If your workers’ comp claim has been denied, or you have a dispute with the insurance company about your benefits, you can challenge the decision with the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court. (For an overview of eligibility and benefits, see our article on filing a workers’ comp claim in Nebraska.)
To start your appeal, you must file a petition with the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court. The petition form is available at the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court website. You must file this petition within two years of your injury or the last benefit payment you received from the insurance company.
Once the court receives your petition, it will notify the insurance company. The insurance company will have 14 days to file a response. Your case will then be assigned to a workers’ comp judge and scheduled for a hearing.
Before your hearing takes place, you can try to informally resolve the dispute with the insurance company through mediation. A mediation is an informal conference, where a neutral third party will try to help you and the insurance company reach a voluntary settlement agreement. Mediations are conducted either in person or over the phone. To request mediation, you must file an Informal Dispute Resolution Request Form with the Workers’ Compensation Court.
Most workers’ compensation cases are settled through informal negotiations with the insurance company. However, if you’re not able to resolve the dispute, you will continue on to an administrative hearing before a workers’ compensation judge. Both you and the insurance company will have an opportunity to submit documents, present testimony from witnesses, and make legal arguments. The judge will review the evidence and mail a written decision after the hearing.
If you are not happy with the judge’s decision, you can appeal to the Nebraska Court of Appeals. To do so, you must file your appeal with the Workers’ Compensation Court within 30 days of the judge’s decision. You must submit the following three documents: a notice of appeal, a praecipe for transcript (requesting all of the procedural legal documents filed in your case), and a request for bill of exceptions (requesting the evidence and testimony presented at the hearing). You can find detailed instructions on how to fill out these forms in the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court’s overview of the appeal process.
A panel of three judges will review your case and make a decision. The panel will not hold another hearing and will base its decision only on the written record of your case. You will receive the panel’s decision in the mail.
While it’s not a requirement, most workers with contested workers’ compensation cases hire lawyers to represent them in the appeals process. The appeals process requires detailed knowledge of workers’ compensation law and procedural rules, especially when it comes to presenting your case at a workers’ compensation trial. For help finding a workers’ compensation lawyer, check out our online lawyer directory.