If workers’ comp were an animal, it might be a liger, a cross between a lion and a tiger. That’s because workers’ comp claims are a crossbreed — the same as filing a lawsuit, but the courts, judges and rules are different. (Judges are called deputy commissioners and the court is called the Industrial Commission.) Workers’ comp claims look simple: forms are sent to you in the mail that only take minutes to complete. Few people would file their own lawsuits in Superior Court and fight motions and take depositions. But because the forms look simple and cost nothing to file, many injured employees file their own requests for hearing.
A workers’ compensation hearing is a difficult animal too. It requires that medical and personnel records be put into evidence, witnesses be prepared to testify, and stipulations (facts that both parties agree on) be made. But as difficult as it is to prepare for a hearing in front of the Industrial Commission, it is even more difficult to get the medical evidence that you must have in order to win your case.
Doctors do not testify at the hearing, so their court testimony is taken in their office at their convenience with a court reporter. Although it is possible to ask questions of the doctor in writing, it is not easy to ask the right questions. And if you don’t ask the right questions, you will not win your case.
You should know that the insurance company will have an experienced attorney there to work hard so that you won’t win your hearing; don’t you want an experienced, board-certified lawyer on your side?
Valerie Johnson has successfully represented more than a thousand individuals in their workers’ compensation claims. We are board-certified specialists who know the law. Read more about workers’ comp in the downloadable guide Workers’ Comp 101, or request a free copy.