- You will need to be present at the workers compensation hearing. In most cases, the Deputy Commissioner who will be hearing your case will want to hear your testimony in person about how your injury occurred and what took place following your injury.
- The defense attorney is not your friend. The defense attorney (attorney for the workers’ compensation insurance carrier) is there to defend the position of the workers’ compensation insurance carrier that you are not entitled to benefits. Use caution when interacting with an attorney who is trying to find any kind of technicality to deny you benefits. The more you talk with them, the more likely this will happen.
- There is no record of the minutes or transcript detailing what was said at the hearing. Injured workers will sometimes want a copy of what happened at the hearing, other than the Commissioner’s ruling (called an “Opinion”). There is no formal record of what was said during the hearing that is created automatically. The hearing is actually tape recorded by a clerk but the Commission does not transcribe it unless there is an appeal, in which case a type transcript would be needed.
- Witnesses must be present at the hearing. A written statement from a witness is not sufficient. Your witness must be at the hearing in person to give testimony and available for questioning by both sides.
- Evidence must be filed BEFORE the hearing date and time. All medical records, bills, reports, disability slips, job search efforts, and anything else you would like the Deputy Commissioner to examine must be filed with the court prior to your hearing. Also, any documentation that you intend to present at the hearing needs to be provided to the defense attorney as well.
- Decisions are not made at the workers compensation hearing. You will be notified of the Deputy Commissioner’s decision by mail. Most injured workers get their Opinion from the Commission four to eight weeks after the hearing has taken place.
- Both sides have the option to appeal. If you do not agree with the Commissioner’s decision regarding your benefits, you do have the right to appeal the decision; however, the same goes for the insurance carrier. There is a specific time limit within which you must file your appeal.
- You are not required to have an attorney. However, I strongly recommend anyone going to a hearing consult with an attorney. If you lose at your hearing, it will be very difficult to find an attorney to take your case after this point. The reason is that it will be almost impossible to win at the appellate level since no new evidence is allowed.
For a list of Hearing Locations in Virginia – Hearing Locations
If you have questions about your benefits or if you would like more information on the Virginia workers’ compensation system, order my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Workers’ Compensation in Virginia” by clicking this link, or call our office today (804) 755-7755.
~Michele Lewane, Esq.