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2016 Statute



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44-523. Hearing procedure; time limitations on evidence and entry of award; prehearing settlement conference; recusal of administrative law judge; closure of claims; lack of prosecution. (a) The director, administrative law judge or board shall not be bound by technical rules of procedure, but shall give the parties reasonable opportunity to be heard and to present evidence, ensure the employee and the employer an expeditious hearing and act reasonably without partiality.

(b) Whenever a party files an application for hearing pursuant to K.S.A. 44-534, and amendments thereto, the matter shall be assigned to an administrative law judge for hearing and the administrative law judge shall set a terminal date to require the claimant to submit all evidence in support of the claimant's claim no later than 30 days after the first full hearing before the administrative law judge and to require the respondent to submit all evidence in support of the respondent's position no later than 30 days thereafter. An extension of the foregoing time limits shall be granted if all parties agree. An extension of the foregoing time limits may also be granted:

(1) If the employee is being paid temporary or permanent total disability compensation;

(2) for medical examination of the claimant if the party requesting the extension explains in writing to the administrative law judge facts showing that the party made a diligent effort but was unable to have a medical examination conducted prior to the submission of the case by the claimant but then only if the examination appointment was set and notice of the appointment sent prior to submission by the claimant; or

(3) on application for good cause shown.

(c) When all parties have submitted the case to an administrative law judge for an award, the administrative law judge shall issue an award within 30 days. The administrative law judge shall not stay a decision due to the absence of a submission letter. When the award is not entered in 30 days, any party to the action may notify the director that an award is not entered and the director shall assign the matter to an assistant director or to a special administrative law judge who shall enter an award forthwith based on the evidence in the record, or the director, on the director's own motion, may remove the case from the administrative law judge who has not entered an award within 30 days following submission by the party and assign it to an assistant director or to a special administrative law judge for immediate decision based on the evidence in the record.

(d) Not less than 10 days prior to the first full hearing before an administrative law judge, the administrative law judge shall conduct a prehearing settlement conference for the purpose of obtaining stipulations from the parties, determining the issues and exploring the possibility that the parties may resolve those issues and reach a settlement prior to the first full hearing.

(e) (1) If a party or a party's attorney believes that the administrative law judge to whom a case is assigned cannot afford that party a fair hearing in the case, the party or attorney may file a motion for change of administrative law judge. A party or a party's attorney shall not file more than one motion for change of administrative law judge in a case. The administrative law judge shall promptly hear the motion informally upon reasonable notice to all parties who have appeared in the case. Notwithstanding the provisions of K.S.A. 44-552, and amendments thereto, the administrative law judge shall decide, in the administrative law judge's discretion, whether or not the hearing of such motion shall be taken down by a certified shorthand reporter. If the administrative law judge disqualifies the administrative law judge's self, the case shall be assigned to another administrative law judge by the director. If the administrative law judge refuses to disqualify the administrative law judge's self, the party seeking a change of administrative law judge may, within 10 days of the refusal, file an appeal with the workers compensation [appeals] board.

(2) The party or a party's attorney shall file with the workers compensation [appeals] board an affidavit alleging one or more of the grounds specified in subsection (e)[(4)].

(3) If a majority of the workers compensation [appeals] board finds legally sufficient grounds, it shall direct the director to assign the case to another administrative law judge.

(4) Grounds which may be alleged as provided in subsection (e)(2) for change of administrative law judge are that:

(A) The administrative law judge has been engaged as counsel in the case prior to the appointment as administrative law judge.

(B) The administrative law judge is otherwise interested in the case.

(C) The administrative law judge is related to either party in the case.

(D) The administrative law judge is a material witness in the case.

(E) The party or party's attorney filing the affidavit has cause to believe and does believe that on account of the personal bias, prejudice or interest of the administrative law judge such party cannot obtain a fair and impartial hearing. Such affidavit shall state the facts and the reasons for the belief that bias, prejudice or an interest exists.

(5) In any affidavit filed pursuant to subsection (e)(2), the recital of previous rulings or decisions by the administrative law judge on legal issues or concerning prior motions for change of administrative law judge filed by counsel or such counsel's law firm, pursuant to this subsection, shall not be deemed legally sufficient for any belief that bias or prejudice exists.

(6) Notwithstanding the provisions of K.S.A. 44-556, and amendments thereto, no interlocutory appeal to the court of appeals of the workers compensation appeals board's decision regarding recusal shall be allowed while the resolution of the claim for compensation is pending before an administrative law judge or the workers compensation appeals board.

(f) (1) In any claim that has not proceeded to a regular hearing, a settlement hearing, or an agreed award under the workers compensation act within three years from the date of filing an application for hearing pursuant to K.S.A. 44-534, and amendments thereto, the employer shall be permitted to file with the division an application for dismissal based on lack of prosecution. The matter shall be set for hearing with notice to the claimant's attorney, if the claimant is represented, or to the claimant's last known address. The administrative law judge may grant an extension for good cause shown, which shall be conclusively presumed in the event that the claimant has not reached maximum medical improvement, provided such motion to extend is filed prior to the three year limitation provided for herein. If the claimant cannot establish good cause, the claim shall be dismissed with prejudice by the administrative law judge for lack of prosecution. Such dismissal shall be considered a final disposition at a full hearing on the claim for purposes of employer reimbursement from the fund pursuant to subsection (b) of K.S.A. 44-534a, and amendments thereto.

(2) In any claim which has not proceeded to regular hearing within one year from the date of a preliminary award denying compensability of the claim, the employer shall be permitted to file with the division an application for dismissal based on lack of prosecution. The matter shall be set for hearing with notice to the claimant's attorney, if the claimant is represented, or to the claimant's last known address. Unless the claimant can prove a good faith reason for delay, the claim shall be dismissed with prejudice by the administrative law judge. Such dismissal shall be considered a final disposition at a full hearing on the claim for purposes of employer reimbursement from the fund pursuant to subsection (b) of K.S.A. 44-534a, and amendments thereto.

(3) This section shall not affect any future benefits which have been left open upon proper application by an award or settlement.

History: L. 1927, ch. 232, § 23; L. 1974, ch. 203, § 27; L. 1979, ch. 156, § 10; L. 1980, ch. 146, § 5; L. 1989, ch. 149, § 2; L. 1993, ch. 286, § 43; L. 1997, ch. 125, § 6; L. 2002, ch. 122, § 7; L. 2006, ch. 117, § 1; L. 2011, ch. 55, § 17; L. 2013, ch. 104, § 12; Apr. 25.



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2017. Powered by KLISS. Rendered: 2017-10-22T23:17:17. Head Rev No: 302148