A workplace injury can be complicated. We often have client’s who were obviously hurt on the job. If you fall and break an ankle, it’s very clear that you were hurt on the job. However, there are many injuries that are not as obvious. Sometimes, injuries like slipped discs, rotator cuff tears, and things that are not readily identifiable that frequently result from a job accident.
For injuries like these, the employer’s insurance company will often deny workers’ compensation benefits by claiming the injury is not related to the accident that happened. If you have to file a claim to get benefits, there is a multistep process. At the end is a procedure that is known as the hearing.What is a Hearing?
A hearing is the final stage of a workers’ compensation claim. It occurs at the Department of Industrial Accidents (the “DIA”). Although the DIA is an administrative agency, the Hearing acts remarkably similar to a trial that you would see in your local court. For example, there are rules as to what each party can present, witnesses testify and are cross examined, and the presentation of evidence is formal.The Hearing is a Chance to Tell Your Story
At the hearing, the employee will almost certainly testify. The employee will describe a variety of items, including how long they worked for the employer, what their wage was, what happened the day of the accident, statements made at the time of the accident, treatment plans and progression, any surgical procedures, and their overall quality of life since the accident.
Someone from the employer will often testify, as well. For example, one of your co- workers might testify about how you were injured. Or, your supervisor might testify about the incident report completed after the accident or explain surveillance footage that may have caught the injury in question.
If the employer is challenging the length of the time the employee missed or whether or not they can go back to work currently, they will almost certainly introduce a medical report written by their expert doctor which gives an analysis of the employee’s injuries.After the Hearing
If the parties want to depose the “impartial” doctor, this will occur after the hearing. A deposition is a live questioning of a witness, under oath. Transcripts of those depositions will be sent to the DIA Judge following the hearing.
At the end of the hearing, the judge will take all the evidence and issue an order. This could take a few days or a few weeks. The judge will make a decision on some of the following items:
- What date was the employee injured and whether it was a workplace injury,
- How long they are entitled to temporary total disability benefits (Section 34)
- How long they are entitled to temporary partial disability benefits (Section 35),
- Whether the Insurer has to pay for all or some of the employee’s medical bills, and/or
- Whether or not there is scar or disfigurement compensation (Section 36).
If the judge finds for the employee, money will be awarded and the employee will receive compensation, which often includes retroactive benefits. If the judge decides for the employee, the employee’s attorney fee will be paid by the insurance company. However, if the DIA Judge finds for the employer, no benefits will be awarded and the employee will receive nothing or their current benefits will be halted.
A hearing is the most complicated part of a worker’s compensation case. There are a lot of traps that someone who is representing themselves could fall into.
It is too important and you want the best on your side. Marcotte Law Firm is the best. Call us today for a free consultation, (978) 458-1229.