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The Industrial Commission recently passed a number of rule changes which were scheduled to go into effect on two different dates.The first set of rule changes went into effect on December 1, 2020.
The rules that went into effect on December 1 included changing the medical charge threshold from $2,000 to $4,000 to dictate when employers need to file the first report of injury, or Form 19. There were also changes made concerning claims for death benefits, which allow the parties to either submit a Form 30 Agreement for Compensation for Death, or a proposed Opinion and Award. Another change provided that payment for a permanent disability will not be approved if claimant has returned to work with the defendant-employer and has permanent work restrictions, unless a job description is also provided as part of the filing. Finally, the last change was to the Form 90 Report of Earnings and dictates that form can only be served when defendants are paying ongoing temporary total disability or temporary partial disability benefits, and Defendants are now able to serve the Form 90 via e-mail, facsimile, certified mail, or any other method that provides proof of receipt.
The next set of changes go into effect on March 1, 2021.
Some of the rule changes provide updates to filing requirements. Specifically, these changes show that the Commission is working to make full use of the Electronic Document Filing Portal (“EDFP”). A number of documents that were previously exempt from EDFP filing, like the Notice of Appeal to the Court of Appeals, can now be filed via EDFP. These rule changes were delayed to an effective date of March 1, 2021, to coordinate with the rollout of the Commission’s new case management system. The new system was released in early 2021. Rule 11 NCAC 23A.0109 has now been updated to reflect changes in the contact information required to be provided to the Commission by the parties. This rule has been amended to streamline the provision of contact information by the parties, to make it easier for the Commission to reach the parties if necessary. Specifically, updated contact information can be provided via EDFP, or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A change was made to 11 NCAC 23G .0104 to change the “physical attendance” requirements to remote requirements. "Attendance" is now defined as in-person whenever the mediation rules approved by the North Carolina Supreme Court require it. The rule now allows for the in-person requirement to be excused or modified by agreement of the parties. Further, the attendance requirement will be met with remote technology when the mediation rules approved by the North Carolina Supreme Court require attendance via remote technology. The rule also provides that all parties shall comply with public health and safety requirements in effect at such time of the mediation. This rule was revised in light of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, and the ongoing need to have mediations via Zoom or WebEx.
Moving forward, we encourage our clients to be aware of these rules, particularly those concerning ongoing changes regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, which change often. To view an annotated copy of the rules effective March 1, 2021,click here.