State News : Texas

NWCDN is a network of law firms dedicated to protecting employers in workers’ compensation claims.


NWCDN Members regularly post articles and summary judgements in workers’ compensations law in your state.  


Select a state from the dropdown menu below to scroll through the state specific archives for updates and opinions on various workers’ compensation laws in your state.


Contact information for NWCDN members is also located on the state specific links in the event you have additional questions or your company is seeking a workers’ compensation lawyer in your state.


Texas

STONE LOUGHLIN & SWANSON, LLP

  512-343-1385

Chiropractic for Babies?
Early Engagement in the Battle Against Subluxation 



Chiropractors play a vital role in the Texas workers’ compensation system. Therefore, we like to keep our readers apprised of the latest developments in the field of chiropractic. 

We don’t know much about TikTok; however, we understand this social media platform, which enables subscribers to create and share short videos, is “blowing-up” over a controversial new trend: chiropractic treatments for babies….babies as young as 6 days old. 

Proponents claim that the gentle “baby adjustments” are effective treatment for a variety of baby ailments including colic, constipation, reflux, musculoskeletal issues, and even the trauma experienced in childbirth. 

Although manual treatments to address spinal conditions in adults were reportedly used by Hippocrates around 400 B.C. and by Buddhist monks dating back over 2,000 years, chiropractic as a “modern” profession began in 1895 when Daniel David Palmer adjusted the spine of a deaf janitor which, Palmer claimed, restored the janitor’s hearing. The primary issue, we understand, is subluxation. Subluxations, or misalignments of the spinal vertebrae, are thought by chiropractors to compromise and influence the function and health of the nervous system in general and the various organ systems in the body. Proponents argue that adjustments by a trained, qualified, and knowledgeable practitioner to correct subluxation therefore promote proper nervous and organ system function and health in general. 

But for babies?

As you might expect, many physicians have expressed concern that spinal manipulation of babies places them at greater risk for injury to their soft developing bones and over-stretching of their looser joints. According to an article in the Washington Post, one orthopedic surgeon at Children’s National Hospital in Washington D.C., Dr. Sean Tabaie, commented that there is no way one would achieve improvement in a newborn from manipulation. “The only thing you might possibly cause is harm.”

On the other hand, a recent study of 58 colicky babies in Spain found that light touch therapy resulted in a significant reduction of crying in those babies receiving the treatment. The parents of the babies were aware of the treatment, however, which can cause biased reporting of results. 

And following a 2021 study in Denmark of 185 colicky babies, researchers indicated data suggested that babies receiving chiropractic treatment “seemed” to cry less; however, the findings were deemed not to be statistically significant. 

Call us old-fashioned, but we think we would opt for the extended 3:00 a.m. car ride to soothe a colicky baby.


Copyright 2022, Stone Loughlin & Swanson, LLP

12-Year Battle Revisited

 

Readers may recall our report in the March, 2022 installment of The Compendium that Dr. Clinton Battle of Arlington Occupational and Medical Clinic had been sentenced to 12 years in federal prison following his conviction for conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and distribution of controlled substances. Dr. Battle also pled guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud. 

The U.S. Department of Justice advised in September, however, that Dr. Battle’s scheduled release date has been changed to September 26, 2030. He is not eligible for parole and will be 77 years old when released from prison. 

Dr. Battle is also required to pay $376,368.00 in restitution and will be under supervised release for three years after his imprisonment.
 


Copyright 2022, Stone Loughlin & Swanson, LLP 

Division of Workers’ Compensation Moving


We reported back in April, 2021 that the Division would be relocating its Austin headquarters to the new Capitol Complex at 1601 Congress Avenue in the summer of 2022.

In May of this year, however, we reported that plans had changed and operations, including hearings, would continue at the current Metro Center Drive location through the summer of 2022. The move date to the new location would be announced when finalized.

Although we have seen no formal announcement, we now understand that the Austin Field Office will move to the new Barbara Jordan State Office Building at 1601 Congress Avenue on October 10. Director of Media Relations for the Division, Kate Sidora, advises that there are still a few items to work out but nothing that will change the move-in date. We are not yet certain where system participants with business in the field office will be required to park but will update readers in the near future.
 


 

Copyright 2022, Stone Loughlin & Swanson, LLP 

Proposed Amendments to 28 TAC §102.11(b)(1)


The Division is accepting public comments on amendments to Rule 102.11(b)(1). The proposed rule was published in the September 23, 2022 issue of the Texas Register and on the TDI website. Comments may be submitted through 5:00 p.m. on October 24, 2022. 

Insofar as the amended rule simply corrects and updates the address of the Division website providing specific data requirements, data set transactions, data mapping, data edits and fees per record to the correct current domain, we expect few comments will be received. 

The proposed changes direct the public to www.tdi.texas.gov/wc.

A copy of the proposed rule may be accessed here:

http://www.tdi.texas.gov/wc/rules/2022rules.html


Copyright 2022, Stone Loughlin & Swanson, LLP 

Effects of Inflation Seen in New State Average Weekly Wage/Maximum and Minimum Weekly Benefits


The Division has announced the State AWW and maximum/minimum weekly benefits for the period from October 1, 2022 through September 30, 2023 as follows:

State Average Weekly Wage:                       $1,111.55
Maximum Temporary Income Benefits:        $1,112.00
Minimum Temporary Income Benefits:         $   167.00
Maximum Impairment Income Benefits:       $   778.00
Minimum Impairment Income Benefits:        $   167.00
Maximum Supplemental Income Benefits:   $   778.00
Maximum Lifetime Income Benefits:            $1,112.00
Minimum Lifetime Income Benefits:             $   167.00
Maximum Death Benefits:                            $1,112.00
 

Copyright 2022, Stone Loughlin & Swanson, LLP

Maybe It's Late, But Just Call Me………

 

We have learned that, effective September 1, 2022, ombudsmen are now required to place a call to a Claimant who fails to timely call or Zoom into a benefit review conference. While we have yet to see a formal memo or bulletin confirming this new policy, we think it a good one which may avoid needless delay in the dispute resolution process resulting from an unrepresented Claimant’s forgetfulness or inability to negotiate the Zoom platform. Rather than simply resetting the proceeding to a later date, we think a call from the ombudsman to the non-appearing Claimant may salvage the BRC setting and result in productive mediation of the parties’ disputes.
 


