupation. The defendants appealed.

On review, the appellate court placed particular importance on the fact that the plaintiff sought treatment and diagnosis from a company nurse. It was foreseeable and expected that an injured employee would visit the company nurse for treatment, the court reasoned.

Even if this company nurse was not a key factor, the appellate court reviewed the underlying facts giving rise to his injury and concluded that it did not arise from his employment as a grinding machine operator. When the plaintiff reported to work on the day of the alleged injury, for example, he would not have considered the possibility of being misdiagnosed by the company doctor. As a result of these findings, the appellate court concluded that the civil court had jurisdiction over the claim and that it was not a matter for resolution in the workers’ compensation system.

If you were injured and you are unsure of the best way to assert your right to compensation, Maurer Law’s seasoned team of Asheville personal injury lawyers is standing by to assist you. We provide a free consultation to discuss your situation and how we may be able to help you. Don’t wait, time may be running out on your claim. Call us today at 1-844-817-8058 or contact us online to get started.