A workers compensation hearing… What can possibly go wrong, right? Well, many things. A lot of workers in Santa Clarita and elsewhere in California have no idea why these hearings are so vital for the success of their workers compensation claim.
“These hearings,” says our workers comp lawyer in Santa Clarita at the Law Offices of Kropach & Kropach, “Are held at local WCAB (Workers Compensation Appeals Board) offices.”
Sadly, many workers take these hearings lightly, come underprepared, show up late, or even miss the hearing altogether. This is a huge mistake, as you can accomplish many positive things through a workers comp hearing, including but not limited to getting special accommodation from the employer, resolving disputes, settling your case, suspending your case for further handling, trying the case, and many more.
“So, please, if you are running late for some reason, be sure to notify the court,” warns our experienced workers compensation attorney in Santa Clarita. “Otherwise, showing up late or failing to show up may result in the dismissal of your workers comp case.”
In order to get prepared for the hearing, do not come empty-handed. You will be required to bring medical documents proving your injuries, everything else related to your case, and, most importantly, your attorney.
If you are represented by a lawyer, all you have to do is check in, have a seat, and wait with your attorney for your hearing. If you do not have an attorney, on the other hand, you will be required to approach the front desk so they can direct you to the Information and Assistance Officer. Depending on the circumstances of your case, someone may be assigned to handle your case, but there is no guarantee that this “someone” will be representing your best interests at the hearing.
You are definitely advised to bring a book or electronic device, as you may be required to remain in the waiting room for hours before your turn. Better yet, use this waiting time to once again discuss your case with your attorney. Do not miss a single detail.
Remember: some cases can take a while to be resolved, so just because the clerk said that your case will be heard next does not necessarily mean that your hearing will be held within the next 5 minutes. Patience is key. In some cases, hearings can be held over to the afternoon. Trials, meanwhile, can last all day long.
When it is your turn, your Santa Clarita workers compensation attorney will meet with the employer’s attorney in the courtroom to discuss the case and negotiate the settlement. If the settlement cannot be immediately reached, they will have to prepare paperwork to set the matter for a hearing.
If your attorney successfully negotiates and both parties reach a settlement at the hearing, the Judge will most likely approve your settlement immediately. Then, the employer will have to begin paying out the settlement within 30 days from the date of the hearing.
If your case goes to trial, on the other hand, things can get a little more complicated, as you may be called to testify. In that case, your attorney or his/her representative or attorney may want to cross-examine you in the courtroom. The Judge may have some questions for you, too.
As we have mentioned earlier, many things can go wrong at workers compensation hearings. Your employer’s attorney will surely put up a fight before agreeing to your terms of the bargain. That is why being represented by a lawyer is of great importance.