Updated on July 15, 2020
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Industrial Commission of Arizona has been holding hearings via video conferencing using the Google Meet application. This technology has been implemented because it is important that our justice system continues to move forward so that injured workers like you are provided a timely resolution to your case.
It’s becoming clear that no one is returning the “old normal” anytime soon, and no one really knows what the “new normal” will be. However, one element of the new normal is workers’ compensation hearings performed via video conferencing through a variety of platforms, such as Microsoft Teams, Google Meet/Hangouts and/or Zoom.
Here are the Law Offices of Robert E. Wisniewski, our Arizona workers’ compensation attorneys have participated in multiple video conference hearings. It has been our experience that most people have not used video conferencing and are unfamiliar with not only how it works, but also what it takes to have a successful video conference.
Based on our experience, we’ve put together the following tips for you to successfully participate in the video conference hearing:
Tip #1: Dress for court
It’s important that you dress appropriately for court regardless of whether the hearing is done via video conferencing or in person. During the video hearing, the administrative law judge (ALJ) will have the opportunity to personally observe your demeanor. For this reason, it’s important that you shower, dress and groom yourself appropriately to demonstrate to the judge that you are taking your case seriously. If your injury prevents you from getting ready, please have a friend or family member assist you.
Tip #2: Make sure you have a smartphone, tablet or computer with internet access
To participate, you will need to have access to the internet via a smartphone, tablet or computer. While it is best to use a computer that is connected directly to the internet, a Wi-Fi connection will also work. Our office will provide you with step-by-step details on how to join the video conference hearing.
Tip #3: Do a practice video conference
Our office will do a test run with you so that you are familiar with the process. Your questions will be answered so you are comfortable during the hearing. If you don’t have access to the internet, please advise our office so that other arrangements can be made.
Tip #4: Conduct the hearing in a quiet and well lit room
Make sure to conduct the hearing in a quiet room away from other people, pets or other potentially disruptive noises and distractions. A well lit room that is free from clutter will allow the judge to focus on you and see you clearly.
Don’t be in a dark room, but also don’t be in a room with too much sunlight and glare. Keep the background simple, eliminating clutter and distractions.
Tip #5: Look straight into the camera
During the hearing, you will be asked questions by your attorney, the defense attorney and also the judge. It’s important that you look straight into the camera so that the parties present can see you. Placing your device on a solid surface will help you to prevent you from moving the smartphone, tablet or computer. Don’t mumble, and remember to smile!
Tip #6: Be patient when responding
At times during the hearing, you may experience a delay in the video or sound. It’s important that you listen to the question being asked of you. Wait for the speaker to complete the question before you provide an answer. When you answer, speak slowly and clearly so the judge hears your response to all of the questions asked.
It’s important that only one person speaks at a time in order to avoid speaking over one another. If you are unable to hear the question, please ask that the question be stated again. Using headphones, earphones or earbuds may help you hear better.
The same rules apply when you had live hearings or depositions. For example, you should fully listen to the question before answering, and only answer the question being asked. Don’t guess, don’t estimate and don’t nod your head. Answer clearly and verbally.
Also, don’t ramble on. Often, clients feel they need to tell the “whole story.” Rather, listen to your lawyer and only convey what is important, relevant and salable to the judge. What you think is important might differ from the picture your lawyer is trying to develop for the judge.
Tip #7: Block enough time
Sometimes technology is unreliable or other factors may cause a delay. Please block plenty of time to allow for any issues that may arise at the time of your hearing. Do not book any appointments immediately before or after your scheduled hearing time. If you have another appointment, you may feel rushed and impatient with the proceedings and this will show in your manner.
Tip #8: Take a deep breath and relax
We will thoroughly prepare you for your hearing. Remember, at this time during the coronavirus pandemic this is the only opportunity for the judge to see and view you. We want the Judge to rule in your favor, and the judge has to like you to believe you. In order to make your best impression upon the judge, listen to our advice and follow these tips.