The Rules of Evidence in Workers’ Compensation, PERA Duty Disability, and Health Care Continuation Hearings v. Rules of Evidence in Civil Court

In the law, a body of rules governs whether or not evidence is admissible or able to be presented to a judge or a jury to help the fact-finder make a determination on the merits of a case. The rules of evidence in administrative law and contested case hearings are different than the rules of evidence in civil trials. Administrative law and contested case hearings include workers’ compensation hearings, PERA duty disability hearings, and healthcare continuation hearings. The differences in the rules of evidence affect how an attorney would present a workers’ compensationPERA disability, or health care continuation case to a judge and how an attorney would present your case to a jury in a personal injury civil trial.

Rules of Evidence in Personal Injury Civil Cases

Personal injury claims are civil claims and when sued out are filed in district court. Personal injury cases may go to a trial and are heard in front of a trial judge and a jury. Generally, personal injury cases are filed in state court where the Minnesota Rules of Evidence govern the proceedings. If you are denied long-term or short-term disability benefits from an insurance company, sometimes you may sue the insurance company for a breach of contract action. Typically these particular breach of contract cases are “removed” to federal court. The Federal Rules of Evidence govern the proceedings in federal court. The Minnesota Rules of Evidence are very similar the Federal Rules of Evidence. Like almost all court proceedings in civil court, the Minnesota Rules of Evidence are much stricter than the rules of evidence in administrative and contested case hearings.

Rules of Evidence in Administrative Law and Contested Case Hearings

Under the Workers’ Compensation Act, Minnesota Statute § 176, work comp falls under the body of administrative law. Workers’ compensation proceedings may go to a hearing in front of an administrative law judge rather than a jury. This ensures that more injured workers have quicker access to relief under the law. An administrative hearing is less formal than a trial court and as such the rules of evidence and procedure are more lenient and expeditious, “the [workers’] compensation judge is bound neither by the common law or statutory rules of evidence nor by technical or formal rules of pleading or procedure.” Minn. Stat. 176.411, subd. 1.

If PERA denies your application for duty disability application or your public employer objects to paying for the continuation of health insurance, then the matter goes to an administrative law judge, similar to workers’ compensation, in a contested case hearing. The Minnesota Administrative Procedure Act and the Minnesota Rules govern contested case hearing proceedings. See Minn. Stat. § 14.001- 14.70; Minn. R. 1400.2000 – 1400.8612. Again, the admissibility of evidence is highly favored in administrative law hearings.

Admissible evidence at contested case hearings include “all evidence which possesses probative value, including hearsay, if it is the type of evidence on which reasonable, prudent persons are accustomed to rely in the conduct of their serious affairs.” Minn. R. 1400.7300. Hearsay in civil court would be barred unless the evidence fell under a set of complicated exceptions.

When you have a variety of claims in different areas of law you need attorneys who have experience in all the areas. The differing rules of evidence in workers’ compensationpersonal injury cases, and PERA disability law are some of the nuances and intricacies of the law when representing clients with numerous claims. Contact the attorneys of Meuser Law Office, P.A. today for a free no-obligation consultation at 877-746-5680 or click here to send us an email.