This summer, the North Carolina Supreme Court came to a decision on a case that is having a huge impact on the world of workers’ compensation. In fact, this ruling is one of the biggest things to happen to workers’ comp in several years. The outcome of Wilkes v. the City of Greenville changed the way we look at the coverage of symptoms and conditions caused by the initial injury.
In this case, a man was injured in a car accident while on the job. Not only did he sustain physical injuries, but he also suffered a concussion and tinnitus (or ringing of the ears). As a result of his accident, he filed for workers’ compensation. While initially he made his claim to cover the physical injuries, he eventually wanted to extend the claim to also cover his depression and anxiety that had resulted from the accident.
His employer claimed that because symptoms such as the anxiety and depression were not directly caused by the accident itself nor were they mentioned in his first claim, they were not responsible for them. The court agreed.
Knowing this was unfair, the man took his case to a higher court. The North Carolina Supreme Court decided that the defendant has a right to ask for additional symptoms and injuries to be considered, even if they are not the precise injury that was initially claimed, and that his additional conditions should be covered.
Cases like this show the court’s dedication to upholding what is right and protecting the rights of individual workers. Because this is such a new ruling, it will be interesting to see how it goes on to affect future cases. Chances are, it’ll mean more people are getting the benefits that they need.