NC Workers’ Compensation Developments

In Sympathy: Chief Deputy Commissioner Melanie Goodwin

The entire North Carolina workers’ compensation community is saddened to hear of the passing of Chief Deputy Commissioner Melanie Wade Goodwin, age 50. The Late Chief Deputy Commissioner Goodwin earned a reputation as a bright, thoughtful, and hard-working public servant. Prior to serving at the Industrial Commission, she served several terms in the North Carolina General Assembly. A stalwart advocate for women and children, she became the first sitting North Carolina legislator to give birth while in office. Our hearts and prayers go out to her husband and two children at this difficult time. The Industrial Commission has named Deputy Commissioner Tammy Nance as Acting Chief Deputy Commissioner.

Hearings and Mediations during COVID-19

Governor Cooper recently moved North Carolina into Phase 2.5, which allows for indoor gatherings up of to 25 people. To date, the Industrial Commission has not announced whether this change will result in in-person evidentiary hearings. Likewise, the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission has not announced whether it will loosen restrictions regarding in-person mediations. 

However, on August 20, 2020, (prior to the Phase 2.5 announcement), the Rules Review Commission approved temporary mediation rule 11 NCAC 23G.0104 that was adopted by the Industrial Commission on August 6, 2020. That rule aligns the “attendance” requirement with the current policies of the North Carolina Supreme Court as they pertain to Superior Court. Therefore, at this time, virtual attendance by all parties at mediations is still permitted and encouraged. Please click here to view the approved temporary mediation rule, which went into effect on August 28, 2020.

Annual Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference

The 25th Annual North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference will take place virtually on October 13 to 16, 2020. As usual, the Conference promises to offer a great opportunity for education, instruction, and networking (albeit virtually) with other workers’ compensation professionals. For a link to the Educational Conference brochure, please click here. To register online, click here. The agenda includes:

  • A discussion of extended compensation claims under the 2011 legislative changes.
  • COVID-19-related issues such as suitable employment, return-to-work issues, and work-related claims arising from telecommuting.
  • A demonstration of the Commission’s new case management system.
  • A summary of annual appellate case law pertaining to workers’ compensation matters.

Industrial Commission Offers Email Updates

Thanks to a new outreach program, workers’ compensation stakeholders now can opt to receive important Industrial Commission updates by email. You may subscribe to NCIC Updates by clicking here. For more information about workers’ compensation developments, feel free to contact Anders Newton at 919-516-8400. Our team will continue to monitor relevant news and keep you informed.

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