In North Carolina, the Form 24 process allows an employer to move the Industrial Commission to terminate or suspend an employee’s temporary total disability (“TTD”) benefits without prolonged litigation. A successful Form 24 strategy can result in tremendous savings in a workers’ compensation claim.
This four-part blog series will discuss tips and strategies to give employers the best chance of prevailing on Form 24 Applications, and as a result, saving their companies money.
These tips and strategies are broken down into the following posts:
Part 1 – Terminating TTD Benefits WITHOUT First Obtaining Permission From the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
Terminating TTD Benefits WITHOUT First Obtaining Permission From the North Carolina Industrial Commission
In North Carolina, once defendants begin paying temporary total disability (“TTD”) benefits, defendants must continue to pay TTD benefits unless one of the following three events occurs:
- Defendants secure permission from the Industrial Commission to stop paying TTD benefits;
- Defendants timely and properly deny the compensability of the claim on a Form 61; OR
- The injured employee returns to work.
This blog post will focus on events (2) and (3), which allow TTD termination without first requiring Industrial Commission approval. Defendants may secure permission from the Industrial Commission to stop paying TTD benefits through either a Form 24 Application or when the workers’ compensation claim has settled and the Industrial Commission has issued an Order approving the settlement. Specifically, if the parties resolve the claim in its entirety or just the indemnity portion of the claim, once the Industrial Commission approves the parties’ settlement, then defendants’ obligation to pay TTD benefits ends.
Filing a Form 61
In North Carolina, the employer, insurer, and administrator (collectively referred to as “defendants”) are charged with promptly investigating each injury reported or known to the employer and, as a result, admitting or denying the employee’s right to compensation at the earliest practicable time. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 97-18(j).
When an injured employee files a claim for compensation with the Industrial Commission, defendants must file a Form admitting the claim (Form 60); denying the claim (Form 61); or initiating payments without prejudice and without liability (Form 63) within 30 days following notice from the Industrial Commission of the filing of the claim, or defendants may be subject to reasonable sanctions. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 97-18(j).
If defendants have filed a Form 63 to accept the compensability of the claim without prejudice, defendants have 90 days from the date the employer has written or actual notice of the injury or death, subject to a potential one-time 30-day extension, to file a Form 61 Denial. If defendants do not timely file a Form 61, defendants waive their rights to contest compensability of and liability for the claim.
If defendants do timely file a Form 61, then they may stop paying TTD benefits at that time. Defendants do not have to secure prior approval from the Industrial Commission.
Injured Employee Returns to Work
Defendants may also stop paying TTD benefits without first securing permission from the Industrial Commission if the injured employee returns to work. Defendants should file a Form 28 (if the injured employee has returned to work without restrictions) or Form 28T (if the injured employee has returned to work with restrictions).
My next post in this series will discuss when it is appropriate to file a Form 24 application. An employer’s chances of prevailing on a Form 24 Application depend on the specific facts of each case. If you have claim-specific questions, please contact me directly at (919) 863-8846 or firstname.lastname@example.org.