If you have filed a workers’ compensation claim and are unable to reach a settlement with your employer, then your case proceeds to trial. This workers’ compensation trial, known as an “evidentiary hearing”, takes place before a workers’ compensation judge. Prior to this point, there is a process known as “discovery”, during which time your attorney gathers evidence for your trial by conducting legal research, reviewing your medical records and taking depositions of witnesses – oral statements given under oath. The purpose of a deposition is to determine what the witness knows and to preserve that testimony, allowing all parties to learn the facts of the case before going to trial.
What happens at the trial?
At the trial, your attorney presents the judge with the reasons why you should receive workers’ compensation benefits. Your attorney makes opening and closing arguments, question witnesses and introduce evidence to support your claim. Your employer’s attorney does the same, presenting their witness testimony and evidence to support their side of the case. The judge listens to the evidence, rules on objections and, at the conclusion of the trial, provides a decision or ruling.
What type of evidence is introduced?
Your attorney presents your testimony as well as the testimonies of other witnesses. Medical evidence may also be introduced, including testimonies of doctors, copies of medical records, and doctor reports. During the hearing, your employer or its insurance company also presents evidence, including medical records and physician testimony. If either party objects to any evidence introduced, the judge makes a ruling regarding the objection.
Types of evidentiary hearings
Workers’ compensation cases fall into two categories of evidentiary hearings: hardship hearings and final hearings. When an employee is disputing medical treatment or disability benefit payments, they can request a hardship hearing before a judge. Final hearings can be requested by either party in a workers’ compensation trial. This is done when all of the medical treatments have been completed and both parties in the case have prepared all the necessary medical and expert evidence for the hearing.
The procedures for both hardship hearings and final hearings are the same: the presiding judge asks both parties whether they agree on any issues in the trial. The judge then enters these agreements into the court record. Both parties are then asked if they contest any issues of the case and those are then addressed by the judge in determining the decision, known as an award. In these hearings, judges may issue temporary or partial awards and the case remains in the judge’s docket. If a judge issues a final award, then the case ends unless either side makes an appeal.
Knowledge and compassion in the area of Florida workers’ compensation law
Filing a workers’ compensation claim and preparing for trial can be a stressful and overwhelming process. Having an experienced attorney by your side to navigate the complexities of workers’ compensation law can ensure that you receive the benefits and wage compensation you deserve. Experienced New Port Richey workers’ compensation attorney Joseph M. Rooth fights on your behalf and is with you every step of the way, from filing a workers’ compensation claim through the trial process. Conveniently located, with offices in New Port Richey, Spring Hill, Seminole and Clearwater, attorney Rooth serves clients in New Port Richey and throughout the Tampa Bay area. To arrange for a free consultation, contact attorney Rooth at 727-849-3400 or online.