What is an Expedited Hearing in Workers Comp?
An expedited hearing on Workers Comp is a myth in my opinion. It doesn’t really happen.
Usually, when lawyers talk about expedited hearings and Workers Compensation cases they are talking about setting up the hearing as soon as they can to try and get your medical bills paid, a medical procedure preapproved, or to start getting you paid while you are off work (that’s called TTD).
Those are good goals. Injured workers need to be treated so they can get back to work as soon as possible. Injured workers can’t live with no income. And the Worker’s Compensation Act in Illinois provides that these are things that injured workers are entitled to. But more and more Workers Compensation insurance companies are discovering that they are getting away with cutting off benefits in the state of Illinois. Remember, insurance wants to make money by collecting premiums and refusing to pay bills.
So Workers Comp lawyer sets up an expedited hearing. But what does “expedited” mean?
If you look it up in the dictionary, expedited means something that’s rushed or done right away. But the way the Commission works, you are lucky if you get an expedited hearing in six weeks. Very rarely, you can get a hearing sooner than that. Sometimes it takes even longer.
I don’t know about you, but if I didn’t have any income in six weeks that would cause me a lot of stress. If I needed back surgery and was in daily pain and I had to wait six or eight weeks for an answer as to whether I could hear the surgery, I would not be happy. It isn’t fair. It defeats the purpose of the Worker’s Compensation Act in my opinion. You are to have an answer within a week or two on such questions as this.
But the Judges (called Arbitrators) over at the Commission deserve a vacation now and again. They have lots of cases on their calls. They only hear cases on scheduled dates every month. They have cases that go to trial, and hundreds of lawyers who want to talk to them. It is not an easy job. They can’t do everything. They are human beings who are doing their best. And the State of Illinois does not have enough money to hire more of them.
Just be aware that getting in front of an arbitrator on a request for Workers Comp expedited hearing pursuant to 19(b) or 8(a) is oftentimes not something that can happen right away. Don’t be so mad at your lawyer.
You should also be aware that sometimes the judge will convert the expedited hearing into a full hearing. If that happens, your case is going to trial and your lawyer has to have all his ducks in a row – all of your medical bills and records and oftentimes, a deposition of your main treating doctor. It can take a lot of time to organize all their trial material and to get a doctor’s deposition.
So keep in mind that even if you can get in front of the arbitrator, will your lawyer have had enough time to assemble and organize all the stuff he needs to win your case? Do you want an expedited hearing and then lose it? If it takes a couple extra weeks to get the case truly ready for trial, that is the better move rather than rushing to an expedited hearing where the judge will continue the hearing anyway because the doctor’s deposition is not okay.
Like so many things in life expedited hearings and Workers Compensation seem like they should happen right away and they should be simple. But nothing in the law is simple.
What is simple is that you deserve a lawyer who will explain the sorts of things to you and will talk to you on the telephone when you need answers. If you’ve been involved in a Workers Comp case and you need help right away, give me a call. I’d be happy to send you a copy of my DVD which explains your rights or to give you a free case evaluation, or both.
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