As a general starting point, if you are injured while at work, you should make sure your employer is aware of your injury and a workers’ compensation claim has been filed with the North Carolina Industrial Commission. In North Carolina, almost all employers with three or more employees are required to purchase and maintain workers’ compensation insurance.
Your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company is supposed to cover and direct your treatment, but if any disagreements arise about how much you should receive, or if you want a second medical opinion, you can take your complaints to the North Carolina Industrial Commission. However, keep in mind that the Industrial Commission does not provide legal advice.
What Is the North Carolina Industrial Commission?
The North Carolina Industrial Commission was created by the North Carolina General Assembly to administer and carry out North Carolina’s workers’ compensation laws. When you are injured by an accident while on the job, or suffer an occupational disease (i.e. carpel tunnel syndrome, loss of hearing, exposure to hazardous substances, etc.), the North Carolina Industrial Commission will work with you and your employer to administer and process your workers’ compensation claim. You can think of the North Carolina Industrial Commission as the final decision-maker in your workers’ compensation claim.
How Is the North Carolina Industrial Commission Structured?
The North Carolina Industrial Commission is made up of six commissioners who are appointed by the governor for terms of six years. The commissioners administer workers’ compensation cases, as well as the operations of the employees that make up the Commission. The commissioners also sit in panels of three for purposes of resolving claims that come before them. This is called the, “Full Commission.” You can think of the Full Commission as the equivalent of an appellate level court (a court that hears appeals). Basically, if you appeal a Deputy Commissioner’s decision, it will heard by the Full Commission. The Full Commission panels, like the Deputy Commissioners, resolve claims coming before them through orders, opinions, and decisions.
The Commission is also made up of Deputy Commissioners and Special Deputy Commissioners. Deputy Commissioners are responsible for conducting full evidentiary hearings, much like the Full Commission. The also hear administrative motions, such as a motion requesting defendants’ be ordered to provide medical care for an injured worker.
Will My Case Be Heard by the Commission?
Most injured workers will settle their workers’ compensation claim before it becomes necessary to have a hearing before a Deputy Commissioner. If the parties are able to reach an agreement and settle a workers’ compensation claim, a Special Deputy Commissioner will review the settlement agreement. Settlement agreements are often referred to as “clinchers.”
If your employer has three or more employees, it’s likely they have workers’ compensation insurance coverage. If you are injured while at work, you should make sure your employer is aware of your injury, and a workers’ compensation claim has been filed.
Once a claim has been filed, the North Carolina Industrial Commission will work with you, your attorney, your employer, and your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance provider to process and resolve your workers’ compensation claim.
We Have Former Commissioners On Staff!
Wouldn’t it be nice if you knew what the people who would ultimately deny or approve your claim thought about your case? Well, at our firm, we actually have two former commissioners on staff.
Doug Berger used to be a Deputy Commissioner for the NC Industrial Commission and Matt Harbin is a former Special Deputy Commissioner. They serve as a resource for all of our workers’ compensation attorneys and staff to help us try to present your case in the best possible light.