Appeal for a hearing is what the workers comp denial letter usually informs the injured worker in Wisconsin and it gives the address or telephone number of the State of Wisconsin DWD in Madison. It implies a simple process, but for most workers comp claims it is a complicated, expensive and time consuming legal procedure. First, the experienced attorney will collect the relevant medical records, then obtain the necessary medical opinions on causation and permanent injury if appropriate. Finally, the attorney files the evidence and requests a hearing. In a serious back injury or neck injury claim, this process may take about one year after the injured worker reaches an end of healing or a healing plateau. What happens at a workers compensation hearing in Wisconsin?

Hearings are formal processes in which the rules of evidence apply at the discretion of the judge. Leading questions on undisputed matters are generally allowed and only matters in dispute require proof. Generally there is direct and cross examination of witnesses, the injured worker often being the only witness. A court reporter takes down testimony, but the ALJ makes his or her own synopsis. The full transcript is not prepared unless there is an appeal.

At the outset of the hearing, the attorneys and the judge clarify exactly what benefits are being claimed, the period for which they are claimed, the percentage of wage loss during the period, the extent of permanent partial disability benefits, the medical expenses claimed, and so forth. Medical records, opinions and bills should be filed 15 days before the hearing. The hearing record should not include voluminous medical records, only a few pages which are relevant to the disputed issues need be filed and referred to during hearing.

“It is an elementary principle of law that the applicant has the burden of proof in a workmen’s compensation case, and if the evidence before the Industrial Commission is sufficient to raise in the mind of the commission a legitimate doubt as to the existence of facts necessary and essential to establish a claim for compensation, it becomes the duty of the commission to deny the application on the ground that the claimant did not sustain his burden of proof.” Lewellyn v. DILHR, 38 Wis. 2d 43 (1968).

McCormick Law Office attorneys in Milwaukee, Wisconsin regularly go to hearing. Prior to hearing we evaluate the claim with the injured worker and advise on the strengths of the case so the injured worker can make an informed decision on whether to settle or go to hearing. It is key that the injured worker be prepared to testify as it often comes down to his or her credibility. Believe in better.