Approach your claim as if you’ll need to appeal
Knowing that you have the opportunity to appeal a denied workers’ compensation claim is comforting to some individuals. But an appeal isn’t a second bite at the apple. In fact, on appeal your case is going to be analyzed based on the record created at the initial hearing, meaning that you’re not going to have an opportunity to present additional evidence. Therefore, the way you present your case the first time is critically important. You need to have strong legal arguments supported by compelling facts. If you want to protect your case on appeal, then you need to do a number of things.
Preserving the record for appeal
To increase your chances of success on appeal, you need to develop a robust record and preserve various issues for appeal. These tips might help you do both when you first present your claim:
- Be diligent: You don’t want to miss an opportunity by overlooking important evidence that could have tipped the scales in your favor. Be sure to speak with witnesses and gather evidence that is relevant and helpful to your case.
- Utilize expert witnesses: Judges aren’t medical experts. As such, they rely on testimony regarding your condition and how it affects your ability to work. An expert who is well respected in his or her field can lend a lot of weight to your case and make sure that an appellate judge has all of the information he or she needs to reach an appropriate conclusion.
- Make and meet objections: If you don’t object to certain legal tactics, then you waive that issue on appeal. This means that you can’t later come back and challenge it. You can face similar problems if you don’t properly respond to an objection or make an offer of proof, which is where you essentially tell a judge why you think he or she was wrong in not allowing your evidence in. This tacks technical legal know how, but can be of critical importance.
- Know how to make appellate argument: Handling a case on appeal is much different than handling an initial claim. Here, your attention needs to be turned toward the legality of the case, rather than the mere facts. The only exception is if it’s clear that the initial judge made a decision that went against the weight of the evidence.
Keeping your eye on the end goal
In the end, you simply need the resources necessary to protect your financial security while you focus on your recovery and getting back to work. But protecting yourself requires strong legal advocacy. That’s where an experienced workers’ compensation attorney may prove useful.