In January 2019, New York State announced it was introducing new technology that would make it easier for injured workers to attend virtual workers compensation hearings. The new tool comes in the form of a mobile app that allows injured workers and their attorneys to know when a virtual hearing is about to take place. Dubbed the WCB VHC app, it’s free to download from the iOS App Store and requires the installation of no additional software on the user’s mobile device.
What Are Virtual Workers Comp Hearings?
Developed by the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board in partnership with the Office of Information Technology Services, virtual hearings are live legal proceedings that all parties in an action can attend online. According to the WCB, multiple users in different locations can log in one time and then move from one hearing to another, making the hearings particularly attractive to legal professionals. Virtual hearings are totally optional. The parties can always choose to attend the hearing in person if they prefer.
Virtual workers compensation hearings were piloted in New York State in 2017. They were met with overwhelmingly positive feedback and are now available in all Workers Compensation Board locations except Newburgh, which will begin offering the option on March 25, 2019. The virtual hearings have been particularly helpful to workers with serious injuries that make traveling difficult. They also lessen the burden of traveling in bad weather, which can make attending a live hearing dangerous if not impossible.
Anyone with reliable high speed internet access can attend a virtual workers compensation hearing as long as they have a web cam, video conferencing system, or mobile device. The interface is compatible with most modern browsers, including:
- Chrome 65 or newer
- Firefox 52 or newer
- Internet Explorer 11
- Safari 10 or newer
- Android 7.1 (Nougat) or newer
- Apple iOS 10.3.3 or newer, including iPhone 5 / iPad 4th generation and up
If you plan to attends a virtual hearing via a desktop computer, you will need Windows 7, 8.0, 8.1, or 10, or macOS 10.9 (Maverick) or above.
Benefits of the Mobile App
The new app improves the virtual workers comp hearing system in several ways. Most importantly, it guides the user into a virtual hearing waiting room, where they can “hang out” while waiting for the judge to call their case. There’s no need to stop using other features on their device while they wait. A notification will automatically appear on the screen when their case is called.
Additionally, attorneys and other legal representatives can create an online profile in the app, which is saved for later use. This makes log in faster and the interface easier to use. Hearings can also be removed from a users schedule if they were entered incorrectly or if the attorney is no longer handling the case.
“The feedback we’ve received about virtual hearings has been overwhelmingly positive, and now we’re making it even better with an easy-to-use app,” said WCB Board Chair Clarissa M. Rodriguez in a press release. “This will help injured workers not just here in New York, but in other parts of the country as well, by removing the burden of travel, which can be treacherous this time of year.”
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