The Industrial Accident Board is the central component of the Division of Dispute Resolution. If the parties involved in the workers' compensation dispute do not reach an agreement at Conciliation, the case can be referred on to a Conference before an Administrative Judge (AJ). Twenty-one AJ's preside over disputed workers' compensation cases from the Conference proceeding to the Hearing stage.
Conferences involve informal, non-evidentiary proceedings where each party (usually represented by an attorney) presents brief oral arguments and submits documents to support their side of the case. The AJ will issue a Temporary Order addressing the matter in dispute. Either party may appeal the order and request a Hearing.
Unlike the Conference, the Hearing is a formal proceeding where the contested issues are heard de novo (without regard to what happened at the Conference) under the Massachusetts Rules of Evidence, and the prescribed DIA Regulations. A court stenographer is assigned to record the Hearing. After the Hearing concludes, and all motions are ruled on and necessary depositions are filed, the AJ issues a formal Hearing Decision containing findings of facts and rulings of law.