Workers’ Compensation Agency (WCA) releases magistrate disposition statistics covering period January 1, 2019 through March 31, 2019.
Michigan employees who are hurt on-the-job are entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. This includes lost wages, medical treatment, and vocational rehabilitation if needed. Most workers’ compensation claims are paid by the employer or its insurance carrier without dispute.
Unfortunately, some employees find their workers’ compensation claims for lost wages or medical treatment denied. This can be based upon late reporting, witness statements, intentional misconduct, preexisting medical conditions, independent medical examinations (IME), or post injury wage earning capacity (PIWEC).
Employees who are denied workers’ compensation benefits can find themselves in a terrible financial situation. This is especially true for those individuals who are the primary breadwinner for their family. We have seen people have to choose between getting medical treatment or putting food on the table.
A workers’ compensation claim that has been disputed can be challenged in an administrative hearing. This gives the employee a chance to testify about the circumstances of his or her work injury. Medical evidence can be presented showing a person does indeed have a work-related disability. This process can end up costing several thousand dollars in litigation costs and take months or years to fully resolve. It is best to have an experienced attorney throughout this process.
Magistrates appointed by the governor are tasked with deciding the facts and law for each workers’ compensation case. Their backgrounds shape how they view witness testimony, evidence, and medical depositions. Some have spent their entire careers representing insurance companies and have little sympathy for employees struggling with disability. These past experiences can make a difference in a disputed case.
We think it is critical to know what individual magistrates thinks about specific legal issues. For example, how many employment applications are required to be considered a “good-faith” job search? Also, what medical proofs are needed to win a case?
It is also very helpful to know how many open awards, closed periods, and denials have been given out in any calendar year. An open award is when a magistrate orders the employer/insurance carrier to pay continuing wage loss benefits and medical treatment. A closed award is when a magistrate orders payment of some wage loss benefits and/or medical bills. A denial results in no payment of any workers’ compensation benefits whatsoever.
Here is some information that every claimant should know before deciding about settlement or trial. Statistics provided by the WCA show magistrates gave zero open awards, two closed awards, and four denials in the first quarter of 2019. There were only seventeen open awards and twenty-eight denials in 2018.
Not many claimants are opting for trial because of how difficult the burden of proof has become and the potential risk of losing everything. A settlement becomes an attractive option when an employee has not received wages for months and is in financial distress.
We believe statistics are useful when coming up with a winning strategy for a case. It can provide a snapshot into the mind of a magistrate. Use the chart below to see how many open/closed/denied awards have been given so far this year.
Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (844) 316-8033 for a free consultation today.