Types of Workers' Compensation Court Hearings

There are multiple types of Workers' Compensation court hearings. Either party in a case may file a document called a Declaration of Readiness to Proceed in order to obtain a hearing date to appear before a Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board Judge. The California workers’ compensation system is an administrative law system which means there is no jury to make the determination of the case. Instead a Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board Judge makes the determinations on an injured worker’s case. Unless otherwise notified, typically no witness other than the applicant (injured worker) need to attend the conference hearings. Claims adjusters and lien claimants must be present or available by telephone.


The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board Judge can hear multiple issues within a hearing. Also, unlike other types of law where they only have one main hearing (ex- one main Trial) in a case, in a workers’ compensation case, there can be multiple hearings on multiple issues within a case.   


There are several types of hearings that can be held by the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board known as a Status Conference, Mandatory Settlement Conference, Rating Conference, Priority Conference or Expedited Hearing. A description of the types of cases are explained below:


STATUS CONFERENCE: is a proceeding for which judicial attention is required. It requires the parties to appear before a Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board Judge to discuss and address the matters that were filed on. A Status Conference can include, but is not limited to, a Lien Conference, or a conference in a complicated case in which discovery is not complete and the parties need the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board Judge’s guidance.


MANDATORY SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE: is a proceeding that is held to assist the parties in resolving a dispute. If the dispute cannot be resolved a the time of the Mandatory Settlement Conference, the parties should be ready to frame issues, record stipulations, list their exhibits of evidence, and list the witnesses who will testify at Trial. A Trial is set only at the discretion of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board Judge and is set for the purpose of receiving evidence.


RATING CONFERENCE: is a proceeding in which it is the type of hearing at the Mandatory Settlement Conference level but ratings of the medical reports will be available at the time of the hearing conference.


PRIORITY CONFERENCE: is a proceeding that is held under Labor Code 5502(c) in which the injured worker is represented by an attorney and the issues include employment, and/or injury arising out of and in the course of employment. The main issue is causation and whether or not the injuries plead by the injured worker are deemed to be industrial (work-related) or non-industrial (not work-related).


EXPEDITED HEARING: is a proceeding that may be set upon request where injury to any part or parts of the body is accepted as compensable by the employer and the issues include medical treatment or temporary disability for a disputed body part or parts. An Expedited Hearing is a type of healing at the Trial level. A Workers' Compensation  Appeals Board Judge  assigned to a case may re-designate the expedited hearing as a Mandatory Settlement Conference, receive a Pre-Trial Conference Statement pursuant to Labor Code section 5502, close discovery and schedule the case for Trial on the issues presented, if the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board Judge determines that the case is not appropriate for expedited determination.


According to the Workers’ Compensation Information and Assistance Department, there are several matters about hearings that they have announced, such as:


The party requiring an interpreter must arrange for the presence of an interpreter, except that the defendant(s) must arrange for the presence of the interpreter if the injured worker is not represented by an attorney.


Also, the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board favors the presentation of medical evidence in the form of written reports.


The Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board Judge, upon the receipt of the Declaration of Readiness, may set the case for a type of proceeding other than the one requested.