When you suffer an injury or illness caused by your job-related duties in Greenwood, SC, you are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. However, your employer or the insurer may not always be willing to accept your claim. If you think that your claim was unjustly denied, you have the option of appealing against the decision with help from a good workers’ compensation lawyer in Greenwood, SC. When you do, you’ll need to attend a hearing.
Once you appeal the decision, a number of other proceedings follow. You are then legally required to attend mediation. This is attended by you, your lawyer and the insurance company. The aim of the mediation is to resolve the claim before it goes to court and reach a settlement. A third-party unrelated to you or the insurance company is typically present to oversee the mediation.
When mediation negotiations fail, your claim then goes to a pretrial conference. It is at this conference that you are required to provide relevant information to the presiding judge and the representatives of the insurance company. The company also provides any relevant information it has on the case with you and the judge. The actual hearing on your workers’ compensation claim begins soon afterwards.
Before the Hearing
It is important to know what happens at the hearing and to prepare accordingly well ahead of it. You also need to organize the relevant evidence so that it is at hand during the course of the hearing. Such evidence may include medical records, doctors’ reports and any other documentation that your lawyer may deem as important.
In addition, you should know how the hearing works. You can request a hearing by submitting a Form 15, Form 20, or Form 52 with the Judicial Department of the Workers’ Compensation Commission. The hearing is basically presided over by a judge. You are required to present your arguments and evidence, and the same is done by the other side. The judge evaluates the evidence and the statements presented by both sides.
The hearing takes place at a designated place and on a specified time. You must make sure you reach the venue on time. You must also be dressed suitably for the occasion. Expect the hearing to last at least a few hours.
During the Hearing
In a workers’ compensation hearing, both sides are present. You may be accompanied by your lawyer if you hire one. The insurance company may also have a representative present in addition to its lawyer. Apart from the presiding judge, a court reporter often attends a hearing to transcribe the proceedings. Depending on the claim, the judge may further require the presence of any relevant witnesses.
When the hearing begins, the first thing a judge requires is for you and the other side to submit relevant documents. These are legally known as ‘exhibits.’ They may include medical records, witness statements, deposition reports, evidence of lost wages, evidence of unpaid medical bills, and more. You are also legally required to inform the insurance company about the documents you are going to submit as exhibits.
After the exhibits are submitted, the judge then asks you to testify. In your testimony, you must shed light on relevant facts such as the actual incident that caused your injury, the symptoms and other problems caused by your injury, your education, work history, and so on.
Your lawyer first asks you a set of questions in order to bring out the relevant facts. It is then the turn of the insurance company’s lawyer to ask you questions. It is best to be honest and straightforward at this point. If you don’t know an answer or don’t remember, simply say so. The other party’s lawyer will make an effort to daunt you, make you nervous or trick you into answering something falsely. So you must be calm, patient and forthcoming with the correct answers.
Other witnesses, as confirmed to the judge previously may likewise come, given their testimony and then be questioned by both sides.
After the Hearing
The hearing can go on for a few hours or even a few days. You will have a final opportunity to defend your claim by submitting any final arguments as a written brief. The judge will then consider the statements, testimony and the evidence. In most cases, the judge will mail you a decision within 30 to 90 days.
Hiring a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Greenwood, SC
If you are filing a workers’ compensation claim in Greenwood, SC, we can help you. As noted above, it is imperative that you have a lawyer by your side at a workers’ comp hearing. Here at ASB Law Firm, we can help you prepare for the hearing, be ready for the questions, and have a solid body of evidence to support your claim. You can schedule a free preliminary consultation to discuss how we can help you. Call us now to schedule the consultation.