What Should I Expect at a Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Hearing?

Sometimes workers’ compensation claims in Baton Rouge, LA get denied. When this happens, as an injured employee, you can appeal the decision. If you can’t reach a settlement with your employer’s insurer, you may have to go before a judge. This formal workers’ comp hearing is where you try to prove that you are indeed entitled to benefits.

You will need a lawyer for the workers’ comp hearing. You need to convince the judge that you are entitled to the benefits you have claimed. Also, you need to present evidence and sound legal arguments. You should not be hesitant to hire a Louisiana workers’ compensation lawyer. You typically don’t pay them unless you win your case. Therefore, you don’t have anything to lose but you stand to benefit significantly from their experience.

What Happens During the Workers’ Comp Hearing Process According to a Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Lawyer

The workers’ comp hearing may be your first time before the judge. You may not have been present for the preliminary hearings but the process is similar to that of a trial. At the hearing, you will present your case to the judge. You may be frustrated that the case had to reach this point but you should still be respectful. You should also be on time and appropriately dressed.

The hearing will likely last for a few hours although complicated claims can go on for days. You may get breaks if the proceedings continue for a long time. If you will need to take medication for your injuries or illness, make sure you bring it with you. Ask your attorney if there is anything else you need to bring.

The insurance company’s lawyer will be present along with an insurance company representative and a representative of your employer. Witnesses and a court reporter may also be there.

Submission of Evidence

At the start of the proceedings, both sides will present a number of documents to the judge.

These will include:

  • Medical records
  • Medication bills
  • Evidence of lost wages
  • Employment records
  • Depositions and expert witness reports

Your lawyer will be sure to submit only those documents which are allowed under the law. He will also have given copies to the insurance company’s lawyer ahead of time.

Testimony and Cross-Examination

You will likely be called upon to testify during the workers’ comp hearing. If so, you will be placed under oath. Your Louisiana workers’ compensation lawyer will then ask you several questions. You will share the circumstances in which you were injured and how the injury has impacted you. You will also state your previous duties, your training, and education, and if you attempted to return to work. Afterward, the insurance company’s lawyer will cross-examine you and the judge may also ask you questions.

Make sure you answer all the questions truthfully. If you don’t know the answer, say so. Don’t say what you think the lawyer or judge wants to hear or what you think will help you win. Dishonesty may cost you the case. Your attorney will most likely have told you not to introduce hearsay or inadmissible evidence.

Witness Testimony

Both your workers’ comp lawyer and the insurance company’s attorney may want witnesses to testify. They may be fellow employees who saw the accident, the insurance adjuster or relevant experts. Doctors usually provide their testimony earlier in a written deposition. Attorneys for both sides have the opportunity to question the witnesses.

The Decision

The judge’s decision is unlikely to be made during the hearing. The judge will want time to review the evidence submitted by both sides and study all the testimony. Both you and the insurance company may be able to provide written briefs summarizing your positions after the hearing. The judge will also take this into consideration before delivering a decision. The decision will be mailed to you, your workers’ comp lawyer in Baton Rouge and the insurance company. Judges typically issue decisions within one to three months.

It’s possible the judge will rule against you. Given the length of the process, you can decide with your lawyer whether you want to appeal. Your appeal will have to be submitted to Circuit Court of Appeal within 30 days.

Contact a Workers’ Comp Lawyer in Baton Rouge to Appeal Your Denied Claim

As you can see, a workers’ compensation hearing requires a lot of preparation. The hearing itself can also be a lot to handle. If your workers’ comp claim was denied and negotiation proved futile, call a Baton Rouge workers’ comp attorney at Louisiana Injury Lawyers. These Baton Rouge legal experts are experienced and committed to helping you get the compensation you deserve. They work on a contingency basis so they don’t get paid unless you win your case.