Introduction : If you're wondering whether you require legal assistance for your Connecticut job injury claim, it's crucial to understand the dispute resolution process. Here, we'll walk you through the various stages of hearings and appeals in workers' compensation cases, helping you make an informed decision about legal representation.
Undisputed Cases : In most instances, employees with work-related injuries or illnesses experience smooth proceedings without disputes. These cases involve medical treatment, wage replacement benefits, and other benefits that everyone agrees on. If your situation falls into this category, you might not need a workers' compensation hearing.
Disputed Cases : However, when disputes, differences of opinion, or misunderstandings arise, the Workers' Compensation Act provides avenues for resolution. These disputes typically account for over 95% of cases.
Informal Hearings : Informal Hearings serve as the first level of dispute resolution. These conferences, lasting about 15 minutes, occur at a Workers' Compensation Commission District Office and are presided over by an Administrative Law Judge.
Purpose of Informal Hearings : The aim of an Informal Hearing is to mediate disputes and make benefit awards, such as "308a" or scar and disfigurement benefits. Administrative Law Judges at Informal Hearings remain impartial fact finders.
Process of Informal Hearings : During an Informal Hearing, both parties—claimant and respondent—present their cases. The discussion involves issues, evidence, and recommendations by the Administrative Law Judge. These hearings do not involve stenographic records.
Pre-Formal Hearings : When disputes persist after Informal Hearings, or if a party requests a Formal Hearing, Pre-Formal Hearings may be scheduled. These aim to streamline the case preparation process for a potential trial at a Formal Hearing.
Formal Hearings : Formal Hearings, in contrast to Informal Hearings, are formal legal proceedings. They are presided over by an Administrative Law Judge and can last several hours, resembling court trials.
Purpose of Formal Hearings : Formal Hearings aim to resolve disputes that were not settled through Informal Hearings. They involve the submission of evidence, witness testimony under oath, and stenographic records. Administrative Law Judges have more flexibility than regular court trials regarding evidence and procedure.
After a Formal Hearing : Following a Formal Hearing, the Administrative Law Judge reviews evidence and renders a written decision, either a "Finding and Award" or a "Finding and Dismissal." This decision is binding unless appealed to the Compensation Review Board (CRB).
Appeals : A small number of disputed cases are appealed to the Compensation Review Board (CRB), which consists of two Administrative Law Judges and the Workers' Compensation Commission Chairman. The CRB reviews decisions from lower-level hearings.
CRB Appeals Process : After a Formal Hearing decision, either party has 20 days to appeal to the CRB, which reviews the case based on the earlier hearing's record. The CRB may affirm, modify, or reverse the Administrative Law Judge's decision, subject to further appeal to the Appellate Court.
By understanding the dispute resolution process for Connecticut job injury claims, you can make an informed choice regarding the need for legal representation. If you find yourself facing disputes or disagreements during your workers' compensation case, seeking legal counsel may be advisable to protect your rights and interests.
Principal since August 1, 2006
James F. Aspell is the principal and managing attorney of the firm which he started in 2006 following 20 years of litigation practice in a mid -size firm in Hartford, Connecticut.
Jim focuses his practice in the areas of worker's compensation and personal injury l...