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How Long Does it take to get a Workers’ Compensation Hearing?

Workers' Compensation Hearing

In Mississippi, most employees who are injured on the job are covered by the workers’ compensation system. Private employers with five or more employees are required to carry workers’ comp insurance, and this is a no-fault system that provides benefits for injured workers regardless of who was responsible for the underlying incident that resulted in the illness or injury.

Although workers’ compensation is supposed to provide coverage for most Mississippi workers, the claims process is complicated and confusing, and employers often put up unnecessary road blocks designed to frustrate employees into giving up on pursuing the compensation they rightly deserve. For example, your employer may deny your workers’ comp claim for one of many reasons, which may include:

  • The injury was not reported on time;
  • The claim was not filed on time;
  • The workers’ compensation application was not completed properly;  
  • The injury or illness was not work-related (e.g., happened outside of work or was a pre-existing condition);
  • The injury was the result of reckless behavior on the part of the employee, or because of another disqualifying reason.

If your workers’ compensation claim was denied or you have a dispute with your employer (and their insurer) about the benefits you believe you are entitled to, you can challenge your employer’s decision by requesting a hearing with the Mississippi Workers Compensation Commission. This is not unusual, BTW, many injured workers have their claims initially denied, and you should not view this as the final word.

That said, the appeals process can be complex and very difficult to navigate, and at this point in the process, it is essential to work with an experienced workers compensation attorney. Your attorney can thoroughly review the circumstances of your case and prepare your appeal, so you are in the best possible position to obtain a favorable result.

The first step to appealing your claim denial is to file a Petition to Controvert with the Mississippi Workers Compensation Commission. The petition must be filed within two years of the date of your injury, or you may be denied the right to an appeal. Be mindful of this deadline and be sure to have your petition filed well ahead of it. After the Commission receives your petition, they will assign your case to a workers’ compensation judge. The Commission will also notify your employer and their insurer of your petition filing and request a written response from them.

How Long Does it take to get a Workers’ Compensation Hearing?

It is hard to say exactly how long it will take to get your workers compensation hearing, but in general, you can expect to wait approximately three to four months. Your time frame may be a little longer or shorter than this, depending on the current workload and schedules of the workers’ compensation judges.

While you are waiting for your workers compensation hearing, a lot may be happening behind the scenes. Your hearing is similar to a court trial, and both sides participate in what is known as “discovery”. During the discovery phase, you and your employer exchange information, question witnesses, and gather facts and evidence about the case.

Your attorney and your employer may also enter into settlement negotiations during this time. Since workers’ comp hearings are costly and time consuming, it is generally in the best interests of all parties to negotiate a pre-hearing settlement that still provides you with full and fair compensation. If the other side is not willing to be reasonable, however, then your attorney will be fully prepared to forcefully argue for your rights and interests at the hearing.

As mentioned earlier, the hearing is similar to a court trial, except that it is less formal. There are normally just a handful of people present, and it takes place in a small room. Those present will include the judge, you, your attorney, a representative for your employer, and your employer’s attorney. Both sides argue their cases, present evidence, and present written testimony from various parties that may know something about the case, such as your doctor. In some instances, witnesses may be called to testify in person at the hearing. The judge reviews the evidence and the arguments presented and renders a written decision shortly after the hearing.

If you are unhappy with the outcome of your hearing, you can appeal your case to the Full Commission. This must be done within 20 days of the judge’s decision. If you are not happy with the decision of the Full Commission, you can appeal your case to the Mississippi state court system. This must be done within 30 days of the Full Commission’s decision.

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