This guide will show you how to successfully prepare for a hearing before the Georgia State Board of Workers' Compensation.
Know the Action Plan
Before the hearing, your attorney should meet with you for a "dress rehearsal." During this meeting, you should discuss the procedure of the hearing and details such as what paperwork you should bring, the dress code, parking, etc. Most importantly, you should discuss the purpose of the hearing and the specific issues that the judge will hear. For example, is the insurance carrier disputing your entire workers' compensation claim or just a portion of it such as a particular medical procedure? After the meeting, you should be able to identify a general timeline of the hearing, the hearing goals, and how you and your attorney will achieve the desire outcome. Your attorney should also prepare you for the potential questions you may be asked by the defense attorney. Additionally, you should be prepared for potential witnesses that may testify against you.
Complete Your Homework
It is important to remember that teamwork is required to conduct a successful trial. A good attorney will always be well-prepared for your hearing. Your attorney should also advise you on how to properly prepare yourself. Your preparation will depend on the hearing issues. Therefore, it is important to consult with your attorney well before your hearing date. First, you should read and re-read your deposition testimony. Your attorney should provide a copy of the transcript to you. Second, if your hearing involves a medical issue, you should review all of your medical records from the date of your accident to the present day. You should be able to identify all of your treating physicians and what they are doing/not doing for you. If you have undergone surgery, be familiar with the kind of procedure you received and the dates of service. Third, if your hearing involves an income benefit issue, you should review all of your wage statements and be familiar with your average weekly wage. You should also be familiar with the dates you were out of work and the dates when you were working but earning less due to your work injury. Lastly, consult with your attorney regarding any other materials you should review prior to the hearing.
Don't Be Nervous
Of course we know this is easier said than done. We certainly understand that this can be a stressful experience. For most injured workers, this is the first time they have appeared in court. If you have completed steps one and two, you are well prepared for the hearing and have a good idea of what to expect! Communicating with your attorney about the action plan should alleviate much of the anxiety you may be feeling. Remember, the hearing is simply a presentation of your evidence and your attorney will be at your side to prompt you through the procedures. Be yourself, be honest, and be present.
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