A past ruling of the North Carolina Supreme Court held that a claimant does not have to give an employer written notice of a work-related injury when the employer already is aware of the injury. This finding reversed a decision by the North Carolina Court of Appeals and confirmed the findings of the North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC).
The claimant in this case did not give written notice of her May 16 accident until June 24, which is outside of the 30-day notice required in NCGS 97-22. The claimant did, however, notify her employer by telephone 30 minutes after the accident, providing the employer with actual “knowledge of the accident.” The NCIC ruled that the claimant was in compliance with the notification requirements located in NCGS 97-22.
The language regarding notification requirements found in NCGS 97-22 requires an injured employee to give written notice of an accident within 30 days “unless it can be shown that the employer, his agent or representative, had knowledge of the accident.” The NC Supreme Court ruled when an employer has actual notice of the accident, the employee need not give written notice of such. The Court further added that the employer’s “actual notice” or “knowledge” of an accident sets in play the employer’s duties to notify the NCIC within five days, to notify the claimant within 14 days of its decision to admit or deny the claim for injury, and to quickly investigate.
This decision by the North Carolina Supreme Court is consistent with the advice that CAI has given to employers for decades. CAI’s position is and has been that if an injured employee verbally notifies the employer (lead worker, supervisor, manager, HR, etc.) within 30 days of an accident, written notice by the employee is not necessary because the employer has knowledge of such.
To read NCGS 97-22, go to http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/BySection/Chapter_97/GS_97-22.html.