The Labor and Industrial Relations Commission (LIRC) recently affirmed a denial of workers’ compensation by the administrative law judge (ALJ). The reason for the denial was straightforward and a crucially important part of the process for unrepresented accident victims to know about: The trial is where you present your evidence, not the appeal.
Hurt Worker Tries Presenting New Evidence on Appeal
The worker got hired in December, 2017, as a seasonal FedEx employee. Soon after getting hired, she was packing a box over her head when she lost her balance. The box dropped on her and hurt her right neck, shoulder, and back.
The ALJ, however, found that the box was not the prevailing factor of her injuries. Instead, it was a preexisting degenerative condition from the worker’s labor-intensive tasks on her family’s farm. The ALJ denied an award of workers’ compensation.
The worker appealed the case to the LIRC.
In her appeal, though, she included a file titled “What really happened.” This and other correspondence with the LIRC included new information about her injury, as well as descriptions of her working conditions and medical treatment that were different from what was presented to the ALJ.
The LIRC unanimously refused to consider the new evidence and affirmed the ALJ’s denial.
The General Rule: All Evidence Must Be Presented at Trial
In all court proceedings, from personal injury cases to criminal charges to workers’ compensation claims, the general rule is that all of the pertinent evidence must be presented at the initial stage, or trial. It is the function of the trial to ascertain exactly what happened.
The implications of this rule are simple: If something is not presented at trial, there had better be a very good reason why it was left out.
Only Limited Exceptions Apply
Many times, the law has a general rule, but then so many exceptions that they swallow the rule.
That is not the case in this circumstance.
In Missouri workers’ compensation cases, there are very few instances where new evidence can be first presented on appeal to the LIRC. According to 8 CSR 20-3.030(2), it will only be heard if “reasonable diligence could not have been produced” it at the hearing before the ALJ. That regulation puts the burden on the person presenting the new evidence to explain why it “could not have been discovered or produced at the hearing.”
St. Joseph Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Smith Law Office
While there may be workers’ compensation cases where the employer hides relevant evidence from you, in the vast majority of the cases everything has to be presented at the ALJ’s hearing. Gathering all of that evidence can be an intimidating task.
The workers’ compensation lawyers at the Smith Law Office help injured workers put together their strongest case for the ALJ and recover the workers’ compensation they need and deserve. Call them at (816) 875-9373 or contact them online for help in St. Joseph, Kansas City, Springfield, or elsewhere in western Missouri.