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Who is required to carry work comp insurance in North Carolina?

At its core, workers compensation insurance is designed to provided people who suffer serious and debilitating injuries while on the job with medical coverage and the ability to make ends meet. In other words, it provides much-needed peace of mind for the injured worker and their loved ones during otherwise trying times.

Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for workers to be uncertain as to whether their employer even carries workers' compensation insurance, such that they may feel understandably unnerved by the prospect of suffering some type of work injury. The good news is that they can take comfort in the fact that the answer is more than likely that their employer does indeed have this coverage thanks to state law.

The North Carolina Workers' Compensation Act essentially dictates that those businesses with at least three employees must carry workers' compensation insurance, and that this is the case regardless of whether they are organized as a sole proprietorship, limited liability company, corporation or partnership.

When it comes to the important inquiry as to whether an employer has three or more employees, state law does not automatically count those individuals who act as partners, LLC members or sole proprietors as employees. However, while those who hold corporate officer positions can opt out of workers' compensation coverage, they are still counted in determining whether a business crosses the three-employee threshold.

It's important to note that while the Workers' Compensation Act does recognize exceptions to the insurance requirement, they are relatively few in number. Indeed, those not required to carry workers' compensation include:

  • Those employed by certain railroads
  • Those employed by the federal government
  • Those considered "casual employees," meaning they aren't responsible for work pertaining to the regular course of an employer's business
  • Those domestic servants directly employed by the household
  • Those employed as farm laborers provided that the employer has less than 10 full-time, non-seasonal farm laborers working regularly
  • Those employed as sellers of agricultural products under certain pay structures

We'll continue examining what state law has to say about workers' compensation coverage in a future post. In the meantime, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you have been injured on the job and are having trouble securing work comp benefits.

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