The Full Commission acts as the first level of an appeal from a deputy commissioner’s opinion and award. The Full Commission is comprised of six Commissioners. Unlike deputy commissioners, who must be lawyers, the commissioners have often not been lawyers. The governor appoints members of the Full Commission for a specific term of service. Gov. McCrory increased his influence on the current Full Commission by passing a law that reduced the length of service of certain commissioners appointed by previous governors. This will allow him to appoint an unusually large number of commissioners.
Appeals to the Full Commission involve the attorneys writing lengthy arguments and submitting them for review. The attorneys then go to Raleigh and have 20 minutes to make oral arguments to a panel of three commissioners.
While it is possible to appeal a Full Commission Opinion and Award to the North Carolina Court of Appeals, it is important to understand that the Full Commission has the authority to determine facts. The Court of Appeals will not reverse a finding of fact made by the Full Commission unless there is nothing to support that finding. If your boss is an outright liar and goes and commits perjury during the hearing and the Full Commission sides with the employer and insurance company and against you… the Court of Appeals is not going to reverse that. The Court of Appeals’ role is limited to reviewing questions of law. As a result, decisions of the Full Commission are usually the last word even when they are wrong.