If your workers’ compensation claim is denied bv your employer’s insurer, you’ll want to request a hearing with the State Board of Workers’ Compensation (SBWC). A workers’ compensation hearing is akin to a trial in a Georgia court. At the hearing, the case will be heard by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), per Georgia workers’ compensation rules. The ALJ will listen to each party’s side of the story and then make a determination.
The Administrative Law Judge’s Role
To request a hearing, you’ll need to submit Form WC-14: Notice of Hearing to the SBWC. The hearing is scheduled to take place within 60 days from the time the Board receives the form.
At the hearing, the judge’s main job will be to hear both sides, consider the facts and laws involved, and make a decision accordingly. Administrative Law Judges rarely issue decisions during or immediately after a workers’ compensation hearing. Instead, they usually give the parties an opportunity to submit a post-hearing legal brief in which the parties can summarize the facts, legal issues and law in the case, as well as present arguments as to why the Administrative Law Judge should rule in their favor.
After the Administrative Law Judge reviews the parties’ legal briefs and evidence presented at the hearing, he or she will issue a decision that outlines his or her Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Award. The award will include stipulations and terms regarding workers’ comp benefits, including medical coverage and income replacement.
Should I have an attorney at my workers’ compensation hearing?
You are not required by law to have legal representation, but it’s highly ill-advised to go it alone. There are processes and procedures of which you might not be aware, and you may not have the professional skills necessary to present the evidence and prove your case to the Administrative Law Judge in the same manner that a lawyer would. The SBWC offers this bit of advice to injured workers: “Everyone has the right to represent him or herself. However, your employer may be represented at the hearing by a lawyer. You may need help from a lawyer in order to present your claim properly.”
Don’t risk losing your chance for benefits that are rightfully yours. Opt for counsel before going any further with your case.
Need a workers’ compensation lawyer in Atlanta? Call Bader Law Firm, LLC
Bader Law Firm, LLC helps injured workers in each and every stage of the workers’ compensation process. We can help present your case to the Administrative Law Judge if a hearing is required. Contact our office in Atlanta today at 678-562-5595 for a free consultation.