Preparing for a North Carolina Workers’ Compensation Trial

January 5, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

Most North Carolina workers’ compensation matters never wind up at trial. Usually, if there’s a dispute between a claimant and his or her employer or his or her insurance company, an arrangement can be ironed out.

However, in some cases, an insurance company or employer can act so egregiously that the only recourse is to pursue recompense in court. Here are some things to consider when debating whether or not to go to trial over your North Carolina workers’ compensation matter.

1. The process can be time consuming.

The judicial process is slow, sometimes aggravatingly so. You may be called into the courtroom multiple times over the course of months. You and your attorney alike may have a lot of logistical work to do to prepare. It can be months before a judge weighs in. So prepare yourself for a lot of starts and stops — and budget your time and patience accordingly.

2. Prepare for potentially brutal tactics.

Insurance companies can be quite aggressive — and even nasty — when defending decisions to deny coverage or to refuse to pay out a policy. In some cases, companies have actually videotaped plaintiffs on the sly in the hopes of catching them “acting uninjured.” These companies argue that they do this to prevent fraudulent claims, but if you are legitimately injured, this can seem to be quite a heartless tactic. Be prepared for assaults on your word and character, and work closely with your North Carolina workers’ compensation attorney to anticipate these tactics and defend against them accordingly.

3. How you dress and act in the courtroom counts.

In a perfect world, a trial would deal specifically with issues of law and nothing else. But human beings are susceptible to persuasion. How you conduct yourself in the courtroom, how you dress, how you articulate your stance, and how prompt you are to court proceedings can all dramatically influence a judge’s decision. To give yourself the best chances, dress appropriately (and soberly), be polite and attentive to everyone, think through your thoughts before speaking them out loud – particularly when you’re addressing the judge, and mentally rehearse your trial prior to the date, so you can envision the best possible outcomes.

4. Prepare both for victory and for loss.

To make the waiting period less excruciatingly stressful, anticipate both victory and defeat scenarios, and focus on tasks immediately at hand to avoid getting caught up in needless speculation. The judge’s decision will come, and when it does come, you (along with your lawyer) can piece together your best next steps of action.

5. Even if a verdict goes your way, the insurance company may still watch you.

Many North Carolina workers’ compensation claimants win at trial only to find themselves in hot water months or even years later. Insurance companies can follow you to make sure that you are as injured as you say you are. If you give an opening, companies may retroactively attack your claim. Again, there have been instances of insurance companies videotaping claimants to try to catch them in the act of “being healthy” in order to negate a claim retroactively.

All this being said, one of the best strategies to ensure victory is to connect with a reputable, trial proven, and results driven North Carolina workers’ compensation lawyer as quickly as possible to create a prepared and proactive strategy.

More Web Resources:

Preparing for Trial

Dealing with Insurance Companies who Videotape People