Standard of Appellate Review of Workers’ Compensation Cases

Workers’ Compensation cases are handled at an administrative hearing stage first. The hearing is before a judge who renders a decision and writes a report. Sometimes there may be a mediation. The North Carolina Industrial Commission makes the final report.

The party that loses the hearing has a right to appeal the decision provided he/she does so on a timely basis. On appeal, the case isn’t re-tried from scratch. The appellate court (the Court of Appeals) does get to see the Deputy Commissioner’s written decision or Opinion. Opinions have two parts to them in workers’ compensation matters. The first part is the findings of fact such as the days the employee worked, how long the employee worked, how the accident happened, the average weekly wage, the compensation rate, what injuries happened, and so forth. The second part relates to conclusions of law based on those facts.

Examples of items that may need a legal review are whether the worker was an employee or an independent contractor or whether the employee was well enough to return to suitable employment and therefore entitled to temporary total disability payments.

The appellate court will look to see if the findings of fact are supported by competent evidence. The court will also look to see if the conclusions of law are justified by the findings. If there is competent evidence to support the Commission’s finding (through the Opinion of the Deputy Commissioner), then the opinion will be affirmed. If the findings are not supported or justified, the decision may be reversed in full or it may be sent back to the Commissioner again for further evidence and further analysis.

Joe Miller Esq. represents injured workers at all levels

There are different stages of a workers’ compensation case. There’s the initial filing and negotiation with the insurance company for the employer. When cases can’t be settled, there will be a hearing. In some cases, there will be an appeal. You need a lawyer with experience at all these levels. North Carolina and Virginia lawyer Joe Miller at Joe Miller Law, Ltd., has that experience. Find out what he can do to help you by calling (888) 694-1671 today.