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COVID-19 and Your Workers’ Compensation Claim

May 20, 2020

The Coronavirus Pandemic is affecting all of us.  Below is a brief overview of the current impact on North Carolina workers’ compensation claims.  We will continue to update this post as more information becomes available.

Medical Treatment

It is a good idea to call your provider in advance of your scheduled appointment to determine whether their protocols have changed since you were in their office last (i.e. whether they require that you wear a mask, whether they are limiting the number of people who may accompany you to your appointment, or whether certain treatment modalities you may normally receive are not being offered or have been changed in any way).

In addition, many nurse case managers have stopped attending appointments with injured workers at this time.  If a nurse case manager is assigned to your claim, he or she may request an update from you following any scheduled appointments you might have.  If you have questions or concerns about any such requests from your nurse case manager, please call us to discuss those.

Home Health Care (also known as “Attendant Care”)

Some of our clients’ home health care has been impacted.  If you are experiencing an interruption in your home health care services, particularly an interruption that has required your family or household members to provide this care to you, we ask that you inform us of the issue immediately so that we can assist in getting these services reinstated and potentially pursue payment to your family or household members for their services in the interim.

Hearings

With respect to the Industrial Commission (our judicial body in North Carolina workers’ compensation claims), it has remained open with staff working remotely.  All hearings, with the exception of hearings on medical motions, that were scheduled to take place on or after March 16, 2020, and through May 31, 2020, will be continued to a future hearing docket, unless the parties are notified otherwise.  Hearings on medical motions are required by statute to be held within 30 days of the filing of the medical motion or appeal and, for this reason, are not being continued.  Rather, the parties will be appearing remotely for these hearings through the end of May.  Full Commission oral arguments for cases on appeal are being conducted by conference call.  Finally, motions filed with the Executive Secretary’s Office continue to be considered and ruled upon under normal procedures, and we have been seeing very quick turnaround times.

Mediations

Mediations are required to be conducted with all parties appearing remotely if scheduled prior to June 1, 2020.  If the parties do not all consent to appear remotely, then the mediation is required to be rescheduled for a date on or after June 1, 2020.  Many mediations are proceeding via Zoom conference, which we have found to be effective under the circumstances.  If you have an upcoming mediation and are not familiar with Zoom, do not worry.  We can assist you in setting up the app and will walk you through what to expect on the day of mediation in advance.

Settlements

Settlement agreements continue to be timely approved, for the most part, and the Commission has begun accepting electronic signatures, which we have found to expedite filing.

Our Office

Our office continues to operate within its normal business hours, and we can be reached at (704) 377-3770. As always, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about your case.