by Kara Dolan-West | Oct 09, 2020 | Hearing Process
When an injured worker suffers an injury at work, navigating the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation system can be stressful and challenging. Depending on the types of issues occurring within an individual claim, many matters may end up at the hearing level before a District Hearing Officer or Staff Hearing Officer. Some third level appeals may even end up before the full Industrial Commission panel.
If you find yourself with a Notice of Hearing and are wondering what to expect, here are a few tips:
- A hearing officer will preside over the hearing. Depending on the issue, the hearing officer may explain the hearing process, or may simply jump in to starting the hearing. Generally, the requesting party will start the hearing with their argument on the merits. Next the opposing party with argue, followed by a rebuttal opportunity by the initiating party. It is important that you review the supporting medical for your given issue and any possible legal arguments that may help your cause. If you find yourself with an upcoming hearing, it may be helpful to speak with an attorney about your claim. If you need assistance, the experienced attorneys at The Bainbridge Firm are ready and able to help you.
- Remember, the hearings before the Industrial Commission are not quite as formal as hearings before a court tribunal. However, you must still be very professional and respectful. The hearing officer will let you know when you are permitted to speak. It is very important that you do not interrupt the opposing counsel or opposing party during his or her argument. You will be provided opportunities to speak but should never interrupt the speaking party. You are encouraged to take notes and save your thoughts for your turn to speak. Hearings are often limited to 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or one hour. Remember to keep your arguments concise and to the point so that you are using your time in the most effective manner possible.
- It is very important that you are on time for hearings. The hearing will likely not delay because you are late. If you are going to be late for any reason, it is very important that you contact your legal counsel or the Industrial Commission directly. If you face an emergency right before your hearing that may prevent you from attending, it is also very important that you communicate this to the Industrial Commission or your legal counsel. If an emergency arises, you may be able to request a Continuance of Hearing. If granted, your hearing may be set for another day in the future to accommodate your attendance.
As mentioned above, your claim may require a hearing to add additional medical conditions to your claim, argue for medical treatment or medication, or to request wage-related benefits. All of these issues may be stronger with a legal argument behind them. If you are set for an upcoming hearing and would like to know more about what to expect, and if you need a workers’ compensation attorney to help you, reach out to The Bainbridge Firm for advice. We are here to help!
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