Workers’ Comp for Workers Hurt During Hurricane Clean-Up
When Hurricane Florence hit Eastern North Carolina in September 2018, it caused unprecedented flooding and tornadoes, leading to massive destruction to businesses, homes, and cities. North Carolinians pulled together, and continue to pull together, to repair damage and help each other recover from the disaster.
However, the clean-up work was dangerous and risky, and many people suffered injuries even weeks or months after the flooding had receded. If you or a loved one was injured during hurricane clean-up, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Hurricane clean-up work falls outside the normal routine.
Generally, injuries in North Carolina are covered under workers’ compensation only if something unusual or unexpected happens, not if you are doing your normal work in the normal way. When flooding and tornadoes during Hurricane Florence caused downed trees, damage to businesses, and huge messes, many Eastern North Carolina employees dropped their normal job to help their employer repair damage. Office workers cut and removed limbs; factory workers moved furniture to help employers avoid damage; cashiers and retailers cleaned moldy walls and floors; supervisors and managers repaired broken windows and rooves. Simply put, North Carolina employees did what was necessary to help each other in a time of crisis.
In most cases, the hurricane clean-up work was not the employees’ normal job. Therefore, any injury they may have sustained may entitle them to benefits under the Workers’ Compensation Act.
Hurricane clean-up work is dangerous.
Floods cause perilous driving conditions, slippery surfaces, and dangerous electrical hazards. Workers bravely assisting others during Hurricane Florence recovery may have sustained slip-and-falls; pulled backs; electrical shocks; car accidents; twisted knees, elbows, or shoulders; and injuries due to the use of construction and cleaning equipment. Any of these injuries may fall under the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Act if they were sustained while the worker was helping his or her employer. The attorneys at Ricci Law Firm can help you determine if you have a valid claim.
Hurricane clean-up work is still “employment.”
Even temporary or seasonal employment is covered under the Workers’ Compensation Act. Therefore, anyone who suffered an injury while working in North Carolina to help with Hurricane Florence recovery efforts should consult an attorney to determine if they are entitled to benefits. Some employees worry that they are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits because they only worked for a couple days, or because they were paid under the table, or by the job, or in cash. Other employees worry the North Carolina Workers’ Compensation will not apply because they live in another state. The experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Ricci Law Firm regularly help injured workers, including many temporary workers, out-of-state workers, and workers whose bosses tell them they cannot collect benefits because they were “independent contractors.”
The Workers’ Compensation Act in North Carolina was written to help a very wide variety of injured workers, including emergency aid workers. If you were injured during Hurricane Florence recovery, contact an attorney at Ricci Law Firm to discuss your rights.