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Workers’ Compensation Hearings: What to Expect

Helping Santa Rosa Workers Prepare

One of the most important events in your workers’ compensation case is the hearing. The hearing is the first time that you will have a chance to tell your side of the story to a judge. The judge will listen to your testimony and consider any other evidence that you present, such as medical records and other documents. The judge will then issue a decision in your case, which can have a profound effect on your future.

At Pacific Workers’, The Lawyers for Injured Workers, we know how to prepare you for a hearing and how to get the evidence that the judge needs to make a fair decision.

Call us at (888) 740-6434 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with a workers' comp lawyer in Santa Rosa, CA.

What Happens at a Workers’ Comp Hearing?

Workers’ compensation hearings are different from other types of hearings in that they are not as formal and are typically pretty short. In addition, workers’ compensation hearings are not open to the public, which means that only the parties involved in the case, their attorneys, and the judge will be present.

At the start of the hearing, the judge will:

  • Ask the parties to introduce themselves
  • Swear in the witnesses

After that, the judge will:

  • Ask the injured worker to testify
  • Ask the injured worker’s attorney to question the injured worker
  • Ask the insurance company’s attorney to question the injured worker
  • Ask the injured worker’s attorney to present any other evidence, such as medical records
  • Ask the insurance company’s attorney to present any other evidence
  • Ask the injured worker’s attorney and the insurance company’s attorney to make closing arguments

After the hearing, the judge will issue a decision in the case. The judge may make a decision on the day of the hearing or may take several days or weeks to make a decision. There is no jury in a workers’ compensation hearing.

The judge will consider the evidence and the testimony presented at the hearing and then make a decision. They can either make a decision from the bench or take the case under submission and issue a decision later.

How to Prepare for a Workers’ Compensation Hearing

Preparing for a workers' compensation hearing is crucial to ensure you present your case effectively and maximize your chances of a favorable outcome. Here are some steps to help you prepare:

  • Understand Your Case: Start by thoroughly understanding the details of your workers' compensation claim. Know the injuries you sustained, the medical treatments you've received, and how they have impacted your ability to work.
  • Gather Evidence: Collect all relevant documents, including medical records, doctor's reports, accident reports, witness statements, correspondence with your employer or insurer, and any other relevant documentation related to your injury and treatment.
  • Consult with an Attorney: Consider consulting with a workers' compensation attorney who specializes in these cases. They can provide invaluable advice, guidance, and representation throughout the process.
  • Prepare Your Testimony: Be ready to provide a clear and concise account of the events leading up to your injury, how the injury occurred, the symptoms you've experienced, and how they have affected your ability to work and perform daily activities.
  • Review Questions and Answers: Anticipate the questions you may be asked during the hearing, and practice your responses. This can help you feel more confident and articulate during the proceedings.
  • Know the Law: Familiarize yourself with the workers' compensation laws and regulations relevant to your case. Understanding your rights and obligations can help you navigate the process more effectively.
  • Dress and Behave Professionally: Dress appropriately for the hearing, as if you were attending a job interview or formal meeting. Maintain a professional demeanor throughout the proceedings, as this can reflect positively on you.
  • Arrive Early: Plan to arrive early on the day of the hearing to allow time for any last-minute preparations and to ensure you're not rushed.
  • Bring Necessary Documents: Make sure you have multiple copies of all relevant documents to provide to the judge, your employer, or their representatives if requested.
  • Stay Calm and Focused: It's natural to feel nervous before and during the hearing, but try to stay calm and focused. Listen carefully to questions, answer truthfully, and avoid becoming emotional or argumentative.
  • Follow Up After the Hearing: After the hearing, follow up with your attorney if you have one or with the workers' compensation board to inquire about the next steps in the process and any additional documentation or information they may need.

Remember, the goal of the hearing is to present your case clearly and persuasively, so take the time to prepare thoroughly and approach the proceedings with confidence.

What Happens After a Workers’ Compensation Hearing?

