A workers’ comp hearing is where injured workers and insurance companies dispute benefit amounts before a judge. It arises from claim denials or disputes.
Most of the time, injured workers can settle with their employer’s workers’ compensation insurance without having to take their claim to a hearing. However, there are some situations where a hearing is necessary to obtain the full benefits to which you are legally entitled.
If you find yourself in this situation, don’t panic – here are a few things you can expect.
In this article, we’ll discuss what you need to know about workers’ comp hearings, including what they are, situations that would necessitate a hearing, and the three easy steps you can take to contribute to a successful outcome.
What Is a Workers’ Compensation Hearing?
A workers’ compensation hearing is a legal proceeding in which an injured worker and the employer’s insurance company dispute the amount of benefits to which the worker is entitled. The hearing is generally conducted before an Administrative Law Judge, who presides over testimony and evidence from both sides and issues a ruling.
In many cases, the hearing is held telephonically, with the judge, attorneys, and witnesses participating by conference call. In some instances, however, the hearing may be conducted in person.
Before the hearing, each side has an opportunity to review the evidence and prepare for their case. During the hearing, each side presents evidence and arguments supporting their position. After reviewing the evidence, the judge issues a ruling on the disputed benefit.
What Instances/Scenarios Would Necessitate a Hearing?
There are several reasons why an injured worker may have to take their claim to a hearing. The most common reason is that the employer’s insurance company has denied the worker’s claim for benefits, either in whole or in part.
Other common reasons include:
- The insurance company has terminated the worker’s benefits
- The injured worker’s condition has worsened
- The injured worker wants the workplace accident to be classified as “catastrophic.”
“How Can I Contribute to a Successful Outcome at My Workers’ Comp Hearing?”
Here are three things you can do to make sure you are ready for your hearing:
Step One: Educate Yourself on the Process
The more you understand the process, the less anxious and stressed you’ll feel. We’re talking about things like what kind of evidence is admissible, how to cross-examine witnesses, and what to do if the judge rules against you.
While there are various ways to do this, the best and surest one is to work with an experienced workers’ compensation attorney. Not only will they be able to give you specific guidance on your case, but they can also help you develop strategies for success.
Step Two: Gather and Organize Your Evidence
This is critical. You’ll need to present evidence to support your claim, and the better organized it is, the more persuasive it will be.
Some of the types of evidence you’ll need to gather include medical records, bills, wage statements, and eyewitness testimony. Again, an experienced workers’ comp attorney can help you with this process and make sure you have everything you need.
Step Three: Present Yourself in the Best Possible Way
First impressions matter, and how you present yourself at the hearing will go a long way in determining its outcome.
This means dressing professionally, being polite and respectful to everyone involved, and speaking clearly and confidently when it’s your turn to testify.
A trick that always helps is to imagine that you’re telling your story to a friend. This will help you relax and sound more natural, making you more likable and credible to the judge.
Do You Have to Attend a Workers’ Comp Hearing?
Attending your workers’ comp hearing is generally in your best interests.
As much as your attorney is representing you and fighting for your benefits, there are some good reasons why you should attend your hearing. Here are some of them:
It’s an Opportunity for You to Tell Your Story
Sure, your attorney can present the facts of your case, but only you can tell your story. The hearing is an opportunity for you to explain what happened, how it has affected you, and why you need workers’ compensation benefits.
You Can Assess the Credibility of Witnesses
Your attorney will do their best to prepare you for testifying, but there is no substitute for hearing someone testify in person. You’ll be able to see and hear the witnesses and get a sense of their credibility. This will help you prepare for testifying and give you an idea of what to expect from the other witnesses.
You Can Get a Better Idea of How Your Case Is Going
Attending the hearing will give you a better sense of where your case is and what the next steps will be. This can help you make decisions about your case and also give you a better understanding of the process.
You Can Show the Judge That You Are Serious About Your Case
By attending your hearing, you can ensure the judge remembers your case and realizes you are serious about getting the benefits you need.
St. Louis Workers Comp Attorney
If you have been injured on the job, the good news is that you do not have to go through the workers’ compensation process alone. Speak with an experienced St. Louis workers comp attorney at the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann to learn more about your legal rights. We have been protecting the rights of injured Missouri workers for over 30 years and can do the same for you.
Speak With a Workers Comp Attorney
Give us a call 24/7 for a FREE Case EvaluationCall (314) 361-4300