The Most Important Factor in Evaluating Your Workers Compensation or Personal Injury Claim by Columbus, Georgia Lawyer Mark Jones
What’s My Personal Injury or Workers Compensation Case Worth?
Lawyer Mark Jones is often asked by his workers compensation and/or personal injury clients in Columbus, Georgia and Phenix City, Alabama the following question: What’s my case worth? This is a difficult question that depends on the specific facts of each case.
However, in the many personal injury and workers compensation cases I have had to evaluate in my career, one central factor stands out as the most decisive in determining what a personal injury or workers compensation case is worth: the credibility of the plaintiff or claimant.
Credibility of the Plaintiff or Claimant: The Central Factor in Evaluating a Case:
What is credibility? Credibility is just another word for a likelihood that a plaintiff or workers compensation claimant is telling the truth. No one likes to be lied to. In every case, someone is lying – whether intentionally or not.
Judges, jurors, adjusters, and opposing counsel all want to know that the claimant is telling the truth before they award compensation to someone for an injury. Therefore, credibility is a very central component to a case.
Without credibility, there is very little hope of significant recovery. Credibility includes how the plaintiff or claimant presents and their criminal background.
Credibility is so important, Georgia law actually has special rules of evidence designed just to address a witness or party’s credibility. See, e.g., OCGA 24-6-613, which is a rule created specifically to admit evidence that someone said something previously that is inconsistent with the testimony they are giving in Court![gview file=”https://lawyermarkjones.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Lawyer-Mark-Jones-Impeachment-OCGA-24-6-613.pdf”]
Another example of the importance of credibility in the workers compensation context is the Rycroft defense. This defense stems from the Georgia Supreme Court decision in Georgia Electric Co. vs. Rycroft, 259 Ga. 155 (378 S. E. 2d 111) (1989).
The Rycroft defense holds that an injured employee will be barred from receiving workers compensation benefits if, prior to being hired:
- 1) the employee knowingly and willfully made a false representation as to a physical condition;
- 2) the employer relied upon the employee’s false representation and that employer’s reliance was substantial factor in the employer’s hiring of the employee; and
- 3) there was a causal connection between the condition falsely represented and the current injury.
Thus, if you already have a bad back, the employer asks you whether you have a bad back prior to hiring, and you lie about having a bad back, if you hurt your back on the job, Rycroft bars receipt of workers compensation benefits.
An example of the application of the Rycroft defense in the workers compensation context is Hagler, J.’s well-reasoned decision in the case below. This case is an incredible read — almost like something off of Jerry Springer!
At one point in the opinion, there is discussion of the claimant body-slamming someone Hulk Hogan-stylee at a bar brawl! How bizarre is that?[gview file=”https://lawyermarkjones.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Rycroft-Defense-Award.pdf”]