When you are injured at work, you will probably have a lot of concerns and questions. An experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help. Usually, most of the legal work can be done without you appearing at a hearing. But there are times when your lawyer will tell you a hearing is needed. If you are required to attend a hearing, here are three easy tips to make it a successful hearing.
Tip #1: Gather Your Paperwork
Although your attorney will probably have almost everything you need, you should always keep copies of every document relevant to your case. Keep them organized so you can quickly find what you need. In the days leading up to the hearing, go back and review the claims and fact statements. Make sure you understand your theory of the case and any key issues that could prevent you from getting your desired outcome. If you have any questions, ask your attorney to explain in more detail so that you are ready to answer questions if asked.
Tip #2: Contact Your Lawyer a Few Days Before the Hearing
If you have not already done so, speak with your attorney at least a day or two before the hearing to make sure it is still scheduled and to ensure you know what you should do at the hearing. The hearing is similar to a trial, except there is no jury and the rules are more informal. This means the judge (Administrative Law Judge or “ALJ”) is allowed to ask you questions directly and has wide latitude when doing so. Since you will be giving testimony and explaining your side of the case, you want to make sure you are prepared.
Tip #3: Dress for Success
Your hearing will not be held in a traditional courthouse. Instead, you will be held in a government building in Savannah. There, the ALJ will control the progress and outcome. There will be an attorney for the defense, who will also have an opportunity to question you. Although the hearing is less formal in terms of the rules and procedures, you should not dress informally.
On the contrary, men should wear a suit and tie if possible. It is also best to consider clean, conservative grooming. Women should wear formal attire, nothing revealing and limited jewelry. Many lawyers advise their clients before important trials and hearings to look at the way attorneys and other staff at the law office dress and attempt to model their attire to match. This is a fairly safe option to ensure you present yourself well. The Huffington Post has a great article on courtroom attire that you can view here.
Ultimately, remember that your goal is to show the ALJ that you are a real person who was seriously injured. Yet, you also want to be taken seriously. You want the ALJ to see you as a valuable employee who is worth every penny you are seeking. If you present yourself too casually or inappropriately, you risk making a bad impression. If there is a question about how to present yourself, ask your attorney. If you do not have an attorney for your hearing, contact the Georgia workers’ compensation attorneys at Bader Scott Injury Lawyers right away to protect your rights.