Missouri is a no-fault state, which means you don't have to prove your employer’s negligence to receive workers’ compensation. However, it may not be simple to obtain the benefits you deserve. Your employer's insurance company may dispute your right to certain benefits, or your entire claim could be denied.
If you're in this situation, you'll have to prove your case. Depending on what the insurance company is contesting, you may find it helpful to retain an expert witness.
Expert Witnesses in Workers’ Compensation Cases
An expert witness can be required to give a perspective about a disputed in a workers’ compensation case. An expert is a person who has specialized knowledge in his area of expertise based on education, experience, and training. Your legal counsel may consider it necessary to have this witness reinforce the facts and/or resulting action described in your injury claim.
Some professionals used in claim verification:
- Medical expert. Because a key issue in the case will be your injuries, a physician is a valuable expert witness. While your doctor could testify on your behalf, your attorney may prefer to retain an independent health care professional who isn't treating you. This individual will be able to provide insight as to how your workplace accident caused your injury; evaluate the treatments you received; outline future treatments you may need; and provide details for a final prognosis.
- Accident reconstruction expert. While fault isn't an issue in a workers’ compensation case, this doesn't mean the cause of your injuries won't be in dispute. You must prove they were caused in a workplace accident. If your employer’s insurance company contests this, an accident reconstruction expert may be needed to create a reenactment showing how your workplace accident caused the injuries, and not a prior incident.
- Vocational rehabilitation expert. Your injuries might limit the types of work you can perform, or result in a permanent disability. In this situation, you may need to retain a vocational rehabilitation or other occupational expert to help prove how the injuries hinder or prevent you from working in your former position and what—if any—other jobs you could perform with additional training or education.
- Economic expert. If you haven't completed your medical treatment, or won't make a full recovery, you may need the assistance of an economic expert to determine future medical expenses and wage losses that should be included in your settlement. If you have a claim against another negligent party as well as your employer, an economic expert may be even more important to ensure you're fully compensated for all losses. This can also include compensation for pain and suffering and other damages not covered by workers’ comp.
- Engineer. If equipment or parts’ defects or safety violations are an issue in your workers’ comp case, you may need to retain an engineer to establish the cause of your accident. You could also have a products liability claim against the equipment or parts manufacturer, and an engineer or other expert may be needed to prove the defects in the product.
- Scientist. If you suffered an occupational illness, such as a respiratory condition or cancer due to exposure to harmful chemicals or other substances, you'll need a chemist or scientist in another field to prove how these toxic substances caused your illness.
Finding Qualified Expert Witnesses
How do you find professionals who can support the facts of your claim? If you retain an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, he or she will have a network of qualified experts who are also persuasive witnesses.
Your legal counsel will vet experts to determine if they're qualified and ask them to explain testing procedures, findings, and conclusions in a manner that's interesting to and understandable by a jury if your case goes to trial. Preferably, the chosen expert works or teaches in his area of expertise or has done so in the past; and doesn't make a living only as an expert witness, which could reduce credibility.
Have You Been Injured On The Job?
If you've been hurt at work on the job in Kansas City you need to speak with an experienced workers' compensation attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Kansas City office directly at 816.471.5111 to schedule your free consultation.