North Carolina Appellate Court Dismisses Negligence Claim based on Workers’ Compensation Exclusivity Rule

The North Carolina workers’ compensation system is meant to provide compensation for workers who are injured during the course and scope of employment. This can create some legal issues when it comes to determining whether an injury was work-related or not. If the injury happened in the course and scope of employment, then the worker’s sole remedy for compensation is through the workers’ compensation claims process and not in civil court. If you have been injured and believe that it may be related to your employment or have questions about your right to compensation, contact a seasoned Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyer immediately.

In a recent claim, the plaintiff appealed from a dismissal of her complaint against her employer, asserting a claim for negligence. The lower court determined that the events giving rise to her claim happened in the course and scope of employment and that as a result, the workers’ compensation system was her sole remedy. In the case, the plaintiff suffered from a mental illness and had been out of work for some time. She eventually began work for the employer, a bank. Shortly after receiving a promotion at the bank, the mental illness resurfaced. The bank put the plaintiff on short-term disability as a result of her condition and inability to perform her duties.

The plaintiff eventually returned to work on a limited schedule but was unable to perform the duties that her employer expected. She asked to be transferred, but the request was denied, and her doctor eventually took her out of work and diagnosed her as bipolar.

In her complaint, the plaintiff alleged that the bank was negligent in not providing her with a safe working environment that was free from mental stress or anxiety and that the failure aggravated her pre-existing mental condition that the defendant knew about. The defendant moved for summary judgment on the basis that the claim was barred in civil court by the exclusivity provision of the workers’ compensation system, and the lower court granted the motion.

The plaintiff appealed, and the reviewing court ultimately agreed, finding that the events giving rise to her alleged cause of action happened within the course and scope of her employment. The appellate court also concluded that the plaintiff’s complaint failed to include any factual allegations demonstrating that the defendants acted intentionally in causing her claimed mental injury. In order for the case to be heard in civil court outside the exclusivity provision of the workers’ compensation act, the plaintiff would need to show that the defendant acted willfully in causing her mental suffering.

If you were injured at work or have questions about the workers’ compensation system in North Carolina, contact the seasoned team of Charlotte workers’ compensation lawyers of Maurer Law as soon as possible. We know how confusing the legal process can be and how difficult it can be to understand if you are being treated fairly. We can review your situation and help you determine the best way to proceed to recover the compensation that you deserve. We offer a free consultation, so call us at 844-817-8058 or contact us online to get started.