Form Over Substance - The Claimant Speaks

By Daniel Elias, Esq. 

I was injured on the job and I have a Worker’s Compensation Claim.  I am a woman who is over 60 and I suffered a bad fall at work.  The Worker’s Compensation process has been very frustrating for me.  The Board has decided that form is more important than substance and it nearly derailed my claim.   

Several months ago, I attended a hearing.  I was supposed to produce medical reports of permanency from my doctors.  I and my attorneys contacted the offices and arranged for appointments.  We had all but one.  On the last day before the hearing I was able to get the needed form from my orthopedist.   I thought I was good.  When we went to the hearing, the Law Judge pointed out that the doctor had only sent the first and third pages of the C – 4.3 medical form.  This was the only doctor who was treating my Knees that had been injured.   The Insurance company representative was not even complaining!  But the Law Judge decided that the report did not comply with the form and therefore the doctor would be precluded from testifying regarding my permanent condition. 

What was the rush? We were setting it down for deposition testimony of three other doctors and weren’t coming back to Court for over 2 months.   My Lawyer asked the Judge to let my orthopedist testify if the 2nd page was produced within a few days.  The senior law judge said “NO”!    I got the missing page and it was filed with the Board within 2 days.  What good is an old woman who can’t walk?  Wouldn’t the judge want to know the status of my knees in determining my disability?

My attorney filed an appeal with the Worker’s Compensation board in April.  In December I received a decision from the Board.   They rejected the appeal and refused to even consider my old knees.   I couldn’t even understand what they were talking about.  They said my lawyer did not state the date that an exception was taken from the judge’s decision.  I was there!!  I heard him tell the Judge that what he was doing was unfair.   The appeal was from only one decision made at only one hearing.  What are they talking about?

The one commissioner who dissented from the opinion of the majority called this “a travesty of justice”.  I would have to agree.



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