Under the New York State Workers’ Compensation Law, to be upheld upon appeal, a Law Judge’s decision needs only to be supported by “substantial evidence.”
The substantial evidence threshold accounts for affirmation of the vast majority of decisions which are appealed. These decisions are affirmed because it is difficult to show that a Judge’s decision is not supported by substantial evidence.
Substantial evidence essentially means that so long as there are some legal proof offered that would support the Law Judge’s decision, it will be affirmed. In most cases, there is conflicting testimony from either lay witnesses or medical experts. In those circumstances, the Law Judge is charged with evaluating the credibility of the testimony and evidence offered and making a decision in the case. In most cases, the Judge’s decision, regardless of which evidence he relies on will be affirmed since it is based on substantial evidence.
Even in cases where there are multiple witnesses testifying in support of point A and only one witness in support of point B it is within the Judge’s discretion to find in favor of point B.
Without question, the substantial evidence threshold gives Administrative Law Judges in New York State much discretion and power and makes it extremely difficult for the appealing party to prevail.
If you have questions about any aspect of your New York State Workers’ Compensation case, please feel free to contact us and we would be happy to answer them for you.