Showing posts with label Hearings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hearings. Show all posts

Friday, September 15, 2017


By Attorney Dennis Kurth
Snow, Carpio & Weekley

Among workers’ compensation practitioners, the ALJ assigned to one’s case has always been an important factor in the attorney’s strategy and expectations. Over time, not even a long time, most ALJ’s tend, fairly or not, to get labeled as either friendly to one side or the other or prone to resolve certain issues by compromise rather than strictly following the evidence or law.  The administrative process for obtaining a different ALJ was archaic, awkward and grossly out of sync with the civil system.

A legislative change to the workers’ compensation statute in 2016, however, made a party’s entitlement to one change of ALJ a matter of right, aligning it more closely to the procedure in the civil system.

Before last year’s change, in order to get a change of ALJ, a party had to file, within thirty days of the ALJ assignment, an affidavit alleging that the assigned ALJ had a personal conflict of interest or was actually biased and prejudiced against them.  That  usually required the application of a bit of fiction which strained ethical boundaries as well as created an awkward dynamic with the particular ALJ that might, and often did, require consecutive affidavits for every case assigned to that particular ALJ or run the risk of retribution in a later case.

Although the fact that a particular ALJ had a propensity for ruling in favor of claimants or carriers would never constitute proof of actual bias and prejudice, the Chief ALJ had always considered the filing of the affidavit to be a sufficient basis to grant a change of ALJ anyway.

When finally the affidavit process became a weapon for defense attorneys to disqualify ALJ’s who wouldn’t grant continuances on hearings or other accommodations, the process was abused and the Chief ALJ had had enough.

In the new statute, each party is entitled to one change of ALJ as a matter of right if the notice of change is filed within thirty (30) days of the issuance of the notice of hearing.   (See A.R.S. §23-941(I)).  Additionally a party can still file an affidavit for change of ALJ for cause based on a listed conflict of interest or for bias and prejudice even after exercising their automatic strike. They will, however, have to be prepared to prove that the ALJ is conflicted or actually biased and prejudiced or the change of ALJ will not be granted.

The new procedure for changing ALJs is a welcome development that eliminates the fiction of alleging that an ALJ is actually biased and prejudiced and hopefully will smooth relations between workers’ compensation attorneys and ALJs in the long run.

For more information on Workers' Compensation or Social Security Disability, please contact Snow, Carpio & Weekley toll-free at 855-325-4781 or visit our website at We serve the entire State of Arizona and have offices located in Phoenix, Tucson, Yuma and Lake Havasu City.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Long Hearing Process

The Long Hearing Process
By Erica Melendez, Associate Attorney

A truly frustrating fact for injured workers is the length of time for the hearing process.  A case goes through the hearing process when the injured worker and the insurance carrier cannot agree as to the worker’s right to a certain benefit.  Issues include whether the person was even injured at work from the outset of the case, whether the person is entitled to additional medical treatment and whether the person is entitled to a permanent benefit.  One worker’s compensation case can go through the hearing process several times for different issues.  The hearing process is necessary is so that an Administrative Law Judge can hear evidence and determine the injured worker’s right to a certain benefit based on the Judge’s determination of the credibility of the lay witnesses.  If there is a conflict between doctors, (for example, your doctor believes that you need a certain surgery but the insurance company’s doctor says you do not need any further treatment) the Administrative Law Judge decides which doctor’s opinion is more probably correct. 

Given the number of cases in the system, the fact that many cases will have to go through the hearing process multiple times, plus the time necessary for parties to prepare the case for hearing, the time for a case to even get to a Judge for the initial hearing is currently approximately 2 ½  months.  At the initial hearing before the Judge, the injured worker and any lay witnesses (non-medical) will testify.  Next, the Judge determines if medical testimony is necessary and will set “further hearings” for the doctors to testify.  The doctors are set to testify by telephone and they are set according to the doctor’s schedule, the Judge’s calendar and the calendar of any attorneys assigned to the case.  The number of calendars which have to be coordinated makes setting the further hearings difficult and often means there is a months-long wait for the doctors to testify.  Although Judge’s staff work their hardest to get the hearings scheduled quickly and efficiently, the wait can be excruciating for an injured worker waiting for benefits.  After the hearings are completed, the Judge has 30 days to make a decision in the case. 

