Once an employee has gone through the hearing process and an administrative law judge has issued an award, the employee has the right to file an application for review with the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission within 20 days of the date of the award. There is no appeal to the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission from any agreement, of settlement, or compromise of any dispute that has been approved by an administrative law judge.
The first appeal from a final award is to the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission. The appeal can be made by filing an Application for Review to the Labor and Industrial Relations Commission. The “Commission” is a three-member panel that reviews the awards of administrative law judges in workers’ compensation cases. The Commission will ask the court reporter to make a complete transcript of the trial proceedings. The Commission will require that legal briefs be filed. If the Commission agrees completely with the judge’s award, it may adopt the judge’s award as its own. If the Commission disagrees with the judge’s decision, in whole or in part, the Commission will issue a new award.
A second appeal may be requested by any party after a final award by the Commission. This is done by filing a timely Notice of Appeal to the Missouri Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals does NOT hold a new trial. The Court of Appeals will review the transcript of the trial proceedings before the administrative law judge. The Court of Appeals can only change or reverse the Commission’s award based upon legal issues. The Court of Appeals must accept the Commission’s findings of fact.
There is a possibility of a third appeal in some cases. The Missouri Supreme Court may accept a case for a third appeal. This is extremely rare, and only happens in cases involving significant legal issues.
When an administrative law judge issues a “Temporary or Partial Award”, any party may file a timely application for review to the Commission. However, if the Commission believes that the employer’s liability was not a contested issue at the trial, the Commission may dismiss the application for review.
If the Commission does not dismiss the application for review, the Commission reviews the judge’s award in the same manner as is done with a final award. After review, the Commission may issue a “Temporary or Partial Award”, or it may issue a final award. If the Commission issues a final award, there may be a second appeal as described above. If the Commission issues a “Temporary or Partial Award”, any party may file a notice of appeal to the Missouri Court of Appeals. However, the Court of Appeals may not allow the appeal to continue.
If an administrative law judge has approved a settlement in your workers’ compensation case, you cannot appeal the approval of the settlement. If there was a clerical error in your settlement, the judge has 20 days from the date of the settlement to correct the clerical error only. The judge cannot void or invalidate an approved settlement. The judge cannot change the amount of the settlement once it has been approved.