Administrative Code

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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 16. Labor And Employment
Agency 30. Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission
Chapter 50. Rules of the Virginia Workers' Compensation Commission

16VAC30-50-30. Rule 2. Hearing procedures.

At the request of either party, or at the commission's direction, contested issues not resolved informally through prehearing procedures will be referred for decision on the record or evidentiary hearing.

2.1. Decision on the record. When it appears that there is no material fact in dispute as to any contested issue, determination will proceed on the record. After each party has been given the opportunity to file a written statement of the evidence supporting a claim or defense, the commission shall enter a decision on the record.

A. Written statements. When the commission determines that decision on the record is appropriate, the parties shall be given 20 days to submit written statements and evidence. Ten additional days shall be given to respond. For good cause shown additional time may be allowed. Copies of all written statements and evidence shall be furnished to the commission and all parties.

B. Review. Request for review of decision on the record shall proceed under § 65.2-705 of the Code of Virginia and Rule 3.

2.2. Evidentiary hearing. An evidentiary hearing by the commission shall be conducted as a judicial proceeding. All witnesses shall testify under oath and a record of the proceeding shall be made. Except for rules which the commission promulgates, it is not bound by statutory or common law rules of pleading or evidence nor by technical rules of practice.

The commission will take evidence at hearing and make inquiry into the questions at issue to determine the substantial rights of the parties, and to this end hearsay evidence may be received. The party having the burden of proof shall have the right to open and close. Each party shall be allowed 20 minutes in which to present evidence unless prior arrangement is made through the commission to extend hearing time.

A. Continuances. The parties should be prepared to present evidence at the time and place scheduled for hearing. A motion to continue will be granted only when it appears that material or irreparable harm may result if not granted.

B. Evidence.

1. Stipulations to agreed facts shall be included in the record. Each exhibit offered shall be marked and identified, and the record shall show whether it was admitted in evidence.

2. Reports and records of physicians and reports of medical care directed by physicians may be admitted in evidence as testimony by physicians or medical care providers. Upon timely motion, any party shall have the right to cross-examine the source of a medical document offered for admission in evidence.

3. The parties shall specifically designate, by author, deponent and date, medical reports, records or depositions to be received in evidence. Those portions of a deposition to be included in the record must be specifically identified by page and line.

4. Medical reports, records or deposition portions designated by the parties or included by the commission will be admitted into evidence.

2.3. Expedited hearing.

A. Scope. An employee may request an expedited hearing before the commission when the employer has submitted an application for hearing pursuant to Rule 1.4 and probable cause has been found to suspend benefits pending a hearing on the matter. An employee may also seek expedited determination of any disputed claim arising after the initial compensability of the accident has been determined by the commission.

B. Written request. An employee seeking an expedited hearing must file a written request with the clerk's office, and a copy of the request shall be sent to the employer. The request must include, by way of description, attachment or enclosure, evidence sufficient to find that, without an expedited proceeding to determine the merits of the dispute, the employee will be caused to suffer severe economic hardship. What constitutes severe economic hardship will be determined by the commission on a case-by-case basis. A copy of the employee's accepted request will be sent to the employer's counsel of record, the designated third-party administrator and the carrier, along with a Notice of Request for Expedited Hearing, by priority mail.

C. Loss of income. When the employee alleges that he is not receiving compensation benefits, and is unemployed, unable to work, or only partially employed because of an injury compensable under the Act, the employee must establish that failure to grant an expedited hearing will result in severe, immediate economic hardship. In this regard, the commission will consider, but is not limited in considering the following evidence:

1. Whether, and to what extent, the employee is presently employed, and what other sources of income are available to support the employee;

2. Whether the employee has dependents for whom the employee's wages, salary and/or other income were the sole or primary source of financial support;

3. Whether the employee has received notices of imminent or threatened foreclosure or eviction actions, or the employee is in a state of homelessness;

4. Whether the employee has received notices of imminent repossession of personal vehicles necessary for employment or medical treatment visits;

5. Whether the employee's financial difficulties were caused by the termination of workers' compensation benefits by prior adjudication, caused by other circumstances, or both; and

6. Any other evidence demonstrating that the employee's immediate ability to provide food, clothing and shelter will be threatened by failure to grant an expedited hearing.

