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Who Is Eligible for Workers Compensation in North Carolina?

Fri Apr 5th, by Workers Compensation |

Workers’ compensation is a fairly straightforward concept. Employers are legally required to pay into special insurance plans so that employees who get hurt on the job can receive a consistent income and other benefits. In reality, however, it’s not always so simple, and a Greensboro workers’ compensation attorney can be a key resource in understanding who is eligible for workers’ compensation in North Carolina.

The workers’ compensation insurance system in North Carolina serves as a vital safety net for employees who sustain work-related injuries or illnesses, but unfortunately, it falls short of covering all workers in the state. Workers’ comp benefits allow qualifying parties to cover their medical care and continue supporting their basic needs while they’re too injured to work.

Beyond this care and support, there can also be other valuable benefits like job retraining. With these valuable resources at stake, knowing who is actually eligible to collect these benefits is vital for both workers and employers.

Understanding Workers’ Compensation Eligibility in North Carolina

The vast majority of folks working jobs under a traditional employee-employer relationship will automatically qualify for workers’ compensation benefits in North Carolina. The specific criteria for collecting these benefits are:

  • Employment Status – To be eligible for workers’ comp in North Carolina, an individual first needs to be a worker. More specifically, they need to be considered an “employee.” This means that business owners and self-employed people will usually not have workers’ comp coverage (unless they choose to purchase such an insurance plan for themselves).
  • Work-Related Injury or Illness – Eligibility largely hinges on the injury (or illness) in question being directly related to employment activities. Defective machinery, unsafe work conditions, and mistakes by coworkers are some examples of possible root causes of such injuries.
    • Keep in mind that workers’ comp is not just for acute injuries sustained on the job site like fractured bones or catastrophic back injuries. These benefits also cover occupational diseases contracted due to workplace conditions and can sometimes even apply to work-related aggravations of pre-existing conditions.
  • Timely Reporting – It is important for injured employees to report work-related accidents or illnesses to their employer as soon as possible. Failing to do so within the legally established 30-day timeline can jeopardize your eligibility for workers’ compensation benefits.
  • Employer Coverage – Most entities and individuals who have employees in North Carolina are required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance. There are exceptions, however. If your employer is exempt from workers’ comp requirements and has not voluntarily opted to purchase a similar plan, you will likely be unable to collect benefits through the workers’ compensation system, regardless of the circumstances.

Exemptions to Workers’ Compensation in North Carolina

Most working people in North Carolina are automatically covered by the workers’ compensation program, so understanding the exemptions to coverage can be every bit as important as understanding the basic eligibility requirements.

The following entities are not required by law to carry workers’ compensation insurance:

  • Self-employed people/single-person businesses
  • Organizations with fewer than three employees
  • Agricultural businesses with fewer than ten employees
  • Certain logging and woodcutting operations

In addition to the exempt employers above, certain types of workers are themselves excluded from the workers’ compensation system, no matter what size or sort of company they work for.

  • Contract workers (as opposed to traditional employees who receive a regular wage or salary)
  • All so-called “domestic employees”

The exemption for “domestic” workers is an important one to make note of and a controversial one among workers’ rights advocates. This exclusion has far-reaching implications and can impact hard-working folks in a range of demanding and potentially dangerous positions, including:

  • Babysitters
  • Janitors
  • Cleaners
  • Caretakers
  • Home Health Aides
  • Drivers
  • Gardeners
  • Landscapers

If you have any uncertainties as to whether or not you are covered by the North Carolina workers’ compensation system, a reputable Greensboro workers’ compensation attorney, such as M. Reid Acree, Jr., can be a great resource. We can help you better understand your rights as an injured worker and advise you on how to proceed with seeking compensation for your work-related injury.


Q: Who Is Required to Have Workers’ Comp Insurance in NC?

A: Most employers with three or more employees are required to have workers’ comp insurance in North Carolina. There are several niche exceptions to this rule, however, ranging from small family farms to housekeeping firms. A knowledgeable workers’ compensation attorney can help you determine whether or not your employer is legally required to provide coverage for you.

Q: How Does Workers’ Compensation Work in North Carolina?

A: Workers Compensation works in North Carolina by linking injured workers with critical benefits, including direct payments. This streamlined process, overseen by the state Industrial Commission, essentially takes the place of a personal injury lawsuit for someone who has been harmed in the course of doing their job and is trying to seek fair compensation for their injuries.

Q: Which Situation Qualifies an Employee for Workers’ Compensation Coverage?

A: Most traditional employment relationships qualify an employee for workers’ compensation coverage in North Carolina. Various exemptions and exclusions exist, however, such as super-small businesses, temporary contract workers, and workers in the domestic services sector.

Q: Does NC Workers Comp Pay for Pain and Suffering?

A: No, NC workers comp does not pay for pain and suffering. Unlike a personal injury lawsuit in civil court, a workers’ compensation case does not allow you to seek so-called “intangible” damages like stress and emotional turmoil. Instead, these packages focus on covering more readily quantified factors like medical expenses and lost wages. It can also include benefits to pay for retraining programs if the injured worker will be unable to return to their previous role.

M. Reid Acree, Jr., Attorney at Law – A Powerful Ally for Injured Workers in North Carolina

If you’ve been injured at work in North Carolina and you’re not sure whether or not workers’ compensation benefits are available to you, we can help. Contact our offices today to set up a totally confidential consultation so that we can go over the details of your situation and determine the appropriate strategy for seeking compensation.