In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Connecticut Workers’ Compensation Commission has instituted temporary emergency guidelines that will directly impact the day-to-day operations of the Commission as well as the speed at which cases will be heard. In response to this unprecedented event, the Commission has postponed all dockets for March 17, 2020 and March 18, 2020 to facilitate its transition to a primarily telephonic docket beginning March 19, 2020. Any emergency cases postponed due to the two-day closure will be scheduled for a telephonic hearing on March 19, 2020 or March 20, 2020. Emergency status will be determined by the Commissioner.
Until further notice, the Commission is also waiving some of its standing requirements, such as the three day cancellation rule for hearings and light duty job search requirements. Apportionment hearings will also be suspended and only a limited number of the highest priority formal hearings will be conducted in-person at the Commission. Requests for hearing continuances will be granted liberally, as only those hearings that are of the highest priority will be docketed until further notice. Priority will include:
- Hearings where benefits are not being paid
- Medical treatment is being denied and is deemed urgent
- Form 36 hearings
- Hearings resulting from receipt of CME, if parties indicate CME did not resolve the issue
The Commission has made clear that they are relying on the parties and their counsel to minimize the strain on the workers’ compensation system during these challenging times. While the parties have always been required to try and resolve their issues prior to requesting a hearing, the Commission will be strictly enforcing this going forward. Furthermore, parties are being tasked with initiating conference calls for telephonic hearings and faxing to the Commission in advance of a hearing the essential and relevant written documents being relied on to resolve any issue in dispute.
We recognize that these new procedures will likely result in longer than usual case pending times within the Commission. While these policies and procedures are only in place on a temporary basis, we acknowledge that their impact will likely be felt for months after this pandemic has quieted down and we have all returned to our standard operating procedures. However, we are confident that we will be able to navigate this temporary system to continue to maximize the results we get for our clients and mitigate the impact of these delays on claims. We encourage clients to reach out to any of our attorneys at any time throughout this crisis; we will be happy to help address any specific operational concerns about the litigation of claims going forward or any questions on workers’ compensation claims.