This filing was published in the 11/01/2008, issue, Vol. 2008, No. 21, of the Utah State Bulletin.
Labor Commission, Adjudication
Adjudication of Workers' Compensation and Occupational Disease Claims
NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULE
DAR File No.: 32055
Filed: 10/15/2008, 01:12
Received by: NL
Purpose of the rule or reason for the change:
The purposes of the proposed amendment are to: 1) specify the forms required for adjudicating workers' compensation claims; 2) require that supporting medical documentation accompany applications for hearing, and answers to those applications; 3) provide that only expert medical opinion will be considered in determining whether to refer a workers' compensation claim to a medical panel; 4) remove administrative law judge authority to authorize payment from the Uninsured Employers' Fund (UEF) for medical examinations of indigent injured workers (this authority is being transferred to the Industrial Accidents Division director by amendments to Subsection R612-2-9(F); and 5) remove provisions governing settlement agreements so they can be made applicable to all proceedings before the Adjudication Division as new Rule R602-6. (DAR NOTE: The proposed amendment to Section R612-2-9 is under DAR No. 32058 and the proposed new Rule R602-6 is under DAR No. 32057 both in this issue, November 1, 2008, of the Bulletin.)
Summary of the rule or change:
The proposed amendments list and identify the Commission forms that must be used in connection with the adjudication of workers' compensation disputes. Subsections R602-2-1(B) and (C) are amended to clarify that medical documentation must be included with the applications and answers that are filed in workers' compensation proceedings. Section R602-2-2 is amended to add the requirement of conflicting "expert" medical opinion as a prerequisite to appointment of medical panels in workers' compensation proceedings. Subsection R602-2-2(C), which allows administrative law judges to authorize payment by the UEF for certain medical examinations of indigent injured workers, is eliminated so that such authority can be transferred to the Industrial Accidents Division director pursuant to amendments being proposed to Subsection R612-2-9(F). Finally, Section R602-2-5, pertaining to Commission approval of workers' compensation settlement agreements, is removed. The Commission intends to broaden the application of this provision so as to cover settlements in all types of Commission proceedings and to promulgate these expanded provisions as new Rule R602-6.
State statutory or constitutional authorization for this rule:
Sections 34A-1-301 et seq. and 63G-4-102 et seq.
Anticipated cost or savings to:
the state budget:
The Labor Commission anticipates no cost or savings to the state budget. The proposed amendments reflect current practice and will not increase or reduce the Commission's costs of administering the workers' compensation and occupational disease programs. With respect to the state's participation in the workers' compensation system as an employer, the amendments' effect is limited to clarifying and explaining existing standards and practices. The amendments will not increase or decrease expenses incurred by the state in complying with workers' compensation and occupational disease requirements.
The Labor Commission anticipates no cost or savings to local governments. The amendments' effect is limited to clarifying and explaining existing standards and practices. The amendments will not increase or decrease expenses incurred by local government in complying with workers' compensation and occupational disease requirements.
small businesses and persons other than businesses:
The Labor Commission anticipates no cost or savings to small businesses. The amendments' effect is limited to clarifying and explaining existing standards and practices. The amendments will not increase or decrease expenses incurred by small businesses in complying with workers compensation and occupational disease requirements.
Compliance costs for affected persons:
The official forms required by the proposed amendments are available from the Commission, either in printed form or on the Internet. Other provisions of the amendments are limited to clarifying existing practices, relocating existing rules, or transferring authority over existing standards from one division to another. Consequently, the amendments will not result in any compliance costs for affected persons.
Comments by the department head on the fiscal impact the rule may have on businesses:
The proposed amendments are intended to assist parties in understanding Commission procedural requirements for adjudicating workers' compensation cases. The amendments are not intended to impose any additional burdens beyond what are already required or are needed for the efficient functioning of the Commission's adjudicative system. The Commission hopes that this stream-lining and clarification will reduce business costs of participating in the adjudicative system, but in any event the Commission does not expect the amendments to have any negative fiscal impact on businesses. Sherrie Hayashi, Commissioner
The full text of this rule may be inspected, during regular business hours, at the Division of Administrative Rules, or at:Labor Commission
HEBER M WELLS BLDG
160 E 300 S
SALT LAKE CITY UT 84111-2316
Direct questions regarding this rule to:
Richard M. Lajeunesse at the above address, by phone at 801-536-7928, by FAX at 801-530-6333, or by Internet E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Interested persons may present their views on this rule by submitting written comments to the address above no later than 5:00 p.m. on:
This rule may become effective on:
Sherrie Hayashi, Commissioner
R602. Labor Commission, Adjudication.
