Once you or your attorney has filed your claim for benefits under the Defense Base Act for an injury you sustained during your employment with a DBA contractor, everything that you say or do can and will be used against you. The most important thing to remember when going through the litigation process is to be consistent in your reporting. This means whenever you give a statement on the record, report your injuries to your doctor, report your injuries to an independent medical examination doctor, or even during written discovery; everything needs to line up and stay true. The best way to stay consistent is to be completely honest during the whole process.
Self-Reporting of Your Injuries and Experiences to Medical Professionals
Usually, before filing a claim for an injury under the Defense Base Act, you would have spoken to a doctor about your symptoms/injuries and what could have caused it during your employment with your DBA contractor. This is where the consistency starts. From the very beginning, your self-reporting of your symptoms/injuries will be recorded in your doctor’s medical reports. These reports will be used to establish your injury and its link to your former employment. These records will be investigated by the defense attorney, and should your case go to trial, they will be presented to the Judge as well. Your words in these records will be compared to your words during other stages of litigation. Should you be subjected to an independent medical examination with a doctor of the defense’s choosing, that doctor will also be cross referencing your self-reports in your medical records to what you are self-reporting on that day. Additionally, this doctor will likely subject you to malingering tests wherein you’ll be tested to determine if you are feigning or overexaggerating your symptoms/injuries. Therefore, it is imperative to remain honest and consistent during the entire process.
Testimony and Statements During Litigation
Once your case reaches the litigation stage, this is where you’ll be questioned on the record and through written discovery about your injuries and your employment. When discovery commences, the defense attorneys will send you many requests for information such as Requests for Admissions, Interrogatories, and Requests for Production. It’s important to read the questions carefully and respond to the best of your ability and memory. The defense attorneys will also likely set your deposition wherein you’ll be questioned for multiple hours about anything related to your case under oath. The defense attorneys will likely use the answers in your written discovery responses to either confirm that information and to make sure you are testifying consistently.
Should your case go all the way to a live or virtual formal hearing, you will again be sworn under oath and must testify in court about everything regarding your case up to this point. This will be in the presence of the Judge wherein he or she will determine at the conclusion of the hearing whether you are deemed credible. The administrative law judge has the discretion to evaluate the credibility of a claimant and to arrive at an independent judgment, in light of medical findings and other evidence. If a Judge determines you are credible, then your chances of success will increase, however if the Judge determines you are not credible, then your chances of success will greatly decrease or even completely. Here at Jo Ann Hoffman & Associates, we make sure that all of those whom we represent are well-prepared throughout the entire litigation process and will be right there with you every step of the way.