North Carolina Industrial Commission
The NC Workers’ Compensation Act is administered by the North Carolina Industrial Commission, a state agency located in Raleigh, North Carolina. The Industrial Commission is comprised of six commissioners who are nominated by the Governor and confirmed by the General Assembly. The Governor designates one member of the Commission to serve as Chairman. The Chairman is the agency’s chief executive officer and chief judicial officer. The Chairman also selects deputy commissioners and the Executive Secretary of the Commission.
The Commission operates under the Workers’ Compensation Act as well as its own administrative rules. Older references to “Workmen’s Compensation Act,” “Workmen’s Compensation” or “workmen’s compensation” all now refer to “workers’ compensation” and the Workers’ Compensation Act.
The North Carolina Industrial Commission administers workers’ compensation claims in NC and also acts as a court in deciding workers’ compensation disputes. The Industrial Commission operates ten sections: Docket, Statistics, Safety Education, Claims, Information Technology, Workers’ Compensation Nurses, Office of the Executive Secretary, Medical Fees, File Center, and Fraud Investigations. The Industrial Commission also administers a mediation program, investigates the insurance status of employers, and provides safety training to employers.
The NC Industrial Commission plays an active role in directing medical benefits in NC workers’ compensation cases. This includes requests for approval of denied treatment, for a second opinion, and for a change in treating physician. The Industrial Commission’s Medical Fees Section sets reimbursement rates for particular medical services, reviews bills submitted by the parties, and resolves disputes between medical providers and workers’ compensation insurers over medical bills.
The Executive Secretary acts in a quasi-judicial capacity and makes initial administrative decisions on a number of issues, including access to medical treatment and, in certain cases, the termination of wage replacement or disability benefits. The Executive Secretary also rules on settlements and third party agreements.
Most disputes in workers’ compensation cases in NC are heard initially by a deputy commissioner, who serves as judge. This includes disputes over whether a case is subject to the Industrial Commission’s jurisdiction, whether a particular injury is compensable, and whether an employee is due wage replacement benefits and if so in what amount. There are no juries in workers’ compensation hearings. Appeals from decisions of a deputy commissioner are to a panel of three full commissioners. Appeals from the full commission are to the North Carolina Court of Appeals and then to the North Carolina Supreme Court.
North Carolina workers’ compensation claims must be filed with the North Carolina Industrial Commission. The Commission’s jurisdiction over workers’ compensation claims is neither voluntary nor optional. The settlement of a workers’ compensation claim outside the purview of the Industrial Commission is void.
Following are links to specific pages on the North Carolina Industrial Commission’s website.
- NC workers’ compensation insurance search page.
- NC workers’ compensation forms.
- NC workers’ compensation injury rating guide.
- NC Industrial Commission Rules.
- NC Industrial Commission Rehab Rules.
- NC workers’ comp mediation rules.
- NC Industrial Commission location.
Kevin Bunn is a Board Certified Specialist in North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Law. He regularly represents injured workers before the North Carolina Industrial Commission.