The Judicial Division of the Commission is made up of the Commissioners, the Chief Deputy Commissioner, the Deputy Commissioners, the Clerk's Office, all Regional Offices, the Alternative Dispute Resolution Department, and the Petition & Order (settlement) Department.
The Judicial Division provides information about the Act, mediates or adjudicates disputed claims, conducts hearings, and issues timely written opinions adjudicating disputes and appeals. The Division’s primary objective is to hear and decide disputed claims and issues arising under the Act in a prompt, fair and impartial manner, affording due process to all litigants.
Contested or controverted workers' compensation claims are referred to the Judicial Division for adjudication. Each contested claim is docketed for hearing, either for an evidentiary hearing or for a decision on the record. All areas of the state are served by a Deputy Commissioner or Commissioner at least once a month. Foreign language interpreters are provided at evidentiary hearings by the Commission at no cost for non-English speaking litigants and witnesses. The Act requires written decisions in each case.
The Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) Department provides voluntary and confidential informal dispute resolution processes where a neutral third party (mediator) facilitates communication to assist the parties in mediating an agreeable solution. The purpose of mediation is to identify issues, clarify misunderstandings, explore solutions and mediate an agreement. Any party to a claim may request mediation to resolve a dispute quickly or to negotiate the compromise settlement of a claim. Mediation can be requested at any time and most issues can be mediated if all parties are agreeable.
Settlements of workers’ compensation claims must be reviewed and approved by a Deputy Commissioner, and may only be approved if the settlement is found to be in the best interests of the injured worker. While any Deputy Commissioner may review and approve the settlement of a case that has been referred to his or her docket, most settlements are submitted to the Petition & Order Department.
In addition to adjudicating workers’ compensation claims, the Judicial Division also adjudicates claims arising under the Birth-Related Neurological Injuries Compensation Act and appeals of decisions of the Criminal Injuries Compensation Fund.