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What to expect at your first workers' compensation hearing

Knowing what to expect at your first workers' compensation hearing is important in helping to understand how the workers' compensation process works. When a hearing is scheduled, it is scheduled because the parties to the claim (the injured worker, the Bureau of Workers' Compensation, or the employer) do not agree over some aspect of the claim. The dispute can be a large issue (for example, should the claim be allowed in the first place?) or a smaller issue (for example, should a specific doctor's bill be processed under workers' compensation?).

Prior to your hearing, you will receive notification that the hearing has been set before a hearing officer of the Industrial Commission. The Industrial Commission's job is to hear disputed workers' compensation issues and issue orders on the merits of the dispute. When you receive the notification, it will identify the day, time and location of the hearing.

It is advisable to arrive 15 to 20 minutes before your appointed hearing hour. This allows for time to go through the Commission's security process, check in, and to discuss the matter with your attorney. The Commission hearing officer will call your name over the loudspeaker and you proceed to the hearing room.

The hearing room itself will have a hearing officer at the head of the table, and two sides for the parties in the claim. The hearing officer will allow the parties the opportunity to present their evidence and arguments. This may include questions, either by attorneys or by the hearing officer, directed toward you.

The typical hearing lasts between 10 and 20 minutes. At the end of the hearing, the hearing officer will take the matter under advisement. This simply indicates that the hearing officer wants to consider the evidence and arguments presented at hearing before issuing a decision. In most situations, the hearing order will mailed within a week of the hearing.

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