Aug 26, 2020 | Ben Boscolo , Kevin Stillman
Attorneys Krista DeSmyter and Kevin Stillman fought and won a battle ensuring that all injured workers in the District of Columbia get their day in court during the pandemic . Lawyers for insurance companies were trying to delay all workers’ compensation hearings until the COVID-19 pandemic ended.
To protect injured workers’ right to medical care and wage replacement during the pandemic, the District of Columbia government ordered workers’ compensation hearings to resume by video. In an effort to delay and deny their obligation to pay benefits, lawyers for insurance companies asked for postponements because they were entitled to an “in-person” hearing. Many workers’ compensation judges agreed and continued hearings until December. The judges noted that hearings would be further delayed if “in-person” hearings did not resume by December.
This is obviously terrible for injured workers who depend on workers’ compensation benefits to get the medical care they need to recover and to have money to support their families.
Krista, Kevin, and the ChasenBoscolo trial team were ready. We knew insurance company lawyers would try to indefinitely delay workers’ compensation hearings. We had a plan to stop them. Using a rare legal technique called an “interlocutory appeal”, ChasenBoscolo appealed eight Orders continuing hearings due to the pandemic. The ChasenBoscolo trial team, led by Krista, Kevin and David Snyder, researched and refined their arguments. We found decisions from workers’ compensation judges in other jurisdictions deciding that employers and insurance companies were not entitled to use the pandemic to indefinitely delay an injured worker’s day in court. We argued that it was unfair for lawyers for insurance companies to force injured workers to be exposed to the risk of COVID-19 in order to get their day in court.
On August 25, 2020, ChasenBoscolo won the appeal. As a result, injured workers are entitled to have their video hearings unless lawyers for the insurance companies have specific, good reasons that a workers’ compensation judge cannot decide the case if they hear evidence by video.
This is a big win for all injured workers in the District of Columbia. Lawyers for insurance companies cannot use the pandemic to delay or deny injured workers from their day in court. ChasenBoscolo trial teams will continue to fight in court to get our clients the medical care needed to recover and the monetary benefits needed to support their families.