What to Expect at A Workers’ Compensation Hearing
If your workers’ comp claim was fully, or even just partially, denied, you still have a chance at getting all the compensation you deserve for your work injury. The appeals process could take time and effort, but with the right workers’ comp attorney, you could start receiving full benefits. Appealing a workers’ compensation denial consists of a few steps. To learn about what happens during Step 4: The Hearing, read on.
Steps in the Appeal Process for a Hearing in MA
- Step 1: Filing an appeal
- Step 2: Conciliation
- Step 3: Conference
- Step 4: Hearing
- Step 5: Review Board
What Happens Before the Hearing in Massachusetts?
Before your hearing takes place, you will be required to have a medical examination by an impartial doctor. The judge will choose the physician you see to keep the process fair.
This impartial medical examiner will have copies of all your medical reports to help form an opinion on whether or not your injury or illness is, in fact, work-related. The doctor will also include the type and severity of your disability in his or her report.
In the state of Massachusetts, this report is the only medical evidence that can be submitted to the judge. All prior medical opinions from your personal doctor or the insurer’s doctor do not count.
What Happens at the Work Comp Hearing?
Workers’ comp hearings are very similar to trials. The administrative judge who heard your case during your conference will make a final decision based on this formal hearing.
At this hearing, which usually takes place a few months after the conference, you will:
- Present evidence
- And be cross-examined
Witnesses such as co-workers can also testify and physical evidence such as medical bills and diagnostic studies can be presented. It is very beneficial to have a workers’ comp attorney during this process, especially since hearings can be complex and advocating for yourself can be difficult under the circumstances.
A typical workers’ compensation hearing may go like this:
- Opening statements by each side
- Your attorney will present your case and cross-examine witnesses
- Your employer’s attorney will have a chance to explain any damaging testimony
- Your employer’s attorney will present their case and cross-examine witnesses
- Closing arguments from each side
- The judge may make a decision immediately or take up to a few months to reach a decision
What Happens After the Workers Comp Hearing?
The judge will notify you by mail of his or her final decision based on the evidence presented during the hearing. If the judge denies your claim, you can appeal to the Reviewing Board, made up of six administrative judges. You must file this appeal within 30 days of the judge’s decision.
Contact a Massachusetts Workers’ Comp Attorney
Hearings can be stressful, overwhelming, and time-consuming, especially if you’re trying to go it alone. That’s why working with a workers’ comp attorney to advocate on your behalf, cross-examine witnesses, present evidence and arguments, and ask the right questions, is essential if you want the best possible outcome.
Our workers’ comp attorneys at Powers & Caccavale are experienced in winning appeals for our clients. If you need help, contact us by filling out our free case evaluation or by calling us at (617) 379-0016.