What You Need To Know about Workers Comp Status Conference Hearings
A status conference is a unique type of hearing that helps both parties in a workers’ compensation case quickly resolve disputes to ready the case to go to trial.
A status conference can help to:
- obtain any necessary medical records
- document attendance at medical appointments
- reach a settlement before it goes to trial
- specify any necessary temporary disability rates
Either party can request a status conference by filing a Declaration of Readiness, also referred to as a DOR to Proceed.
Suppose an injured worker does not have attorney representation and the insurance company requests a hearing. In that case, the company will have to pay for the injured worker to have an attorney present.
Setting another status conference at a later date, scheduling a Mandatory Settlement Conference at a future date, or not setting it again at a future time are all options.
There is no limit to the number of requests for status conferences when it comes to workers’ compensation cases.
Not sure if you need a lawyer for your workers comp case? Call Invictus today.
What is a status conference for Workers Comp?
In California a status conference is a workers’ compensation hearing that:
- determines if there are any resolvable disputes
- helps either party in resolving disputes
- assist in trial preparation when necessary
Because a party can request a status conference if they are not ready to proceed to a trial, some of the disputed issues will need to be resolved. A status conference is a hearing that allows attorneys and judges to discuss how the case should proceed. It may also help parties to resolve those issues that prevent the case from moving forward.
A workers’ compensation lawsuit is a long-term engagement between an employee and their employer’s insurance carrier. The injured worker’s claim begins on the day of the accident and lasts until the case is resolved.
If the injured worker is not represented by an attorney, insurance companies will not likely file a DOR. However, suppose the insurance company does file a DOR when an injured worker is unrepresented. In that case, the employee’s insurance company will have to pay for an attorney to represent the injured worker.
However, if either party requests a Mandatory Settlement Conference, they can bring the issue to trial.
Requesting a Status Conference
Injured workers can schedule a status conference hearing date by submitting a Declaration of Readiness to Proceed.
Whoever files the DOR is responsible for choosing the type of status conference hearing and checks off one or more of the following problems:
- compensation rate
- temporary Disability
- rehabilitation or supplemental job displacement benefits
- self-procured medical treatment
- permanent Disability
- future medical treatment
- is there an injury
The DOR also includes a line to describe any additional disputed point.
The party that is responsible for the DOR must list the efforts they have made to resolve the issue before filing the DOR.
After that, the DOR is sent to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board’s office, where a hearing date is determined. The hearing date can be set anywhere from three weeks or up to three months after the DOR is filed. This timeframe will depend on the volume of cases pending in court at that time.
Next, a Notice of Hearing is sent to the injured worker, insurance company, and any attorneys that are involved in the workers’ compensation case.
What happens at a status conference?
Because a status conference is like any other California workers’ compensation conference, these meetings often occur in a legal building or office room.
However, the hearing room doesn’t resemble a courtroom. Rather the room mimics an office and offers multiple tables for the involved parties and a desk for the judge.
At any given time, there are usually ten to twenty other status conference cases set at the same time.
Furthermore, the insurance company will usually send their attorney to a hearing. Usually, the attorney will stay on the phone with the claims adjuster for instructions.
The insurance company’s attorney and the injured worker take this opportunity to discuss the claim and attempt to resolve the case before speaking with the judge or taking the case to trial.
If a worker has an attorney, the two attorneys will discuss the case.
However, if the injured worker does not have a representing attorney, they can speak to an Information and Assistance Officer (I&A Officer). These officers will not give legal advice but will help clarify the procedures and forms to the injured worker.
Once both parties have agreed to resolve their dispute or in cases where they cannot, they can still move forward with the case to see the judge.
If the two parties come to an agreement about the dispute, the judge will write the deal into the Minutes of Hearing. This document allows each party to know the stipulations of what is expected of them from this point on.
However, suppose both sides agree that a status conference is needed to continue to a Mandatory Settlement Conference. In that case, parties may realize that they are, in fact, ready to continue onwards to trial on any unresolved issues.
A status conference may also be continued to a later date to ensure that both parties fulfill their obligations as outlined in the hearing. There is no limit to how many status conferences you have.
Alternatively, if the issue is resolved, the hearing is ready to be removed from the court calendar.
The correct use of a status conference
A status conference helps move a case forward. In most circumstances, requesting and attending a status conference in a California workers’ compensation matter has no adverse consequences.
Because it can be difficult for an injured worker to communicate with an insurance company, these opportunities allow for outside guidance through the legal process and enable the judge to resolve issues and continue the case forward.
A workers compensation status conference is an excellent opportunity for workers and their workers’ compensation attorneys to resolve an issue about the workers’ case. These conferences help to get all of the cases details out on the table to resolve any workers’ compensation issues as soon as possible.
Are you looking for legal representation to help you with your California workers compensation case? Invictus Law can help you. Give them a call today.