I suffered an injury at work, do I need an attorney?
You have the right to an attorney whose services may include collecting all medical records and obtaining appropriate medical evaluations so that information regarding all your residual conditions is provided to the Judge before a determination is made. The Judge of Compensation conducting the informal hearing may allow a counsel fee, where warranted, for services rendered on behalf of the worker in an amount not to exceed 10 percent of the worker’s award. This fee shall be paid by the worker.
What if I cannot attend the hearing at the time it is scheduled?
Your attendance is very important and you should make every effort to be there. If you cannot attend and you must request an adjournment, you should contact the office listed on the informal hearing notice as soon as possible so that another hearing can be scheduled.
What should I bring to the hearing?
Bring your medical records, if available, outstanding medical bills, and a record of your loss of wages, if applicable, as well as any other documentation that could be relevant to your case. Any recommendation made by the Judge at the Informal is based upon that information provided by the insurance company and the information provided by you.
Note: If you are not fluent in English, you may wish to bring someone with you who can translate for you.
What is the effect of the Judge’s recommendation?
The suggestions made by the Judge during an informal hearing are not binding on either party. You may accept the amount offered that day and still proceed through the formal process.
If you decide not to accept the recommendation, you still have the right to file a formal Claim Petition within two years from the date of your injury or from the date of the last provision of benefits, whichever is later. This period of time is referred to as the Statute of Limitations.
Statute of Limitations
Please note that this hearing does not extend the Statute of Limitations. If your claim is not settled at the informal level, a formal claim must be filed within two years of the last payment of compensation, or your claim will be barred. If an agreement to provide benefits is entered at the informal level, you have two years to file a formal claim from the last payment of compensation.
What if my injury gets worse or I need additional treatment after I’ve agreed to a settlement?
You should contact your employer or their insurance carrier with your request for treatment and/or additional benefits. If additional benefits are not provided, you have the option of filing a formal Claim Petition with the Division of Workers’ Compensation. Keep in mind that a formal claim must be filed within the previously referenced Statute of Limitations.