If you have seen any kind of courtroom drama, then you know that a trial is always a clash between plaintiff and defense counsel. There are many tactics that lawyers may try to support their side, or diminish the credibility of the other side’s evidence and witnesses. That is the name of the game when it comes to litigation.
And doesn’t that reflect real life in many ways? If you are in an argument with someone, you most likely tend to emphasize the strong parts of your position, deemphasize the weak parts, and challenge the merits of your opponent’s position. Also, you will draw from evidence to support your position. So, not only is it the name of the game in litigation, but it reflects human nature.
The best way of getting to the truth in a dispute typically involves the use of witness testimony and other evidence. So, if you are injured in a car accident that was not your fault, or you were injured in an incident at work, you understandably want to receive compensation for the injuries you suffered, including the loss of income because of your injuries.
Yet, as human nature will have it, the side being asked to pay compensation will resist unless they are convinced that the money is owed.
Use of Experts in Loss of Income Cases
It has become common in civil cases for attorneys to employ the use of experts to either prove or challenge, claims for damages relating to the loss of income. Such experts include forensic economists, actuaries, and accountants. In the last few decades, vocational rehabilitation experts have become common as well in connection with lost-income evidence.
More often than not, when a defendant is faced with a plaintiff’s damages claim for a projected large economic loss based on loss of income, defendants will hire a vocational rehabilitation expert to challenge the damages to claim. The defense attorney will hire such an expert in order to offset a medical doctor’s opinion, which is typically presented by a plaintiff’s attorney.
Yet, as you might expect, plaintiffs’ attorneys are also turning to vocational rehabilitation experts to counteract the use of such experts by defense attorneys.
Here, we will focus on the way in which defense attorneys use vocational rehabilitation experts as a tactic to undermine a plaintiff’s lost-income damages claim. If, after reviewing this article, you have additional questions about a vocational expert you’re your claim, we invite you to contact us at Occupational Assessment Services, Inc. – OAS.
We are one of the most experienced employability and life care planning firms in the United States. To discuss your case, call us at 1-800-292-1919, contact us at a location near you, or through our online form.
What Is the Objective of Defense Counsel Using a Vocational Rehabilitation Expert
A defense counsel typically has two goals in using a vocational rehabilitation expert when confronting an injured plaintiff’s claim for loss of income. Those goals are:
1. Directly challenge the validity of the plaintiff’s claimed monetary loss, and
2. Indirectly challenge the plaintiff’s believability by indicating that the claimed loss has been deliberately, artificially inflated.
For example, assume you have a case in which your client has severe injuries and years of medical care in his or her future. That also means many years of lost earning capacity. Yet, as you near trial, defense counsel indicates that he will put forth a vocational rehabilitation expert. You expect that the vocational rehabilitation expert will testify that your client can obtain gainful employment, and possibly could earn more income, even injured, than he or she earns now.
You may at first blush think that your case is going to be much weaker. However, there are ways in which you can explore the vocational rehabilitation expert’s testimony to see if the defense counsel’s position can be undermined.
The Types of Challenges Put Towards Vocational Rehabilitation Experts
First, a vocational rehabilitation expert’s testimony will be challenged by comparison to the medical doctor’s opinion. Many times attorneys will try to find differences between a medical doctor’s opinion and the vocational rehabilitation expert’s opinion in order to show a jury that the medical doctor has more credibility based on his or her underlying education. That “doctor-bias,” however, can be offset if a vocational rehabilitation expert is able to carefully show that the medical doctor’s opinion may have inconsistencies.
Second, a vocational rehabilitation expert’s testimony will be challenged by comparison to the authorities that the vocational expert typically uses. For example, an important resource for a vocational rehabilitation expert is the Dictionary of Occupational Titles, which indicates (among other things) the amount of physical effort needed to do certain jobs. Thus, when it comes to an apparent contradiction between a plaintiff’s injuries and what jobs the expert states the plaintiff can perform, the vocational expert must be careful to substantiate every expert opinion on the plaintiff’s abilities in the future.
Third, a vocational rehabilitation expert’s opinion on whether the plaintiff has the physical capacity to do an alternate job will likely be challenged by counsel on the degree of difficulty for the plaintiff to land that alternate job. Again, the vocational expert will need to be careful to anticipate the physical demands of alternate employment as well as the barrier to entry into those alternate jobs.
In sum, vocational rehabilitation experts have become a staple of the personal injury and disability case courtroom. That said, counsel for both sides will have their tools in which to challenge the expert. Thus, you need a qualified, seasoned vocational rehabilitation expert for your case.
OAS – Vocational Rehabilitation Experts for Your Case
The experts at Occupational Assessment Services, Inc. (OAS) have over forty years of experience documenting the income potential and employment capacity of those with wrongful termination cases, as well as with the underemployed, unemployed, and disabled spouses in many types of cases
OAS specializes in working with the plaintiff or defense attorney to assist in objectively documenting the economics in a case. From the initial referral to the trial testimony, OAS works with the retaining attorney so that the vocational assessment of the case can be objectively and efficiently presented.
We strongly believe in the importance of a clear and understandable presentation of the facts. OAS is the leading provider of Vocational Expert and Life Care Planning Services for Plaintiff and Defense attorneys.
The company specializes in assisting attorneys in evaluating earning capacity in divorce cases and documenting the damages in cases where an individual has been severely injured by providing objective findings on how the injuries affect a persons’ ability to work and earn money, as well as the cost of care required in catastrophic injuries.
OAS is your Vocational Expert & Life Care Planner Nationwide, with offices in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Nevada, and California.
Occupational Assessment Services, Inc. is one of the most experienced employability and life care planning firms in the United States. To discuss your case, call us at 1-800-292-1919, contact us at a location near you, or through our online form.