After the hearing, the judge will issue a decision in the case. The judge will consider the evidence and the testimony presented at the hearing and then make a decision. The judge can either make a decision from the bench or take the case under submission and issue a decision later. The decision will be mailed to the parties and their attorneys. The decision will state whether the injured worker is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, such as medical treatment and temporary disability benefits. The decision will also state the amount of benefits that the injured worker is entitled to receive, if any. The decision will also state whether the injured worker is entitled to any other benefits, such as permanent disability benefits or vocational rehabilitation benefits.

The decision may also state that the injured worker is not entitled to any benefits. If the injured worker is not entitled to any benefits, the decision will state the reasons why the injured worker is not entitled to any benefits. The decision will also state the deadline for appealing the decision. If the injured worker is not satisfied with the decision, the injured worker can file an appeal with the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board. The injured worker has a limited amount of time to file an appeal, so it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible after receiving the decision in the case.

Call (888) 740-6434 to let our team in Santa Rosa help you prepare for your workers' comp hearing.


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Workers' Comp FAQ

  • Am I Eligible for Workers’ Compensation?

    In California, all employees are eligible for workers’ compensation with very few exceptions. If you are classified as an “employee” (rather than an “independent contractor”), you are eligible to receive benefits. This is true regardless of how many employees your employer has, how many hours you work, how much you make, whether you work part-time or full-time, or whether you are a seasonal worker. Additionally, undocumented workers are also eligible for workers’ compensation granted they meet all other eligibility requirements. In contrast, independent contractors and certain other workers, including some volunteers, household workers who are employed by a family member, and others, are not able to file for workers’ compensation benefits.

  • Can't I Just File for Workers' Compensation on My Own?

    Filing for workers' compensation on your own increases the chances that your claim will be denied. One small misstep can prevent you from obtaining the compensation you need for your injuries. In addition, the process is usually complex and tedious, especially for someone with no workers' compensation law experience. It is extremely advantageous that you seek reliable and experienced legal guidance for your claim.

  • What Can I Expect from the Workers' Compensation Process?

    As soon as you reach out to us for help, we will assign you a full-time case manager and attorney. An application will be filed with the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) on your behalf. We will get started on your case immediately to help you receive the medical care you need. If we are unable to receive a fair settlement from the insurance company, we are ready and willing to take your case to trial. After a few months, you will most likely give a deposition. One of our highly experienced attorneys will prepare you and stand at your side the entire time. You don't even have to attend court hearings! One of our trained hearing officers or attorneys can attend on your behalf.

  • Can My Employer Tell Me to Use Sick Time or Vacation/Personal Time off (PTO) If I’m Injured at Work?

    Following a work-related injury, you may not receive workers’ compensation benefits right away or your workers’ compensation claim may be denied. You may receive a note from your doctor that you may take time off work due to your injuries, but how will you be paid if you are not actively seeking workers’ compensation benefits? Your employer may tell you to use your state-mandated/employer-provided sick time in order to continue being paid while you are out of work. Once this sick time is exhausted, your employer may tell you that the only way you can continue to be paid is if you use your vacation or PTO time. In some cases, this may actually be the only way to continue receiving wages while you are out of work and not receiving workers’ compensation benefits. For more information, check out our video with Attorney Bilal Kassem on this topic by visiting our Facebook page!

  • Can I Get Workers’ Compensation If I Was Fired?

    If you were terminated while already receiving workers’ compensation benefits, this does not necessarily affect your right to receive benefits. However, if you were terminated “for cause” (for example, if you were fired because you were caught stealing from your employer), you will not be able to continue collecting benefits. If you were not fired for cause, but were laid off due to your position being terminated or various other reasons, you may still be able to continue collecting your workers’ compensation benefits. If you believe you were terminated because you filed for workers’ compensation or because you were hurt at work, you may have grounds for a retaliation claim. Learn more, including whether you can continue receiving workers’ compensation benefits if you were laid off due to the coronavirus pandemic, see our video with Attorney Bilal Kassem on our Facebook page.

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