If your workers’ comp claim is denied, you may wish to file a hearing to appeal the decision. While you may at first envision a judge and 12 jurors hearing your case, the reality of how workers’ comp disputes are resolved in court is a lot different than you would probably expect.
How Does a Workers’ Comp Hearing Work?
The most important thing to understand is that workers’ comp claim disputes are heard in an administrative court by an administrative law judge. This legal process is different compared to most civil and criminal matters, so the popular conception of what a courtroom looks like and how events play out doesn’t really apply here.
During this bench trial, the judge will ask each party to state the issues in dispute and what should be decided. Each side can also call witnesses that they feel could be useful to prove their case, but these witnesses may also be cross-examined by the opposite side. Similarly, each side can enter evidence—typically documents relevant to the work injury such as medical records, accident reports, bills, etc.—into the record for the judge’s consideration.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the administrative judge will consider the arguments and evidence each side has presented and issue a decision.
Workers’ Comp Hearings Are for More Than Just Denials
It’s important to note that workers’ comp hearings may be filed to resolve disputes other than claim denials. For example, an injured employee may wish to file a hearing to receive wage benefits or medical benefits if an insurance company should have already paid these but is refusing to do so.
How Do I Prepare for a Workers’ Comp Hearing?
If you intend to file for a workers’ compensation hearing, the first you should do is consult with an attorney. An experienced legal professional can guide you through the entire process and make the rest of your preparation a lot easier.
You should also familiarize yourself with Georgia’s workers’ comp laws and legal issues as they relate to your claim. This means researching regulations, statutes, and court decisions that can help you formulate your argument. We previously mentioned the important role documentation will have at a hearing, so it’s also important to gather as much of that as possible for your attorney to review.
The most important thing you can do to prepare, however, is find an attorney you trust to provide the legal advocacy you need. If you aren’t confident in the legal help you’re currently receiving, it’s worth reconsidering another professional who may be better able to help you.
Do I Need an Attorney for a Workers’ Comp Hearing?
While you can represent yourself in a workers’ comp hearing, it’s a good idea to hire an attorney to represent you instead. A legal professional should understand the administrative process and how to develop a legal strategy to help you succeed with your appeal.
Even if you are yourself an attorney, you may not be familiar with how to handle a workers’ comp dispute. This means that someone without any such legal training should certainly consider hiring legal help when their claim is in dispute.
Contact Us for Legal Representation
The Law Office of Brian H. Sumrall can provide the legal advice and services you require to protect your workers’ compensation claim. From assisting you with the filing process to representing you during any hearings or appeals that may be necessary, you can rely on our experienced legal counsel to guide you through each step of the way.
If you are ready to move forward with your workers’ compensation claim, contact us today.