Testifying Before a Workers’ Compensation Judge
Our clients are frequently called to testify in front of Workers’ Compensation Judges. Here are some tips that we give to our clients to help insure that they make the best possible impression:
1. DRESS NEATLY – When appearing before a Workers’ Compensation Judge it is not necessary to wear a suit or a dress. Indeed, many of our clients don’t own a suit. However, the clothes you do wear should be neat and clean. It is disrespectful to the Court to wear clothing that is stained or ripped. Additionally, some Judge’s believe that you are not taking the hearing seriously if you don’t dress appropriately. Similarly, it is important to brush your hair and teeth. Remember, your appearance is often the first and last thing that a Judge notices about you.
2. BE POLITE – Some insurance company attorneys try to bait injured workers’ into arguing with them. It is NEVER beneficial to you to argue with the opposing attorney. The Judge should know that you are testifying for one reason and one reason only – to tell the truth about what happened to you. The Judge should not be left with the impression that you have “an axe to grind” with the employer or the insurance company. This may make a Judge question your motives for pursuing the claim. By calmly and politely answering all questions, you show the Judge that you are a reasonable, considerate, and likeable person. This can go a long way towards winning your case.
3. BE HONEST – This is the single most important piece of advice that we give our clients. ALWAYS be 100% honest about everything. First, when you testify, you swear an oath to tell the truth. If you do not tell the truth when you testify, you have committed a crime and could be charged with perjury. Second, if it is shown that you have been dishonest, a Judge is very likely to rule in favor of the employer. Simply put, few Judges want to award benefits to someone whom they believe to be dishonest. Third, and most importantly, it is simply the right thing to do. A robust and fair judicial system is one of the foundations of a free and democratic society; and the foundation of that judicial system is the integrity of the participants. Whenever a witness lies, that foundation is eroded.