Find out what to expect during the hearing process of a workers’ comp case
Are you in the middle of a workers’ compensation case in Arizona?
You likely have a lot of questions about the hearing process. When pursuing a workers’ compensation case, we want you to know what you can expect to experience during the hearing.
While this may seem overwhelming, remember that you can always count on an experienced and trustworthy lawyer to walk with you through the process, step by step.
Q: How long does a hearing take?
The circumstances for each hearing are different, sometimes requiring a decision to be made over the course of more than one hearing. It could take as little as half an hour or as much as several hours, depending on how many witnesses are necessary. When there are multiple hearings involved, they may spread out over several months because of scheduling and the need for internal communication.
In most cases, you will need to attend all the hearings so that you have the opportunity to question witnesses. The Administrative Law Judge will issue subpoenas to everyone who needs to testify. You may only be excused from a hearing with the judge’s consent, which is a relatively rare situation.
Q: Do I need a workers’ compensation lawyer during a hearing?
You have a right to a lawyer, and this is a right you should take advantage of. An attorney will be able to answer your questions and make sure you know what to expect during the hearing. Your lawyer will also know how to question the witnesses, thus avoiding mistakes during questioning that could impact your case’s outcome.
Although you have a legal right to represent yourself, you can only receive legal advice from an Arizona-licensed attorney. At the Law Offices of Robert E. Wisniewski, our lawyers understand the procedure and know how to avoid mistakes that could cost your case. One thing worth keeping in mind is that the other side will have attorneys, and you could be at a disadvantage without your own lawyer to help.
Q: Who manages the hearing process?
A judge will oversee the hearing process. Some of their duties include opening the record, administering the oath and concluding the hearing, which might include a date for a hearing involving both sides’ doctors. When the judge reaches a decision, your lawyer will receive a written copy of the ruling.
A workers’ compensation hearing is very much like a trial in a conventional court setting. You will be expected to address the judge appropriately when he or she speaks to you. Your lawyer will help you if you disagree with anything and wish to appeal the decision.
Q: Where will my workers’ compensation hearing take place?
There are many places where an Arizona workers’ compensation hearing might take place. The Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) has locations in Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma, Prescott and Flagstaff. When you use an attorney for your case, they will make sure you know where to appear and what time you need to arrive.
If you change your address while the hearing process is going on, both the Administrative Law Judge and the defendant will require notification. Failure to notify these parties of your change of address could cause your case’s dismissal. A change of address submitted to the post office does not fit the criteria.
Q: Who will attend the hearing?
You will usually attend this hearing with your lawyer, as well as a company representative and the attorney representing your employer. The court will provide a translator if you should require one. A court reporter also attends these hearings to record what takes place for the official record.
If you require an interpreter, the judge will need notification before the hearing. The ICA will hire the interpreter, saving you from having to take this step yourself. All written correspondence will be in English, so you will want to make sure your lawyer understands your native language.
Questions and answers about compensation for a job-related accident, injury or illness in Arizona
What should I wear and how should I act?
Your physical appearance will go a long way towards showing the judge whether you take the hearing seriously. You will need to look presentable, without visible piercings or tattoos, but not look too flashy or over-dressed.
Always act respectfully towards the judge, court employees and the defendant. The workers’ compensation process can be a stressful time for anyone wondering about the status of their case. However, combative behavior is unlikely to help your case and is best avoided.
These recommendations apply to all hearings, whether in person or virtual.
The workers’ compensation process in Arizona might seem like something that is both confusing and somewhat intimidating. The better prepared you are, the smoother the overall process will be for you. Having the right attorney on your side is likely to help your case.