What to expect and how to prepare for your workers’ comp hearing
After filing a workers’ compensation claim, meeting with an Arizona work injury attorney is often the next step in the process. You’ll be able to talk about what happened to cause the accident and the medical treatments that you’ve had.
Once all of the information has been recorded, your attorney can work to schedule a hearing in court. According to the Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA), you must first complete a Request for Hearing Form:
“This form may be used to request a hearing. It must be completed in its entirety including the reason for the request. The request for hearing should indicate which notice, award or order is being protested and the grounds on which the hearing is requested. Failure to state the reason for the request may cause a delay in processing.”
If there is enough evidence to support your claim, then you might not have to go to court. Instead, you might be able to meet with a representative from your employer and someone from the insurance company to determine the best way to settle the claim.
However, if you do have to go to court, there are a few steps that you can expect during the process, as well as a few things that you should and shouldn’t do while you’re in court.
Talking to the workers’ comp hearing judge
While you’re at the hearing, your attorney will try to show why you deserve workers’ compensation. Your attorney will likely have a list of the treatments that you might need, as well as a list of the bills that you need to pay each month while you’re out of work and the amount of income that you’re missing due to your injury.
Evidence is usually presented at this time as well.
Details before the hearing
There will usually be a few details that need to be worked on before you go to court for your hearing. Mediation and conferences with your employer or a representative will usually take place before going to court. These meetings are held to see if there’s any way that you can work out an agreement outside of court, which can result in less money being spent on court fees. This could result in getting the money from your workers’ compensation settlement sooner than if you were to go through court proceedings.
Information will usually be exchanged between each party, such as the insurance representative and your attorney. Your attorney can usually go to these meetings without you being present and then relay the information discussed, which is sometimes beneficial if your injuries prevent you from easily getting out of your home.
Try to get as organized as possible before going to court by creating a folder that includes all of your medical payments and bills, any records from your medical doctor about your injury, documents that you’ve received from your employer and information about the payments that you need to make each month for your household.
Questions and answers about compensation for a job-related accident, injury or illness in Arizona
At the hearing
When you arrive at the in-person or virtual hearing with your attorney, you’ll go before a judge to talk about the incident and your injuries. You’ll discuss any communication that you’ve had with your employer and how you’ve been treated by the business after the incident. The judge will listen to all of the evidence presented to determine if the information given is plausible and if you should be given workers’ compensation benefits.
Try to dress as professionally as possible so that you look respectful to the court. Your hearing could last for a few hours, depending on the evidence that needs to be presented and the number of people who need to talk to the judge.
There will usually be a short break at some point during the hearing. Use this time to meet with your attorney to discuss any new details you’ve thought of and to discuss the direction the hearing is going.
If there are any medications you’ve been prescribed, make sure you take them to court with you. Also, note any details about treatments that your doctor has arranged in order to show that your injuries are legitimate.
While at the hearing, you’ll probably need to take the stand in court so that you can offer details about how the accident happened. You will be cross-examined by the employer’s attorney or by the insurance company’s representative. Make sure you talk about what you do while on the job and if you have made any attempt to return to work after healing from your injury.
A decision will be made by the judge after hearing all of the details presented in court. Keep in mind that it could take up to 90 days before you hear anything from the judge. If you’re denied, your attorney may file an appeal.