Filing A Claim, Discovery, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Settlement, Hearing And Appeal
Workers’ Compensation: Filing A Claim, Discovery, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Settlement, Hearing And Appeal
If you are injured on the job, then you may be entitled to benefits under the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Law. There are many procedures that need to be followed in order to obtain benefits, and to obtain the right amount and kind of benefits. As with all legal matters, you can try to go the process alone without the advice and assistance of legal counsel, but even the State Board of Workers’ Compensation advises against representing yourself (i.e. being a pro se litigant) in these situations.
In fact, if you do not follow the proper policies and procedures, the Judge has the authority to dismiss your claim. Plus, during this process, which can be very stressful, you will up against your employer and their insurance company, and it is their job to see that you receive as little compensation as possible. Therefore, we encourage you or your loved ones to Contact Us for your free legal consultation as soon as you or a loved one has been injured, becomes ill, or dies on the job. Remember, we don’t collect any attorney’s fees unless you collect benefits.
FILING YOUR CLAIM
The first thing that we will do is file your claim with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. The State Board now requires attorney’s to file claims on-line through the State Boards’ Integrated Claims Management System (ICMS) and this is how we get your claim started in the system. After your case is put into the system, your case will be assigned a case number, and then there will be a period of time where each party learns about the other parties case and this is called the Discovery Process.
THE DISCOVERY PROCESS
During the discovery process each party will send the other party questions that have to be answered under oath and these are called Interrogatories. Each party will also send the other party Request for Production of Documents (RPDs) where each party must produce documents to the other party that are relevant to the case. Most likely, there will also be depositions during this period of time where the parties and their legal representatives will meet and ask each other questions under oath, and this process will be recorded by a court reporter and can later be used in the hearing as evidence.
Discovery is a very important part of the process since it is during discovery that all parties learn about their own case as well as the other party’s, or parties, case. This allows each party to then make an educated decision about whether or not to move forward and have a Judge decide the outcome of the case, or to settle the case between the parties.
ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION
Before the hearing, there will also be an opportunity for either party to request Alternative Dispute Resolution in the case which is a process whereby the parties and their representatives will convene in an informal setting and discuss the case in the presence of a trained third party neutral who will assist the parties in further determining if there is a chance to settle the case before a hearing or possibly even before an appeal after a hearing.
If you reach a Settlement of any or all of your case, then this Settlement Agreement must be put in writing. The writing is called a Consent Order if it is an agreement to settle just certain particular issues in your case such as a change of physician or the like. If, however, you settle your entire case, then the Settlement Agreement would be called a Stipulation and Agreement.
At some point in time if the case does not settle, then a Hearing will be scheduled, and the State Board will send a Notice advising all parties of the time and place of the Hearing. The hearing is a formal process similar to a trial where each side with present their side of the case. It is up to you to prove that your employer owes you Workers’ Compensation Benefits and when we represent you we will do this with the following resources including, but not limited to, the use of witnesses, testimony, documentation, and the like just as we would in a trial. Therefore, to prepare for your hearing, it is important that we have all your documentation in order such as receipts for your Medical Bills, Prescriptions, Wage and Earnings Statement, and the like. We will also notify all of the witnesses’ of the hearing, and if any witness does not want to testify, then we will subpoena those witnesses to insure their appearance at the hearing.
At the Hearing, just as in any other judicial type proceeding, the other side, in this case your employer and/or their insurance company, will present their own evidence and have the right to cross exam any of your witnesses as well, and we will also have the opportunity to ask questions of the witnesses of the employer/insurer as well and challenge their evidence.
The Judges of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation will remain impartial and after hearing all of the evidence, the Judge will render a decision and this decision will be sent to all parties in writing.
If you are not satisfied with the Judge’s decision you have the Right to Appeal your case. The appeal must be filed within twenty (20) days from the date of the Judge’s decision. The Appeal will be reviewed by the Appellate Division and if the Appellate Division does not believe that the appeal is justified, then the party who filed the appeal may have to pay the other parties’ legal expenses.
If you reach an agreement to settle all or part of your claim, you will need to put these terms in writing. If you reach an agreement on particular issues in your claim, such as a change in physician, all parties will sign a Consent Order. If you reach an agreement to settle your entire claim, you would sign a document called a Stipulation and Agreement.
As you can tell from the process as set forth herein above, that there are many details in a Workers’ Compensation Case and it is to your advantage to have an experienced advocate on your side during this process. Not only so that you don’t do anything that might mistakenly cause your claim to be dismissed, but so that you can focus on the very important task of getting well and getting back to where you were before your on the job injury. If you have any questions, then please kindly feel free to Contact Us for your free legal consultation at any time by any of all of the following means: By phone at (770) 865-8654 and (813) 363-6664; By email at firstname.lastname@example.org; By our Website using the Contact Form or Leaving Us a Voicemail. We are here to assist you, and we look forward to hearing from you soon!