In December 2017, I took one of my workers' compensation client's cases that I prepared as well as possible to present to one of the judges at the State Board of Workers' Compensation at what we call a hearing. I presented my client's position in the best possible light. We took the employer's testimony deposition prior to going to court. I sent my client to a very fair and impartial doctor who gave us an excellent report and ultimately gave excellent deposition testimony as well.
The insurance company then sent my client to their doctor who is typically a horrible doctor. In his report almost everything was designated as degenerative and nothing due to the work injury.
I thought we had everything tied down but there were some nagging issues that I tended to ignore at that time, and those issues were credibility issues. For instance, when this particular client first was hurt, he waited through the weekend to tell his employer the following week of his injury. While that is legal, it is not helpful. His story was conflicted as to whether he fell from the back of his truck or from the cab. When he first went to his family doctor, three weeks after the injury date, he did not mention that he was injured on the job.
Unfortunately, we received an adverse award from the Judge which means that we did not win my client's case. I felt so badly, however, the most interesting comment in the Judge's Award was the following: “This case comes down to credibility.” Credibility kills the case. But for my client's “lack of credibility, it would have been a close case,” the Judge said.
I tell my clients over and over again that I can win their case on the facts and on the law. But I have to have a credible client. Your story as to how you were injured and your story as to the progression of your medical care must be completely credible. If the insurance company and their lawyer can shoot holes in your testimony, then the odds are that you can lose your case. It is rare when I present a case to the judge and I lose it, but when I lose, I do believe that it has been on credibility issues of my client. The Judge must believe my client's version of the facts.
Regrettably, I had a very good case otherwise, but the Judge overlooked all the positives in the case and ruled based on the lack of credibility of my client. This will be a lesson learned by me and by others. –THOMAS F. BROWN, II