For an employee going to trial over a worker’s compensation claim, the process can be incredibly intimidating. It likely isn’t going to be a pleasant experience, and everyone’s stress level (and legal expenses) will be through the roof. The company likely will have hired private investigators to follow you around, filming your every movement and trying to shoot holes in your injury claims. Before you go to court, you should dwell on how committed you are to the process. While you may feel that you have a strong case, the judge might not see it that way. Trial lawyers can be merciless with their questioning and tactics, and the entire experience can be emotionally and financially taxing.
Despite the difficulty of going to a trial, it can potentially be your best option. If the other party is unwilling to compromise or provide an ongoing level of treatment that you feel is necessary, then going to trial might be the only way for you to get the level of care that you feel to be appropriate.
Preparing for trial is incredibly time-intensive work for your attorney. In order to properly present the facts in a court of law, your attorney needs to follow a legal fact-finding process that can be quite time-consuming. The process of taking official statements, called depositions, and gathering evidence can take some time, and often in the legal process there is little that you can do other than wait.
When you finally do have your day in court, it is the culmination of several weeks or months of work on both sides. Naturally, tensions will be running high. Try to not let this rattle you too badly. The hearing will begin with both sides making opening statements and outlining their case. Then, the injured worker’s attorney will present their case along with any witness testimony. These witnesses will likely be cross-examined by the defense.
The judge who is overseeing the case is the legal party that ensures a fair trial for both sides and that both parties follow the proper legal procedure. The judge will also settle any objections raised by both sides during the proceedings.
During the trial, the judge is responsible for hearing witness testimony, gathering statements by both attorneys, and reviewing exhibits submitted as evidence. The attorneys are responsible for asking questions, although the judge can step in and ask clarifying questions as well. The judge will certainly be taking notes, as will the court reporter. Each judge is slightly different in their manner of running a court, and this is something that you should discuss with your attorney beforehand. While the validity of your legal case is what really matters, it helps to build report and conduct yourself in a way that the judge will see favorably.
After all of these steps, both sides will offer closing arguments to support their case. It can take a long time before the case is ruled, depending on the complexity of the case and the evidence presented. The judge must review all of the evidence before a decision can be made. While it can be incredibly difficult to wait, especially for such an important decision, there is nothing that you or your attorney can do to speed up this process. It is just a matter of patience at this point.
When you do go to trial, it is important that you act professionally and do not let emotions cloud your judgment. This is a very emotionally-charged occasion, but keeping a level head and presenting yourself in a polite and dignified way can make a good impression. Remember to tell the truth and answer questions in a straight-forward and truthful manner. Be sure to wear something clean and understated, since appearances still do count for something. If you are required to answer questions as a witness, answer the questions in a brief and honest manner. Even if a question is unsettling, take a breath and answer calmly while keeping your hands folded. These little tips can go a long way in supporting the validity of your case.