If you are facing workers’ compensation litigation, you may wonder what is going to happen and how long the process is going to take. Many people are surprised to learn that it can take up to two months to get a hearing date, and that the insurance company has the right to file an appeal. The fact is, the workers’ compensation process can go on for an indefinite amount of time.
This is just one of the many reasons you should speak with a workers’ compensation attorney if you are facing this type of situation. The attorney will be able to help you understand what is going on and what comes next in the litigation process.
The fact is, when you are dealing with workers’ compensation, there are two processes. The one described here is the process you will be going through if your case is being denied by your employer or the insurance carrier. However, many people believe that just because their employer is paying and treating them voluntarily, it means they are protected. This isn’t always the case, and the injured person has to file their own Claim for Benefit with the workers’ compensation commission. An attorney can help them better understand this process.
Workers’ Compensation Litigation Stage 1: The Informal Conference
This is essentially a mediation that doesn’t have any witnesses present. The only people who attend this include the person who suffered the injury, their attorney and the representation for the other side. During this process, nothing is recorded.
It is a good idea to hire an attorney to assist with this process since it can be confusing if you have never gone to an Informal Conference before. They can also let you know what the next steps will be.
Workers’ Compensation Litigation Stage 2: The Formal Hearing
After the initial informal conference, either party can appeal what is decided by requesting a formal hearing. The name of this step pretty much says it all. The formal hearing is much more than just a hearing. Both sides of the case have the opportunity to present witnesses, and everything during the formal hearing will be recorded. Additionally, during this process, rules of evidence will also apply and there are also formal discovery processes in place, such as depositions. It can take up to several months in order to receive written decisions at this level of litigation; however, the process doesn’t stop here.
Workers’ Compensation Litigation Stage 3: Appeal via Legal Memoranda
Once the formal hearing is decided, either party can, once again, file an appeal if they don’t agree with the outcome. This appeal has to be done with a written, legal Memoranda and only the lawyers for each party will be able to take care of it. These appeals are filed at the Compensation Review Board. If the Board believes a mistake was made, then the case is sent back down for another formal hearing.
Workers’ Compensation Litigation Stage 4: A Final Appeal
If either party is not happy with the decision made by the Compensation Review Board, they can file an appeal a fourth time with the Court of Appeals. During this, legal briefs will be filed by the lawyers and argued in the Judiciary Square before a Chief Judge and the decision made is final.
If you are facing workers’ compensation issues, it is a good idea to contact an attorney. More information about these cases can be found by contacting the lawyers at Hilton and Somer by calling 703-560-0700.