Within five days after an employer has "knowledge" of the occurrence of an injury to an employee which causes his absence for more than one day or medical expenses in excess of $2,000 the employer must report the injury on Commission Form 19. We frequently get asked by employers what it means to have "knowledge" of an accident.
The language regarding notification requirements found in NC General Statute 97-22 requires an employee, injured while on the job by accident, to provide written notice of the accident to his/her employer within thirty (30) days "unless it can be shown that the employer, his agent or representative, had knowledge of the accident." The NC Supreme court has ruled that when an employer has actual notice of the accident the employee need not provide written notice of such. Such knowledge can be obtained by an employee's verbal notification to a supervisor, manager, HR, etc. It can also be obtained if the employer is present and witnesses the incident. 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 North Carolina Industrial Commission (NCIC) within five (5) days of the notice of the injury by accident, and to also notify the employee/claimant within fourteen (14) days of its decision to accept or deny the claim for the injury.
This decision by the North Carolina Supreme Court is consistent with the advice that CAI has historically provided to our members. CAI's position has been that if an injured employee verbally notifies the employer (supervisor, manager, HR, etc.) within thirty (30) days of an accident, written notice by the employee is not necessary because the employer has knowledge.
Although North Carolina employees have thirty (30) days by law to report a work-related injury by accident to their employer, this does not prevent employers from having a written and communicated policy requiring that employees notify them sooner. Such a policy will help improve the accuracy of the data collected to ensure a complete and accurate report. If employees do not comply, the employer, at its discretion, may take progressive disciplinary action as appropriate. Understand that employees will still be eligible for workers' compensation benefits if they meet the thirty (30) day requirement but they have now also been put on notice of the employer's accelerated reporting requirement.
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