Work accidents happen more than you might think. Even though jobs may be “safer” than they were fifty years ago, accidents still happen and the injuries can be lifelong. Fewer people work at factories or with dangerous manufacturing machines, but the work place can have just as many traps. For example, more people travel for work today, which can be very dangerous. In 2018, there were 360 fatalities from car crashes in Massachusetts alone.
When you get injured at work, sometimes the insurance company doesn’t agree to pay your Workers Compensation benefits. When that happens, you have to file a claim at the Department of Industrial Accidents. This starts a multi-step process to get you the benefits you deserve. The first step, which is discussed below, it a conciliation.What is the Conciliation?
As we have discussed elsewhere on our website, the stages of a workers’ compensation claim are: filing the claim, conciliation, conference, independent medical examination, and hearing. After we file the claim by filing a Form 110, the first step is the conciliation.
The conciliation occurs at the Department of Industrial Accident or the “DIA”. The DIA is an administrative body that enforces the rules and procedure of workers’ compensation law. In a sense, it acts like a court. But because it only hears workers’ compensation cases, it’s able to act much quicker and more efficiently than a traditional court.
The conciliation is an initial meeting where the employee’s lawyer, the insurance company’s lawyer, and a conciliator all meet together to discuss the case. The conciliator is an employee of the DIA and will independently evaluate the case.
We often get questions about whether the employee should go to the conciliation with the lawyer. Although it depends on the circumstances, often the employee will not attend.The First “Meeting of the Minds” in a Workers Compensation Case
Prior to the conciliation, the employee’s lawyer will submit all of their medical records from their work related injury to the conciliator. He/she will review these records looking for a few items, including whether the employee’s injury was related to their job and that it occurred while at work.
At the conciliation, the employee will have a chance to explain to the conciliator what happened. If the conciliator determines that there was an injury and it occurred during the course of employment, the case proceeds forward to conference.
Usually at these conciliations, the insurer’s attorney will argue that the employee’s injury is not related to their course of employment, or that the employee isn’t injured.
It’s also important to remember that if the conciliator does not think you have all your information ready, your case might get rejected. That’s why it’s important to have a lawyer represent you to make sure all the information is properly submitted to the conciliator.Conciliation is a Chance to Get the Case Settled
The conciliation is also a chance to get the employee’s case resolved. Often, if an injury is minor that keeps the worker out for a short period of time, the insurance company’s lawyer will help settle the case, allowing you to go back to work. We call this a “closed period,” meaning the injuries got better. There is a start and an end date for the time the employee was unable to work as a result of their injuries.
In a situation where you have a “closed period” an effective worker’s compensation attorney will use the conciliation as an opportunity to pressure the insurer into settling the case.
That is why you need an experienced workers’ compensation attorney fighting on your side. At Marcotte Law Firm, we have that experience you need supporting you. We know when it is best to settle your case and when it is best to push the case through to a conference or even a hearing.
Call us today for a free consultation, (978) 458 – 1229.