What are the circumstances that will bring us before the judge? The following are the different docket settings used at the Department of Labor.
Pre-hearings– These are randomly set by the Division of Workers’ Compensation for the parties (attorneys) to appear before the judge and give an update. I RARELY HAVE MY CLIENTS ATTEND THESE. I can also request these if there is an issue I want to discuss with opposing counsel and the judge.
Mediation– This a more formal than a pre-hearing and I almost ALWAYS HAVE MY CLIENTS ATTEND. This is an opportunity for the parties to discuss the case in depth and to get a recommendation from the judge. We can sometimes settle cases at these settings. Different venues handle them differently. In some, we are given an entire hour of the judge’s attention to resolve a case, while in other venues they give us 15 minutes.
Final Award Hearing– This is a formal setting where you are sworn in, evidence is offered, and a trial takes place before a judge. These will require quite a lot of prep so I will meet with you and go over the process before the proceeding
Hardship Hearing– This is also a formal setting where you are sworn in, evidence is offered, and a trial takes place. However, the purpose of this hearing is to determine if you are entitled to additional treatment or TTD benefits. It happens in the beginning or middle of a case to get a judge to rule on these issues. Like a hearing, we will prepare at length for this setting.
Conference Setting– This is for pro se Claimants who are not represented by an attorney. At these settings, the attorney for the employer will be there and will talk to you, often alone and not in front of the judge. You may be brought in to see the judge as well, but you will not have counsel. If you receive a notice for a conference, CONTACT US. Most times hiring an attorney is a better option than appearing before a judge and opposing counsel alone.