Workers' Comp Trials in North Carolina
If the employer and the injured employee fail to reach agreement with respect to workers’ compensation benefits, either party may make application to North Carolina's Industrial Commission for a hearing on the matters in dispute. This application for hearing shall be made on a form established by the Industrial Commission and entitled Form 33. A copy of a properly completed Form 33 can be found in our book, HOW TO GET TOP DOLLAR FOR YOUR WORKERS' COMPENSATION CLAIM.
The Form 33 will be filed with the Industrial Commission and a copy served upon the opposing party. The opposing party is then required to file a Form 33R whereon the response to the Form 33 request for hearing is made.
After a Form 33 has been filed, the Industrial Commission will set a date for hearing. The Industrial Commission will notify the parties of the time and place for the hearing. The hearing will usually be held in the city or county where the injury occurred.
The injured worker should not attempt to prepare and file a Form 33 on their own, but should instead seek the services of an experienced North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer.
At the hearing, the injured worker can testify and the employer may also call witnesses. The medical doctors will not usually testify at the hearing. Their testimony will be taken by way of a deposition held at their office.
After all the evidence is presented, the Deputy Industrial Commissioner will issue a written ruling.
If the employee and the employer are in disagreement on any issues such that a hearing must be held, the employee should not fight this battle alone. There are many technicalities and variables upon which the outcome of a case could be determined.
While there is no specific requirement that an employee be represented by an attorney at a hearing before the NC Industrial Commission, an employee would be foolish not to hire a workers' compensation attorney to prepare the Form 33 and to represent him or her at the hearing.
As is the case with medical bills, the Industrial Commission must approve all attorneys’ fees before they can be charged or paid. Most lawyers are willing to represent claimants on a contingency fee basis. Usually the contingency fee is 25% of the total recovery. Under a contingency fee arrangement, if the employee loses the case and does not obtain any benefits, there will be no fee due to the attorney.