The wait for hearings and decisions in industrial cases can be frustrating but it is a necessary part of the process and it’s important to know that  the individuals involved in the hearing process try to make the wait as short as possible. 

Friday, February 3, 2017


By X. Alex Carpio, Partner

In most cases there is no need to have lay witnesses unless it involves the issue of compensability. Whether an in jury occurred at work? Are you and employee or independent contractor? Did you report the injury to your supervisor? Did you seek medical attention right away? 

The questions posed always involve co-workers who may have witnessed the injury or know about the injury. The case becomes a he said she said type of case and the judge must determine the credibility of the injured worker versus the other witnesses who will testify. In my experience the co-workers either do not want to cooperate as they fear they may lose their job or fear for other repercussions by the employer. 

Early in my career I would bring in all witnesses and almost always the co-workers that were to support my client's story almost always stated they were not aware of the injury or did not support my client at all. My best witness is my client, the injured worker. Unless I have an affidavit or something signed by a witness stating the facts of the work injury I prefer not to have many lay witnesses as in my experience most of the time the co-workers have been tainted by the employer and now I have 2-5 people testifying against my client.

Unless we have witness statements or relatives that are aware of the work injury it is difficult to predict what the co-worker may or may not say at the hearing despite each witness being under oath to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Further Hearings of Doctors
Blog Written By:
X. Alex Carpio, Partner/Attorney
Snow, Carpio & Weekley

I always tell my clients that their case is only as good as their own treating doctor says. If you do not have a doctor that will support your medical treatment, there will be no way a lawyer can fight for you and your claim in court. 

It is crucial in a workers' compensation case to have a doctor who understands the legal process or is willing to talk to me before he or she testifies in Court. In my experience doctors who do not review their medical charts prior to hearings or who do not review the insurance carriers' evidence prior to hearing make my clients' cases more difficult to win in court. This is why I recommend that my clients change doctors who will do what is best for them and keep in communication with their attorney. 

Most cases hinge on Doctor vs Doctor conflicting medical opinions and the Judges have the difficult job of adopting one doctor's opinion over the other. 

If you or someone you know has been hurt on the job or has an disability that could prevent them from working for at least one year, contact Snow, Carpio & Weekley for a free consultation by calling toll-free at 855-325-4781. You may also visit our website at

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

When Will the Industrial Commission of Arizona Enter the 21st Century?

When Will the Industrial Commission of Arizona
Enter the 21st Century?

An attorney friend of mine who practices in a different area of law asked me why our files are so thick and why we hadn't gone paperless like so many other law firms.  I answered that the problem is the Industrial Commission of Arizona is perpetually stuck in the 1970’s.  The Commission doesn't allow for electronic submission of claims.  We can’t submit evidence to the judges by e-filing – a practice that is MANDATORY in many other courts.  Everything must be submitted in paper form.  Some judges have moved into the 1990’s and will accept a FAX copy of a document as a submission.  I asked a judge why they don’t have e-mail and was told that the Commission has just convened a study group on how they could best implement E-MAIL! 

I’m assuming that by the time they actually get around to using e-mail, the rest of the world will have moved on to some other more advanced form of communication.  So hey, ICA – welcome to the 2000’s now that they’re over! 

