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How an appeal works in a workers' compensation case

It is an unfortunate fact that many workers in the San Diego area wind up getting hurt on the job. Workplace accidents can happen to anyone, including industrial workers, construction workers and even workers who work in white collar positions that are generally thought of as relatively safe.

In theory, injured workers in California are eligible for workers' compensation benefits on a no-fault basis, meaning that one would think that an employee who has been through a workplace accident will be able to get the benefits to which they are entitled without difficulty.

Sadly, though, such is not always the case. Valid claims do get denied, and, in other cases, a worker winds up getting an award of benefits much less than what they need or legally deserve.

For these sorts of situations, an injured worker may consider taking an appeal. Assuming that having a hearing before a California Workers' Compensation Judge does not solve the problem, then the injured worker can ask for a three-judge panel of the state's Appeals Board to review the case. The employee does so by filing what is called a petition for reconsideration.

The Board may decide not to grant the reconsideration and either leave the judge's decision intact or issue its own opinion explaining the Board's reasoning. The Board may also outright reverse or modify the judge's decision if they feel it needs to be corrected. In some cases, the Board may send the case back to the judge for further work, and in a handful of cases, the Board may dismiss the worker's petition for legal reasons.

If a worker does not get what he or she desires from the Board, a further appeal may be possible.

Petitions for reconsideration, although sometimes necessary, are legally complicated procedures that include a lot of strict deadlines and other important requirements that an average Californian may not know. This is why it is generally best to get help with a workers' compensation appeal from an attorney who is experienced with such matters.

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