Getting injured on the job can be a harrowing experience. Thankfully, if you are an employee, you are entitled to workers' compensation benefits to help you cope with an injury's financial and medical expenses. But what happens when the insurance company denies your claim for benefits or offers a settlement that does not come close to covering your losses? In these cases, the only way forward may be to bring your case to court. But what should you expect in a workers' compensation trial?
1. Mediation and Settlement Discussions
Before a case goes to trial, both parties will usually attempt to reach an agreement outside of court. This often involves mediation, a process in which a neutral third party tries to facilitate a resolution that works for both sides. The case will proceed to trial if mediation does not yield a settlement. However, even if you do not agree, it is a good idea to attend mediation since it can provide you with invaluable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of your case.
2. Jury Selection
If your case goes to trial, the first step will be selecting a jury. This process can be lengthy, and both lawyers will question potential jurors to weed out those who may be biased against their side. It's important to take this process seriously since the jury's makeup can substantially impact the outcome of your case.
3. Opening Statements
After the jury is selected, the lawyers for both sides will make opening statements. This is their chance to present their case to the jury and convince them of its merits. The injured employee's lawyer will likely explain their injury's circumstances, how it affected their life, and why they need workers' compensation benefits. The insurance company's lawyer will probably argue that the injury is not as severe as the employee claims or that the employee was responsible for the injury.
4. Witness Testimony and Evidence
The heart of any trial is the presentation of evidence and testimony. Both sides will call witnesses, such as the injured employee, coworkers who witnessed the injury, medical personnel who treated the injury, and experts who can explain the cause and extent of the injury. Both sides will also present evidence, such as medical records, reports from accident investigations, and documentation of the employee's work history. It's important to be prepared to tell your story and provide as much evidence as possible to support your claim.
5. Closing Arguments and Verdict
After all the evidence and testimony have been presented, both sides will make closing arguments to the jury. This is their last chance to sway the jury in their favor. The jury will then deliberate and reach a verdict. If the judgment is in your favor, you will be awarded the compensation benefits that you deserve.
Let Our Team Help
Workers' compensation trials can be lengthy and complicated, but they are often the only way to get the compensation you deserve after a work-related injury. If you find yourself in this situation, it's important to get the help of one of our skilled workers' compensation attorneys here at Funderburg, Sessums & Peterson, PLLC, who can guide you through the process and help you get the best possible outcome. With the support of a good lawyer, you can increase your chances of success and ensure that you get the benefits you need to recover from your injury.
Contact our office today at (601) 514-6544 or visit us online to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team.