Texas Workers Compensation Life Time Income Benefits Significant Decision for the Appeals Panel 101803-S

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On April 1, 2011, the Appeals Panel of the Texas Division of Workers Compensation rendered a significant decision in regards to Life Time Income Benefits (LIBs). The Hearing Officer found that the claimant was entitled to Life Time Income Benefits based on the loss of and/or total and permanent loss of use of both feet at or above the ankle. The claimant had a previous injury which resulted in an amputation of the left leg below the knee and the current injury was to his right foot. The Appeals Panel noted that total loss of use of a member of the body means that such member no longer possesses any substantial utility as a member of the body, or the condition of the injured worker is such that the worker cannot get and keep employment requiring the use of such member. In the case a designated doctor was asked to determine if the claimant sustained loss of both feet at or above the ankle. He found that the claimant had lost total use of the left leg, but not the right. The hearing officer did not give presumptive weight to the designated doctor because he felt that the question did not meet the criteria of Texas Labor Code §408.0041(e). The Appeals Panel reversed and remanded the case back down to the hearing officer with the instruction that Texas Labor Code §408.0041(e) does include the ability to give an opinion in regards to the total loss of use, due to the Statute including similar issues. The hearing officer was instructed to give the designated doctor presumptive weight and then make a determination as to the preponderance of the evidence. This case continues to support the Texas Division of Workers Compensation drive to use state selected designated doctors to make factual determinations in regards to injured workers injuries, disabilities and impairments. Do not attempt to establish what could be a life-time of indemnity and medical benefits by yourself. Call the Morris Law Firm’s Dallas office at (214)357-1782 or contact us via email at info@themorrisfirm.net.

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