Best Practices For Representing Injured Workers In Iowa Work Comp Cases

I am giving a presentation at the Iowa Association for Justice Fall Work Comp Seminar that is coming up on September 6, 2013. Here is a modified version of that presentation in which I set out my thoughts on how to best represent injured workers in Iowa workers’ compensation cases.

I. General Philosophy

1. I have developed a lot of check lists and forms, and I keep expanding them every time I run across something good.

2. I use my task deadline docketing system. I also keep expanding this whenever I run across new ideas.

3. I figure out what I least want to do every day, and I work on that first.

4. Everything takes longer than you think. Get started.

5. Always be completely honest.

II. Preparing for Trial

1. Talk to my clients a lot. Countless good things come from talking with my clients:

  • a. Hopefully I can make them feel better and address their concerns and problems.
  • b. The better they feel about me the more comfortable they will be at deposition and trial.
  • c. I will learn all sorts of things I would not have otherwise that I can use to help their case.

2. I think it is impossible to spend too much time talking to my clients about their life and the case so that we understand each other.

  • a. Communication between long time spouses about weekend plans can result in a lot of confusion.
  • b. Communication between a lawyer and a client with limited experience in the workers’ compensation system is much harder.

3. Order all the medical records.

4. Get a good Independent Medical Exam report.

5. Move on the Independent Medical Exam as soon as possible.

6. Serve discovery.

7. Figure out the weekly rate.

8. Figure out the case as soon as possible, and explain to my client the good, the bad, and the ugly. Communicate to them the probabilities of good, bad and average results; and the dollar value of those different results.

9. Answer discovery completely.

10. Work with my clients to get them ready for their depositions so that they are comfortable and prepared.

11. Let my clients be themselves at their deposition.

12. If my client has a potential permanent total disability case make sure I hire a vocational rehabilitation expert.

13. Take depositions of key defense witnesses.

III. Trial

1. Tell a story in my trial presentation.

2. Have an outline of my post-trial brief done before trial, to help make sure I cover everything at trial that I want to argue in the post-trial brief.

3. Work out an organized trial presentation with my clients. Don’t practice it or go over it to the extent that it becomes stale, but I want to make sure my clients understand what I am asking them.

4. When I prepare my witness examinations put in citations to the supporting parts of the record. This makes it a lot easier to do the post-trial brief.

5. Address any problem areas in the case when I am asking my client questions.

6. Prepare my clients for cross examination on any problem areas.

7. Drive with my client to the trial if at all possible.

  • a. The drive down is good for trial prep and relaxing my client.
  • b. The drive back is excellent for working on your post trial brief.

8. Write a strong post-trial brief.