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A Personal Injury, Workers' Compensation and Defense Base Act Law Firm Fighting for the Injured.
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By Deborah Caputo — Attorneys Jo Ann Hoffman & Associates, P.A.

You sustained injuries while working with a Defense Base Act contractor. As a result, you filed a Defense Base Act claim for benefits for your injuries. The abbreviation that will be referenced throughout this article which is “DBA” for Defense Base Act.

Your case progresses, litigation proceeds, accompanied by the scheduling of several events. Among these, one particular event, that is arranged by the attorney representing the Employer and their Insurance Carrier, is the Vocational Evaluation. This article dives into the details of vocational evaluations and mastering your approach with confidence.

What is a Vocational Evaluation?

Glad you asked. 

An injury while working for a DBA contractor not only raises medical and disability concerns (which warrant separate blog discussions) but also impacts one’s ability to earn wages. The question a vocational evaluator in its simplest form is to address whether the injured person can earn the same wages they did at the time of their injury or in another employment.

During a vocational evaluation, you, your attorney, and the vocational evaluator meet. Think of your attorney as your filter, ensuring only relevant questions are asked. The evaluator, hired by the Employer and Insurance Carrier, seeks information. The evaluation aims to establish the wage someone with your injuries would earn in the open job market under normal circumstances, and after the evaluation, the evaluator will provide a document titled, the “Labor Market Survey”.

The Labor Market Survey is essentially a list of potential jobs with each respective job detailing its responsibilities and average salary. The Labor Market Survey will be sent to all parties in the case post-evaluation.

So, this Labor Market Survey is just based on my evaluation, is that it? question-mark-300x237

No, the evaluator won’t just use your evaluation to complete the Labor Market Survey. Your evaluation is one piece of the puzzle for the vocational evaluator to finalize this Survey to the Employer and their Insurance Carrier. The evaluator will also research available jobs that match your unique skillset and review the medical records relating to your injuries to note any work restrictions. These medical records may include a one-time medical evaluation arranged by either your attorney or the Employer and their Insurance Carrier.  The records could also include your on-going treatment for your injury throughout your DBA claim.

Now, let’s return to the day of the vocational evaluation and discuss what actions to take and avoid.

The list of question types ahead might not always follow the chronological order you’re about to read, but every subject will be covered, regardless of the vocational evaluator.

The vocational evaluator will pose specific questions to you but will begin with your background information such as asking about your family, where you currently reside, and your day-to-day activities. After the background questions, you will be asked about your education in detail. During the education section, expect possible questions on additional training, technical certificates, and qualifications obtained. Following education, you will be asked your employment history in detail. After asking you about your education and work experience, the vocational evaluator will ask how skilled you are at specific things like typing, emailing, and using certain computer programs.

The format of these questions is to elicit short answers or yes/no answers in order to gather as much relevant information as possible in the limited time of the evaluation. These questions are phrased, for example: “What is your highest education?”, “What is your first job, what was your job responsibilities?”, “Do you have a driver’s license?”, and even “How fast can you type?”

Okay, I know what kind of questions I will be asked, now how do I answer?Table-picture-for-voc-assessment-300x275

First and foremost, it’s crucial to be honest and avoid guessing when answering the evaluator’s questions. If later it is discovered you were dishonest to the vocational evaluator, the attorney representing the Employer and the Insurance Carrier will present your false answers to your assigned Judge, and it will have a damaging impact on your claim.

If you can’t recall the exact information, respond with “I don’t remember” or start your answer with “approximately.”

This next tip for your vocational evaluation is crucial but often overlooked: avoid volunteering information. Answering your questions, it is all about being concise and resisting the urge to overshare.

Well, why? Why can’t I tell them everything?

If you offer too much explanation it may unintentionally provide the vocational evaluator with unnecessary information, potentially harming your claim or leading to additional, avoidable questioning. In everyday conversations, it’s typical to provide extra explanations or elaborations before addressing the main point or even anticipate the upcoming question before it’s asked. However, during the evaluation, avoid such unnecessary pleasantries. A straightforward approach to a vocational evaluation is to answer “Yes” or “No” when the question calls for it. Rest assured, if the vocational evaluator needs additional information, it will be asked in a follow-up question.

Once the vocational evaluation wraps up, how long does one normally wait until you’re able to get your hands on the Labor Market Survey?

While there is no direct answer, each report varies in length of time for production, but the average typical waiting period is thirty to forty-five days.

The Labor Market Survey is produced, I have the document to read it, now what?

First things first, you should carefully review the Labor Market Survey and see if any inconsistencies or errors are in the report. After your careful review, and speaking with your attorney, cough, who should be one of the stellar advocates over at Attorneys Jo Ann Hoffman & Associates, the next step is to dive into job applications.

Remember, the Labor Market Survey is created by the vocational evaluator on behalf of the Employer and its Insurance Carrier, not created with your best interest in mind. You will focus on the available jobs listed in the Labor Market Survey, with guidance from your attorney.  You will need to keep a log of all the jobs you apply for and as you continually work on these job applications and keep track with all the effort you make during your case, your attorney will be reviewing the Labor Market Survey sniffing out potential pitfalls.

What else should be considered when reviewing the report?

Here are some factors and issues when reviewing a Labor Market Survey, though this list is not complete:

  1. How was the vocational evaluation conducted and by whom?
  2. A single job opening listed in the Labor Market Survey versus a range of job openings list matters. Is the amount of job openings subject to jurisdictional considerations?
  3. How does vocational rehabilitation or alternative employment affect the Labor Market Survey?
  4. What geographic area did the vocational evaluator choose when deciding the job openings, was that a relevant labor market?

A skilled eye is crucial for identifying and addressing potential weaknesses in your Labor Market survey, including the ones listed above.

Having an attorney present during your vocational evaluation is invaluable. Without proper representation, you will be at the mercy of every question, appropriate or not, asked with the expectation of a full answer.

Here at Attorneys Jo Ann Hoffman & Associates, we ensure our represented injured clients are thoroughly prepared for every aspect of the case, including the vocational evaluation. We’re committed to being there every step of the way because assisting the injured is our driving force and passion.

For further assistance, feel free to email at or you can call (954) 772-2644  to schedule a free consultation appointment to discuss your potential Defense Base Act claim. You may also see our webpage for more information and client reviews.


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