2021 Wyoming Statutes
Title 27 - Labor and Employment
Chapter 14 - Worker's Compensation
Article 6 - Contested Cases
Section 27-14-602 - Contested Cases Generally.

Universal Citation: WY Stat § 27-14-602 (2021)

27-14-602. Contested cases generally.

(a) A hearing examiner designated by the office of administrative hearings created by W.S. 9-2-2201 shall conduct contested cases under this act in accordance with this section.

(b) Upon receipt of a request for hearing from the division as provided in W.S. 27-14-601(k)(v), the case shall be determined by a hearing examiner in accordance with the law in effect at the time of the injury as a small claims hearing or as a contested case hearing subject to the following:

(i) A request for hearing shall be conducted as a small claims hearing if the amount at issue is less than two thousand dollars ($2,000.00), is not an issue of the compensability of the injury pursuant to W.S. 27-14-601(a) and the division requests the hearing be held as a small claims hearing. The division shall provide notice that it seeks a small claims hearing under this paragraph in the notice of request for hearing filed pursuant to W.S. 27-14-601(k)(v). If the division provides such notice, the hearing shall be a small claims hearing unless a party to the hearing objects within fifteen (15) days from the date of the notice of request, in which case the hearing officer shall review the file and determine if a small claims hearing is appropriate or if a contested case hearing is necessary or appropriate. Each party to the hearing may within thirty (30) days from the date of notice of request, submit to the hearing examiner any written evidence and argument on the issue. The hearing officer may require either party to provide such documents, filings and evidence as the hearing officer deems relevant to the issue. Copies of the material submitted to the hearing examiner shall be mailed or delivered to all opposing parties. In addition, each party may submit rebuttal evidence and argument to the hearing examiner within forty-five (45) days following the date of notice of request for hearing. Upon request of any party to the hearing and at the discretion of the hearing officer, any proceeding under this paragraph may be conducted in person or by telephone. The hearing examiner shall review the case and written submissions and render a written decision not more than seventy-five (75) days following referral of the request for hearing. No attorney fees or other costs shall be allowed by the hearing examiner on behalf of or for any party to a hearing under this paragraph. In addition, the attorney general's office shall not represent or directly assist the division in the preparation for a hearing under this paragraph;

(ii) All other requests for hearing not specified under paragraph (b)(i) of this section shall be conducted as a contested case in accordance with procedures of the Wyoming Administrative Procedure Act and the Wyoming Rules of Civil Procedure as applicable under rules of the office of administrative hearings. The hearing examiner designated by the office of administrative hearings shall render a decision in a contested case within thirty (30) days after the close of the record. If the contested case is heard by the hearing panel created pursuant to W.S. 27-14-616(b)(iv), the panel shall render a decision within forty-five (45) days after the close of the record;

(iii) Appeals may be taken from the decision rendered in any small claims hearing or contested case hearing by any affected party to the district court as provided by the Wyoming Administrative Procedure Act;

(iv) Hearings under this section shall be held at a location mutually convenient to the parties, as determined by the hearing officer. If the injury occurs at a location outside Wyoming, the hearing shall be held in the county in which the employer s principal place of business is located, unless the hearing officer determines a different location is more convenient to the parties;

(v) Any hearing conducted pursuant to this section involving multiple sites may be conducted through audio or video conferencing at the discretion of the hearing officer or hearing panel.

(c) All written reports, claims and other documents filed with the division shall be considered as pleadings in the case. The attorney general's office shall represent the division in all contested cases. The hearing examiner has exclusive jurisdiction to make the final administrative determination of the validity and amount of compensation payable under this act. Except as otherwise specified in this subsection, all court costs shall be paid from the worker's compensation account if the judgment is in favor of the employer or the division. If judgment is against the employer and the employer contested the claim without being joined in the contest by the division, the court costs shall be paid by the employer. When the employer or division prevails, the court costs shall not affect the employer's experience rating. If judgment is against a health care provider, the court costs shall be paid by the health care provider.

(d) Upon request, the hearing examiner may appoint an attorney to represent the employee or claimants and may allow the appointed attorney a reasonable fee for his services at the conclusion of the proceeding. An appointed attorney shall be paid according to the order of the hearing examiner either from the worker's compensation account, from amounts awarded to the employee or claimants or from the employer. In any contested case where the issue is the compensability of an injury, a prevailing employer's attorney fees shall also be paid according to the order of the hearing examiner from the worker's compensation account, not to affect the employer's experience rating. An award of attorney's fees shall be for a reasonable number of hours and shall not exceed the benefits at issue in the contested case hearing. In all other cases if the employer or division prevails, the attorney's fees allowed an employee's attorney shall not affect the employer's experience rating. Attorney fees allowed shall be at an hourly rate established by the director of the office of administrative hearings and any application for attorney's fees shall be supported by a verified itemization of all services provided. No fee shall be awarded in any case in which the hearing examiner determines the claim or objection to be frivolous and without legal or factual justification. If the division or a hearing examiner determines that an injured worker's failure to meet any procedural deadline in this act is through the fault of the worker's attorney, the division shall reconsider its determination or a hearing examiner shall order the contested case returned to the division for redetermination of the contested issues as provided in W.S. 27-14-601(k).

(e) Except as otherwise provided within this subsection, all documents filed with the division under subsection (c) of this section may be maintained by the division on computer and the hearing examiner or court may admit into evidence any documents resident in the computer imaging file. If a genuine issue as to the authenticity of the document is raised by a party, by a hearing examiner or by the court, the hearing examiner or court may, before admitting the document into evidence, require the division to certify that the record is a true and correct copy or transcript of records on file in the division.

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