Hearings Automatically Set for County in which Worker Resides
The NY Work Comp Board published on 7/3/12 established new rules for changing the hearing point (“Rule on Request for Venue Change, Subject No. 046-486). The hearings are automatically set for the county in which the worker resides, unless the worker resides out of state, in which case the worker can ask for a particular county. Special rules apply if the employer is a governmental body, in which case, hearings must be held in the same board district where the governmental body has offices.
After that, a change can only be made if the worker requests it in writing and gives a good reason for a change. The senior comp judge rules on the request and gives a written opinion.
New System Significant Improvement from Decades Past
In decades past, changes in hearing points resembled a game of dysfunctional musical chairs. The principal reasons for changes, especially in the New York City area, had nothing to do with the wishes of the worker or the convenience of witnesses – it had everything to do with the local culture of the comp system and, most importantly, how attorney fees were awarded.
Employers should be kept aware of any requests for a change in hearing points. A change should not be granted for the convenience of a medical witness since medical testimony is now taken by telephone depositions and no longer at hearings. It is no more difficult to take the deposition of doctors in Florida than doctors locally as the procedures are the same.
In the past, attorneys would ask that a change of hearing point be made to inconvenience the employer’s witnesses – using a worker’s remote address of a relative. The employer was sometimes directed to have three or four witnesses appear at a point hundreds of miles away, only to be informed, when they arrived, that the hearing was adjourned. Since depositions are now used, that gambit no longer works.
Employer Should be Updated on Requests for Changes
An employer should be kept in the loop on requests for changes of hearing point and should review the application to see if any reasons for a change are given that appear to contradict facts. If the request is not in accordance with known facts, a reply should be made.
Author: Attorney Theodore Ronca is a practicing lawyer from Aquebogue, NY. He is a frequent writer and speaker, and has represented employers in the areas of workers’ compensation, Social Security disability, employee disability plans and subrogation for over 30 years. Attorney Ronca can be reached at 631-722-2100.
Editor Michael B. Stack, CPA, Director of Operations, Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc. is an expert in employer communication systems and part of the Amaxx team helping companies reduce their workers compensation costs by 20% to 50%. He is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. www.reduceyourworkerscomp.com. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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