NCIC Quarterly Update

By Barry Jennings 

On August 21, 2020, the North Carolina Industrial Commission posted a quarterly update to their website. The update can be found here. The update addresses the upcoming NCIC Educational Conference, the emergency amendment to Rule 11 NCAC 23G, and ways for interested stakeholders to receive updates via email.

Revised Guidelines for In-Person Deputy Commissioner Hearings

By Barry Jennings

The North Carolina Industrial Commission has recently revised its guidelines for In-Person Deputy Commissioner Hearings. Those guidelines can be found here. The revisions came after Chief Justice Beasley’s July 16, 2020, Order and Emergency Directive 21 related to face coverings in courthouses. The Emergency Directive requires all persons in a court facility to wear a face covering except in special circumstances. Please review these guidelines in detail if you have an upcoming In-Person Deputy Commissioner Hearing.

NCIC Guidelines for Hearings during the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Barry Jennings 

The practice of workers’ compensation law in North Carolina continues to adapt to the challenges we all face associated with the COVID-19 Pandemic. Currently, the North Carolina Industrial Commission is primarily holding hearings via video conference on the WebEx platform. In certain limited matters, in person hearings are taking place when ordered by the Deputy Commissioner presiding over the hearing. Recently, the NCIC published Guidelines for In-Person Hearings during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

These guidelines are intended to give practitioners, parties and witnesses to an In-Person NCIC hearing precautions that should be taken during the hearing, including the utilization of face masks and other sanitary measures. It also addresses when individuals should not come to a hearing, such as if they have symptoms associated with COVID-19, confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 or contact with individuals known to have been diagnosed with COVID-19. If you have a matter that is going to be heard in person, be sure to review the guidelines to enable to the hearing to proceed as safely as possible for all involved.

Ketan Soni Gives Presentation On “Zoom Mediations and Practice Tips”

By Barry Jennings 

On Thursday, May 28, 2020, the NCBA Workers’ Compensation Section hosted an informal discussion regarding the use of the Zoom videoconference platform in the mediation environment. Ketan Soni, partner with Soni Brendle, PLLC in Charlotte, presented on the general use of Zoom, provided tips on how to adjust your settings to most effectively use the platform and offered guidance on how to be successful during the mediation process. It was a jam-packed presentation and should be useful to our practices as we grow more accustomed to using video conferences daily!

You can view another helpful video that Ketan recorded here. In this video, Ketan further highlights the tips he covered in his presentation.


Public Access to Deputy Commissioner Hearings Via Webex

By Eleasa Harris Allen

As you know, beginning this month, most Deputy Commissioner hearings will be conducted remotely via Webex. There is currently no indication as to when in-person hearings will resume, and it is safe to assume that we may be conducting remote hearings for at least the next several months.

To allow the public access to Deputy Commissioner hearings, the Industrial Commission has added a new Webex Hearing Links page to its website. Through this page, the public can view the Deputy Commissioner hearings from a computer or mobile device. Instructions for how to access the Webex hearings can be found here. The links on this webpage should not be used by the parties and witnesses participating in a hearing. Rather, those individuals must join the remote hearing through a link received via email.

Considering that, at least in the short-term, remote hearings via Webex are our “new normal,” and if you are curious about the process or anticipate having a hearing in the next few months, you may want to access and observe a June Webex hearing. It will give you an opportunity to see how the process will work and help you prepare for your own future hearings.

NCIC Mediation Policy Update as of June 1, 2020

On May 30, 2020, the Industrial Commission issued an update to its mediation policies effective June 1, 2020. The updated policies are below:

May 30, 2020 Update: Industrial Commission Mediation Policies as of June 1, 2020

Consistent with current directives and recommendations as detailed below, as of June 1, 2020, mediations in Industrial Commission cases may be conducted either in person or remotely by consent, though mediators have been advised by the Dispute Resolution Commission that mediations shall, to the fullest extent possible, be conducted remotely.

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Hearing Update from the North Carolina Industrial Commission

Update from the North Carolina Industrial Commission

Deputy Commissioner Hearings (Non-Medical Motion Hearings) will resume in June 2020 via Webex. Below is information from the Industrial Commission’s website concerning the current policies/procedures for these hearings:

The Commission is pleased to announce that Deputy Commissioners will resume hearing all types of workers’ compensation cases in June 2020 through the use of Webex technology. This policy is consistent with Chief Justice Cheri Beasley’s May 21, 2020 Order directing judicial officials to “make use of remote hearing technology to the greatest extent possible to limit in-person appearances” and will help prevent a future backlog of Deputy Commissioner cases.

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NCIC COVID-19 Hearing & Mediation Updates

By Eleasa Allen

Update from the North Carolina Industrial Commission

The Industrial Commission has issued the following policies for Full Commission hearings, Deputy Commissioner medical motion hearings, and Executive Secretary’s Office informal hearings, which have been posted to the NCIC website. These policies are effective June 1, 2020. Policies for Deputy Commissioner hearings (non-medical motion hearings) and mediations to be held as of June 1, 2020 will be announced shortly.

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Getting Your Thoughts on Zoom

By Barry Jennings 

On May 28, 2020, at 4 p.m., the NCBA Workers’ Compensation Section is hosting a free brief presentation/informal discussion and social hour on the topic of “Zoom” mediations. Ketan Soni will be giving a brief presentation on video conference mediations and the Zoom application. Ketan is an attorney in the Charlotte area whose practice focuses on mediations and family law. Ketan has a special interest in technology in the legal world and has developed substantial acumen in video conference mediations.

In preparation for this meeting, we are posting below a brief survey regarding Zoom mediations. We welcome the Section’s feedback to help focus the discussion and make it as worthwhile as possible for all in attendance. We look forward to seeing everyone then!

Click here to take the survey!

A Message from the Chair

By Eleasa Allen

On Thursday, May 7, the Workers’ Compensation Section Council held its last quarterly meeting of the 2019-2020 Bar Year. Due to the ongoing public health situation, the meeting was held remotely via Zoom and telephone call-in, which as anyone who has participated in a multi-person virtual conference can confirm, was interesting, to say the least.

Although my term as Chair of the Workers’ Compensation Section is not yet over, it is nearing its end, which allows me to indulge in a bit of reflection. At the beginning of the Bar Year, my goals for the Section included providing quality continuing legal education opportunities, identifying a pro bono project for the Section to support, and creating numerous social/networking opportunities for our members. We were able to coordinate two social/networking opportunities in the first two-thirds of the Bar Year, but the recent public health concerns impacted our ability to move forward with our third event, a baseball game at the Greensboro Grasshoppers in late April. I am certainly disappointed that this event had to be canceled, but my sincere hope is that this will be rescheduled next spring. I look forward to enjoying baseball and beer with my colleagues in the Section.

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