Many injured employees get workers’ compensation with no problems. Sadly, this is not the case for everyone. If your claim was denied or contested, you may need to attend a workers’ compensation hearing to fight for what you need.
During this hearing, you should:
- Gather all necessary paperwork
- Contact your lawyer before the hearing
- Present yourself appropriately
When you partner with our team, we can provide more information about applying for workers’ compensation.
Why Would I Need to Request a Hearing?
There are several reasons a hearing might be necessary during a workers’ compensation case, including:
Your Claim Was Denied
This is one of the most common reasons workers need to attend court hearings. If you disagree with the insurer’s denial, you have the right to request a reconsideration hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). This hearing gives you the opportunity to present additional facts to support your case and ask the Board to reverse the denial.
You Want Your Workplace Accident Classified As “Catastrophic”
If you believe your injury was catastrophic in nature, you will need to request a hearing to obtain an official designation. This is important because if the insurer labels your case as catastrophic, you will potentially qualify for both lifetime income and medical benefits. At the hearing, the ALJ will review your medical evidence and make a determination.
You Disagree with How Your Case Was Handled
You might also have to request a hearing if the insurer made decisions about your case that you do not agree with. Examples include prematurely ceased benefits, unfair impairment ratings, and disagreements about wages and benefit amounts.
Your Condition Worsened
Lastly, if you have a significant change in your condition that would alter your benefits, you might need to request a court hearing to address it.
For instance, if you went back to work on light duty, but then your condition worsened, you will likely need a hearing to prove that your employer needs to reinstate your benefits.
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What Can I Expect During the Court Hearing?
The parties generally present at the hearing are the ALJ, the claimant, the employer/insurer’s representative, and the attorneys for both the claimant and the employer/insurer. During the court hearing, the ALJ will hear both sides of the story, review and discern the evidence, and reach a decision at the conclusion of the hearing.
This is the time to present any new evidence that you have compiled to the ALJ. Medical evidence will be a huge part of your case. Some of the information your attorney will likely compile include:
- Second opinions
- New testimonies from medical experts
- Prior medical records
- Proof of treatments
You Should Have As Much Supporting Evidence as Possible
It is important to be prepared prior to your hearing and gather as much convincing evidence as possible. Before the hearing, each party will have an opportunity to request facts and information from the other party. This is the process of discovery.
There are a lot of pieces of evidence that are “discoverable,” such as:
- Employee files
- Investigative reports
- Surveillance photos and videos
- The accident report
- Statements from witnesses
- Your medical treatment records
- Other injury-related documentation
Your lawyer can gather these items for you.
You May Be Asked to Give a Deposition
During the deposition, the other party’s attorney will ask you a series of general questions about your case, which you are required to answer under oath.
A stenographer will transcribe everything at the deposition, which you can use as evidence at the court hearing. It can be a little unnerving to depose, but these tips can help:
- Only give basic information.
- Refrain from giving objective statements and opinions.
- Dress appropriately.
- Answer each question truthfully.
If you’re giving a deposition on a video streaming platform, like Zoom, choose a neutral background in your home. Also, keep yourself free of distractions, like children or pets.
Tip #1: Gather Your Paperwork
Although your attorney will probably have almost everything you need, you should always keep copies of every document relevant to your case. Keep them organized so you can quickly find what you need.
In the days leading up to the hearing, go back and review all relevant information. Make sure you understand any key issues that could prevent you from getting your desired outcome. If you have any questions, ask your attorney to explain in more detail, so you’re prepared to give accurate answers.
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Tip #2: Contact Your Lawyer a Few Days Before the Hearing
If you have not already done so, speak with your attorney shortly before the hearing. The hearing is similar to a trial, except there is no jury, and the rules are more informal. This means the ALJ is allowed to ask you questions directly and has wide latitude when doing so.
Since you will be giving testimony and explaining your side of the case, you want to make sure you are prepared. Your lawyer can explain this process in more detail.
Tip #3: Present Yourself as Best as Possible
Depending on your situation, your hearing will either take place in a courthouse or over video chat. Here, the ALJ will control your case’s progress and outcome. There will be an attorney for the defense, who will also have an opportunity to question you. Although the hearing is less formal in terms of the rules and procedures, you should not dress informally.
The Huffington Post suggests:
- Dress like you’re going to a job interview. Keep flashy jewelry to a minimum, shower beforehand, and wear clean clothes.
- Put your phone away. Your full attention should be on your case. You’ll have plenty of time afterward to tell your friends and family how your hearing went. You should also put your phone on silent.
- Only speak when spoken to. While hearings can be emotionally charged, refrain from any outbursts or comments. You want to present yourself as professionally as possible.
- Don’t bring your children. You want your full attention on the matter at hand. You don’t want any distractions that place your attention elsewhere.
Ultimately, you want to show the ALJ that you are a real person who was seriously injured. You want the ALJ to see you as a valuable employee who is worth every penny you are seeking. If you present yourself too casually or inappropriately, you risk making a bad impression.
Connect with Bader Scott Injury Lawyers to Learn More
If you have any questions about preparing for a successful workers’ compensation hearing, contact the Georgia workers’ compensation attorneys at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers. We have secured millions of dollars in workers’ compensation settlements, including a $5.25 million award for an injured employee.
To begin your free case review, call (404) 888-8888.