Fort Lauderdale Workers’ Compensation Appeal Lawyer
Just because an injured employee’s initial workers’ compensation claim is denied does not mean that he or she is out of luck when it comes to obtaining benefits. This is because Florida law guarantees claimants the right to file an appeal with the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims (OJCC) when their initial claims are denied. There are, however, certain procedures with which claimants must comply before their appeal will be heard, so if your own claim for benefits was denied, it is important to speak with an experienced Fort Lauderdale workers’ compensation appeals lawyer who can walk you through the filing process.
Petition for Benefits
The first step that a person must take after receiving a workers’ compensation claim denial is to file a Petition for Benefits with the OJCC. These petitions require the inclusion of specific details, including:
- Information about how the accident occurred;
- A description of the claimant’s injuries;
- How much the injured party lost in wages while recovering; and
- A specific request for benefits.
Upon receipt of the petition, the Judge of Compensation Claims will notify the claimant’s employer and its workers’ compensation insurer about the claim, at which point, the employer will have two weeks to respond to the allegations in the claim. Employers who fail to respond by this deadline will be required to pay the requested benefits.
After receiving an appeal petition, the Judge of Compensation Claims has 40 days to schedule a mediation conference, which in turn must be held within 130 days of the petition’s filing. During this waiting period, many claimants are asked to provide the judge with additional evidence or to undergo a medical exam. The mediation conferences, themselves, are led by a neutral third party who will attempt to help the claimant and the workers’ compensation insurer work out a mutual settlement agreement. If such an agreement isn’t possible, the judge will schedule a final hearing within the next 90 days.
In the event that mediation is unsuccessful, an injured worker’s appeal will be assigned to a specific workers’ compensation judge, who will then schedule a pretrial hearing. These hearings are intended to help the parties identify disputed issues and allow both the employee and the insurer to exchange information.
After the conclusion of the pretrial hearing, the parties will be required to attend a final hearing, which must be held within 90 days of the conclusion of the pretrial proceedings. Both the claimant and his or her employer will be given the opportunity to call witnesses and present evidence to the judge, including expert testimony by the treating physician. Upon review of the evidence, a judge will issue a decision within 30 days of the hearing. If a claimant’s appeal is denied by the workers’ compensation judge a second time, he or she has 30 days to file another appeal with the First District Court of Appeals.
Schedule a Free Consultation
To speak with an experienced Fort Lauderdale workers’ compensation lawyer about appealing your claim, please call The Law Offices of David M. Benenfeld, P.A. at 954-807-1334 today.