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Drama Queens in Workers Comp Hearings

My piece of free legal advice today is:  don’t be a drama queen at your Industrial Commission hearing, or ever in your workers compensation claim.  If your injury is legitimate, the doctors and judges will be able to tell by looking at the tests and examinations that have been done.  Don’t feel like you have to embellish your symptoms to get someone to pay attention to you or take your injury seriously!  This only makes you unbelievable and makes it difficult for the judge, doctor, or other attorney to take your complaints seriously. 

I will give you an example:  recently I was in a hearing with a client with a low back injury.  I had warned him before he testified not to embellish or exaggerate his testimony because that is exactly what the doctors for the insurance carrier had said he was doing.  The first question I asked him was “Tell us your full name for the record.”  He then started to tell his name, paused dramatically, grimaced, and said, grabbing his low back “I’m sorry judge, it’s just that when I speak, my low back hurts.”  I may as well have stopped wasting everyone’s time at that point and just let the judge make his decision denying the applicant’s claim.  Nowhere in the medical literature does it say that the vocal cords are connected to the lumbar spine or that the mere act of stating one’s name should aggravate lumbar spine pain!  Many clients have lost their case because they felt that they had to be expecially dramatic to make an impression upon a judge or an IME doctor. 

So if you’re in court at the Industrial Commission of Arizona, or if you’re being examined by a doctor for a work injury, just be yourself.  Answer the questions truthfully.  Don’t ever say your pain is a 10 out of 10 all day long and you never get out of bed.  Those people are not believable, and worse, are annoying! 

Chad T. Snow is a workman’s compensation attorney in Phoenix and Tucson Arizona.  He has represented thousands of Arizona’s injured workers in Social Security disability and Industrial Commission claims.  He can be reached at (520) 647-9000 or (602) 532-0700 or at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley.