January 17, 2019
New App Makes It Even Easier For Injured Workers And Other Participants To Attend Hearings Remotely
New York State Workers’ Compensation Board Chair Clarissa M. Rodriguez today announced the Board has launched a new tool that makes it even easier for injured workers, attorneys and other participants to attend workers’ compensation hearings remotely. The Board’s virtual hearings, a first-in-the-nation initiative, give injured workers a way to move the claim process forward without having to travel many miles for a hearing that may last only minutes, which is especially beneficial depending on the extent of their injuries.
The Board is now offering an app that may further improve the user experience for those attending virtual hearings. The WCB VHC app is free in the iOS App Store and does not require users to install any additional software on their mobile device. It employs a simple interface that guides the user from sign on, to the virtual waiting room, and finally to the video hearing once a Judge calls 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," Board Chair Rodriquez said. "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."
In addition to added convenience for injured workers, the new app may be particularly helpful for attorneys and licensed representatives who attend hearings regularly because it saves sign-on profile information, allowing users to log in faster. Users can also remove a hearing from their schedule if information was entered incorrectly or if they are no longer appearing for a case.
Parties using the app can still use other apps or features on their mobile devices while waiting for their hearing to be called. A notification will automatically alert them when it’s time to join a hearing, even if they’re in another app or their screen is off.
The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board developed virtual hearings in partnership with the Office of Information Technology Services to give all parties involved the option of using a smart phone, tablet or computer to attend hearings. This is the first high definition, all access system for legal hearings in the nation, where multiple users in different locations log in once and then move from one hearing to another. Virtual hearings are entirely optional though, and parties can always choose to attend in-person if they prefer.
"The app release is just one more example of how the Board is committed to growing and improving the workers’ compensation system," Board Chair Rodriguez said. "With virtual hearings, this new app and other recent initiatives, we’re also demonstrating that we’re a ‘new and improved’ Board - one that’s better for workers and better for business."
Virtual hearings were first tested in the Capital District Office in Menands in November 2017, and are now available at all Board locations except Newburgh and Allegany. More information on virtual hearings and the new virtual hearings app, including instructional videos and other training materials, is at www.wcb.ny.gov/virtual-hearings. To access the app in the iOS App Store, visit bit.ly/VHCApp.