R602-2. Adjudication of Workers' Compensation and Occupational Disease Claims.
R602-2-1. Pleadings and Discovery.
1. "Commission" means the Labor Commission.
2. "Division" means the Division of Adjudication within the Labor Commission.
3. "Application for Hearing" means [
the request for agency action]
regarding a workers' compensation claim.
4. "Supporting medical documentation"
a] Summary of Medical Record or other
medical report or treatment note completed by a physician that indicates the
presence or absence of a medical causal connection between benefits sought and
the alleged industrial injury.
5. "Authorization to Release Medical
Records" is [
a form] authorizing the injured
workers' medical providers to provide medical records and other medical
information to the commission or a party.
6. "Supporting documents" means
supporting medical documentation, [
list of medical providers, Authorization to
Release Medical Records] and, when applicable, [ an] Appointment of Counsel [ Form].
7. "Petitioner" means the person or entity who has filed an Application for Hearing.
8. "Respondent" means the person or entity against whom the Application for Hearing was filed.
9. "Discovery motion" includes a motion to compel or a motion for protective order.
B. Application for Hearing.
1. Whenever a claim for compensation benefits
is denied by an employer or insurance carrier, the burden rests with the
injured worker, or medical provider, to initiate agency
action by filing an Application for Hearing with the
Division. Applications for hearing
shall include an original, [
notarized Authorization to Release Medical
2. An employer, insurance carrier, or any other party with standing under the Workers' Compensation Act may obtain a hearing before the Adjudication Division by filing a request for agency action with the Division.
3. All Applications for Hearing shall include [
available ]supporting medical documentation of the claim where there is a
dispute over medical issues.
Applications for Hearing without supporting documentation and a properly
completed [ Authorization to Release Medical Records]
may not be mailed to the employer or insurance carrier for answer until the
appropriate documents have been provided.
In addition to respondent's answer, a respondent may file a motion to
dismiss the Application for Hearing where there is no supporting medical
documentation filed to demonstrate medical causation when such is at issue
between the parties.
4. When an Application for Hearing with appropriate supporting documentation is filed with the Division, the Division shall forthwith mail to the respondents a copy of the Application for Hearing, supporting documents and Notice of Formal Adjudication and Order for Answer.
5. In cases where the injured worker is represented by an attorney, a completed and signed Appointment of Counsel form shall be filed with the Application for Hearing or upon retention of the attorney.
1. The respondent(s) shall have 30 days from the date of mailing of the Order for Answer, to file a written answer to the Application for Hearing.
2. The answer shall admit or deny liability for the claim and shall state the reasons liability is denied. The answer shall state all affirmative defenses with sufficient accuracy and detail that the petitioner and the Division may be fully informed of the nature and substance of the defenses asserted.
3. All answers shall include a summary of benefits which have been paid to date on the claim, designating such payments by category, i.e. medical expenses, temporary total disability, permanent partial disability, etc.
4. When liability is denied based upon medical
issues, copies of [
all available ]medical reports sufficient to support
the denial of liability shall be filed with the answer.
5. If the answer filed by the respondents fails
to sufficiently explain the basis of the denial, fails to include [
]medical reports or records to support the denial, or contains affirmative
defenses without sufficient factual detail to support the affirmative defense,
the Division may strike the answer filed and order the respondent to file
within 20 days, a new answer which conforms with the requirements of this rule.
6. All answers must state whether the respondent is willing to mediate the claim.
7. Petitioners are allowed to timely amend the Application for Hearing, and respondents are allowed to timely amend the answer, as newly discovered information becomes available that would warrant the amendment. The parties shall not amend their pleadings later than 45 days prior to the scheduled hearing without leave of the Administrative Law Judge.
8. Responses and answers to amended pleadings shall be filed within ten days of service of the amended pleading without further order of the Labor Commission.
1. If a respondent fails to file an answer as provided in Subsection C above, the Division may enter a default against the respondent.
2. If default is entered against a respondent, the Division may conduct any further proceedings necessary to take evidence and determine the issues raised by the Application for Hearing without the participation of the party in default pursuant to Section 63G-4-209(4), Utah Code.
3. A default of a respondent shall not be construed to deprive the Employer's Reinsurance Fund or Uninsured Employers' Fund of any appropriate defenses.