Copyright 2022, Stone Loughlin & Swanson, LLP

These Are Two of Our Favorite Things!

 


 

As we remind readers on a regular basis, Stone, Loughlin & Swanson is a Founding Sponsor and long-time supporter of Kids’ Chance of Texas, an organization whose mission is to create and support scholarship programs to provide educational opportunities for children in Texas who have had a parent catastrophically or fatally injured while in the course and scope of his or her employment. As participants in the Texas Workers’ Compensation system, we are particularly aware of the devastating toll such an injury takes on a family and, especially, the children. 

Please help us continue to help the kids by becoming a participant or sponsor and joining us for fun and camaraderie at The Cowboys Golf Club on October 28 for the Third Annual Kids’ Chance Texas Golf Tournament. 

All proceeds will fund Kids’ Chance of Texas scholarships which has awarded over $75,000 for the fall semester alone. Come help us reach our goal of raising $150,000 while enjoying the delightfully maddening frustration that only golfers can appreciate. 

There is still time to help the kids this month! For more information and to register as a player and/or sponsor, click here:

https://www.kidschanceoftexas.org/events/golf2022/

 

Copyright 2022, Stone Loughlin & Swanson, LLP

Remembering Gary Kilgore



 

We are saddened to announce that Gary Lynn Kilgore, long time Administrative Law Judge and Appeals Panel Judge, with the Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission and the Texas Department of Insurance-Division of Workers’ Compensation, passed away on September 23, 2022 at the age of 69. 

Mr. Kilgore attended college at the University of Virginia and earned his Juris Doctor in 1978 at the University of Texas School of Law. He served as managing partner of Garcia & Kilgore, attorneys, for over 16 years before joining the Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission where he served as an Appeals Panel Judge for 12 years. 

Thereafter, Gary heard cases as a Hearing Officer with the Division of Workers’ Compensation for 4 years before serving as Associate Director of Legal Services with the Office of Injured Employee Counsel, in which capacity he served for over 13 years. 

Mr. Kilgore returned to the Appeals Panel in 2019 prior to his retirement this year.

Those of us that knew Gary found him to be a wealth of knowledge regarding the workers’ compensation law and institutional system in Texas. He was an outstandingly gifted writer, a delightful conversationalist, and a student of the law and American and world history. We will miss you, Gary….


Copyright 2022, Stone Loughlin & Swanson, LLP

Earlier this month, Governor Abbott appointed Jeff Nelson to the long-vacant post of Commissioner of Workers’ Compensation.  Nelson previously served as Director of External Relations for the Division of Workers’ Compensation (a post he held since October of 2016).  A graduate of the University of Texas, Commissioner Nelson has extensive experience with the Texas legislature including posts with Senator Tommy Williams, Governor Rick Perry and Congressman Kevin Brady.  We look forward to working with Commissioner Nelson in the coming years.


Copyright 2022, Stone Loughlin & Swanson, LLP

August was chock full of examples of this old adage!  On the Division Disciplinary Order side of things, orders were issued against Chadwick Lee, an attorney who received payment directly from his client after being paid by the Carrier pursuant to an attorney fee order.  Apparently, Mr. Lee claimed he was underpaid by the Carrier and informed his client he had to make up the difference.  The Division found Mr. Lee took fees in an amount in excess of the amount approved by the Division and assessed a $5400.00 penalty.    The Division also assessed a $6,000 penalty against the Texas Pain Relief Group for failing to comply with a Carrier refund request.  

Meanwhile, down in San Antonio, the co-owner of Bill Hall Jr. Trucking Company, turned herself in to authorities on outstanding warrants for workers’ compensation fraud.  She is alleged to have defrauded Texas Mutual out of over $9 million in insurance premiums by filing false payroll information and concealing payroll reports.  It is not Mrs. Hall’s first time in the criminal spotlight though – in 2013, she was found guilty of killing her husband when she chased him and his mistress on a rural stretch of Highway 1604 and hit him with her SUV - killing Hall and injuring his mistress.  Ms. Hall spent two years in the Lane Murray Unit of the Texas Department of Corrections in Gatesville before being released to return to apparently less violent criminal endeavors.

Last, but not certainly not least, last week, Austin barbeque aficionados were shocked to hear that the owner and manager of a popular East Austin eatery, La Barbecue, were indicted on workers’ compensation fraud charges.  LeAnn Mueller and her wife, Allison Clem, owned the restaurant in 2016 when an employee was severely burned while using a piece of kitchen equipment.  It is alleged that four days later, they contacted an insurance company to obtain workers’ compensation coverage and did not disclose the injury – in fact, they asked that the policy be back-dated to three weeks before the accident occurred.   The application for the policy, signed by Mueller, attested that there had been no previous losses.   Travelers Casualty Insurance Company has paid over $350,000 in medical and indemnity benefits to date.  The attorney for Mueller and Clem appears to be relying on an argument that it is “perfectly legal to obtain a backdated policy in Texas” as a defense to the fraud allegations.  It will be interesting to see how this one plays out.

 


Copyright 2022, Stone Loughlin & Swanson, LLP