Anders Newton is pleased to report its most recent appellate victory, obtained by attorney Will Crone. After winning at both levels of the Industrial Commission, Mr. Crone secured a unanimous ruling from the North Carolina Court of Appeals in Lequire v. Southeastern Construction, dismissing claimant’s case entirely.
Claimant lived in North Carolina but was injured on a jobsite in Virginia. He filed a North Carolina workers’ compensation claim, alleging sufficient contact because he lived here, kept his work truck here, and deposited his wages into a bank account here. However, he performed most of his work elsewhere.
What’s the law when an accident occurs out of state?
When an otherwise compensable accident happens outside North Carolina, a claim in North Carolina is valid ONLY if:
- The contract of employment was made in North Carolina, OR
- The employer’s principal place of business is in North Carolina, OR
- The employee’s principal place of employment is within North Carolina
Claimant’s alleged injury occurred in Virginia, and the employer’s principal place of business was in Tennessee. Therefore, the only issues were (1) whether North Carolina was claimant’s principal place of employment; and (2) whether claimant’s employment contract was made in North Carolina.
As for issue one, since claimant admitted he mainly worked in other states, the Court found that North Carolina was not his principal place of employment. A “principal place of employment” is the state “most important, consequential, or influential” to the employment.
Issue two was tricky, because the claimant was a “re-hire.” The Court did not consider the employment contracts for the first two “terms of employment” but only looked at the final employment contract. When determining whether an employment contract was “made” in North Carolina, the question is where the “last act necessary to form the employment contract” took place. Claimant accepted the employer’s employment offer via telephone in Kansas. He later (in Virginia) showed the employer proof of his DOT certification. The Court held that, regardless of which act was the “last act,” the employment contract was not made in North Carolina.
Claims Handling Pointers
- When an accident occurs outside North Carolina, consider jurisdiction BEFORE admitting the claim.
- Just because an employer has a presence in North Carolina and carries workers’ compensation insurance does NOT mean injured workers have valid claims here.
- Just because a claimant lives in North Carolina does NOT mean he has a valid claim here.
- When an accident happens outside North Carolina, ask 1) Was the last act of the employment contract made in North Carolina? 2) Was the employer’s principal place of business in North Carolina? and 3) Was the claimant’s principal place of employment within North Carolina? If the answer to all these questions is “NO,” the defendants may have grounds for denial of the claim.
Jurisdiction questions can be tricky! If you have questions about a workers’ compensation claim, call an Anders Newton attorney any time at 919-516-8400.
Disclaimer: The information on the blog is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Cases referenced do not represent the law firm’s entire record. Each case is unique and must be evaluated on its own merits. The outcome of a particular case cannot be based on past results.