During the workers’ compensation claim process, you may reach a point when you have to attend a court hearing for your case. You may be nervous about going to court for the first time and be unsure about what to expect.
Prepare with Your Lawyer
Ask your lawyer to spend some time with you helping you prepare for the hearing. You should ask:
- Why are we going to a hearing?
- Will I need to talk to the judge?
- How should I answer questions?
- How will the outcome of the hearing affect my case?
- When do I need to be at court?
- What should I wear?
In some cases, you will not need to speak to the judge or answer questions. You may be present if a settlement is being approved or your lawyer is contesting a medical issue. In other cases, you will need to answer questions. The insurance company may be arguing that you were not injured at work, and you will need to testify about how the injury happened. Or your employer might be arguing that you are an independent contractor not entitled to benefits, and you need to testify about your job duties.
During the Hearing
When you attend the hearing, be quiet and respectful to everyone. If you are testifying, answer the questions asked, and ask for clarification if you do not understand. There may be long periods where you have nothing to do, so be patient. Other witnesses may take the witness stand, or the lawyers may present documents to the judge. Your lawyer can explain what is happening during this time, or you can ask if you can take a break outside. The judge will dismiss everyone when the hearing is over.
After the hearing, the judge will make a decision about the issue at hand (usually in writing). Talk to your lawyer about what the decision means for your case.
Most of all, do not stress out about going to court. You are there to help your case and present the truth to the judge. If you do not have a lawyer, you should strongly consider retaining one long before the hearing to give you a better chance at a good outcome for your case.
Need help getting workers’ compensation for your injury? Joe Osterbauer, Esq. and the Osterbauer Law Firm stand up for injured Minnesota workers’ rights. Joe’s 27 years of workers’ compensation experience and his team’s speedy service combine to get clients the results they need. To schedule a free consultation, visit Osterbauer Law Firm online or call Joe’s office at (612) 334-3434.