Workers Compensation Attorneys and Lawyers on Workers Comp Hearings in CA
If you have a dispute with your workers’ compensation case, you may have to take the insurance company to court in order to receive fair and full compensation for losses caused by your workplace injury. Sometimes, a workers’ compensation claim could be worse than the physical pain of suffering an on-the-job injury as the claim process could become long-drawn and complicated.
If you and your employer are unable to agree on what is fair compensation, you may choose to go into mediation. However, if attempts at mediation have failed, your case may need to go to trial before a judge. During this workers’ compensation hearing, the injured worker, the employer and the insurance company will have an opportunity to present evidence and bring forth witnesses to support their respective claims.
Preparing for Your Hearing
If your case goes to a hearing, you will most likely need to testify under oath. So, you should prepare for this in advance. This doesn’t mean you memorize a speech or rehearse your testimony. What’s important is that you should have all the key facts of the case in your head, exactly the way it happened. You can also help your lawyer prepare for the hearing by giving him or her all the relevant information.
First, understand precisely how your accident and injuries occurred. If the insurance company disputes the fact that your injury is covered by workers’ comp, attorneys for the insurance company will ask you how, where and when the accident occurred. Refresh your memory by reviewing accident reports and medical records that describe how your accident occurred and what injuries you suffered. It is critical that you ensure that your description of the incident is consistent with those records. If there are any errors or inconsistencies in what has been recorded, be prepared to explain those.
It helps to have a timeline of the medical treatment you received for your workplace injury. This includes which doctors or specialists you saw for medical treatment, any diagnoses you received, the major treatments you’ve received and their outcomes, and the types of work restrictions you face. Identify your physical limitations including what types of activities you cannot do and for how long.
Remember that the insurance company may be monitoring your social media sites and may even have video surveillance footage of you. They won’t hesitate to use this as evidence against you during a hearing. For example, if you say you have a physical limitation against you and they find a video of you skiing on Facebook, you can bet they’ll use it against you during the hearing. This is why it’s a good idea to shut down your social media accounts until your claim is resolved. Do not engage online or in person with any representatives for the insurance company. Do not enter a settlement or sign any papers without first consulting your workers’ compensation lawyer.
Be sure to talk to anyone – co-workers or other bystanders – who may have witnessed your accident. This type of eyewitness testimony could prove valuable during your workers’ compensation hearing. Finally, remember that you will be testifying under oath. So, answer each question completely, honestly and to the best of your recollection. Only answer the question that is asked, and avoid volunteering any information. Follow your attorney’s advice.
What You Can Expect
Be sure you arrive early for the hearing so you can clear any last-minute questions with your attorney and calm yourself down. It is important that you wear business attire and appear well groomed. Be prepared to spend several hours at the hearing even though it could end sooner. So, come prepared with any medical equipment or medications you may need during this time.
During the hearing, which will be heard by a workers’ comp judge, your attorney and the insurance company’s lawyer will each have the chance to present their sides. The lawyers will present medical evidence, go over accident reports or other documents, question witnesses and make their legal arguments. You will most likely testify and be question by either attorney. It is crucial that you are respectful toward the process including the attorneys and the judge.
It would be in your best interest to remain calm even if you believe that you are being asked an unfair question or not being treated properly by the insurance company’s lawyer. If you don’t know the answer to a question, you do not have to answer it. If you don’t remember a fact, just say: “I don’t recall.” The last thing you want to be doing here is guessing the answers.
Once the hearing is over, the judge will take into submission the attorneys’ arguments as well as all the evidence and witness testimony presented during the hearing. However, it might take a few weeks for the judge to issue a written order on the case. In California, this order is usually issued within one to three months of the hearing. If you don’t agree with the order, you may appeal the judge’s decision.
Why You Need a Workers’ Comp Lawyer
If you have suffered injuries severe enough to seek medical treatment and miss days of work, then it would be in your best interest to retain the services of an experienced Los Angeles workers’ compensation lawyer. If the facts of your case are in dispute and you anticipate that the case may go before a judge, you certainly need an attorney on your side who will fight to protect your rights and look out for your best interests.
Employers usually have insurance companies and their lawyers looking for ways to minimize the payout or deny your claim. You need a vocal advocate on your side who will help you collect the necessary evidence, compile all your documents and prepare you for the hearing. This will give you the best possible shot at getting the benefits you need and rightfully deserve. If you or a loved one has been injured on the job, contact the experienced Los Angeles workers’ compensation attorneys at the ODG Law Group for a free, comprehensive and confidential consultation.