Workers Compensation Attorney Appealed And Won Right To Fair, Full Hearing

The workers compensation attorney said it was clear that a hearing had actually been “stopped before it was properly completed.” The injured employee’s workers compensation attorney protested that the worker’s testimony was, in fact, never finished. Instead, the workers compensation attorney pointed out that the hearing officer seemed to indicate the case would be sent back to another benefit review conference (BRC). The workers compensation attorney appealed this process as being very unfair to the worker, who was ready to have the case decided.

On appeal, the workers compensation attorney emphasized the actual, recorded transcript of the hearing itself. The workers compensation attorney quoted the exact words of the hearing officer, who started the hearing by saying that she would decide the extent of the worker’s injury before acting on a request to depose the designated doctor. She indicated, said the workers compensation attorney, that it might “be appropriate to send a letter of clarification to the designated doctor.” As it turned out, this process of ending the hearing, the workers compensation attorney noted, was against Texas state comp laws.

Hearing Officer Interrupted Testimony, Noted Workers Compensation Attorney

As the injured worker began to answer his workers compensation attorney, the hearing officer interrupted to ask about the records from the first treating doctor. The workers compensation attorney then told the hearing officer that no such records were available, and the hearing officer soon learned that other records weren’t available. At that point, the hearing officer said:

We’re not going to continue with this hearing. I’m not going to leave the record open to wait for records so that I can determine extent of injury so that I can leave the record open again so that I can write to the designated doctor, if that’s necessary. I’m not going to maintain this file. These claims come ready to CCH. All records should be here for me to make a determination.

The hearing officer then made the following decision, emphasized the workers compensation attorney:

I’m sending you back to the [BRC]. We’ll get a copy of those records that the [Self-insured] has of the early medical treatment.

Workers Compensation Attorney: Ending Hearing, Refusing Decision Violated Worker’s Rights Of Due Process

The workers compensation attorney objected at that time, but the hearing officer did not change her ruling. On appeal, the workers compensation attorney convinced the Appeals Panel that it was wrong for the hearing officer to stop the proceeding, and also to send it back to a BRC. Texas comp law, the workers compensation attorney noted, gives a hearing officer “no authority” to “remand” a case to a BRC, especially once the hearing had actually started. In other words, the workers compensation attorney emphasized, the dispute could probably have been resolved at the hearing, based on the evidence there.

There were, the workers compensation attorney observed, no further proceedings that went on the record. Yet, again for some unknown reason, the hearing officer actually decided to write a decision in the case…“even though the hearing was incomplete,” showed the workers compensation attorney. The workers compensation attorney went on to note that Texas comp rules show a continuance to obtain records would have been a better (and legal) choice than ending the hearing and then issuing an opinion. The Appeals Panel agreed with the workers compensation attorney, and ordered a complete hearing, to “fairly resolve” the injury issues and to give the injured worker “his due process rights.”

Any employee who has been injured at work has a chance, and the right, to talk with a workers compensation attorney. As this case showed, the possibility of an appeal, to further guard the injured worker’s rights, can also be protected by working with an experienced workers compensation attorney.