Workers' Compensation Questions Answered: How Are Claim Petitions Processed By The Bureau Of Workers' Compensation?
September 9, 2011
How are claim petitions processed by the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation?
After a petition is filed, it is assigned to a judge located in the county where you live. At the same time that the petition is assigned to a judge, a copy is served upon the employer and its workers’ compensation insurance carrier. Your employer or its carrier has twenty (20) days from the date of service to file an answer to your petition.
After your employer or its insurance carrier files a response to the petition, the judge will schedule a hearing.
At the first hearing, you will probably testify. In attendance at the hearing will be you, your attorney, an attorney representing your employer, a court reporter, and the judge. At the conclusion of the first hearing, the record is left open for medical or expert testimony.
If the claim is for fifty-two (52) weeks or less of disability, the judge has the discretion to accept doctors’ reports in support of the claim. For claims longer than fifty-two (52) weeks, it is necessary to present testimony from your physician. This testimony will be taken by deposition at your doctor’s office. Present at the deposition will be your attorney, a court reporter, an attorney for your employer, and the physician. The physician answers questions on direct testimony concerning your diagnosis, prognosis, level of disability, and cause of your condition. The doctor must then answer questions on cross-examination from opposing counsel. The court reporter transcribes the testimony in a transcript which is submitted to the judge at a later hearing.
A second hearing will normally be scheduled ninety (90) days from the date of the first hearing. At the second hearing, the attorney for your employer may present testimony from fact witnesses. The deposition of your physician will be submitted, and at the conclusion of the second hearing, the record will be left open for testimony from your employer’s medical expert.
At the third hearing, all remaining evidence is presented to the judge. Of course, it is possible that additional hearings may be necessary because of scheduling conflicts, postponements, or the presentation of additional evidence in complex cases.
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