The insurance company denied my workers compensation claim in D.C. and I received a form to apply for a Formal Hearing. What can I expect at the Formal Hearing in D.C.?
A Formal Hearing for a workers compensation case in the District of Columbia is like a condensed trial. After filing an application for the Formal Hearing, the injured worker (now called the claimant) and the workers comp insurance company will receive a scheduling order. The scheduling order will give the hearing date and discovery deadlines. Like a civil case in Superior Court, federal courts or other state courts, the parties are entitled to discovery - depositions, interrogatories, subpoenas, de bene esse depositions are common in D.C. workers compensation cases.
Typically, exhibits are filed in advance of the hearing, according to the scheduling order deadlines. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will preside over the hearing and issue a decision in the case, in the form of a Compensation Order, often several weeks to months following the hearing.
At the hearing most ALJs will informally discuss the issues and exhibits before going on the record. Once on the record, most ALJs will state the parties' issues and positions then allow opening statements. Witnesses will testify under oath, and be subject to cross examination.
Most ALJs will then allow closing arguments from both sides. Basically, the process is a trial - just faster.