This appeal arises pursuant to the Texas Workers’ Compensation Act, TEX. LAB. CODE ANN. § 401.001 et seq. (1989 Act). A contested case hearing was held on December 1, 2000. With respect to the issues before her, the hearing officer determined that the respondent (claimant) sustained a compensable injury on _________, and that he had disability, as a result of his compensable injury, from June 17, 2000, through the date of the hearing. In its appeal, the appellant (self-insured) argues that the hearing officer’s injury and disability determinations are against the great weight of the evidence. The self-insured also asserts error in an evidentiary ruling made by the hearing officer. In his response to self-insured’s appeal, the claimant urges affirmance.
A timely appeal not having been filed, the decision and order of the hearing officer have become final pursuant to Section 410.169.
Records of the Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission (Commission) show that the decision of the hearing officer was signed for by the self-insured’s representative on December 14, 2000. Under Tex. W.C. Comm’n, 28 TEX. ADMIN. CODE § 156.1(a) (Rule 156.1(a)), each self-insured shall designate a representative to act as agent for receiving notice from the Commission and, under Rule 156.1(c), notice to the self-insured’s representative is notice from the Commission to the self-insured. Therefore, the self-insured received the decision of the hearing officer on December 14, 2000, when its representative received it.
Pursuant to Section 410.202, an appeal, to be timely, must be filed or mailed not later than the 15th day after the date of receipt of the hearing officer’s decision. Rule 143.3(c) provides that an appeal is presumed to have been timely filed if it is mailed not later than the 15th day after the date of receipt of the hearing officer’s decision and received by the Commission not later than the 20th day after receipt of the hearing officer’s decision. Both portions of Rule 143.3(c) must be complied with in order for an appeal to be timely. Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission Appeal No. 94065, decided March 1, 1994; Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission Appeal No. 94111, decided March 10, 1994; Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission Appeal No. 941225, decided October 24, 1994. The last day for the self-insured to timely file an appeal was Friday, December 29, 2000, and the last day for the appeal to have been timely received by the Commission was Wednesday, January 3, 2001. The self-insured’s appeal is postmarked December 29, 2000; therefore, it meets the 15-day mailing deadline. However, the self-insured sent its appeal to the Commission’s old address P.O. Box 17848, Austin, Texas 78760-7848, rather than the correct address, which is P.O. Box 40669, Austin, Texas 78704-0012, which was included in the cover letter sending the hearing officer’s decision and order to the parties. As a result, the appeal, which was forwarded by the post office, is not date-stamped as having been received by the Commission until January 9, 2001, well beyond the 20-day receipt deadline. Thus, it is untimely, having been received by the Commission after the 20-day deadline.
The self-insured’s appeal being untimely, the decision of the hearing officer has become final. Section 410.169.
Elaine M. Chaney
Philip F. O’Neill
Robert W. Potts