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Advisory 95-01

NEW FORMS TWCC 153 AND TWCC 155; CONFIDENTIAL CLAIM FILE INFORMATION REQUEST BY LEGAL REPRESENTATIVES

This advisory concerns the new Texas Workers' Compensation Commission ("Commission") forms to be used by individuals and companies requesting record checks and copies of confidential claim file information, as well as a procedure available to attorneys representing employers, carriers, third party litigants to obtain record checks and confidential claim file information. The new forms are to be used by all parties eligible to request confidential information from the Commission. The Procedure stated in this advisory does not affect requests from employees or an employee's legal beneficiary, or their representatives.

A. New Forms - Effective Immediately; Mandatory Use Beginning April 1, 1995 (04/01/95)

1. Two new forms will replace the forms TWCC R22a. The TWCC R22a, which is currently required to obtain record checks and confidential claim file information, will be accepted by the Commission through March, 1995. As of April 1, 1995 (04/01/95), only the new forms will be accepted. Please refer to the detailed instructions accompanying the new forms for additional information. All forms should be sent to the address listed on the particular form.

2. The new TWCC 153, Request for Copies of Confidential Claim/Hearing Files, must be filed to obtain copies of confidential claim files, including electronic records, and /or hearing files.

3. The new TWCC 155, Request for Record Checks, must be filed to obtain an injured employee's claim history.

4. The new TWCC 156 continues to be required by the Commission for employers seeking a preemployment check on persons who have been given a tentative offer of employment.

B. New Procedure - Effective Immediately

Where an employer, carrier, or third party litigant (hereafter "eligible party") expects to request confidential claim file information and/or record checks for several different claims on a continual basis, the eligible party may, by following the procedure below, provide for an attorney representing them to directly receive the requested confidential claim file information. Compliance with the procedure stated in this advisory does not relieve any party from compliance with any laws or regulations, particularly the Texas Labor Code.

1. The eligible party may provide a written statement to the Commission specifying that the named law firm or attorney ("legal representative") represents the eligible party and that the law firm or attorney may request and receive confidential claim file and/or record check information on behalf of the eligible party.

a. The statement should be on the eligible party's letterhead and must be signed by the eligible party.

b. A title, physical address, and phone number of the person signing this statement must be provided for verification purposes.

c. The law firm or attorney address and phone number must also be included.

d. The eligible party must acknowledge joint and several liability for all costs for records incurred by the legal representatives and /or any employee of the legal representative.

e. In lieu of this written statement, a copy of the contract of hire of counsel will be accepted by the Commission if it contains the above required information.

f. Statements authorizing legal representatives to request and receive confidential information and/or record checks must be submitted to Texas Workers' Compensation Commission, Attention: Reprographics MS-92B, Southfield Building, 4000 South IH-35, Austin, Texas 78704.

2. Once a statement is on file, a completed TWCC 153 or TWCC 155 signed by either the eligible party or the designated legal representative will be accepted to obtain the desired information.

a. When applicable, the block on the new forms (see Part "A", above) indicating that a legal representative statement has been filed, must be checked.

b. The legal representative's paralegal or administrative assistant may sign the required forms, however, confidential claim file information or record check information may only be provided to the eligible party or to the documented legal representative.

c. All Texas Labor Code provisions governing confidentiality of claimant information will continue to be applicable to the eligible party, and any and all authorized representatives.

d. The Commission will honor the statements only in response to requests for confidential information. Statements will not be honored for any other function or service of the Commission.

e. The Commission will honor written statements authorizing a legal representative to request and receive confidential information until the Commission's Reprographics Department is expressly informed in writing that the named representatives may no longer request confidential information on behalf of the eligible party.

3. Third party litigants, or their documented legal representatives, may receive current or prior injury information if the third party litigant is involved in a lawsuit in which the cause of action arose form the incident that gave rise to the injury. A copy of the first page of the original petition, as well as a copy of the statement of facts in that petition, will be required to be attached to the TWCC 153 or TWCC 155 in order to verify participation in a separate court action arising from the incident that gave rise to the injury.

4. Employers at the time of injury, or their documented legal representatives, may receive a record check on an employee which includes currents or prior injury information, but may only receive copies of claim file information for injuries which occurred during the time the employee was employed with the requesting employer.

5. Carriers, or their documented legal representative, may receive current or prior injury information for an injured worker if the requesting carrier handled a claim for that injured worker. Carriers are not entitled to an injured workers' subsequent injury claim file information or a record check unless the carrier is handling an active claim for the injured worker, i.e., income and/or medical benefits are currently being paid or dispute resolution is pending before the Commission.

6. In accordance with the Texas Labor Code, confidential claim file information or record checks will not be provided to a person not authorized to receive the information directly from the Commission. Record services have not been authorized by statute or the Commission to receive this information.

7. Subpoenas for confidential claim file information or record checks will not be honored. (see TRCP 820). In lieu of subpoenas, TWCC will accept the new forms for confidential claim file information or record checks if they are completed by an eligible party or in accordance with this advisory. Where a party insists on using a subpoena, unnecessary delays and costs may result.

8. Affidavits are not provided or accepted by the Commission, however, a letter of certification will be provided upon request, for an additional fee.

Signed January 3, 1995.

Todd K. Brown, Executive Director


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