Section 25-5-292

Resolution of disputes, settlement agreements; written reports; interlocutory orders; final determinations of liability.

(a) A dispute may be resolved either in whole or in part at the benefit review conference. If the conference results in the resolution of some of the disputed issues by mutual agreement or in a settlement, the ombudsman shall reduce the agreement or the settlement to writing. The ombudsman and each party or the designated representative of the party shall sign the agreement or settlement. A settlement reached hereunder shall, unless otherwise provided herein, be effective on the date the settlement is signed unless one of the parties submits the settlement to the court for approval as provided in this article.

(b) An agreement signed pursuant to this section shall be binding on all parties through the final conclusion of all matters relating to the claim, unless within 60 days after the agreement is signed or approved the court on a finding of fraud, newly discovered evidence, or other good cause, shall relieve all parties of the effect of the agreement.

(c) If the dispute is entirely resolved at the benefit review conference, the ombudsman shall prepare a written report, which shall not be admissible into evidence in any court, that includes:

(1) A statement of each resolved issue.

(2) The ombudsman's recommendations regarding the payment or denial of benefits.

(3) No permission of the court is required by an attorney to represent any party before an ombudsman.

(d) If there is a dispute as to which of two or more insurance carriers is liable for compensation for one or more compensable injuries, the ombudsman may issue an interlocutory order directing each insurance carrier to pay a proportionate share of benefits due pending a final decision on liability. The proportionate share shall be determined by dividing the compensation due by the number of insurance carriers involved.

(e) On final determination of liability, any insurance carrier that has been determined not to be liable for the payment of benefits is entitled to reimbursement from the share paid by the insurance carrier that has been determined to be liable.

(f) The ombudsman shall file the signed agreement and the report with the Department of Industrial Relations.

(Acts 1992, No. 92-537, p. 1082, §39.)