D. Medical expenses. When the employee seeks an expedited hearing, asserting that authorization of, or payment for recommended medical treatment has been denied by the employer or insurer, the employee must establish that failure to grant an expedited hearing will result in severe economic hardship. In this regard, the commission will consider, but is not limited in considering the following evidence:

1. The general nature of the employee's injuries;

2. Whether, if authorization is being sought for recommended treatment not already obtained, the employee's physician has stated that the procedure must be performed on an emergent basis, and failure to do so will threaten the employee's life or result in immediate and severe deterioration of the employee's physical or mental condition;

3. Whether, if payment or reimbursement for medical expenses already incurred is being sought, reasonable and necessary ongoing medical treatment will be withheld for failure to pay for prior medical treatment, and that the withholding of such treatment will threaten the employee's life or result in immediate and severe deterioration of the employee's physical or mental condition;

4. The cost of the medical treatment in dispute, and the employee's ability to pay for it; and

5. Any other evidence demonstrating that failure to grant an expedited hearing on this issue will result in severe economic hardship.

E. Employer response. Upon receipt of the commission's Notice of Request for Expedited Hearing, the employer shall have 14 days to investigate the basis for the employee's expedited hearing request. Prior to, or at the expiration of the fourteenth day, the employer shall file with the commission, by hand-delivery or certified mail, a written statement indicating whether the employer will or will not agree to the employee's request for expedited hearing. If the employer will not agree to proceed on an expedited basis, it must state, with specificity, the basis for its inability to proceed pursuant to an expedited hearing schedule. Filing shall be effective upon receipt by the commission, or by placing the statement in certified mail.

F. Informal conference. Once the commission has received the employer's response statement, or 14 days pass without a filed response from the employer, the commission shall schedule, as expeditiously as possible, an informal conference with the parties, whether in person, by teleconference or by other electronic transmission. With regard to expedited claims for payment of medical expenses pursuant to Rule 2.2 (D), no informal conference will be scheduled until the employee submits medical evidence to the employer and the commission supporting both the underlying claim and the necessity of expedited proceedings. During the informal conference, the commission will discuss issues relevant to the grant or denial of an expedited hearing including, but not limited to, discovery between the parties, the timing and scheduling of depositions and the parties' ability to secure other relevant evidence in an expedited manner. The commission will discuss the issues raised by the claim, and try to limit the scope of any matter ultimately referred to the expedited hearing docket by facilitating agreements between the parties. The commission will confer with the parties about scheduling a hearing date at the informal conference, or by teleconference after the informal conference.

G. Grant or denial of expedited hearing. During the informal conference, or within seven days of its completion, the commission will determine whether the claim underlying the request for expedited hearing is appropriate for the expedited hearing docket. If the request for an expedited hearing is granted, the commission will advise the parties of this decision during the informal conference, or in writing within seven days, by priority mail. If the commission determines that the matter is not appropriate for the expedited docket, the parties will be advised of the commission's determination, and the matter will be referred for regular processing.

H. Scheduling and continuances. The matter will be set for a hearing no less than 10 days, and no more than 28 days after the expedited hearing was granted. Ordinarily, once the matter is set down for an expedited hearing, neither party will be granted a continuance. A continuance will be granted for good cause shown, involving exceptional circumstances beyond the control of the party, or the party's attorney. Any claim pending on the expedited docket that is continued or nonsuited at the request of the employee will be removed from the expedited docket, and shall not be reinstated for expedited proceedings.

I. Closing the record. The record shall close at the end of the expedited hearing unless, for good cause shown, one or both parties are unable to present necessary medical or factual evidence.

J. Decision. The deputy commissioner hearing the case will issue an opinion within 14 days after the record closes in an expedited hearing proceeding. The opinion shall be sent to the parties by priority mail.

K. Expedited review. Either party may seek an expedited review of the decision to grant or deny an expedited hearing. Parties seeking expedited review must file a written request within seven days of receipt of the decision to grant or deny an expedited hearing. The written request must include a statement explaining the grounds for review, and must enclose all information the party believes is necessary for consideration of the request. A copy of the Request for Expedited Review shall be furnished to the opposing party. The commission shall provide notice of the request for expedited review within three days of its receipt. The opposing party shall have seven days from receipt of the commission's notice to file a written statement addressing the merits of the review request, and enclosing all information it believes is necessary for consideration on review. The commission shall review the decision to grant or deny an expedited hearing, and will issue a decision by order within seven days.

L. Review after expedited hearing. Review of a deputy commissioner's decision following an expedited hearing shall proceed according to the provisions of Rule 3.1 and § 65.2-705 of the Code of Virginia.

Statutory Authority

§ 65.2-201 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR405-01-06, Rule 2, eff. January 1, 1994; amended, Virginia Register Volume 19, Issue 18, eff. July 1, 2003.

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