Many cases in the Texas Workers’ Compensation system arrive at a Benefit Contested Case hearing, only to find that the case is not ready to litigate. This generally arises when there are incomplete medical records or the insurance carrier changes what medical conditions they have accepted or disputed. The Division of Workers’ Compensation is creating Scheduling Order to allow more uniformity in the hearing process.
Starting on June 1, 2014, Texas Department of Insurance, Division of Workers’ Compensation will begin issuing scheduling orders at the conclusion of an initial Benefit Review Conference (BRC) when the Benefit Review Officer determines that a second BRC should be set.
The scheduling order may direct either or both parties to:
-Exchange existing pertinent information not exchanged at the initial BRC
-Exchange new information necessary to an informed disposition of the dispute.
If the information is not obtained prior to the second BRC, the party may file a DWC-45 form to reschedule the BRC; to allow more time to exchange the necessary information. If the information is not exchanged, the Benefit Review Officer may cancel the BRC and schedule a Benefit Contested Case Hearing.
Unfortunately I feel that the Scheduling Orders will have little real effect on the hearing process. Unless, the Division of Workers’ Compensation provides a means for the injured worker to have more control over selecting their treating doctor and the insurance carriers are required to specify the medical conditions they have accepted as part of the compensable injury.
Daniel L Morris, The Morris Law Firm, (214)357-1782, firstname.lastname@example.org