I was hurt at work in D.C. and have a workers compensation claim. What kind of hearings are available for deciding benefits in D.C. workers compensation cases?
When the insurance company disputes or denies part of your workers compensation claim - they almost always do at some point - there are two ways to have a hearing on your case.
The first, an informal conference, is just like the name - informal. There is no testimony under oath and no witnesses are called to testify. A claims examiner will issue a decision that either party may reject (it is not binding).
Some issues are OK for an informal conference - payment of a medical bill, for example. But if you can't work because of an on the job injury and the insurance company isn't paying benefits, an informal conference may just delay a decision, because even if you win, the insurance company will appeal.
A Formal Hearing is held before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and testimony is taken under oath. The decision of the ALJ, called a Compensation Order can be appealed, but if benefits are awarded, the insurance company's appeal will not stay the award of benefits - in other words, if the injured worker wins, the workers compensation insurance company has to pay benefits while the case is appealed.