The two most common questions I get are what is my case worth and do I have a case?  I’ve blogged a lot about the first one (look in our search bar for those posts), but no about the second.

In legal speak, to win a case you have to show that your injury arose out of (your job duties) and in the course of (while working) your employment.  So it might be your job to drive around a factory in a golf cart doing security, but if you go on a joy ride and wipe out you’ll lose the case even if it’s during work hours because you aren’t performing your job duties.

This legal standard can be confusing because there are a lot of exceptions.  For example, if you are eating lunch at your desk and choke to death, it’s probably not a case. On the other hand if you are a traveling employee and have that happen to you while you are eating dinner after a business conference it would likely be a case because your employer is benefiting from your travel and it’s reasonably foreseeable that you’d have a meal where this could happen. Sounds kind of dumb, but that’s the law.

Aside from the standard I described, you also need a doctor in your corner who will state what your injury is and that it’s related to your job duties.  That’s pretty straight forward if you slip and fall on a wet floor and hurt your knee or lift a heavy box and feel a pop in your back. Or at least it should be. The insurance company may still try to fight you or allege a pre-existing condition.

You can’t self diagnose. I’ve had many people who tell me that they know in their heart that their physical problems are caused by work.  That’s not enough. It’s not evidence. You aren’t allowed by law to make medical conclusions in your case.

For example, let’s say you work in a building with bad ventilation and get sick shortly after starting there.  You’ve always been healthy and believe you have some sort of allergic reaction to the chemicals used on the job and by the cleaning crew.  If a doctor doesn’t give you a diagnosis and state that your injury is related to the exposure problems, your case is likely going nowhere.

It’s not brain surgery, but it does take some work by your lawyer and this shows why getting a good doctor in your corner is important.

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