What is an Informal Hearing for workers' compensation?

Connecticut workers who are injured on the job or suffer an issue that prevents them from working can seek workers' compensation benefits. Often, these cases are undisputed and there is no hindrance to the worker receiving workers' compensation. However, there are some cases in which there is a disagreement that prevent a worker from getting the benefits immediately. This does not mean they will not get their benefits, but they will need to go through the hearing process before receiving them. The first step toward settling a disputed case is through an Informal Hearing.

Overwhelmingly, most cases that are in dispute will be settled in Informal Hearings. When they are not, there are other steps for an injured worker to take. The Informal Hearing will be held via conference in a Workers' Compensation Commission District Office. A Workers' Compensation Commissioner will oversee it. This conference generally does not take long and is used to settle the disputes. This can be a dispute over the case itself or about an award. The commissioner will not take sides. He or she will be impartial and serve as a mediator and fact finder.

The parties can ask for an Informal Hearing simply by informing the District Office. It is important that the sides make an honest effort to resolve the dispute prior to seeking the Informal Hearing. The claimant, the employer or the insurer with which the employer has a policy will take part in the hearing. The commissioner will make suggestions as to how the dispute can be resolved. Evidence and the issues that are causing the problem will be discussed. Once the commissioner has reviewed the evidence and discussed the issues, a recommendation will be made as to how best to solve it. If there is an agreement, it will be binding. If there is not an agreement, there will often be another Informal Hearing to see if any progress can be made. If not, a Formal Hearing might be needed.

Workers who are seeking an Informal Hearing because of problems with their workers' compensation case should make sure they understand that they have legal rights. With any situation in which a worker is injured, has a condition or becomes ill because of the job, workers' compensation can be a key to making ends meet and receiving treatment. Failure to get it can be a major problem for the worker. Having legal assistance even when there is an Informal Hearing is a wise step. An experienced workers' compensation attorney should be contacted immediately.

Source: WCC.State.Ct.us, "State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission Information Packet -- Hearings and Appeals, Informal Hearings, pages 12-13," accessed on Jan. 22, 2018

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