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Hearing requests and orders

Disputes resolved at the Workers’ Compensation Board

The Workers’ Compensation Board’s Hearings Division provides a forum for timely and impartial dispute resolution. In hearings conducted by administrative law judges (ALJs), parties have an opportunity to present their case. They have the right to be represented by counsel, to have a qualified interpreter, to present evidence (lay and expert witnesses, personal testimony, medical and vocational reports, etc.), to compel testimony by subpoena and under oath, to receive pre-hearing disclosures of evidence, to present arguments on issues of fact and law, to provide cross-examination and impeachment evidence, to have the hearing postponed or continued, to have the hearing at a location not distant from the worker’s home, and to request reconsideration of an order and appeal an order.

SB 1197 (1990) created the reconsideration process, which reduced hearing requests and resulted in a shift in the issues involved. Permanent disability decreased from being an issue in 32 percent of hearing orders in 1989 to 18 percent of hearing orders in 1991. In 1995, SB 369 also reduced litigation by requiring that workers with a condition they believed was omitted from a notice of acceptance needed to notify the insurer rather than claim a de facto denial in a hearing request.

The Board Review Division hears appeals of ALJ orders, decides WCB own-motion cases (re-openings or additional benefits after aggravation rights have expired), approves CDAs, hears appeals of Department of Justice decisions in the crime victim assistance program, and resolves third-party disputes (distribution of proceeds from a liable third party, between insurer and worker). The board is composed of five governor-appointed members: the chair, two members selected for their understanding of employer concerns, and two members selected for their understanding of employee concerns. Appeals are heard by at least one “worker” member and at least one “employer” member.

The following two tables provide basic statistics on levels of hearings. The first table provides data on requests and orders for the Hearings Division, and the second table provides data on Board Review.

WCB Hearings requests and orders

Year Hearings Div. Requests Hearings Div. Orders Hearings Div. Appeal Rates Median days Hearings Div. request to order Median days DOI to Hearings Div. order
WCB Hearing Requests and Orders

Workers' Compensation Board board review requests and orders

Year Board Review Requests Board Review Orders Board Review Appeal rates Median days DOI to Board Review order Median days Board Review request to order
WCB Board Review Requests and Orders

Legislation in 1987 limited worker benefits under own-motion authority to time-loss and medical services. In 2001 Legislature expanded benefits with SB 485, to allow re-openings for treatment provided in lieu of hospitalization to enable return to work, permit claims for new or omitted medical conditions after aggravation rights expired, and allow permanent disability awards in new or omitted medical condition cases.

Workers' Compensation Board own motion orders

Year Board Own Motion orders
WCB Own Motion Orders
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