The New York Workers’ Compensation Virtual Hearings pilot program will be rolled out starting next week for hearings at the Menands (Albany) hearing point.
Virtual Hearings will allow injured workers, attorneys/representatives, witnesses and other participants to attend hearings online. Participants will no longer have to travel to a hearing site to attend their hearing. For the time being, parties will have the option to attend any hearing eligible for a virtual hearing either in person, as they normally would, or via the Board’s video conference software program.
According to the Board website:
Virtual Hearings will be rolled out gradually to districts throughout New York State after the successful completion of the Board’s Virtual Hearing pilot. The pilot moves into the next stage with Virtual Hearings available in the Albany District Office, located in Menands, beginning November 13, 2017.
If you are eligible to attend your hearing virtually, you will see a notification of ““Virtual Hearing Available” at the bottom of your hearing notice, along with detailed instructions.
There is no set time frame for when all Workers’ Compensation hearings in the state will be eligible for a virtual hearing but it is clear this is coming state-wide in the near future.
Anyone that has set foot in a hearing point recently has seen updated technology in many of the hearing points and presumably this is the Board preparing for the roll out across the state.
The Board has been hosting a series of webinar training sessions for attorneys and representatives to provide instructions on how to attend hearings virtually, as well as how to use the new check-in procedure when appearing in person. During a “Question & Answers” segment of one of the webinars it was disclosed that claimants will be allowed to attend virtual hearings using audio only but attorneys and representatives will be required to appear via video. Additionally, it appears the plan is eventually for all hearings aside from discrimination matters to be eligible for the virtual hearing process.
It is anticipated there will be many “growing pains” as the Board implements this new process. Presumably, regulations and new Board rules will follow.
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