When workers’ compensation negotiations with the insurance company fail, a commissioner decides the case after a hearing. You can request a hearing on virtually any issue in your comp case, but these hearings typically involve the amount of permanent disability compensation you should get, and claims denied outright by the insurance company.
Your case can still settle at any time, even after the hearing. The best way to get the best settlement is to prepare to win your case as if it’s going to a hearing.
The Path to Resolving Your Claim
Here are the basic steps we take for a South Carolina workers’ comp hearing:
- Filing for a hearing. We file a Form 50, the workers’ compensation commission document giving a snapshot of your case. We may have already filed one to start your case, but this time we request a hearing. It can take several weeks to get the hearing scheduled. But when it comes, we’ll have you ready to testify. Soon after requesting the hearing, the insurance company’s attorney files their official response, a Form 51.
- Deposition. Not long after requesting a hearing, the defense usually schedules your deposition. This is out-of-court sworn testimony, so the defense will have an idea what you will testify about at the hearing. In some cases, they also depose doctors. We rarely take depositions because it increases the cost of your case, reducing the amount you get in the end, and they’re usually unnecessary for us. But if we deem a deposition vital to your case, we take it.
- Pre-hearing filings. Workers’ compensation cases rely heavily on documents, especially medical records. About three weeks before your hearing, we file our list of witnesses and documents used as evidence. We also file a Form 58, a pre-hearing brief the commissioner can review to get a snapshot of the issues involved in the hearing.
These filings are the most important to your hearing. They’ve got to be done right, and filed on time, or you can’t use your evidence.
Workers’ compensation hearings are designed to be less formal than jury trials. Usually you’re in a small courtroom. Besides us and the other side, there’s usually just the commissioner, maybe his assistant, and a court reporter.
Often, you are the most important witness in your case. You’ll testify and be cross-examined. If you’re with us, you’ll be ready.
Hearings typically last from a half hour to three hours, but can be more if the case is complex.
The Commission Order
After the hearing, the commissioner issues the official decision in your case, called the order. The time between the hearing and the order can be the toughest for you, because it can span a lot longer than you want to wait. But we have to remember commissioners have many cases and they have a duty to look at each one carefully. Since we want them to pay special attention to your case, we want the commissioner to pay special attention to all cases.
Yes, It Probably Is Too Much Work…for You
The best way to settle a case is to prepare for trial. The best way to prepare a case for trial is have a professional on your side who does it for a living. Not only that, but if you don’t file pleadings right, you can lose your right to present the evidence that can win your case. That’s where we come in.
This is your only chance to get full compensation and your best shot at all the medical care you need. It’s not the time to roll the dice or just hope for the best without at least consulting with an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. We charge nothing to hear your story, learn about your case, and start making your plan to get the best outcome possible. Feel free to start a live chat so we can see how we can make it easy on you. You can also download our book The Hurt Worker's Toolkit to get valuable information to help you.