Like any legal case, your workers’ compensation case can go to trial if you cannot resolve the case with the insurance company. A trial of a workers’ compensation case involving injuries that occurred before January 31, 2014 takes place in the Workers’ Compensation Court of Existing Claims. If the injuries occurred after February 1, 2014, the trial takes place before the Workers’ Compensation Commission. The judge will decide if you are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Judges base all their decisions on the law and the evidence presented in your case.
Before a Case Goes to Trial
One party initiates a trial in a workers’ compensation case by asking the court to schedule a hearing. The parties then have a deadline to exchange evidence that each intends to use during the trial. This evidence can include lists of witnesses, medical records, employment records, and other documents related to your workers’ compensation claim.
Lawyers for either party also may conduct discovery to gather evidence in your case. For instance, a lawyer can depose a witness, which occurs when the witness answers questions in the presence of a court reporter. The lawyer then can present the transcript of a deposition to the court as evidence at trial.
Going to Trial
As the injured employee, you have the burden of proof to show that you suffered a job-related injury covered by Oklahoma workers’ compensation law. In other words, you must present evidence that you have a legally valid claim for which you should receive workers’ compensation benefits. In addition, the insurance company will have to respond to your case by providing evidence showing that you are ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
During a workers’ compensation trial, the judge hears from each party to the dispute and will consider the evidence that each party submits to the court. Evidence may consist of presenting witness testimony and documentary evidence, such as medical and employment records, to the court. Each party will have a chance to argue their side of the story before the judge decides the case.
Settling a Workers’ Compensation Case Before Trial
A workers’ compensation case does not have to go to trial. These cases only go to trial when the parties cannot settle the case or reach an agreement. The parties can still reach an agreement at any time before the trial starts. In that situation, the judge must approve any settlement before it becomes final.
Alternatives to Trials in Workers’ Compensation Cases
One option for resolving a workers’ compensation case is to settle your case through mediation. Either party can request that a case goes to mediation, regardless of whether a party has filed a claim about the case in court. The court also can order mediation on its own.
During mediation, the parties and their attorneys meet with a neutral third party to try and reach an agreement on the issues in their case. All workers’ compensation cases can go to mediation, except those involving Multiple Injury Trust Fund claims and disputes on medical care within a certified workplace medical plan. But, again, the court must approve any final settlements that the parties reach through mediation.
Call Us Today and Learn How We Can Help
The attorneys and staff of Armstrong & Vaught, P.L.C., are here to assist you with your workers’ compensation claims and related legal needs. We have the experience and knowledge that can be invaluable in handling your workers’ compensation claim. To find out more about the legal services that we can offer you, contact us today at (918) 582-2500 or visit us online for more information.