The Role of the Appeals Panel in Texas Workers’ Compensation Cases–Texas Workers’ Compensation Defense Attorneys

We frequently handle Contested Case Hearings on behalf of our insurance company clients in Texas workers’ compensation cases. When we win at the CCH level, and the Claimant appeals, we work hard to convince the Appeals Panel to affirm the decision of the Hearing Officer. We often point out the following points of law in support of our position:

It is settled law that the Hearing Officer is the trier of fact and the sole judge of the relevance, materiality, weight and credibility of the evidence presented at the hearing. (Tex. Lab. Code Sec. 410.165(a); AP No. 990132). It is also well settled that the Hearing Officer can believe part or all of the testimony of a witness. (AP No. 972447). The Hearing Officer is the trier of fact and judges the credibility of each and every witness, the weight to assign to each witness= testimony and resolves conflicts and inconsistencies in the testimony. (Taylor v. Lewis 553 S.W.2d 153 (Tex. Civ. App. – Amarillo 1977, writ ref=d n.r.e.); AP No. 93426).

Equally true is the application by the Hearing Officer of the assignment of credibility and weight in the resolution of conflicts and inconsistencies as regards medical evidence. (Texas Employers Insurance Association v. Campos, 666 S.W.2d 286 (Tex. App. – Houston [14th Dis.] 1984, no writ.)). The trier of fact is not required to accept a Claimant=s testimony at face value, even if not specifically contradicted by other evidence. (Bullard v. Universal Underwriters Insurance Company, 609 S.W.2d 62 (Tex. Civ. App. – Amarillo 1980, no writ.)). The Hearing Officer may believe all, part or none of the testimony of any witnesses. (Aetna Insurance Company v. English, 204 S.W. 2d 850 (Tex. Civ. App. Fort Worth 1947, no writ.)).

An appeals level body is not a fact finder and does not normally pass upon the credibility of witnesses or substitute its own judgment for that of the trier of fact, even if the evidence could support a different result. (National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania v. Soto, 819 S.W.2d 619, 620 (Tex. App. – El Paso 1991, writ denied)). The Appeals Panel has stated : “… we do not substitute our judgment for that of the Hearing Officer if there is some appropriate evidence supporting his factual determination, and it is not so against the great weight and preponderance of the evidence as to be clearly wrong and unjust.” (AP No. 92155; In Re Kings Estate, 150 Tex. 662, 244 S.W.2d 660 (1951); Pool v. Ford Motor Co., 715 S.W.2d 629, 635 (Tex. 1986)).

When the evidence in a case clearly supports the Hearing Officer’s Decision and Order, the Appeals Panel is supposed to affirm on any grounds available. See Daylin, Inc. v. Juarez, 766 S.W.2d 347 (Tex. App. – El Paso 1989, writ denied); Hernandez v. Hernandez, 611 S.W.2d 732 (Tex. Civ. App. – San Antonio 1981, no writ.).

Williams, McClure & Parmelee is dedicated to high quality legal representation of businesses and insurance companies in a variety of matters. We are experienced Texas civil litigation attorneys based in Fort Worth who know Texas courts and Texas law. For more information, please contact the law firm at 817-335-8800. The firm’s office location is 5601 Bridge Street, Suite 300, Fort Worth, Texas 76112.

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