Several weeks ago on the blog we discussed conciliation and the role it plays in the workers’ compensation process. Though an injured worker may be able to settle a claim at the informal conciliation phase, many times no agreement can be reached. When this happens, the matter will then move to a conference.
A conference is a meeting of the parties in front of an administrative judge. This is an informal proceeding, meaning that the rules of evidence do not apply. Here, the injured worker and the insurer can submit documents that illustrate medical treatment, wage, and affidavits by witnesses. No one is called to testify, so witnesses do not need to attend the conference.
At the conference, the injured individual must show a variety of things. First, he or she must establish that he or she is disabled, that the injury or illness that caused the disability was related to his or her employment, and that medical expenses were used for legitimate treatment. Once the conference is concluded, the administrative judge will either order benefits to be paid or not to be paid. However, this is not the end of the matter. Either party can appeal a conference order, but it must be filed within 14 days.
Going to conference and appealing a denial of benefits can be nerve-wracking. This is especially true since so many injured workers need workers’ compensation benefits to help cover their lost wages and medical expenses. Therefore, those about to go through this process should be sure they have all of their documentation and legal arguments in line. An experienced Massachusetts attorney can help a benefits seeker do so.
Source: Labor and Workforce Development, “What is a Conference?” accessed on Oct. 16, 2015