Update from the North Carolina Industrial Commission
Industrial Commission Policy Update on In-Person Hearings, Mediations, and Other Procedural Directives.
The North Carolina Industrial Commission has adopted an Emergency Rule that in turn allows the Industrial Commission to implement Emergency Orders and Directives of the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. In short, the Industrial Commission wants its operating structure to be in sync with, and operate consistently with, the civil system when it comes to holding hearings, mediations and other procedural directives from the Chief Justice. As of January 14, 2021, and consistent with the January 14, 2021 Order of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina, all Industrial Commission mediations are to be conducted remotely, unless all parties and persons required to attend the mediation, including the mediator, agree to conduct the mediation in-person, or unless the Industrial Commission orders that the mediation be conducted in-person. Additionally, all Deputy Commissioner Hearings shall be conducted remotely via WebEx video conference, unless the Deputy Commissioner grants an in-person hearing upon a showing of good cause as to why an in-person hearing should be allowed. Full Commission hearings shall continue to be conducted via Microsoft Teams video conference.
Industrial Commission Appoints New Chief Deputy Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner
In November, 2020, Deputy Commissioner Tammy Nance was designated as the Chief Deputy Commissioner by Chair Phillip Baddour. Chief Deputy Commissioner Nance previously served as a Deputy Commissioner from 1987 to 1995. She was in private practice for several years representing both employers and employees in workers’ compensation matters and in 2011, returned to the Commission and served on the Full Commission until 2018. In 2019, Ms. Nance began serving as a Deputy Commissioner assigned to head up the Claims Administration Section.
Additionally, former representative Larry D. Hall, who most recently was serving as the Secretary of the North Carolina Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, was recently appointed as a Deputy Commissioner. Deputy Commissioner Hall represented Durham County in the North Carolina House of Representatives for 10 years and served as the House Minority Leader during his final four years.
Updates from Annual Industrial Commission’s Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference
Chair Philip Baddour provided an update at the North Carolina educational conference in October 2020. As of August 31, 2020, 1,508 Form 19’s had been filed listing COVID-19 and 119 Form 18’s have been filed listing COVID-19. Of the COVID-19 cases where a Form 60, 61 or 63 had been filed, 57% had been denied on a Form 61, 19% had been accepted on a Form 60, 18% had been paid without prejudice on a Form 63, section 1, and 6% had been paid without prejudice on a Form 63, section 2.
In addition, for the fiscal year 2019-2020, 27 claims had been filed for extended benefits under G. S. Section 97-29 (c). Seven of the claims had been mediated and three Deputy Commissioner Hearings had been held, but, as of the October conference, there had not yet been any decisions rendered.
NCIC Rule Changes Effective December 1, 2020.
Finally, seven Industrial Commission Rules were revised, and one new Industrial Commission Rule was added, all effective December 1, 2020.
Overview of December 1, 2020, NCIC Rule Changes
The Rules affected were 11 NCAC 23A .0104, .0408, .0409, .0501, .0903, 11 NCAC 23E .0104, and 11NCAC 23L .0103 and new Rule 11NCAC 23B .0106.
Amendments to Rules 11 NCAC 23A .0108, .0109, .0302, 11 NCAC 23B .0104, .0105, 11 NCAC 23L .0101, .0102, .0103, and .0105 will also become effective March 1, 2021.
Bruce Hamilton is a Partner in Teague Campbell’s Raleigh office. He is the legal advisor for the NCASI and, for the past 30 years, his practice has focused exclusively on workers’ compensation defense.