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Middle School Principal Entitled To Workers Comp Benefits After Being Shot

April 12th, 2012

Our North Carolina Worker’s Compensation Attorneys understand that construction sites are dangerous places because of all the different contractors and employees performing their skills simultaneously. However, not all injuries on the job fit that mold.

In 2009, James A. Hunt, a Fairmont Middle School Principal, was driving to work and was on his cell phone (which the school district provided for him) discussing school business with a colleague when he was struck by a shotgun blast to the face and hand by an unknown assailant who had pulled up next to his car. Mr. Hunt suffered extensive injuries, resulting in several operations, including plastic surgery, to repair his right hand, teeth, mouth, and face. Police investigation did not result in the arrest of the perpetrator. He then filed his worker’s compensation claim in 2009. Initially, his claim was denied, was later approved, and then wound up in the North Carolina Court of Appeals when his employer appealed.

Testimony in the case revealed that Mr. Hunt had been involved in anti-gang activities in his role as school principal and had actually been threatened by the parents of some of the middle school students. He was also concerned that some of the school staff members that he had previously disciplined may have wanted revenge. During his testimony, it was revealed that he received a travel allowance from the school in the amount of $594 two times a year, which was provided for in his employment contract.

The school district denied the claim based upon the “going and coming” rule, which would normally bar worker’s compensation benefits for those injuries sustained while commuting to or from the job, and therefore the accident did not arise out of the course and scope of his employment as a middle school principal. A North Carolina hearing officer ruled in favor of Mr. Hunt and the North Carolina Industrial Commission on appeal agreed, saying that his injuries occurred while working and awarding temporary total disability benefits. The ruling was appealed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals by Mr. Hunt’s employer, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, and Corvel Corporation (the third-party administrator). The Court ruled that since Mr. Hunt was required to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and that he was speaking with a colleague at the time of the shooting, and that such was a permissible use of the school provided phone, that the shooting did, infact occur during the scope and course of his employment, and as such, was a compensible injury. The court further ruled that since the provided travel allowance was used for communting expenses, the “going and coming” rule was inapplicable.

If you or someone you know has been injured in the course and scope of employment or has questions regarding whether the injuries sustained are covered, you need to seek the advice of a North Carolina Worker’s Compensation Attorney. Every employer with three or more employees must provide worker’s compensation insurance. This entitles you to medical benefits and weekly compensation checks if the injury keeps you off work for more than 7 days. Statutory weekly benefits are 66 2/3% of your average weekly wage, not to exceed $862 per week, for injuries sustained on or after January 1, 2012. Injured workers may also entitled to a lump sum settlement based upon the nature and extent of their injuries.

Auger & Auger has helped injured workers in Charlotte and throughout North Carolina receive the benefits to which they are entitled and the maximum lump sum settlement possible. Contact us today for your confidential, no obligation consultation to discuss your particular case. Our experienced team, headed by partner, Herbert W. Auger, will make sure your case is handled quickly, professionally and aggressively.

Other Resources:

Middle-school principal shot on way to work due workers comp: N.C. court

North Carolina industrial Commission

Related Blog Posts:

Fatal Accidents In The Workplace On The Rise, January 17, 2012

Posted In: Workers' Compensation