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Understanding the workers' compensation appellate procedure

Most Connecticut workers understand the basic functioning of the state's workers' compensation procedure. If a worker and his or her employer are unable to reach agreement on the nature of the illness or injury or on the benefits to be paid, a hearing must be held in front of a state Workers' Compensation Commissioner. The hearing gives both the injured worker and the employer a chance to present evidence in favor of or in opposition to the claim. The options to respond to an adverse decision by the commission are less well understood. This post will provide a summary of the workers' compensation internal review process.

Any party who objects to a decision by the commissioner may commence an appeal to the Compensation Review Board by filing the prescribed form within 20 days of the date of the original decision. The commissioner who heard the case must provide copies of the petition to the board and the adverse party. The appealing party must also file a statement of reasons for the appeal within 10 days after filing the notice of appeal. The workers' compensation statute lists two reasons for an appeal: (a) the facts in the record do not support the commissioner's findings, or (b) the commissioner erred in refusing to grant a motion to correct the findings.

The record as assembled by the hearing commissioner is forwarded to the Compensation Review Division. The board cannot retry the facts or hear additional evidence. Its decision must be based upon the record as certified by the hearing commissioner. If a party wishes to submit additional evidence, a written motion must be filed explaining why the new evidence is material. The matter is then decided by the Compensation Review Division. If any party is dissatisfied with the decision of the Review Division, the party may seek judicial review by the Connecticut Appellate Court.

The need for a persuasive written submission in a workers' compensation appeal makes consultation with an experienced workers' compensation attorney a virtual necessity. A knowledgeable lawyer can assist an injured worker in assembling and drafting the papers for appeal and, if necessary, appear before the board on the worker's behalf.

Source: Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission, "Regulations regarding Appeal from Compensation Commissioner (CRB Appeal Procedure)," accessed on Sep. 9, 2017

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