We are pleased to announce that on Thursday July 20th Governor Cooper signed HB 26, also know as the "Wilkes Bill" after the case that prompted the law's passage. The Wilkes court decision could have substantially increased workers compensation costs in that once an employer accepted an employee’s workers’ compensation claim by filing a Form 60, the employer or insurer would have had to prove that any alleged medical condition not previously listed on the Form 60 is unrelated to the original workplace accident.
On the contrary, this new law shifts the burden of proof to injured workers to prove that a subsequent “injury or condition” stems from a work-related accident.
The new law is now effective and applies to claims accrued or pending prior to, on, or after that date. It is important to highlight that pending claims were added to the law. We were already seeing the Industrial Commission start to treat existing claims differently so including pending claim is huge. This also illustrates the negative impact the Wilkes decision was already having on NC employers.
We want to thank those members who sent emails, letters and phone calls to their legislators. Those efforts were obviously successful. If you have any questions, please contact CAI's Advice & Resolution team.
The full law: House Bill 26