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.

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You Can't Do That Either! 

ALJ abused discretion by relieving unrepresented claimant from effect of Benefit Dispute Agreement

In Appeal No. 240113, the TDI-DWC Appeals Panel has taken the unusual step of reversing an ALJ’s decision and rendering a new one on the grounds that ALJ abused his/her discretion by relieving a claimant from the effects of a DWC-24. 

In the DWC-24, the claimant and carrier agreed that the compensable injury extends to include right wrist volar carpal ganglion cyst and they agreed to adopt the date of MMI and the 2% impairment rating assigned by a designated doctor. Later, however, the claimant argued at a contested case hearing that she should be relieved from the effects of the agreement because she cannot read English and the ombudsman assisting her did not fully explain the agreement to her.

The ALJ found that no fraud or misrepresentation was involved in procuring the agreement and the claimant was provided with sufficient time to review the agreement before she signed it. However, the ALJ found that good cause existed to relive the claimant from the effects of the agreement because the 2% IR assigned by the designated doctor was a result of misapplication of the Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment

But the Appeals Panel concluded that the calculation of the claimant’s IR required rounding, which requires medical judgement, so the evidence did not support the ALJ’s determination that the 2% IR assigned by the designated doctor was a result of misapplication of the Guides. Accordingly, the Appeals Panel reversed the ALJ’s decision and rendered a new decision that there is no good cause for relieving the claimant from the effects of the agreement and it is final and binding. 

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