Understanding exactly what a prehearing administrative law judge does in workers’ compensation claims is a major asset in winning your case. There are some terms and abbreviations that are helpful to be aware of before entering this often daunting process – such as the Colorado Office of Administrative Courts or OAC, also known as the Administrative Office of the Courts or OAC in other states.
A prehearing conference is often shortened PHC, and the prehearing administrative law judge is commonly just written as PALJ for the sake of brevity. Unfortunately, this is shorthand oftentimes comes at the expense of those who are less familiar with this type of legal jargon.
In workers’ compensation cases, it’s up to the PALJ to handle several key elements of the legal process. If a time extension is needed for the proceedings, the PALJ may be the one to address it. Anything related to legal discovery or disputes regarding evidence all fall under the purview of the prehearing administrative law judge.
When either party requests a conference, it is the PALJ’s job to enforce the attendance and participation of the opposing sides when necessary. Once the prehearing conference is over, an order is sent out by the prehearing administrative law judge which covers everything that the parties agreed to as well as what the judge determined.
Additional duties and authority of a PALJ
In addition to these aforementioned roles, a PALJ may also make their own rulings on written motions in workers’ comp cases. This method of legal resolution is one way to potentially forego a formal hearing altogether.
The orders of a prehearing administrative law judge are legally binding to both parties in worker’s compensation cases. These may still, however, be appealed at the Office of Administrative Courts. It’s important to remember that when a PALJ’s orders are not followed, the judge has the authority to order sanctions.