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Maryland workers compensation hearings are postponed on a regular basis for various reasons. The requests can come from any party involved in the case and is processed by a Commissioner. The timing of the postponement requests can often be helpful to a party but also frustrating at the same time.
Why was the workers compensation hearing postponed?
There are a multitude of reasons that a postponement is requested by one party or the other. One of the most common reasons for requesting a postponement is that adequate and necessary medical records are not in the possession of the parties. Maryland workers compensation attorneys on both sides of the case are usually pretty good at exchanging the medical records they have in their possession with the other party (timely exchange of records is required by law). However there are on occasion times that neither party can obtain medical records prior to the hearing. The process of requesting and obtaining medical records can take a month or longer.
Even after all the medical records are obtained there may still be a need to postpone the case. All parties are entitled to obtain an independent medical evaluation (IME) prior to the hearing. Medical records will be needed for the IME to take place. Requests based on the need for an IME are almost always granted by the Maryland Workers Compensation Commission.
On occasion there is a conflict with one of the Attorney’s calendars. If one of the lawyers is required to be in a different court proceeding on the same day then a postponement may be necessary. As a practical standpoint many attorney prioritize based on first in time and the urgency the case requires. Also, personal reasons may cause the need for a postponement of the hearing. The attorney has a planned vacation or personal need to attend to. Ordinarily personal needs of the attorney should not get in the way and with adequate preparation can be avoided.
While coordinating attorney’s calendars’ with the date of the hearing may sometimes prove difficult, in the event witnesses are involved scheduling becomes increasing difficult. Multiple witnesses means multiple calendars that must be considered and an increased potential for a postponement of the workers comp hearing.
If an injured Maryland worker shows up to the first hearing without an attorney they may request a postponement in order to find time to retain an attorney. In most cases the Commission will urge the injured worker to retain a lawyer.
There are a few instances where filing forms with the Commission will generate an automatic postponement. When the Subsequent Injury Fund (SIF) or Uninsured Employers Fund (UEF) is implead (added to the case) then an already scheduled hearing will usually be postponed. Also, if the injured worker has multiple workers comp cases and the “set with” form is filed then the hearing may automatically be postponed.
Who files the request and who rules on the request?
Postponement requests with the Maryland Workers Compensation Commission can be filed by any party including the injured worker, the injured workers attorney, the employer/insurer, the defense attorney, and any fund that is involved in the case including the Subsequent Injury Fund and the Uninsured Employers Fund. It is also important to note that the Commission can issue a postponement on its own. This may occur in the event of bad weather or if there is some internal conflict at the Commission. The Comp Commission will decide to either grant or deny any postponement request by the parties.
When can the postponement be filed?
On any given day a person can go to a Workers Comp hearing site and probably see a request for postponement being made the morning of the hearing. Unfortunately things come up that lead to last minute postponements such as a witness not showing up, settlement negotiations starting, or an ailment of one of the parties. At anytime a party can request a postponement of the Maryland workers compensation hearing.
Most often postponements are requested prior to the hearing date, perhaps days, weeks, or months. Once a hearing notice is issued then a postponement request can be made. Practically speaking, postponement requests made far in advance and with good reason are granted with less scrutiny by the Commission.