Unfortunately for the injured employee, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit in order to enforce an employer to pay the proper workers compensation benefits. Sometimes employers harass injured workers into not to filing an injury claim, other times insurance companies do not properly respond to medical treatment authorization, other times it is a straight denial of any benefits. Whatever the issue, injured workers have the right to file a lawsuit and ask for a hearing before a Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court judge. This is called filing a petition.
If you are injured you need be aware that there is a time limit for filing a lawsuit. You must file a lawsuit (petition) with the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court within two years of the date of the accident or the last date the employer/insurer paid a medical or indemnity payment. Otherwise your claim is barred by the statute of limitations.
Once a lawsuit is filed, the employer will file an official response to the Workers’ Compensation Court. This is called an answer. The employer/insurance company will hire an attorney to review the claim and file the answer.
Preparing For Trial
Both parties will then start preparing for trial. This involves gathering information through written questions (interrogatories, requests for admissions), live questioning of parties and witnesses (depositions) and requests for documents (requests for production of documents). Most times it is necessary to obtain the opinions of medical experts. The court accepts signed reports from doctors instead of live testimony which helps keep litigation costs down. However doctors may charge several hundred dollars for these reports. It is important to gather information from the doctor at the proper time to avoid multiple reports and significant expenses.
Going to Trial
Eventually the Court will notify both parties of the upcoming trial date. Both parties will appear at the hearing a make opening statements, present evidence and conclude with closing arguments. Typically the evidence is in the form of medical records, medical bills, vocational rehabilitation reports, and other relevant documents. Live testimony usually consists of the injured worker and other witnesses.
After closing arguments the judge will take the evidence and make a ruling in the form of a written decision. Usually within a couple of weeks the decision will be mailed to all parties. If the plaintiff or injured worker wins benefits, the opinion will be entitled as an award. If the employer or defendant wins the case, the opinion may be a dismissal.
Appealing the Decision
If either party does not agree with the judges’ decision, an appeal must be filed within 30 days of the decision. This appeal will be heard in front of the Nebraska Court of Appeals or in some cases to the Supreme Court of the State of Nebraska.
Each state has it’s own set of workers’ compensation laws. Sometimes workers’ compensation benefits vary greatly from state to state. That’s why it is important to contact a work injury attorney as soon as possible to determine important rights and responsibilities.
Putnam Law can help you navigate these complicated laws and rules. Find out sooner than later. Call or email.