Attorney Chad Snow is the Founding Partner of Snow, Carpio & Weekley, PLC. For a free consultation, please call our Phoenix office at 602-532-0700 or our Tucson office at 520-647-9000. For outlining areas, please call 855-325-4781 and speak with April to set up a telephonic consultation. For more information about Snow, Carpio & Weekley, please visit our website at

Monday, September 29, 2014

Use of the “Affidavit” in Arizona Work Comp Litigation

Generally speaking, the Administrative Law Judges who decide cases at the Industrial Commission of Arizona are very good.  They get the decision right more often than not.  Their decisions are usually well thought out.  And, for what the job pays, the Commission has been able to attract some very well-qualified lawyers to become judges.  One of the tools that a lawyer representing injured workers before the Industrial Commission has, is that of the “affidavit of bias and prejudice”.  This is a Rule of Procedure of the Industrial Commission that allows an attorney to ask that a case be reassigned to another judge “upon a showing of bias and prejudice” of the judge to whom it has been assigned.  In practice, no actual showing of real bias or prejudice has to be proven – the mere allegation is sufficient – and the case is reassigned with no questions asked.  This tactic is used quite often by a lot of workers compensation attorneys to avoid judges who they feel too frequently rule on one side or the other. 

In my practice, I very rarely use the Affidavit to change judges.  Very rarely I will think that a particular judge will not like my particular client or will remember a former ruling of a judge that was either very sympathetic or very antagonistic on a specific issue or with a specific expert witness.  But I think it should be the exception and not the rule.  Affidavits of Bias and Prejudice must be filed within 30 days of the issuance of the Notice of Hearing.  Make sure you file it timely or you’ll be stuck with the judge that you just called “biased and prejudiced”!

Attorney Chad Snow has handled thousands of Workers' Compensation claims in the State of Arizona. For a free consultation by Snow, Carpio & Weekley, PLC, please call 602-532-0700 for a consultation in our Phoenix office or 520-647-9000 for a consultation in our Tucson office. Consultations are also available over the phone with an attorney if you reside outside Maricopa County. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Hearings at the Industrial Commission: Streamline and Simplify

     I have been attending hearings at the  Industrial Commission of since the late 1980's. I always recommend having attorney assistance during the pre hearing and hearing phases of a workers' compensation claim, but if you choose to represent yourself, here a few tips.

    The best, and briefest, advice that I can provide is to streamline and simplify whenever possible. You should always focus on the one or two most compelling items of evidence that support your position. I have always found that each cases has one or two " hooks," or critical details that can make a difference . 

    Second, remember that you are presenting your case to an audience , specifically the Administrative Law Judge.Make it interesting compelling and simple. Simplicity sells. Boring a Judge and opposing counsel with irrelevant details creates an environment where no one is listening to you. 

     Even with medical evidence and conflicts, evidence can be simplified. Look for crux of the dispute if there are differing medical opinions. Are the physical exam results different? Is there missing data or images? Is there a conflict in the history?
     It is easy to complicate things, and lawyers are notorious for complicating the simple. It is much harder, and much more effective, to provide a simple, concise presentation.

     Please feel free to contact me with any questions. I have been practicing exclusively Arizona Workers' Compensation Law since 1988. I am former ICA staff counsel and am a certified Specialist. You can see my reviews on Thank you.

Brian Weekley
Snow, Carpio, and Weekley

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Tiebreaker IME's in Arizona Workers Comp Cases

One issue that is frequently litigated in Arizona work injury claims is whether or not additional medical care is necessary or not and whether or not it is related to the industrial injury. Usually there is a treating doctor on the side of the applicant wanting to perform additional care and a defense medical expert on the side of the carrier saying either that no further care is needed, or that any additional treatment is not related to the work accident.

The problem with litigating these medical issues is that they can often take forever to litigate, often up to 10 or 12 months. Meanwhile, the injured worker is suffering and not receiving any compensation. One solution that I often recommend to my clients is proposing a "tiebreaker" IME to the carrier/employer's attorney. A tiebreaker is a truly "independent" medical exam where the physician is agreed to by the two parties and a joint letter sent explaining the tiebreaker agreement.

There are positives and negatives about these kinds of agreements. On the positive side, the injured worker gets a decision about their claim much sooner and it is made by a doctor, not a judge. On the negative side, if the doctor indicates that no further treatment is needed, the injured worker is bound by that opinion.

