Workers' Compensation Hearings
In some Connecticut workers’ compensation cases, a hearing is required to settle disputes over benefits or other issues. Injured workers have the right to be represented at these hearings by a workers’ compensation attorney of their choice.
The steps in a workers’ compensation hearing include the informal hearing, the pre-formal hearing and the formal hearing.
1. The Informal Hearing
When there is a dispute over benefits in workers’ compensation, Kocian Law Group attorneys will often request a meeting (hearing) with one of our Workers’ Compensation Commissioners. Hearings can be an important part of the process of securing benefits, and knowing which type of hearing to ask for and when to ask for it is key to success. Kocian Law Group attorneys know how to use hearings and when to use them to the best advantage of our clients.
The first type of hearing held on most workers’ compensation claims is an informal hearing. Informal hearings are a time to introduce the Commissioner to the issues in a case, such as the need for weekly checks or treatment. It is also a time to present the Commissioner with evidence supporting the injured worker’s position, such as medical reports, wage records and out-of-work notes.
At an informal hearing, the Commissioner will usually review the evidence presented and make recommendations as to the issues. For instance, if the benefits amount is in dispute, the Commissioner will make a recommendation as to the amount that should be paid. A Commissioner’s recommendations are usually followed. When followed, the Commissioner’s recommendations often resolve the dispute.
In some instances, such as the failure to pay benefits, it may be appropriate to request that an informal hearing be scheduled on an emergency basis. An emergency hearing must be requested specifically, however.
Kocian Law Group attorneys know when and how to obtain a hearing on an emergency basis. If you need an emergency hearing, schedule a free initial consultation with the Kocian Law Group, to discuss your needs.
2. The Pre-Formal Hearing
If the dispute cannot be resolved at an informal hearing, Kocian Law Group attorneys will push your case to a pre-formal hearing. The pre-formal hearing stage prepares the parties for a formal hearing of the workers’ compensation claim.
At this stage, the workers’ compensation insurer will usually be represented by an attorney, who may dispute the need for a formal hearing. When the state’s workers’ compensation department is involved, the Office of the Attorney General participates in pre-formal hearings.
More time is allotted for a pre-formal hearing than for an informal hearing. The additional time is offered so both sides can discuss:
- who will be called as a witness at the formal hearing;
- the documents, records, or physical evidence that will be presented at the formal hearing;
- the testimony that will be presented at the formal hearing, and
- the possibility of a settlement or resolution that would eliminate the need for a formal hearing.
At a pre-formal hearing, your Kocian Law Group attorney will demonstrate to the Commissioner which benefits should be paid and why they should be paid. We will also discuss with the Commission the witnesses we intend to call, the medical information we believe is germane to the case, and the evidence we intend to present in the event the issue is not addressed to our satisfaction. In response, the Commissioner will tell both sides how the case should proceed. In essence, the pre- formal hearing is the last and final opportunity the parties have to resolve the disputed issues before a formal hearing is scheduled. If you have a pre-formal hearing scheduled, Kocian Law Group attorneys can meet with you to discuss how to present your case to get the benefits you deserve.
3. The Formal Hearing
When an injured worker is refused benefits by the insurance company at an informal hearing and at a pre-formal hearing, the Commissioner can schedule a formal hearing. A formal hearing is a trial. The Commissioner acts as both judge and jury, making a final determination of the facts and how the law applies to them. Witnesses are sworn in and take the stand to offer testimony. Medical records and other documents are submitted as evidence. A court reporter takes down the proceedings verbatim. Not surprisingly, all parties at a formal hearing are typically represented by experienced attorneys.
Once the hearing is complete, the Commissioner issues a statement known as a “Finding and Award.” For a successful workers’ compensation claimant, the Finding and Award requires the insurance company to pay the benefits due.
A formal hearing is usually the final hearing in any workers’ compensation case. Whereas during the informal hearing the Commissioner recommended that the insurance company pay, in the formal hearing the Commissioner has the power to order the insurance company to pay.
Contact the Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Attorneys at Kocian Law Group
Kocian Law Group attorneys are skilled at presenting evidence and witness testimony at formal hearings. If you need a formal hearing on your workers’ compensation case, do not hesitate to schedule a consultation with the attorneys at the Kocian Law Group.