Best Tips to Prepare for Your Workers’ Compensation Hearing

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In almost every state in the US, including Oregon, employers are required to purchase and maintain workers’ compensation insurance coverage. This ensures that employees who are injured on the job or experience a work-related illness can file a workers’ compensation claim to get the benefits they need to cope with the financial hardship caused by their injury or condition.

But what happens if your employer and their insurance provider fail to compensate you after an injury? What if they deny that your injury happened at work or is as severe as it truly is? In cases such as these, a workers’ compensation hearing may be necessary.

 

What is a Workers’ Compensation Hearing?

Most straightforward workers’ comp cases are negotiated between you and your employer’s insurance provider and settled out of court. However, if you are unable to come to an agreement or if the responsible party has failed to provide agreed-upon compensation for your injury, a hearing may take place.

At your workers’ compensation hearing, legal counsel for both parties will present supporting evidence and make their respective cases before a judge. The hearing will be attended by you, your attorney, the insurance provider’s attorney, and a judge.

There will also be a court reporter present as well as any witnesses called for testimony. While the majority of hearings take a few hours to complete, more complex cases can last for a few days. Once your hearing has concluded and all evidence has been reviewed, the presiding judge will come to a decision regarding your workers’ comp benefits.

 

When is a Workers’ Compensation Hearing Necessary?

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If your workers’ compensation claim is denied or you disagree with the decision, you have the legal right to request a hearing and appeal the decision to the Oregon Workers’ Compensation Board. Workers’ comp hearings are frequently used to resolve disputes over lost wages, temporary or permanent disability, vocational rehabilitation, necessary medical treatments, and more.

In order to file a request for a workers’ comp hearing in Oregon, you’ll need to follow the instructions contained within 1) any denial letter you received from the insurance company or 2) any decision you received from an agency such as the Workers’ Compensation Division. Your appeal rights and the deadlines for filing a hearing request are generally written in bold at the end of a letter or agency order. For more detailed information, see the official Oregon.gov instructions for filing a hearing request.

In any workers’ compensation hearing, you’re responsible for proving your case. Your chances of winning are significantly increased if you retain an Oregon workers’ comp attorney with experience fighting for the rights of injured workers.

 

What to Do Before Your Workers’ Comp Hearing

Attend Pre-hearing Proceedings

Generally, initial proceedings such as meditation and a pretrial conference will be held prior to your hearing. While you don’t technically have to be present for these proceedings, they are designed to allow the parties to reach an agreement out of court, so it’s recommended that you attend whenever possible.

Collect Evidence

Evidence is essential to proving your case and getting the compensation you deserve. Evidence presented at a workers’ comp hearing generally includes:

  • Medical records
  • Physician’s reports
  • Proof of injuries
  • Summary of current symptoms
  • Proof of unpaid medical bills
  • Employment records
  • Any supporting documents

Reach Out to Witnesses

Each party will have the opportunity to call witnesses to testify. They may include eye-witnesses, coworkers, character witnesses, and expert witnesses. Any witness you call should be credible, an effective communicator, and possess relevant knowledge.

Talk To Your Attorney

Discuss your upcoming hearing with your workers’ comp attorney. They will walk you through the process, help you prepare for your hearing, and provide legal counsel.

 

What to Do During Your Workers’ Comp Hearing

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Arrive Early and Speak to Your Lawyer

Not only do workers’ comp and personal injury attorneys understand the law and what to expect during a hearing, but they’re also often familiar with individual judges and opposing counsel. It’s a good idea to arrive early and discuss any concerns or worries you have with your attorney ahead of time.

Dress Appropriately

Presenting yourself well is essential at a workers’ compensation hearing, as your appearance and behavior can impact your credibility. Any time you appear before a judge, it’s important to dress respectfully. Always wear professional, clean attire (just like you would at a job interview) and avoid anything revealing or ostentatious.

Do Not Speak Unless Instructed

While you may be tempted to interject, correct untrue statements made by the insurer, or make comments throughout the proceedings, you should always remain quiet unless you are specifically instructed to speak. Any disruptions or outbursts on your part could be detrimental to your case.

Be Polite and Respectful

During your hearing, you must always show respect to all parties involved, including the insurer and their attorney. When speaking to the judge, always refer to them as “Your Honor” and avoid using generalized honorifics such as “Sir” or “Ma’am.”

Be Truthful

In all likelihood, you will testify before the judge. This involves direct examination, in which your lawyer will ask you questions about your injury, and cross-examination, in which the opposing attorney will ask additional questions. You will be sworn in under oath, so it’s essential that you tell the truth.

 

What to Do After Your Workers’ Comp Hearing

After the hearing, the judge will issue a written order stating his or her decision in the case. The order is usually available within a few weeks of the hearing, but it may take longer in some cases. Regardless of the decision, you have options.

If the Outcome Is Good…

With the help of a qualified attorney, you have a good chance of winning your case and getting the benefits you deserve. If the judge rules in your favor though, it’s important to keep in mind that your employer has the right to dispute the decision as long as they request a board review within 30 days.

If the Outcome Is Not What You Hoped For…

If the judge rules against you, you have the right to dispute the decision by requesting a board review. At RGMR, we have decades of experience fighting for the rights of injured workers, and we don’t give up when the going gets tough. We’ll help you determine whether disputing the decision to the Workers’ Compensation Board or taking your case to court is the right decision for you and your family.

 

Talk To An Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney At RGMR

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If you’ve been injured at work, you may feel frustrated, depressed, and isolated, especially if you’re being denied the compensation you rightly deserve. Workers’ compensation law is notoriously complicated. But you don’t have to face this battle alone.

At Ransom, Gilbertson, Martin, & Ratliff, LLP, our expert attorneys have over 70 years of combined experience fighting for the rights of injured workers in Oregon. Should your case go to court, we have the skills, tenacity, and in-depth knowledge necessary to get you the benefits you’re entitled to.

Contact us today to discuss your case with us. We offer free consultations and we won’t take a penny from you until we win your case.

Infographic with the info found in this blog on how to prepare for workers' comp hearing

Adian Martin

Adian Martin (JD) is an accomplished attorney with over 25 years of experience. His goal is to use his legal expertise and passion for problem-solving to help people get the benefits and proper compensation they deserve after an injury. He received his law degree from Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College and is currently a partner at Ransom Gilbertson Martin & Ratliff. In his spare time, Adian enjoys exploring the outdoors with his dog and bicycling.

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