Preparing for any type of hearing can be unnerving and stressful. When it comes to preparing for a workers’ compensation appeals board hearing, the feeling is no different for injured employees seeking workers’ compensation benefits.
How should an individual prepare for his or her upcoming hearing before the appeals board? We have asked attorney, Alaina Sullivan, and here is what she had to say:
Review the Answer Provided by the Attorney
One of the first steps the client should take is to review the answer submitted by the employer. Once the appeal is submitted by the attorney or client, the employer has the right to respond in a formal answer.
This official answer, filed with the board, will give a preview of what the employer will be arguing on appeal and will help the employee prepare testimony and accumulate evidence to submit in rebuttal.
It is ultimately the best way for the client to prepare his or her game plan in preparing for the case and day of hearing. If the employee has hired an attorney, he or she will already be aware of this fact and will use this information to help guide the client in this preparation.
Undergo a Medical Evaluation
The employee will also need to undergo an independent medical evaluation (IME) if the employer or workers’ compensation insurance carrier requests it. The purpose of this IME is to identify the cause of the injury and assess just how extensive and serious the disability may be.
In some states, an IME can be requested by the workers’ compensation claims board. It can also be scheduled per an agreement between the injured employee’s attorney and the workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
The injured employee can object to the IME, but it is not always a good idea to do this. Objecting to being evaluated could come across as the employee admitting that his or her injury is not as severe as was originally claimed.
It is always a good idea to come to the IME prepared by bringing any requested medical information or reports and to respond to all questions honestly and fully.
If the individual is really hurt, he or she should not have reason to worry about the IME. It should only prove what the person is already saying in terms of his or her inability to work.
Accumulate the Evidence
The injured employee will need to gather any and all evidence that could support the claim that he or she has been injured while on the job and that the injury has resulted in a disability.
If he or she has hired an attorney, it can help the attorney a great deal if the client can do the background work as much as possible. This can mean accumulating medical records or other accompanying documents.
Also, the client will need to line up expert witnesses who can help support the claim and testify to the extent of the injuries sustained. If any eyewitnesses saw the actual incident occur, these individuals can help as well.
Many medical experts will not come to testify without a subpoena. The injured employee’s attorney can help prepare these subpoenas and serving them on the witness to ensure that he or she will testify.
It is best to serve these subpoenas via certified mail to have proof that they have been received and to mail them well in advance to make sure the witness has plenty of time to schedule the appearance in court.
The injured employee will want to practice his or her testimony when it comes to the injury and how it happened. If he or she has an attorney, it can help to have the attorney do a practice simulation of testifying.
It can seriously hurt the client to go into the hearing completely unprepared and unaware of what to expect. Review the summary of what happened and make sure that it flows and that all details have been covered.
Have the attorney cross-examine the client so that he or she knows what to expect when it comes to the hard questions that should be expected from the other side.
Contact an Attorney Today
If you are in the process of pursuing workers’ compensation and have questions about how you should be preparing for your upcoming workers’ compensation hearing, a workers’ compensation attorney can help review your case and discuss your options.
An attorney can listen to the facts of the case and can best advise you on how to proceed. Contact an attorney experienced in workers’ compensation law to schedule a consultation today.