In a best-case scenario, your workers’ compensation claim goes through without incident and you get the payment you deserve. You can then focus on the healing process until you are able to return to work in Missouri. Unfortunately, there are instances where you may be unable to reach a settlement agreement with your employer, which causes the case to go to trial.
According to the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, workers’ comp cases end up in court roughly 5% of the time. When this happens, it is called an evidentiary hearing. There are two main types of evidentiary hearings. These include the hardship hearing and the final hearing. At the final hearing is when the judge issues his “final award.” This typically follows the completion of medical treatment, while also making allowances for both parties to gather their evidence.
Many employees are surprised to learn that in court, the burden of proof rests on them. Failure to support your side of each contested issue, therefore, falls on you. This gives employers an advantage in the courtroom. Not knowing this, many workers often look to judges to help with pretrial preparation, but they are unable to assist with this. Their job is to remain neutral. Note the following about judges in these cases:
- The judge reviews the evidence and makes rulings based on the evidence and laws.
- The judge cannot assist with the presenting of evidence.
- The judge cannot explain the rules of evidence to you.
- The judge cannot assist with pretrial preparation.
In spite of this, many people feel confident that they can represent themselves in court. The DOLIR strongly advises against it.
This article provides information on evidentiary hearings from the Missouri DOLIR website. It should not be used in place of legal advice.