New Jersey is a no-fault workers’ compensation state. Because of this, you do not have to prove your employer’s fault in causing your accident to be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits for a workplace injury. However, you still need to prove your case. You do this through the use of evidence in the form of documents and witness testimony. Experts can play a vital role in helping you settle your claim for workers’ comp benefits or winning your case if you must take it to trial.
What Is an Expert Witness?
An expert witness is a person who has specialized knowledge in a field due to his education, training, and/or employment. When he is an expert in a workers’ compensation claim or other personal injury case, he will investigate the issue in dispute, draw conclusions based on his knowledge and investigation, and often will prepare a written report. The report and the expert’s testimony can be extremely helpful in convincing an insurance adjuster to settle your claim or to win at your workers’ compensation trial.
What Expert Witnesses Can Be Helpful in Workers’ Compensation Cases?
The experts you will need to retain will depend on the disputes in your claim. An experienced workers’ compensation attorney can advise you on which experts could be required. He should have a network of qualified experts who would make good witnesses and who he has used in other workers’ compensation cases. Some types of expert witnesses that could be helpful include:
- Accident reconstruction expert. Although fault will not be an issue in your claim, the insurance company could dispute that your injury was caused by a workplace accident. An accident reconstruction expert can investigate your accident and use sophisticated computer software to help reenact the accident and show how it and your injuries were caused at your job.
- Medical expert. Medical professionals play a key role in all workers’ compensation claims. Your attorney may want to retain a neutral physician who is not treating you. A medical expert can help prove the seriousness of your injuries, the treatments you need, any future medical care that will be required, and your final prognosis. They can explain how the accident you were involved in could have caused your injury if this is in dispute. If you developed an occupational illness, they can also help establish the connection between your job and your illness.
- Occupational expert. If your injury is serious enough, you may not be able to perform your job duties any more and in some cases, any other job. You may need to hire an occupational expert, such as a vocational rehabilitation expert, who can testify as to how your injuries limit your work abilities, what jobs you could be qualified to do, any job restrictions you could need, and what type of retraining you would need to make a career change.
- Economic expert. If you suffered a partial permanent disability or a permanent total disability, you may have a change of income if you must switch jobs or a complete loss of income if you can no longer work. You could also have ongoing medical costs. Calculating the value of future wage losses and medical expenses can be complicated, but it is essential that you know the value before you enter into a settlement agreement. An economic expert is qualified to help you determine the value of this portion of your claim.
Will My Employer Have Expert Witnesses Too?
The insurance company for your employer could also hire some of these experts to support its position. For example, they may require you to submit to an independent medical exam with a doctor they designate who could become their expert witness. If you retain an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, he will have dealt with experts for employers in the past and will know how to refute their conclusions in support of your employer.
Has your employer denied your workers’ compensation claim? Attorney Manfred Ricciardelli can help you file your appeal, build your case for benefits, and hire any experts you need to prove your case. Call our office or fill out our online form to schedule your free consultation with Mr. Ricciardelli to learn about the workers’ compensation benefits you could be entitled to and what you will need to do to obtain them.