What Impact Does a Vocational Expert Have On Your Workers’ Compensation Case?

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vocational expert for workers’ compensation claims

The majority of workers’ compensation claims go through a fairly routine process. When a worker is injured on the job, he or she will report the injury to a supervisor. If the worker requires medical services and time off from work for a period of time, he will file a workers’ compensation claim to obtain compensation for all medical expenses and for any lost wages. With minor injuries, the workers’ compensation process usually runs smoothly, the claim is usually approved in a reasonable amount of time, and the worker receives compensation for his losses. 

When someone makes a workers’ compensation claim for an injury that is much more serious, or even catastrophic, it is likely that the employer or the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company will challenge the claim. In those instances, it is very likely that a vocational expert for workers’ compensation claims will get involved in the process.

In this article, we are going to talk about the role of a vocational expert in workers’ compensation claims, and what types of evidence will be relevant to the vocational expert. If, after reviewing this article, you have additional questions about a vocational expert for a workers’ compensation 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.

The Background of a Vocational Expert for Workers’ Compensation Claims

A vocational expert is a person typically with training in the medical, health care, or social work fields. The expert has a particular specialty with regard to how people can function in a workplace with various disabilities, the kinds of tasks required of differenty types of jobs, and what accommodations can be provided to assist people with disabilities to complete various tasks at work.  

Moreover, a vocational expert will likely have training in life care planning for people with disabilities, training in analyzing people’s earning capacity and training in assessing different workspaces. Vocational experts are often called on by the Social Security Administration to provide testimony in Social Security disability cases. Thus, vocational experts will have vast experience in evaluating many types of disabilities and the job requirements from many types of jobs.  

The Role of a Vocational Expert in Workers’ Compensation Cases

Given the background of a vocational expert, it may be easy to see what role the expert will play in a workers’ compensation case. The vocational expert will evaluate the worker’s injuries, medical reports, and other information to assess the extent of the worker’s injury.  

The vocational expert will also evaluate the kind of work in which the worker was engaged prior to the injury, and assess the kinds of skills, tasks, and level of physical extertion required to do the job.  

Finally, the vocational expert will provide a report that will explain whether or not the worker’s injury prevents the worker from coming back on the job, or doing something similar to “light duty.”  

A vocational expert may also be able to provide an expert opinion on whether the worker is totally or partially disabled, and whether any accommodations can be made for the worker to remain in the workplace.

As you can see, a vocational expert is a fairly crucial player in a contested workers’ compensation claim because the expert will be able to give significant evidence as to whether a worker’s injury is so serious that he or she cannot return to the workplace.

Of course, part of a vocational expert’s role is to testify in court (or arbitration) if the workers’ compensation case gets to that point.  

Are Vocational Experts Used Only By Employers?

No.  In fact, with a serious worker injury, a workers’ compensation case often comes down to a so-called “battle of the experts.” In other words, if an employer or the employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company hires a vocational expert, it would be wise for the worker to also hire a vocational expert. Not surprisingly, an employer will want its vocational expert to explain why the worker can return to work in some capacity, and a worker will want his or her vocational expert to explain why the worker cannot come back to work and is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.

While you may think this battle of the experts undermines the credibility of what vocational experts do. In fact, vocational experts are an important part of the process because their work is based on facts, on evidence, and documentation. Thus, while those engaged in a workers’ compensation litigation might feel strongly about their own position, vocational experts can only arrive a conclusions based on the facts of the case. Thus, if the evidence shows that a worker’s injuries are not so severe, the expert will be able to support that position with evidence, and vice versa. In comparing the work of each expert, it can be easier to see which is the stronger specialist or which has the better of the argument.    

OAS – Vocational Experts for Workers’ Compensation Cases 

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.