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Will It Hurt My Case If I Go Back to Work?

Posted October 17, 2016

By Jonathan Karon

My clients frequently ask, “will it hurt my case if I go back to work?” The answer is almost always a resounding “No!”

Juries like people who return to work when they are able. Experience with both real juries and mock jurors consistently shows that jurors find injured plaintiffs who return to work more credible and more sympathetic than plaintiffs who remain out of work. One of my past clients sustained serious injuries while on the job, requiring multiple surgeries. She was out of work for a year, under doctor’s orders, but returned to the same job as soon as her surgeon cleared her. When I presented her case to multiple mock juries there was one consistent, striking, response. All of our mock jurors found the plaintiff more credible and concluded that her case was legitimate, once they found out she had returned to work.

This leads to one of my most important pieces of advice to clients: live your life as though there was no lawsuit. It can sometimes takes years for cases to be resolved. Juries are unpredictable. I encourage my clients to take their cases to trial if the insurance company’s offer is inadequate, but there are no guarantees.

So, if you’re trying to decide if it’s a good idea to return to work, you should ask yourself the same questions you would ask if you didn’t have a case. Does your doctor think it’s safe for you to go back to work? Do you feel capable of returning? Do you want or need to go back to work?

Similarly, some clients ask me, “should I have more medical treatment?” Again, this is best answered by doing what you would do if there was no lawsuit. If you feel that you are not getting better or you’re not satisfied with your condition, then you should see your doctor. If you would go for more treatment if you didn’t have a case or if your case was over, then you should get more treatment. (Sometimes, of course, whether your health insurance will pay for your treatment also plays a role in your decision).

Living your life as though there was no lawsuit accomplishes two important things. The first is that it helps keep you from making a bad decision that seriously damages your finances or your health. The second is that it actually helps your case by making you more credible with a jury or the insurance company. So sometimes the best way to help your case is to ignore it.

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