While some workers’ compensation cases can be settled quickly, many cannot. If the workers’ compensation insurance company is disputing an issue in your case or you suffered serious injuries, there is a good chance that you will need to attend at least one hearing. If you are like many people, you may have never pursued a claim for workers’ comp benefits or compensation in a personal injury case before and may not know how to get ready for your hearing. Here, we discuss what to do to prepare for a workers’ comp hearing.
Preparing Before Your Hearing
Preparing for your hearing can help relieve some of your nervousness and help strengthen your claim because you will make a better impression and be a better witness. Here are some tips on preparing for your hearing:
- Review accident and medical records. You should review any accident reports and medical records to understand key facts about your accident, your injuries, and your treatment clearly so that you can explain them in a concise and organized fashion. Be certain that your testimony is consistent with what you have already said and be prepared to explain any inconsistencies. If you know of an issue that the insurance company is disputing, such as whether the accident occurred at work, be prepared to be questioned about it and prepare accordingly.
- Know your medical treatment. While you may not be able to remember every doctor’s visit, you want to prepare a timeline or review your medical records well enough that you have a general idea of the chronology of your medical treatments. This includes when you saw which doctors, the treatments you have received, and any medications you took. By doing this, you can concisely and convincingly testify about your injuries and make a strong impression on the judge.
- Identify your current injuries and limitations. If you are claiming that a partial or total permanent disability limits the work you can do or has resulted in you becoming permanently disabled, the insurance company will most likely dispute this. You need to be prepared to discuss the pain that you experience and how it limits what you can do. It is important to be honest when explaining this and not exaggerate or you could reduce your credibility as a witness.
- Identify witnesses. You should discuss with your attorney—if you have not already done so—family members, friends, or co-workers who should testify at your hearing. Your attorney can contact these witnesses to arrange for their testimony.
What to Do on Your Hearing Date
Your workers’ compensation attorney will give you specific guidelines on how long your hearing will be, what will happen at it, and what you will be expected to do. Here are some general guidelines for a successful hearing:
- Be certain that you know the date, time, and place of your hearing. Plan to arrive early so you can be calm and prepared. If you are late, your hearing will probably be rescheduled, and you will make a bad impression on the judge.
- Dress appropriately. While you do not need to wear a business suit, you want to dress appropriately, for example, in a button-down shirt and dress pants if you are a man and a nice top or shirt and dress pants for a woman.
- Bring any medical devices that you typically use, such as a walker or crutches.
- Be respectful of the judge and attorney for the insurance company. Do not speak unless you need to.
- If you are testifying, remember that your testimony is being taken under oath and be truthful in what you say.
- Listen to each question before answering and be sure that you understand it. If you do not understand a question, tell the attorney and he can rephrase the question.
- Do not offer information that the question does not ask for. If you do not know the answer, do not make a guess. It is okay to say that you do not know.
If you need to file a claim for workers’ compensation benefits, I am here to help you fight for the benefits you deserve. I have been helping injured workers in these cases for over 20 years. Review my testimonials from satisfied clients and then call my office to schedule your free consultation.