NC Volunteer First Responders Qualify for Workers’ Compensation Coverage
As long as companies or other organizations have at least three employees working for them, North Carolina law requires them to carry workers’ compensation insurance to provide benefits to cover the costs of injuries and related expenses. The Workers’ Compensation Act does cite certain exceptions that include “casual workers,” as well as people who perform voluntary services — specifically ski patrolmen who receive no monetary compensation for their services.
After a January 14th accident involving injury to at least one volunteer firefighter, it is good to know that volunteers serving in this capacity are covered by workers’ compensation, at least under specific circumstances.
An Unexpected Cause of Firefighter Injuries
A January 14th news article by WYFF4.com paints a picture of an unusual type of firefighter accident that could have been even worse. A fire truck valued at $400,000 that was en route to a vehicle accident slid down a hill and went off the side of a mountain.
Two firefighters were hospitalized as a result of injuries received during the accident. A five-year volunteer of the department sustained injuries caused by a fall on ice at the accident scene. The severity of injuries varied widely among the three firefighters; however, the good news is that they all qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.
The Workers’ Compensation Act Language Can be Complex and Confusing
Buried within the definitions of the Workers’ Compensation Act is language defining how benefits are calculated. It indicates that the following workers who cannot work after a work-related injury can receive wage replacement calculated based on 66-2/3 percent of wages earned from the place where they principally earn their livelihoods as of the time of the accident.
- Volunteer firefighters
- Members of organized rescue squads
- Members of an auxiliary police department
- Senior members of the State Civil Air Patrol
Depending on the definition of a volunteer’s duties or the exact nature of the work performed at the time of an accident, valid injury workers’ compensation can be denied unfairly. Additional concerns can arise in the event that the fund established specifically to pay volunteer claims lacks the money needed to pay these claims.
Charlotte Work Injury Attorneys Help Protect the Rights of Injured Volunteer Firefighters
When questions of coverage arise for any injured employees, they need to seek support from a lawyer who can help clarify confusing language within the complicated North Carolina workers’ compensation legislation and knows how to protect worker rights.
In many cases, injured volunteers who are qualified to file workers’ compensation claims can file their claims with no issues. However, when claims are unfairly reduced or denied, it is time to get in touch with an experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer. Depending on the complexity of the claim, a lawyer can begin to educate injured workers on their rights during the free initial consultation.