Sec. 31-298. Conduct of hearings. Both parties may appear at any hearing, either in person or by attorney or other accredited representative, and no formal pleadings shall be required, beyond any informal notices that the commission approves. In all cases and hearings under the provisions of this chapter, the commissioner shall proceed, so far as possible, in accordance with the rules of equity. He shall not be bound by the ordinary common law or statutory rules of evidence or procedure, but shall make inquiry, through oral testimony, deposition testimony or written and printed records, in a manner that is best calculated to ascertain the substantial rights of the parties and carry out the provisions and intent of this chapter. No fees shall be charged to either party by the commissioner in connection with any hearing or other procedure, but the commissioner shall furnish at cost (1) certified copies of any testimony, award or other matter which may be of record in his office, and (2) duplicates of audio cassette recordings of any formal hearings. Witnesses subpoenaed by the commissioner shall be allowed the fees and traveling expenses that are allowed in civil actions, to be paid by the party in whose interest the witnesses are subpoenaed. When liability or extent of disability is contested by formal hearing before the commissioner, the claimant shall be entitled, if he prevails on final judgment, to payment for oral testimony or deposition testimony rendered on his behalf by a competent physician, surgeon or other medical provider, including the stenographic and videotape recording costs thereof, in connection with the claim, the commissioner to determine the reasonableness of such charges.
(1949 Rev., S. 7447; 1958 Rev., S. 31-174; 1961, P.A. 491, S. 20; 1967, P.A. 242; 842, S. 8; 1971, P.A. 521; P.A. 85-65; P.A. 91-32, S. 17, 41; P.A. 93-228, S. 11, 35; P.A. 97-106.)
History: 1961 act entirely replaced previous provisions; 1967, P.A. 242 added, “and attorney’s fees for representation of the claimant at the formal hearing,” in the last sentence before “the commissioner to determine the reasonableness of such charges.” (Held repealed by implication, see 165 C. 338, 349.) 1967, P.A. 842 added reference to contest of extent of liability and entitled claimant to one-fifth of weekly compensation for each day or portion of day he attends a formal hearing if he is not receiving compensation at that time; 1971 act entitled claimant to reimbursement for wages lost because he has been called to appear at conference or informal hearing; P.A. 85-65 required the commissioner to furnish to the parties, at cost, duplicates of audio cassette recordings of any formal hearings; P.A. 91-32 made technical changes and deleted provisions re reimbursement of wages lost by reason of appearance at a conference or informal hearing and provisions re payments made to claimants who prevail on final judgment; P.A. 93-228 added provision allowing use of deposition testimony during workers’ compensation hearings, effective July 1, 1993; P.A. 97-106 added provisions entitling claimant to payment for medical testimony if he prevails on final judgment.
See Sec. 52-260 re witness fees.
Conduct of hearing. 94 C. 9. Procedure simple and without pleadings. 106 C. 9. Burden of proof is on claimant; but may be sustained by reasonable inferences as well as by direct testimony. 95 C. 43. Admissions by insurance adjuster may be accepted by the commissioner. 93 C. 295. Declarations by the decedent. 98 C. 649. Conclusions reached by superintendent at an immediate investigation. 106 C. 252. Claimant held not to have had an adequate hearing. 107 C. 457. Burden of proof rests on claimant. 130 C. 1. Commissioner not bound by rules of evidence. 116 C. 297; 122 C. 360; 133 C. 667. Commissioner judge when conflicting medical testimony presented. 123 C. 405; 130 C. 455; 131 C. 484. Commissioner judge of fact. 128 C. 621. Evidence that workers in other factories under substantially same conditions do not contract disease is admissible. 118 C. 29. Evidence as to extent of incapacity from susceptibility to dermatitis necessary to finding of compensation commissioner. 125 C. 140. Disability due to first or second accident, or both, medical question. 123 C. 188. Evidence which commissioner may accept. Findings, to be open to attack, must be unreasonable to justify judicial interference. 109 C. 62. Cited. 114 C. 29; 132 C. 172; 135 C. 504; 136 C. 345. Workmen’s compensation commissioner not bound by rules of evidence. 138 C. 53. While finding or conclusion of commissioner based on conflicting medical opinions cannot be disturbed, such finding cannot be based on incompetent medical testimony to which objection was seasonably made. 149 C. 118. Opinion of physician based wholly or partly on statements and symptoms related to him by patient on personal examination is inadmissible where examination was made for purpose of qualifying physician to testify as medical expert. Id., 119. Cited. 159 C. 302. Cited. 165 C. 338, 344, 345, 349, 350, 356. Cited. 199 C. 667, 675. Cited. 213 C. 54, 56. Cited. 226 C. 508, 514. Cited. 237 C. 1, 11. Section addresses the conduct of hearings; does not provide commissioner with any specific jurisdiction over particular types of claims or questions. 248 C. 754. Commissioner has authority to dismiss claim without a hearing on the merits in an appropriate case. 254 C. 60.
Cited. 29 CA 249, 261. Cited. 40 CA 278, 284, 285, 287. Workers’ compensation commissioners not bound by Daubert standard in determining whether to admit scientific testimony; establishing formal requirements for admissibility of scientific testimony in workers’ compensation cases is contrary to spirit of statute. 48 CA 774. Equitable requirements of section do not apply to scheduling of hearings and notice to parties, matters that are specifically addressed in Sec. 31-297. 66 CA 332.
Cited. 38 CS 331, 338.