When most employees who are injured on the job file a workers’ compensation claim, they know little about the process. Because of this, they come into the situation with misconceptions about how their case will play out. Since they are probably facing mounting financial pressure due to a variety of bills for medical treatment and other expenses, along with the possibility of being out of work for an extended period of time, they are anxious to get the matter resolved as quickly as possible. But while most claims are settled out of court, some find their way into a courtroom for various reasons. If this happens to you, here are three misconceptions about taking your workers’ comp case to trial.
You Will Automatically Win
When many employees who have filed these claims learn their case will be going to trial, they think they will automatically win their case. Unfortunately, that is not always the result. In fact, if your case goes to trial, the chances of you winning often diminish. By having the case go to trial, your employer and their insurance company will have had an extended period of time to build a case against you, which can be detrimental to your defense. For example, if you waited days or weeks before reporting your injuries, your employer will likely attempt to show the injuries were not serious, or may not have even occurred while at work. Along with this, if you have a work record that is less than stellar, expect that to be brought up and used against you in every possible way. To combat these efforts, always make sure if your case goes to trial, rely on an attorney who specializes in handling workers’ compensation cases, and who also has a proven track record of success winning these cases.
Financial Awards are Higher
If your workers’ compensation case goes to trial, do not automatically assume any financial award you receive will be far higher than what you would have received in an out-of-court settlement. In fact, the amount may be far less, or even nothing at all should you lose your case. Because of these risks, any workers’ compensation lawyer with whom you are working will probably do everything possible to avoid seeing the case go to trial. Since it is never a given what a judge and jury may do, going to trial poses significant risks to having you gain the financial compensation you need and deserve for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Since negotiations have obviously failed along the way, both you and your employer have taken stands as to the amount of compensation you deserve for your injuries. Therefore, be prepared for everyone to pull out all the stops to win the case.
The Trial Will Be Short
If you think your workers’ compensation trial will be short and sweet, think again. Because negotiations have not been successful between you and your employer, both sides will be determined to win the case. Therefore, if your case goes to trial, plan on it lasting several weeks at a minimum. In addition to this, plan on testifying on your behalf during the trial. This may be tough to do, since you have likely told your story to your employer, their insurance company, and lawyers along the way. If your case goes to trial, do not make any attempt to change your story in an effort to benefit your case. Since your incident has been well-documented by now, any changes in your story will be quickly noticed and scrutinized by your employer’s legal team. Thus, it will appear as if you may be lying about your injuries, which could dramatically affect the outcome of your case.
Since it is never a given what will happen to any type of case once it enters a courtroom, your workers’ compensation lawyer will try every possible method at their disposal to avoid going to trial. Because of this, always be willing to listen to your lawyer’s advice regarding settlements. If you are offered a settlement that your lawyer believes is fair and equitable, consider accepting it, since the outcome in a courtroom could be far worse.