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Dawn Atkin

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Hearings:
A hearing is an informal trial at the Labor Commission. A Judge will be present to hear the evidence. Let the Judge know that you respect the court by wearing appropriate clothing. A suit and tie is not required, but dress nicely. For the same reason you must be respectful to the other side. It is rude and disrespectful to the court to roll your eyes, gasp or shout “that is a lie” when the other side says things you believe are wrong. The injured worker always gets the last word. Allow your attorney to present the evidence on your side at the proper time.

The Utah Labor Commission currently has six excellent Judges. Hon. Heather Gunnerson, Hon. Aurora Holley, Hon. Lorrie Lima, Hon. Deidre Marlowe, Hon. Coleen Traynor, and, for Southern Utah cases, Hon. Cheryl Luke. Each judge does things a little differently, or may request a hearing be handled differently than normal with no warning. An experienced attorney has no problem changing plans on the fly. At Atkin & Associates we do our best to help our clients know what to expect, but we are also prepared for all the surprises that can, and do, happen at hearing.

Normally, at the beginning of the hearing the Judge will address preliminary issues with the attorneys. This will include admission of the medical exhibit and other formalities. The attorneys will then present opening statements to outline how they see the issues of the case, and disputes for the Judge. Then testimony is presented, starting with the injured worker's testimony.

How to Testify at a Labor Commission Hearing:
The injured worker will be the first witness to present testimony. The Judge will administer an oath to tell the whole truth. To start, the injured worker answers questions from her attorney. At Atkin & Associates, we believe it is our job to ask the right questions in order to fully explain the case to the Judge. Our clients are only instructed to answer the questions truthfully. If the answer causes a problem, it is the attorney's job to continue to ask questions until the issue becomes clear.

The insurance company’s attorney can then ask questions. It does not matter why the question is being asked. Making such evaluations can cause the answers to be confusing. Answer the question as honestly as you can, which means that, sometimes, the only true answer is “I don’t remember.”

As with everything at a hearing, the injured worker's side gets to ask the last questions to clarify any issues caused by the insurance company's questions.

In most cases no witnesses other than the injured worker are needed to prove the case because the injured worker knows everything that happened in the case. But additional witnesses can testify if needed for particular issues.

If the insurance company has any witnesses, they will testify next. If any of the testimony of the defense witness is incorrect or misleading, the injured worker can testify a second time to explain the issue. Once all the testimony is complete, the Judge will ask for closing arguments.

Labor Commission Hearings: Closing Arguments:
At the end of the hearing, both sides present closing arguments. Closing arguments summarize the case, and outline the legal arguments for the Judge. Since the injured worker has the burden to prove his case, closing arguments should include a review of each fact presented that proves the issues in dispute. Although closing arguments are important, they should be short and to the point.

The Judge will not make a decision at the hearing. She will "close the record" which means that no new evidence can be submitted. The Judge will then issue a written decision which is called the Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Order. If the case involves a dispute between doctors on a medical issue, the Judge will issue an Interim Order which outlines the facts of the case and sends the matter to a Medical Panel.

Orders from the court take 90 days. However, starting in September of 2013 the Labor Commission is changing their schedule so that decisions can be issued within 30 days.

__________________
K. Dawn Atkin
Attorney with Atkin & Associates
(801) 521-2552
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