The Litigation Process at the DIA
The litigation process at the DIA is a three-stage process: conciliation, conference, and hearing. It can take one to two years before a case makes its way to the hearing level and a hearing decision is issued.
Conciliation: After a claim is filed, a conciliation is scheduled. A conciliation is usually scheduled within three weeks after a claim is filed. The conciliation is an informal meeting before a conciliator employed by the DIA. The conciliator basically screens the cases to see if sufficient evidence has been presented. If the conciliator is satisfied with the evidence, he or she will send the case on to the next stage, a conference before an Administrative Judge. The conciliator’s main interest is to ensure that the medical evidence presented contains adequate disability and causal relationship opinions.
Conference: The conference is the 2nd stage of the Workers’ Compensation system. The conference takes place anywhere from one to five months after the conciliation, depending upon the backlog. At the conference, the attorneys for the employee and the Workers’ Compensation insurer each make an oral presentation before an administrative judge and submit medical and other written documentation. The administrative judge will issue a temporary conference order (either a denial or an order of payment) within one to two weeks of the conference date.
Hearing: The hearing is the 3rd stage of the Workers' Compensation system. If either party appeals the Conference Order, then a hearing will take place anywhere between three to six months after the conference date. The hearing is a trial with witnesses, exhibits and, often, depositions. Prior to the occurrence of the hearing, the employee will usually be evaluated by an “Impartial Physician.” The Impartial Physician is selected by the DIA from a list of specialists depending on the type of injury the employee has sustained. The written report of the Impartial Physician is extremely important as it provides prima facie evidence regaridng the medical issues in the case.