Elements of a Workers Compensation Claim Investigation
The days and weeks following a workplace accident are a critical period for an injured employee and the employee’s workers compensation attorney. This is the time to discover important evidence and to lay the foundation for a successful workers’ compensation claim.
This article describes the key elements of a workers compensation claim investigation. If you have questions about your case after reading the article, or if you are looking for high-quality legal representation in your Virginia workers compensation matter, contact Corey Pollard for a free strategy session.
Step 1: The Attorney-Client Interview
An experienced attorney will interview you – the injured worker – at the onset of representation. Your attorney will ask you questions to obtain important information such as:
- How were you injured?
- What were you doing before the accident?
- What were you doing when you were injured?
- What body parts did you injure?
- What symptoms did you have after the injury?
- Do you continue to have symptoms and, if so how bad is your injury?
- Have you injured the body parts hurt in the work accident before?
- Did you report the injury?
- When did you report the injury?
- Who did you report the injury to?
- How did you report the injury (written, email, text, or verbal)?
- When did you first receive medical treatment?
- What medical providers have you treated with since the injury?
- Did you tell the medical providers that you were injured at work?
- Did your medical providers give you work restrictions?
- Do you have any follow up medical appointments scheduled?
- Have you undergone any surgeries for the injury?
- What medical treatment, if any, had you received for the injured body part before the work accident?
- Were there any witnesses to your injury?
- If there were witnesses, what is their contact information and what type of relationship do you have with them?
- How many employees does the employer have?
- How long have you worked for this employer?
- Has the employer offered you any light duty work?
- Do you want to return to work with the employer?
- Do you have private health insurance?
- What other sources of income do you have, if any?
- Do you have any prior injury claims, either for workers’ compensation or personal injury?
- Are you receiving Social Security Disability benefits?
- Are you eligible for Medicare?
- Have you received any long term disability benefits?
- What hobbies or activities can you no longer do because of the injury?
- How far did you go in school?
- Have you had any professional or vocational training?
- Do you have any professional licenses or certifications?
- And much more.
Your answers to these questions provide a good starting point for the workers’ compensation case and claim investigation.
Step 2: Determine if There are Other Witnesses and Interview Them if Possible
An experienced attorney will ask you for the names and contact information of friends, family members, neighbors, clergy, and anyone else familiar with your physical abilities before and after the accident. He will then interview these witnesses to find out additional information regarding your:
- Activities and interests outside of work. Specifically, your attorney wants someone to corroborate that there are things you could do before the injury that you are no longer able to do.
- Pain and other symptoms. These witnesses can provide valuable testimony regarding what they’ve observed. For example, testimony that you now require the use of a cane or have limited your driving can be helpful in proving your case and in showing that you are a credible person.
Your attorney will also determine whether he can interview any of the individuals who witnessed your accident and injury under the Rules of Ethics. Any person who does not work for your employer can be interviewed to determine additional facts and to see if he or she will be a good witness in your case. If a witness works for your employer, then there are limits on whether your attorney can contact that person directly.
Step 3: Investigate the Accident Scene
To win your case, you must prove that the injury happened the way that you described. Photographs and video footage of the accident scene can be helpful, especially if you were injured while operating machinery or while walking or climbing on a job site.
If the accident happened off the employer’s premises, then it will be easy for your attorney to visit the accident scene and take pictures. If, however, the accident took place on property owned by the employer, then your attorney will need to follow certain procedural rules to get access to the property.
You should give your attorney any pictures or video that you took of the accident or your injuries. That is admissible evidence that can be used at your workers compensation hearing.
Step 4: Contact the Medical Providers
We believe it is important for an injured worker’s attorney to establish contact with the worker’s medical providers as soon as possible. You must have supportive medical evidence to win your case.
We will contact your doctors and surgeons to determine the scope and nature of your injury, the official diagnosis, your prognosis, your work restrictions, and the expected future medical care.
Step 5: Apply the Facts to Law
After we have investigated the facts of your case, we will then work on creating a narrative that will allow you to win or to negotiate a top-dollar workers compensation settlement.
This step involves legal research and finding judicial opinions that support our theory of the case.
Speak to an Attorney with Experience Completing Thorough Workers Compensation Claims Investigations
Preparation is the key to winning your workers’ comp case. And it’s never too early to start the workers compensation claim investigation.
Call us today to get started on the path to financial recovery following a work injury in Virginia.