First of all, what is a Claim Petition? A Claim Petition is filed with the Workers’ Compensation Office of Adjudication if an injury claim is denied by your employer’s workers’ compensation carrier. If you are injured while working in the course and scope of your employment, you report the same to your employer and they send it to their workers’ compensation carrier to investigate and accept or deny your claim.
In order to file the Claim Petition, you must have a doctor give an opinion in writing that your injury is directly related to your work. If you are out of work and claiming ongoing disability which may last more than a year (52 weeks), then not only will you need a doctor’s note or report, but that doctor will have to testify on your behalf. This is referred to as a doctor’s deposition. The assigned workers’ compensation judge will set a trial schedule, typically giving you (the claimant), through your attorney, ninety (90) days to take your doctor’s deposition, the employer, through their attorney, will then be given (90) days thereafter to take their doctor’s deposition.
Who is the employer’s doctor? Well, the workers’ compensation carrier will choose what is referred to as an Independent Medical Examiner (IME) doctor to examine you one (1) time in conjunction with reviewing your medical records. That doctor will write a report and then testify from that report.
Each doctor will testify in his or her office with both attorneys and a court reporter present to take down all of the questioning and answering. The court reporter will then prepare and send out the deposition transcripts that will be admitted into evidence by the attorneys. If your case goes to a Decision with the assigned workers’ compensation judge, the judge will make credibility decisions as to which doctor he or she finds to be more credible. If your doctor is found to be more credible, and assuming you are also found to be credible, then you will win your Claim Petition to receive both wage loss and medical benefits, if applicable.
The one exception to the rule that a doctor’s deposition must be taken is if you want or need to limit your claim to just 52 weeks. That would mean that you could be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits only for up to 52 weeks (1 year). You still need a doctor’s report indicating that your injury is related to your work, but your doctor would not need to testify.
If you or a loved one has had a work injury denied, you owe it to yourself to retain an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer.