The North Carolina Industrial Commission today named one of its Commissioners to head up an effort to work toward elimination of its 4,000 case workers' compensation case backlog at the initial hearing level.
J. Howard Bunn, Jr., Chairman of the Commission, appointed Commissioner Laura K. Mavretic to lead this endeavor in addition to her regular duties as a member of the Commission. She will be aided in this undertaking by Commissioner Thomas J. Bolch.
In the past two years, the Commission has eliminated its 900 case backlog at the appeals level through the addition of four Commissioners and the use of special panels who aided the regular Commissioners in hearing appeals. The emphasis now will shift to elimination of the backlog remaining at the initial hearing level.
The Commission has 20 Deputy Commissioners who hear cases at the initial hearing level. One of the 20 Deputy Commissioners, designated Chief Deputy, had traditionally served as supervisor of the unit but, at least for the time needed to eliminate the backlog, all Deputy Commissioners will actively hear cases.
Chairman Bunn said reorganization and restructuring of the Deputy Commissioner unit of the Commission would be considered as part of the effort to eliminate the backlog. Among the techniques under consideration for elimination of the backlog are an emphasis on more mediation, better case management through calendar calls and hearings administration, summary disposition of cases in which this would be appropriate, and the possible use of temporary Special Deputies.
Chairman Bunn said that the importance of timely resolution of contested cases made it necessary that Commissioners be assigned to lead the effort and free up all of its Deputy Commissioners to spend their time hearing and deciding cases.
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