What have the 7 deadly sins to do with your lawsuit? They are simply easy to remember warnings to litigating injured workers (aka Plaintiffs). We’re not trying to save your injured soul, rather your workcover case (i.e. common law claim, any litigation). In other words: if you ignore these seven deadly “sins” you will probably sc*w up your case.
Seven (deadly) sins for litigating injured workers
We have compiled a list of the 7 deadly sins for injured workers who are litigating (i.e. common law claim, settlement etc), which we hope will be easy to remember warnings. However the most important part of this article’s aim is to tell you and remind you to always be REASONABLE and to try to stay EMOTIONALLY DETACHED from your workcover case. Why? Simple: emotion(s) such as anger will inevitably cloud your judgment, so make sure you have a ‘clear head’ before making any decisions re your case. And, as long as you’re reasonable, you will –generally speaking– not have any regrets about your case, regardless of its outcome.
WRATH or ANGER— Sin #1
A personal injury lawsuit should never be about your personal revenge against the employer (or person or their workcover insurance company) who injured you. If you sue your employer, for example at common law, you should be suing for a ‘fair’ compensation/settlement and not vengeance.
Don’t ever think along the lines that you “will teach the employer or workcover insurance company a good lesson”. You won’t. Your employer and, definitely its workcover insurance company will continue to do whatever they to make the most profit, regardless of your case.
Don’t let anger cloud your judgment and, for example, cause you to refuse a (reasonably) fair settlement offer. The only people you’ll be hurting by being angry and seeking revenge are your lawyer(s) and yourself.
GREED— Sin #2
A lawsuit is (unfortunately) NOT a lottery ticket. Its purpose is not to make you rich. There is no such a thing as a completely fair settlement. But try to be fair when assessing your own damages, whether for pain and suffering or lost earnings. Remember that in most states settlements are capped both for pain and suffering and loss of earnings. Be realistic and put yourself on that scale. The maximum amount will, generally, be awarded to a younger person who is for example paralysed.
(As a side note, the average settlement in Victoria is around $80,000.)
Quite a few injured workers wrongly believe that they should stop working in order to increase the value of their workcover case. Unless your doctor tells you to stop working, or restricts your work activities, you should keep working. You won’t be paid for lost earnings if you can still work in some capacity (i.e. suitable duties, retraining), but simply choose not to. A judge will look unfavourably on any injured worker who can not demonstrate that they, at the very least, tried (hard) to return to (some) work.
So, even if you can no longer perform the job you did at the time of the accident, if you can work at a different job with lower physical requirements/demands, you should. You will (generally) be compensated for the difference between what you used to earn pre-accident and what you can earn post-accident. If you choose not to work when there are jobs which meet your physical restrictions available, well simply put… a judge (or jury) won’t like it.
PRIDE— Sin #4
Don’t ever feel or become over-confident that you have a ‘strong’ case and believe a court (judge/jury) will be on your side. Going to court (trial) is always risky. For example, if a judge/jury finds the defendant to be sympathetic or if the judge/ jury doesn’t like you, there are plenty of things they can do to minimise your compensation/settlement.
Judges and Jurors can hold onto seemingly insignificant details (i.e your life history, some dodgy surveillance, issues of your credibility etc) or even speculate about things they shouldn’t even consider and surprise you with a whopper of a judgment. I.e. They may love the defendant’s expert witnesses (IMEs) and hate yours. Plenty of things can go wrong…. Some things can be fixed through an appeal, but do you really, really want to have to go through that? And remember the financial costs of litigating!
No matter how strong your case is, only go to court if you have to. Listen to your lawyer carefully.
Pride goes before a fall!
Lust/ PLEASURE —Sin #5
Sexual ‘lust” has nothing to do with your workcover claim (unless of course you claim for loss of sexual function). So we’ll change ‘lust’ for “pleasure”. In other words be extremely careful with your “recreational activities” while your claim is pending. As we posted earlier it is very well known that the majority of surveillance is conducted during this period, as well as during ‘serious injury’ applications (in VIC).
Always ‘behave’ in public as if you are being watched 24/7.
Whilst we understand that even badly injured workers can have “good days”, if you decide to play golf on one of these good days, don’t be surprised if it comes back to bite you.
Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want a judge/jury and the defense) to see! Ever!
As posted a zillion times, and more recently summarised in our Social Networking Sites Warning; if you go on holiday while your case is pending (remember that some lawsuits can take a long time), do not post pictures of your holiday all over Facebook. Don’t tweet about the good times you’re having. Don’t write stuff about yourself anywhere that can be used against you (even when taken out of context). In other words: Do not let your pursuit of pleasure in the short term damage or hurt your case.
ENVY— Sin #6
Any time someone (i.e. neighbour, friend of a friend, other alleged injured workers) tells you how much they made in their common law claim,please take it with a big grain of salt. Even if they are telling the truth, don’t allow the outcome of their case to distort your assessment of your own case, as no two cases are the same.
Any time you tell your lawyer that you know someone who wasn’t hurt as badly as you and got “X amount of dollars”, your lawyer will roll his/her eyes. If you think that your lawyer, whose income depends on getting you the maximum money s/he can, is low-balling your workcover case, you’re probably…. wrong! Assess your own case/claim on its own merits (and remember the capped settlement awards) and trust your lawyer’s opinions when it comes to settlement offers and counter-offers. (Also see our article to drop or not to drop the economic loss part of a common law claim)
GLUTTONY—Sin # 7
So for our final ‘gluttony’ sin , we would warn injured workers about receiving too much medical treatment. Whilst over-treating may not necessarily hurt you physically (although it may), it may hurt you when the time comes to settle your case because of the high medical bills, as well as the possibility that the defense (judge/jury) would tend to believe that you are exaggerating your injury.
Do you really need to go to physio (or massage, acupuncture, etc) 3 times a week for x weeks? Would you feel just as good going once a week? So basically, Do not ever “pig out” on medical care just because the workcover insurance is paying for it.
Now, go forth, injured sods, and sin no more.