If your workers’ compensation claim cannot be resolved amicably or has been wrongly denied, you or your attorney can request a hearing with theAdministrative Law Judge (ALJ). The judge will hear both sides of the case, review all submitted evidence and make a determination (decision) about the claim. If the claim is approved, the ALJ will issue an award. Either party retains the right to file a workers’ compensation appeal in Georgia.
How the Judge Makes a Decision
Upon request, a hearing will be set and is usually held in the district where the employee was injured. It can take up to several months to get a hearing. Once there, the employer/insurer’s attorney and the employee’s attorney will present their sides of the story to the judge, complete with evidentiary documents and testimony.
The judge will take all exhibits into consideration and may ask the parties questions pertinent to the case. Judges take notes during the process and then listen to the attorneys’ arguments.
Usually, ALJs will not provide a ruling the same day as the hearing. They usually review legal briefs in which both sides summarize the key facts, analyze the applicable law to these facts, and submit arguments supporting their contentions. After reviewing these briefs, ALJs will issue a formal statement of the findings of fact (what they found to be true), conclusions of law (how the law applies to the facts of the case), and the award (the decision). The award will contain information regarding the employee’s income replacement and medical benefits, among other things.
ALJs have the authority to reconsider, amend or revise the award to correct apparent errors and omissions after they’ve made the award.
Appealing the ALJ’s Decision
O.C.G.A. 34-9-103 affords all involved parties the right to appeal an ALJ’s decision within 20 days of the award. The appeal will be made to the appellate division of the State Board of Workers’ Compensation. Then, “the appellate division shall review the evidence and shall then make an award with findings of fact and conclusions of law. A copy of the award so made on review shall immediately be sent to the parties and counsel of record at dispute at their addresses of record,” provides O.C.G.A. 34-9-103(a).
As with all workers’ compensation proceedings, it’s important to be fully prepared and provide the insurer, the State Board and the ALJ with adequate evidence to support your claim.
If your claim has been wrongly denied, we strongly encourage you to seek legal advice. For help in Atlanta, contact Bader Law Firm, LLC for a free consultation. We exclusively handle cases for injured workers; we can review your workers’ compensation case, appeal wrongly denied claims, and fight for the benefits you’re entitled to. Call us today at 404-888-8888.