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What Questions Are Asked at a Workers’ Comp Hearing?

Written by Ankin Law Office

Knowing what questions are asked at a workers’ comp hearing can help injured workers in Chicago get prepared. When a workers’ compensation claim is denied, the injured worker can file an appeal. A judge or an arbitrator will schedule a workers’ comp hearing. The hearing gives the worker and his or her work injury lawyer the opportunity to overturn the denial.  

The questions asked at a workers’ comp hearing mostly regard the event that caused the injury or illness and its effect on the worker. Questions regarding medical treatments, physical capabilities, and general healing progress are among the many that will be asked.

Chicago workers’ compensation lawyers can help workers prepare answers for the questions asked at the workers’ comp hearing. The answers should include evidence that supports the injured workers’ cases.

General Lines of Questioning Illustrate the Worker’s Background

A workers’ compensation hearing will establish basic facts about the worker and moves from the general to the specific. The general questions typically include questions regarding:

  • Name, address, and place of work.
  • Date of birth and how long living in the area.
  • Marital status or current living arrangements.
  • Whether the worker has any dependents.

Those kinds of questions help to determine the basics of the worker’s background. It also helps to determine living expenses and the worker’s ability to obtain other work if necessary.

Questions asked at the workers’ comp hearing will also focus on a worker’s level of education, specialized skills, or other training that make the worker employable. The court might ask if the worker has a GED or a high school diploma. It could ask about the highest level of education completed and any academic degrees earned.

Other general questions could include any military service done by the worker. Questions about the completion of trade schools or earning of vocational certificates could be asked. So could the possession of any specialized driver’s license, such as a commercial driver’s license.

The general questioning helps to affirm the worker’s abilities, educational background, and potential to obtain gainful employment. It also helps to establish the worker’s credibility in the matter.

More Specific Lines of Questioning

After obtaining the general background information from the worker, the judge or arbitrator conducting the hearing will change the line of questioning. The next questions will be more specific to the incident and injury or illness.

Those questions will involve the worker’s past injuries or illnesses suffered compared to what is in the worker’s compensation claim. The questions also will involve the specific accident and the facts leading up to the claimed injury or illness.

The judge or arbitrator will question the worker regarding the worker’s medical history in relation to the claimed work-related injury or illness. The questions are intended to help determine if a worker filed a genuine claim or is trying to pass off a prior injury as one that happened while working.

Workers’ compensation benefits do not discriminate against pre-existing conditions. A prior injury of the same type does not negate workers’ compensation benefits if the worker suffers it again while at work.

The injury-specific line of questioning at the workers’ comp hearing likely would ask if the worker injured the same body part in the past. If so, the worker will need to disclose when the injury occurred, and whether it had healed fully.

Questions at the workers’ comp hearing could also include whether the worker has been obtaining medical treatment or therapy for the injured body part prior to the claimed work accident. The worker will need to explain the type of medical treatment, which might be surgery, injections, or therapy.

Worker’s Physical Condition

Specific questions will also involve the worker’s ability to perform the job. The hearing can help to determine if contributing factors might have led to the injury rather than work. If the worker had been under work restrictions but ignored them and did not notify the employer, the claim denial might be upheld.

The judge or arbitrator might ask if the worker was in pain when showing up for work on the accident date. The worker’s physical or mental condition in the days and hours leading up to the accident could be questioned.

The worker will need to disclose whether other accidents occurred since the claimed injury event. A slip and fall, car accident, or another mishap that happened afterward might aggravate a genuine work injury.

If the worker has suffered a subsequent accident, the hearing likely will raise questions regarding injuries suffered. The court will be especially interested to know whether the subsequent accident injured the same parts of the body that the worker’s claim said were injured while working.

Questions Regarding the Work Accident

At the hearing, they will ask questions about the work accident, and where and how it occurred.

An injury might occur at the employer’s place of business. It might occur at a job site that is located away from the place of business. The injury accident also might have happened in a parking area that is under the employer’s control or while the worker was traveling for work.

The worker will answer questions regarding how the alleged accident happened and caused the injury. The hearing will help to determine whether it was a sudden event that happened just once, or if the injury might be the result of a repetitive motion that resulted in cumulative trauma. It is possible for the worker to be unsure of what caused the accident or how the accident caused the injury.

The worker may need to disclose whether anyone witnessed the accident. The worker also can help to provide the judge or arbitrator with evidence that affirms the injury accident occurred. Video footage or photographs of the accident location and any equipment used at the time could help to show what caused the work injury.

What Triggers a Workers’ Compensation Hearing

The insurer that underwrites an employer’s workers’ compensation insurance will investigate the claim and could deny it in part or in whole. When that happens, the worker can appeal the decision and obtain a hearing conducted by an arbitrator.

A denial of a workers’ compensation claim usually happens when an insurer has reason to believe the injury or illness is not work-related. An insurance adjuster typically contacts the worker if any issues arise with the claim.

The adjuster will ask questions about the workplace accident and the subsequent medical treatment the worker endured. The line of questioning is similar to what questions are asked at a workers’ comp hearing.

An insurance adjuster works on behalf of the insurance company. The adjuster is not an injured worker’s ally but might act like it. An adjuster is looking to get the worker to make statements that undermine the claim. But even if the claim is denied, the worker can appeal that decision and request a hearing.

How to Prepare for a Hearing

When a workers’ comp hearing is scheduled, the worker needs to produce evidence that supports the claim. Any evidence that helps to prove the worker’s claims could help to overturn the denial of a claim and obtain benefits from the earliest applicable date.

That evidence might include witness statements, medical diagnosis, and treatment records. It also could include correspondence from the worker’s employer. Any information or documentation that helps to affirm that the accident and severity of injuries are genuine will help to overturn some or all of a claim denial.

An experienced workers’ compensation attorney in Chicago can be an asset for injured workers who are trying to overturn a partial or full denial of workers’ compensation coverage.