If you and your employer cannot agree on the proper amount to settle your workers’ compensation case, you can resolve the issue by requesting a hearing. Like most hearings, these proceedings take place before a judge, and the judge will determine how much you are owed and order your employer (or your employer’s insurance provider) to pay you.
A workers’ compensation hearing will generally proceed in the following manner:
- Stipulations. After you, your employer, and your respective attorneys arrive in court, the judge will ask if there are any facts that all parties agree on. If there are, the judge will enter these details, known as stipulations, into the official court record. The judge will then establish which details in the case are disputed, and make note of them on the record so a final decision on the issues can be made in the end of the hearing.
- Your evidence. You and your attorney will be asked to present evidence in your case. This will likely include your testimony (either by a deposition or on the stand), testimony from other witnesses or medical personnel, and documentation of your injury and treatment. Witnesses on the stand can be cross-examined by the opposing lawyers, and your employer’s attorney may object to any evidence that is not admissible or relevant. As an employee has the burden of proof in these cases, it is vital that you have enough evidence to prove your version of each contested issue in your case.
- Opposing evidence. After your evidence has been presented, your employer will present his evidence. Again, your attorney will have the opportunity to cross-examine any witnesses for the opposing side.
- Your rebuttal. If your employer presented new evidence that you have not had a chance to address, you have the right to address, confirm, or disprove the evidence. This is called a rebuttal. You may submit evidence as part of a rebuttal, but only evidence that directly counters the issues that came up in the defense’s presentation of evidence will be accepted.
- Filing deadlines. After all of the evidence has been presented, the judge will ask both parties to file written summaries of their side of the case, called briefs. Both parties are given a small window of time (a week or two) to file their briefs.
- Decision. Within 90 days of the last day of your hearing, the judge will issue his or her decision in the case. The decision will be mailed to you, your employer, the insurer, and any attorneys in the case. If you are unhappy with the judge’s findings, you can go back to court to appeal the decision.
Should I Hire an Attorney to Represent Me in Court?
It is vital that you have an attorney at your side both on and before the court date. Your attorney will help explain the workers’ comp court procedures, gather the evidence to be presented, and prepare you to give your testimony. Call us at (888) 348-2616 today to find out how we can help, or learn more about protecting your case in our free accident guide, How to Avoid Becoming a Work Injury Horror Story.