A day in the life of a work comp lawyer …

Find out what actually happens when your work comp case is scheduled for a hearing.

It is natural to feel stress and anxiety when thinking about your work comp case. Most of our clients have never experienced anything like this before. Just the thought of going to court is upsetting.

Problems are made even worse when you cannot get proper medical care or support your family. Many people have nothing to do but sit at home and worry. Lots of our clients call the office to vent their frustration.

You can relieve this worry by understanding the legal process. Here is some information about how a typical Michigan work comp case is handled. Remember that the wheels of justice can be slow.

Step 1: Pre-trial hearing

You should receive notice of a pre-trial hearing about 30-45 days after your Application for Mediation or Hearing is filed. You will not need to attend this hearing if you are represented by an attorney. No action will be taken on your case other than the magistrate setting a new hearing date about 60 days later. The purpose of pre-trial is to make sure that all the correct parties have been included in the case.

Step 2: Control date

A control date is a type of hearing where both parties appear with the magistrate to ensure that the case is moving towards resolution. The magistrate can resolve minor issues involving discovery and exchange of medical records. You will have several control dates before the magistrate will set your case for trial. Control dates are important because it allows both sides a chance to narrow the issues. You do not need to attend this type of hearing unless your attorney requests your presence. Do not expect your attorney to call you after every control date with updated information. Many times there is nothing new to report.

Step 3: Trial

You will be given a trial date if your case cannot be settled. This is a formal hearing where evidence will be presented to the magistrate. Depositions of expert witnesses will have been completed and given to the magistrate for review. Medical records will be entered into evidence. You will have a chance to testify about your injury. The magistrate will then make a determination about whether you receive some or all of your workers compensation benefits. Trial can last several days and the magistrate may want you to come back at another time. You will receive a written decision from the magistrate in a few months.

Step 4: Appeal

If you win your case and receive an open award of benefits, you should get 70% of your wage loss during any appeal. All reasonable and necessary medical treatment will be provided. You will not get any past due benefits and old medical bills will not be paid until after the appeal has been completed. Most employers and insurance companies who lose at trial will file an appeal. The appeal process can take six months or more.

Step 5: Redemption

You can settle your case at any time during the litigation process. All settlements must be approved by a magistrate at a redemption hearing. The magistrate will want to hear that you understand your legal rights and know what you are giving up. The magistrate will review medical records and determine if the settlement is just and proper. Your settlement will not be final until 15 days later. During this period of time, you can ask to cancel the settlement. You must have good cause or a legal reason. You can waive this 15-day appeal period if you need the settlement money sooner.

To speak with one of our work injury attorneys in Michigan, call (855) 221-2667 for a free consultation.  There is never a fee unless benefits are recovered for you.

Alex Berman is the founder of Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers. He’s been representing injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Alex has helped countless people obtain workers comp benefits and never charges a fee to evaluate a case.  

Related Information:

Video: Injured at work? Advice from a Michigan workers comp lawyer

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by photosteve101.

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