News & Knowledge

New Workers' Compensation Procedures for 2014

Senior Judge Omar Hernandez of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents is planning to implement two new procedures for the workers’ compensation dispute resolution process in 2014.

Pre-Hearing Conference

First, he plans to establish a Pre-Hearing Conference. After the Section 10A Conference and the Impartial Examiner’s report, but before the Hearing, the attorneys for the parties will meet with the judge. This is intended to give the parties an opportunity to narrow the issues and avoid some of the delays currently associated with first Hearing dates. Any motions would be dealt with at the Pre-Hearing Conference. The judges presumably will encourage the parties to discuss settlement at that time. The testimony of employees, witnesses and experts will then be scheduled for a Hearing date.

Expedited Lump Sum Settlement Conferences

Second, Judge Hernandez will be standardizing the procedure for walk-in lump sum settlement conferences. This is intended to avoid delays when the parties have reached an agreement and seek to schedule a settlement conference. While this is not always an issue, some judges require that settlement conferences be fit into their schedules through the scheduling system, which can cause delays. Generally, employees are receiving weekly benefits at the time of a lump sum settlement, so a shorter period from agreement to approval generally will benefit insurers.

Should you have any questions about the DIA’s new procedures or any workers’ compensation issue, please feel free to contact Christina Schenk-Hargrove, Esq. at: CSchenkHargrove@SmithDuggan.com or 617-228-4409, or Tamara Lee Ricciardone, Esq. at: TRicciardone@SmithDuggan.com or 617-228-4450. © 2014