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.




WTH is an OARFI?

When we dusted off our rule book to look at the rules in the aforementioned chapters of the Administrative Code, we discovered all kinds of little treasures. For example, many acronyms that we use every day in the system, such as AWW, BRC, MMI, etc., are actually codified in DWC Rule 102.7. Others, such as BRO, DD, LOC, POD, etc. are not included. 

This past month saw some new acronyms enter the system, resulting in a new form and some new additions to DWC staff hierarchy.  

You might recall that the new DD request form (DWC032) implemented on 6/5/23 does not include a box for the Carrier to identify the accepted condition and thus, the DD determines the compensable injury during the exam. In the April edition of The Compendium, our own Erika Copeland predicted that the change to the DWC032 would create more problems with informal resolution. Kudos to Erika and her foresight, because the new OARFI (“Request for Information”) appears to be the first attempt at righting the ship. The OARFI lists multiple conditions and requests that the Carrier check whether it “Accepts” or “Disputes” the condition. It also asks the parties to identify any additional injuries that they believe should be considered when assessing MMI or the impairment rating. The parties are asked to send the information to a named “Benefit Review Officer” within three business days, and notice is given that the information is for “mediation purposes only.” The Carrier is told that the answers are not binding and that they can change their mind but inaccurate answers will likely cause additional exams and delays in the dispute resolution process. Likewise, to date there doesn’t appear to be any penalty associated with not returning the form.

The “Benefit Review Officer” named on the form is actually known as a “BRO-1” (which begs the question – is the BRO that presides over the BRC now known as “Big Bro”?). The BRO-1 has been charged with looking at issues before a BRC and requesting information of the parties so a Presiding Officer’s Directive (POD) can be sent to the DD.

Meanwhile, we have been informed that if you need to request the status of LOC requests or responses, DD reports, or RME reports, you need to contact the Proceeding Resolution Officer or “PRO.” If you are seeking information about scheduling, resets, requests for dates, motions, subpoenas, agreements, or interpreter requests, you need to contact the Docketer.

Unfortunately, we do not have the key to knowing who actually handles the docketing for each field office nor are we able to keep up with the frequent changes in PRO assignments. Our wish list for next month includes periodic information updates from the DWC regarding these changes. Until then, here is our (non)helpful chart of how this works on a daily basis.

Copyright 2023, Stone Loughlin & Swanson, LLP