Unfortunately, insurance companies often do not pay the workers’ compensation benefits they should. To get the benefits you deserve, you may have to request a workers compensation hearing. This article discusses how you can request a hearing and gives some insight into what happens between the time you request a hearing and when you go to court.
Why would I need to request a workers compensation hearing?
Hopefully, you do not ever need to request a workers compensation hearing. You may have good luck and get all the benefits you should without having to fight with the insurance company.
Many times though, people are not that lucky. Some common examples of why you might need to request a hearing include:
- The insurance company refuses to pay for the medical treatment or testing you need
- The insurance company suspends your weekly workers’ compensation benefits
- You need a different doctor and have been unable to get that worked out with the insurance company
- The insurance company does not pay your benefits correctly
You request a hearing in these situations because a hearing allows you to present your case to a judge. Workers compensation judges have authority to order the insurance company to follow the workers compensation law.
How do I request a hearing?
The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation publishes a number of different workers compensation forms. This article I wrote discusses a lot of those forms. The Form WC-14 allows you to request a hearing in your workers compensation case.
You can obtain a Form WC-14 from the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation. You can also view the form on the Forms section of their website.
There are a number of rules that you have to follow when requesting a hearing. You need to make sure you follow the rules so that you do not lose your case on a technicality.
What happens after I file my hearing request?
Once you file your hearing request, you should receive a document from the State Board of Workers’ Compensation known as a “Notice of Hearing”. This document will tell you when and where the State Board has scheduled your hearing.
You should understand that your hearing might end up getting postponed. Hearings often get postponed because of conflicts in an attorney’s schedule or because one of the parties to the hearing has to get additional information before being ready to go to court. You will want to make sure and check the day before the hearing to make sure the hearing has not been postponed.
Before you go to court, the parties to the case (usually you, your employer, and their insurance company) will engage in a process called discovery. Discovery usually includes depositions. Discovery also includes requests for answers to questions (Interrogatories) and for documents (Request to Produce).
What does the insurance company do when I request a hearing?
When you request a hearing, the insurance company will probably hire an attorney. That attorney will engage in the discovery process mentioned above. He or she will want to schedule your deposition.
The attorney will also get information about your case including your medical records. The insurance company or their attorney may schedule you for what is known as an IME in order to try to get some evidence to hurt your case. The insurance company does all these things to increase the chance that they will win in court.
Do I have to have an attorney to request a hearing?
No. You do not have to have an attorney to request a hearing. When you represent yourself in a workers compensation case, it is referred to as pro se.
The important thing to understand if you represent yourself is that you will be held to the same standards as attorneys who have years of training. You will also likely face an insurance company attorney who specializes in workers compensation.
Not knowing all the rules makes it difficult to get a fair result in court. You want to make the judge considers all the evidence in your case so that you get a fair result.
I recommend that everyone who has a work injury talk to a workers compensation attorney. I provide free consultations so people can do this without worrying about the cost.
If you want to find out more about how a free consultation with me works, just read this short article I wrote that explains the process in more detail. If you want to set up a free consultation, just call our office at (770) 214-8885 or complete and submit our free consultation request form.
Jason Perkins is an attorney who specializes in representing injured workers. He regularly publishes videos and write blog articles about Georgia’s workers compensation system and issues that are important to injured workers and their families.
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