4. The defaulted party may file a motion to set aside the default under the procedures set forth in Section 63G-4-209(3), Utah Code. The Adjudication Division shall set aside defaults upon written and signed stipulation of all parties to the action.
. . . . . . .
R602-2-2. Guidelines for Utilization of Medical Panel.
Pursuant to Section 34A-2-601, the Commission adopts the following guidelines in determining the necessity of submitting a case to a medical panel:
A. A panel will be utilized by the Administrative Law Judge where one or more significant medical issues may be involved. Generally a significant medical issue must be shown by conflicting medical reports. Significant medical issues are involved when there are:
1. Conflicting medical opinions related to causation of the injury or disease;
2. Conflicting medical [
reports] of permanent physical impairment
which vary more than 5% of the whole person,
3. Conflicting medical opinions as to the temporary total cutoff date which vary more than 90 days;
4. Conflicting medical opinions related to a claim of permanent total disability, and/or
5. Medical expenses in controversy amounting to more than $10,000.
B. A hearing on objections to the panel report may be scheduled if there is a proffer of conflicting medical testimony showing a need to clarify the medical panel report. Where there is a proffer of new written conflicting medical evidence, the Administrative Law Judge may, in lieu of a hearing, re-submit the new evidence to the panel for consideration and clarification.
C. The Administrative Law Judge may authorize
an injured worker to be examined by another physician for the purpose of
obtaining a further medical examination or evaluation pertaining to the medical
issues involved, and to obtain a report addressing these medical issues in all
cases where: 1. The treating physician has failed or refused
to give an impairment rating, and/or 2. A substantial injustice may occur without
such further evaluation. D].
Any expenses of the study and report of a medical panel or medical
consultant and of their appearance at a hearing, as well as any expenses for
further medical examination or evaluation, as directed by the Administrative
Law Judge, shall be paid from the Uninsured Employers' Fund, as directed by
R602-2-4. Attorney Fees.
A. Pursuant to Section 34A-1-309, the Commission adopts the following rule to regulate and fix reasonable fees for attorneys representing applicants in workers' compensation or occupational illness claims.
1. This rule applies to all fees awarded after July 1, 2007.
2. Fees awarded prior to the effective date of this rule are determined according to the prior version of this rule in effect on the date of the award.
B. Upon written agreement, when an attorney's services are limited to consultation, document preparation, document review, or review of settlement proposals, the attorney may charge the applicant an hourly fee of not more than $125 for time actually spent in providing such services, up to a maximum of four hours.
1. Commission approval is not required for attorneys fees charged under this subsection B. It is the applicant's responsibility to pay attorneys fees permitted by this subsection B.
2. In all other cases involving payment of applicants' attorneys fees which are not covered by this subsection B., the entire amount of such attorneys fees are subject to subsection C. or D. of this rule.
C. Except for legal services compensated under subsection B. of this rule, all legal services provided to applicants shall be compensated on a contingent fee basis.
1. For purposes of this subsection C., the following definitions and limitations apply:
a. The term "benefits" includes only death or disability compensation and interest accrued thereon.
b. Benefits are "generated" when paid
as a result of legal services rendered after [
an] Appointment of Counsel form is signed by the applicant. A copy of this
form must be filed with the Commission by the applicant's attorney.
c. In no case shall an attorney collect fees calculated on more than the first 312 weeks of any and all combinations of workers' compensation benefits.
2. Fees and costs authorized by this subsection shall be deducted from the applicant's benefits and paid directly to the attorney on order of the Commission. A retainer in advance of a Commission approved fee is not allowed.
3. Attorney fees for benefits generated by the attorney's services shall be computed as follows:
a. For all legal services rendered through final Commission action, the fee shall be 25% of weekly benefits generated for the first $25,000, plus 20% of the weekly benefits generated in excess of $25,000 but not exceeding $50,000, plus 10% of the weekly benefits generated in excess of $50,000, to a maximum of $15,250.
b. For legal services rendered in prosecuting or defending an appeal before the Utah Court of Appeals, an attorney's fee shall be awarded amounting to 30% of the benefits in dispute before the Court of Appeals. This amount shall be added to any attorney's fee awarded under subsection C.3.a. for benefits not in dispute before the Court of Appeals. The total amount of fees awarded under subsection C.3.a. and this subsection C.3.b. shall not exceed $22,000;
c. For legal services rendered in prosecuting or defending an appeal before the Utah Supreme Court, an attorney's fee shall be awarded amounting to 35% of the benefits in dispute before the Supreme Court. This amount shall be added to any attorney's fee awarded under subsection C.3.a. and subsection C.3.b. for benefits not in dispute before the Supreme Court. The total amount of fees awarded under subsection C.3.a, subsection C.3.b. and this subsection C.3.c shall not exceed $27,000.
