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North Carolina: Supreme Court Adopts “Parsons Presumption” Regarding Medical Care

June 15, 2017 (1 min read)

Affirming the state’s Court of Appeals in relevant part, the Supreme Court of North Carolina adopted the “Parsons presumption” [see Parsons v. Pantry, Inc., 126 N.C. App. 540, 485 S.E.2d 867 (1997)]: Once the employee meets the initial burden of showing that an injury is the result of a compensable accident, a presumption arises that additional medical treatment is directly related to the compensable injury. To do otherwise would require an injured employee to re-prove causation each time he or she sought treatment for the very injury that the state’s Industrial Commission had previously determined to be the result of a compensable accident. Such a requirement would be unjust and violates the Court’s duty to interpret the Workers’ Compensation Act in favor of injured employees. Here, the employee sustained serious injuries in a work-related vehicle accident. He subsequently sought additional medical treatment for anxiety and depression, but the Commission ruled that he had failed to show the need for such treatment was causally related to the original injury. The Court of Appeals reversed, holding (under Parsons) that it was error to place the burden on the injured worker to prove causation each time he or she sought medical care. The Supreme Court agreed, citing Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, in pertinent part.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is the co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance.

See Wilkes v. City of Greenville, 2017 N.C. LEXIS 407 (June 9, 2017)

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 130.06.

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law