The North Carolina Supreme Court on Friday overturned a lower court decision that had barred death benefits to the widow of a university worker.
The Supreme Court rules in McAuley v. North Carolina A&T State Univsaid the North Carolina Court of Appeals erred in upholding the North Carolina Industrial Commission’s decision that it did not have jurisdiction over the case because the widow filed an untimely claim for death benefits.
Steven McAuley suffered a back injury in 2015 while working for North Carolina A&T University. He filed a claim for damages but died 10 days later.
His widow, Angela McAuley, sought death benefits in January 2018, but the Industrial Commission ruled that it lacked jurisdiction because the claim was not filed within two years of McAuley̵7;s death.
The Industrial Commission said that a dependent’s death benefit claim is different from an employee’s workers’ compensation claim.
The Court of Appeal agreed with the Commission.
Overturning the lower court ruling, the North Carolina Supreme Court said that when lawmakers changed state law, they did so with a “clear intent that a separate claim for death benefits is not required and that an employee filing a claim within two years of an accident meets all conditions for the Industrial Commission to acquire jurisdiction in respect of a subsequent claim for death benefits.”
The judges remanded the case to the Court of Appeal.