D. The following expenses, fees and costs shall be presumed to be reasonable and necessary and therefore reimbursable in a workers compensation claim:
1. Medical records and opinion costs;
2. Deposition transcription costs;
3. Vocational and Medical Expert Witness fees;
4. Hearing transcription costs;
5. Appellate filing fees; and
6. Appellate briefing expenses.
F. Other reasonable expenses, fees and costs may be awarded as reimbursable as the Commission may in its discretion decides in a particular workers compensation claim.
E. In "medical only" cases in which awards of attorneys' fees are authorized by Subsection 34A-1-309(4), the amount of such fees and costs shall be computed according to the provisions of subsection C and D.
Settlement Agreements. A. Statutory authority: Section
34A-2-420 requires the Commission to review all agreements for the settlement
or commutation of claims for workers' compensation or occupational disease
benefits and grants the Commission discretion to approve such agreements. The Commission's authority under Section
34A-2-420 applies to all claims arising under the Utah Workers' Compensation
Act or Occupational Disease Act, regardless of the date of accident or
occupational disease. This rule sets
forth the requirements for Commission approval of such agreements. B. General Considerations: Settlement
agreements may be appropriate in claims of disputed validity or when the
parties' interests are served by payment of benefits in a manner different than
otherwise prescribed by the workers' compensation laws. However, settlement agreements must also
fulfill the underlying purposes of the workers' compensation laws. Once approved by the Commission, settlement
agreements are permanently binding on the parties. The Commission will not approve any proposed settlement that is
manifestly unjust. C. Procedure: 1. Parties interested in a present or potential
workers' compensation claim, whether or not an application for hearing has been
filed, may submit their settlement agreement to the Commission for review and
approval. The Commission may delegate
its authority to review and approve such agreements. 2. Each settlement agreement shall be in
writing, executed by each party and such party's attorney, if any, and shall
include a proposed order for Commission approval of the agreement. 3. Each settlement agreement shall set forth
the nature of the claim being settled and what claims are in dispute, if any. 4. Each settlement agreement shall contain a
statement that each party understands that the agreement is permanent, binding
and constitutes full and final settlement of any right the claimant may
otherwise have to future benefits, including medical benefits. The Commission may establish an approved
form for complying with the foregoing disclosure requirement. 5. Attorneys' fees shall be allowed as provided
by Rule R602-2-4. Each settlement
agreement shall describe the amount to be paid to claimant's counsel as
attorney's fees and costs, the manner in which such amounts are computed and
the method of payment thereof. 6. The settlement agreement may provide for
payment of benefits through insurance contract or by other third parties if the
Commission determines a) such payment provisions are secure and b) such payment
provisions do not relieve the parties of their underlying liability for
payments required by the agreement. 7. Upon receipt of a proposed settlement
agreement meeting the requirements of this rule, the Commission shall review
such proposed agreement: a. As needed, the Commission may contact the
parties and others to obtain further information about the proposed settlement; b. If the Commission determines that a proposed
settlement agreement conforms with this rule, the Commission shall approve such
agreement and notify the parties in writing. c. If the Commission determines that a proposed
settlement agreement does not comply with this rule, the Commission shall
notify the parties in writing of its reasons for rejecting the proposed
agreement. d. The Commission shall retain a record of its
action on all settlement agreements submitted to it for approval.
]KEY: workers' compensation, administrative procedures, hearings, settlements
Date of Enactment or Last Substantive
February 7], 2008
Notice of Continuation: August 15, 2007
Authorizing, and Implemented or Interpreted Law: 34A-1-301 et seq.; 63G-4-102 et seq.
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For questions regarding the content or application of this rule, please contact Richard M. Lajeunesse at the above address, by phone at 801-536-7928, by FAX at 801-530-6333, or by Internet E-mail at email@example.com
For questions about the rulemaking process, please contact the Division of Administrative Rules (801-538-3764). Please Note: The Division of Administrative Rules is NOT able to answer questions about the content or application of these administrative rules.
Last modified: 10/29/2008 10:46 PM