What Is A Massachusetts Workers Compensation Hearing?
All disputes between injured workers and workers compensation insurance companies are handled at the Department of Industrial Accidents. This is an administrative law court solely dedicated to workers compensation dispute resolution. There are a few different stages of this process. I have written before about the first and second steps of this process which are, respectively, the conciliation and conference. But what about the hearing which is the third step in this process? Here we will explore the hearing stage.
What is a Hearing?
Either party aggrieved by the ruling the judge made at conference can file an appeal for a hearing. This appeal must be properly filed with the DIA within fourteen days of the date of the judge’s order. Either side can appeal the judge’s conference order. If the appeal involves a medical issue, a fee of $ 650.00 must be paid by the appealing party for the cost of an impartial medical exam. This exam is conducted by a doctor assigned by the DIA to conduct impartial medical exams.
Following the impartial medical exam will be the hearing (assuming the case does not settle). The same judge that presided at conference will preside at hearing. A hearing is similar to a trial and the Massachusetts Rules of Evidence apply. The parties will present witnesses, and both direct examination and cross examination will occur. A stenographer will be typing everything that is said at hearing in order to have an official transcript of the proceeding. The judge has up to 28 days to issue his/her decision, but it typically takes longer than this to receive the decision. The judge’s decision can be appealed within 30 days of the date of the decision. The next step up from the hearing level is the Reviewing Board.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Hearing?
I would absolutely recommend hiring a workers comp attorney in Massachusetts if you don’t already have one. The rules and procedures for this type of legal proceeding should only be handled by an attorney. Call the Earley Law Group today if you have questions about anything related to workers compensation law in Massachusetts.