As the date of your workers’ compensation hearing draws closer, you may be feeling nervous. There could be much at stake. You were hurt while on the job, and you need compensation to cover your lost wages and medical bills. One reason why you may be nervous is because you’re not sure what to expect during the hearing.
During your workers’ compensation hearing, you will have the opportunity to present evidence supporting your claim. The judge overseeing the hearing will weigh the evidence, listen to witness testimony, and ask questions so they can make a ruling. A workers’ compensation lawyer from our firm may be able to help you.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ compensation is a form of insurance that typically covers lost income and medical expenses if you suffer an injury while doing your job. All employers must provide workers’ compensation benefits to their employees in California, according to California Labor Code Section 3700.
An employer who does not have workers’ compensation insurance can be subject to a lawsuit by an employee who gets hurt or sick. The employee can also seek benefits from a state fund.
What Steps Should You Take if You Suffer an Injury?
You suffer an injury while performing your work. You’ve never had to file a workers’ compensation claim before so that you’re not sure what to do next. Workers’ compensation benefits are important to you; otherwise, you will lose income if you are temporarily or permanently unable to work and may have to pay your medical bills out f your own pocket. After an injury, it’s best to take the following steps:
- Notify your employer: You should immediately inform your employer about your injury. You will receive a Workers’ Compensation Claim form to fill out, which your employer’s claims administrator will review.
- Seek medical treatment: If you have a doctor on file with your employer, you should seek medical treatment right away. If not, you may have to choose a doctor from within your employer’s medical provider network or wait until your employer chooses a doctor for you. The claims administrator will likely authorize care costing up to $10,000 while your claim is under review.
- Wait for the claims administrator’s decision: The claims administration will either approve or deny your claim.
- Continue medical treatment: Don’t stop receiving medical treatment. This could result in a stoppage of your benefits.
- Consult an attorney: A workers’ compensation lawyer can help you file a claim and fight for the benefits you deserve if the claims administrator denies your claim. A lawyer can also investigate your case, calculate the value of your benefits, negotiate a settlement, and file a lawsuit if necessary.
What Happens During Your Workers’ Compensation Hearing?
Your workers’ compensation hearing can seem intimidating, especially if this is your first one. Understanding what to expect at the hearing can help so there are no surprises.
- Judge: Just like a court hearing, a judge will preside over your case. Both sides will make opening statements, and any preliminary matters will be taken care of, including an explanation of procedures.
- Presentation of evidence: You and the claims administrator will both be able to present evidence during this time. Evidence you should bring to support your claim includes medical bills, video surveillance footage, witness statements, and expert opinions.
- Cross-examination: Both parties will have the opportunity to question witnesses. Even the judge can ask questions.
- Closing arguments: Both parties will also be able to make closing statements to sum up their respective cases.
- Ruling: Weighing the arguments and evidence from both sides, the judge will either rule in your favor or against you.
- Appeal: You have the right to appeal the ruling by filing a petition within 20 days of the ruling. If your appeal fails, you can appeal to the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Board.
You do not have to fight this battle alone. A workers’ compensation lawyer from our firm can handle your case and will stand by you at every hearing. We can prepare your case for the hearing and present it to the judge on your behalf.
Is There a Deadline to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
Informing your employer is not enough to file a claim. You must fill out a Workers’ Compensation Claim form and submit it within one year from the date of your injury.
If you fail to file a claim before the deadline, you won’t be able to receive benefits, and the judge will likely dismiss your case. Our law firm understands these deadlines, and we will work to meet the statute of limitations in your case.
How Long Does it Take to Settle a Workers’ Compensation Claim?
You should prepare to wait a lengthy amount of time for your case to settle. It could take up to a year or more to resolve your case before you receive benefits. Most cases settle out of court, and having legal representation can make a difference.
The claims administrator will likely make a settlement offer, which you are free to accept or reject. Our goal is to negotiate a settlement that will fairly cover the expenses you incur due to a work injury. If you accept a settlement, we will review the terms of the settlement agreement with you before you sign it.
Learn More About Workers’ Compensation Hearings Today
Your claim is important to you and your family. Your injuries could be severe, resulting in crushing medical bills and lost income that you can’t afford to not recover. This is why workers’ compensation exists. We urge you to consult with an attorney who has experience handling workers’ compensation cases.
A workers’ compensation hearing can feel intimidating. But a lawyer from KJT Law Group may be able to help. We can handle your case so you can focus on recovering. And we will proudly stand by your side during your hearing. To learn more about what to expect during a workers’ compensation hearing, please contact us today.