Change in North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Procedure: Insurance Carriers No Longer Allowed to File Motion Pleadings at Commission
Industrial Commission Executive Secretary Meredith Henderson announced this week that beginning Monday, September 18, 2017, the Commission will no longer accept motion filings or motion responses from adjusters or insurance carriers. Documents the Commission will no longer accept from adjusters include Form 24s, and responses to Form 23s, Form 28Us and Form 18Ms, as well as motions to compel compliance, medical motions or other pleadings requesting relief. The Commission has drafted a memo which will be sent to carriers rejecting such pleadings, which need to be refiled by counsel.
The Commission has stated that it worked with North Carolina’s State Bar on this issue and ultimately concluded that such filings were the unauthorized practice of law. Notably, General Statute § 84-4 does specifically include the Industrial Commission as a judicial body. Adjusters can still file partial settlement agreements or agreements on compensation such as Form 26As, Form 60s, Form 63s and Form 29s. However, it is unclear whether adjusters will be allowed to file or respond to motions for extension of time and discovery motions.
Normally, ethics opinions regarding issues like this are announced by the North Carolina State Bar in a proposed opinion and interested parties are provided an opportunity to provide input. In this case, Teague Campbell is not aware of any proposed opinion from the State Bar addressing this issue and input was apparently not sought from the defense bar or industry representatives. In addition, it is unclear who and/or what prompted the Commission and State Bar to address this issue at this time. The opinion might have been generated in response to an inquiry from the Commission to the State Bar. Nonetheless, pursuant to the memorandum from the Commission, it appears that a decision has been made that the activities listed in the Commission memo would constitute the unauthorized practice of law if performed by an adjuster. We will keep you posted on any new information that we receive directly from the North Carolina State Bar on this issue.
If you have questions about the Commission’s new policy, please contact the attorneys at Teague Campbell.