I love questions from anyone. I do believe there are no dumb questions, and when you ask me something I think should be obvious, that just tells me we need to do a better job of explaining things.
A really good question I got recently was from someone who wanted to know what the odds were of winning their case. I’m not in the odds making business, and I hate lawyers that make false promises just to make a client feel good or to get them to sign up.
What I do like to do is help you figure out the chances of success. That depends on the facts of your unique case, which we are always happy to discuss with you. In general though, I believe in predictors of success. There are certain things that don’t guarantee a victory, but are good signs that your case will go well. These things include:
1. Report the injury to your employer ASAP. It can be as simple as telling your boss/supervisor, “I was lifting a box and felt a pop in my back” but the best thing to do is fill out something in writing or tell them by e-mail.
2. Get to the doctor right away. The longer you wait to get to the doctor the harder it becomes to relate your problems to the original injury. A delay of a few days can be reasonable. A delay of many months is not.
3. When you see the doctor make sure to tell them that you were hurt at work (if that’s the truth). Don’t listen to a boss that tells you to say you were hurt away from work and promises they’ll take care of you. Again do it in writing when you can.
4. Listen to your doctor. If they tell you to go to physical therapy do it. If you need to stop smoking to aid your recovery, do it.
5. Don’t lie or embellish. If you lie you will likely get caught. If you inflate your symptoms you likely will get caught. And it will kill your case.
6. Hire an attorney that does work comp all day every day. If they just dabble in it, it could cost you.
7. Communicate with your attorney. If you don’t tell them your check is late or you need a medical procedure approved, etc., they can’t help you.
8. If you realize that you hired the wrong attorney, switch before it’s too late.
9. At trial be calm. It’s not the trial of the century, it’s just a hearing on work comp benefits. There is no jury. There will probably be two lawyers, a court reporter and Arbitrator and you in the room. That’s it.
10. Keep a journal from beginning to end. In some cases you might not need a trial for years, but will still need to remember old details. A journal can help and aid your credibility.
This isn’t a complete list. I could probably do another post that just focuses on lawyers that could really tip the scales in your favor (you better hire someone who takes cases to trial). But it’s a good starting point. Don’t freak out if you haven’t hit all of these points. It doesn’t mean your case is a loser, but it might make things more challenging. Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.