Tiebreaker IME's aren't always the best option, but in cases where I feel that the diagnostic testing is strong and my client is very credible, I'm comfortable recommending them as an alternative to the lengthy litigation process.

Chad T. Snow and his associates at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley are workers compensation attorneys in Phoenix and Tucson Arizona. Their office can be reached at (602) 532-0700 or (520) 647-9000.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Do I Need to Answer Interrogatories in AZ Work Comp Case?

Many clients who are litigating their work injury claims in Arizona call us after they receive a large packet of information from the attorney representing the insurance carrier. One of the most intimidating contents of this packet are the "interrogatories", which are a series of (usually 25) written questions about the injury, witnesses, medical treatment received, and legal defenses/arguments that will be presented at hearing.

I rarely answer interrogatories for two reasons: (1) the insurance company's attorney will be taking your deposition (under oath) soon anyways so they can get the information verbally at that time; (2) they're a huge waste of time.

However, if the carrier's attorney insists on getting answers to the Interrogatories, it is always advisable to answer them. Sometimes, the attorney will ask the judge presiding over your case to issue an Order compelling you to answer the interrogatories. If you receive such an order from the judge, answer the interrogatories IMMEDIATELY. Failure to do so can result in your request for hearing being dismissed or the judge entering some other sanction against you, including having the pay the attorney's fees of the carrier's attorney for the time spent forcing you to answer.

If you have questions about Interrogatories that you've received, the deposition, or the hearing process or your workman's comp claim in general, please contact Snow, Carpio, and Weekley at (602) 532-0700 or (520) 647-9000.

Monday, April 4, 2011

How Should I Dress to My Workers Compensation Hearing?

I get asked a lot by clients how they should dress to their hearings at the Industrial Commission of Arizona.  First, as a general rule, don't do what one of my clients did and wear a t-shirt with a picture of a half naked woman on it that says "F.B.I. - Female Body Inspector" - women judges generally frown on that.  Or don't do what another client of mine did and plop down on the witness stand your hat that has a pair of boobs and a pickup truck on it and the words "If it's got t*ts or tires, it's bound to cause problems."  That lessens your credibility as a witness right off the bat. 

I always tell clients that you should dress as nicely as you can for your hearing.  It is a very serious matter.  Oftentimes your future livelihood depends on its outcome.  The way you dress tells the judge how seriously you take it.  I'm not saying to wear a suit or tuxedo - definitely don't dress better than your lawyer.  But a nice pair of jeans or slacks and a shirt with a collar is appropriate. 

If you have an orthopedic device, like a leg or back brace, wear it underneath your clothing.  Wearing a leg brace over a pair of jeans just looks like you are screaming for attention.  Also, don't do what another client of mine did and bring a bible and hold it the entire hearing. That's a little over the top...

These are just a few friendly tips from Snow, Carpio, and Weekley.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Big Win in Workers Compensation Claim for Undocumented Worker

I recently received a Favorable Decision in a claim where the insurance carrier was attempting to avoid paying benefits because they had "found out" that my client (who had worked there 10 years) was an undocumented immigrant.  First of all, I refuse to call decent, hardworking people "illegal aliens".  If that offends you, find another workers compensation lawyer.  But I digress.  The carrier argued that my client's inability to work was not a result of his industrial injury, but rather because of his legal status, and that, if he were legal, they would have work available for him, resulting in no lost wages and no compensation. 

The judge, thankfully, did not agree with this argument.  While he found that my client did have a minimal earning capacity, his industrial injury did contribute to his loss of earnings irrespective of his immigration status.  He awarded compensation back to the date that the company "found out" he was undocumented and fired him.  (I was reminded in the scene in the movie Casablanca where the governor is "shocked, shocked to find out that there is gambling in Casablanca!) 

I don't care what the legal status of an injured worker is.  If he or she sustains an injury on the job and is unable to work and provide for their family, we will fight very aggressively for his or her benefits.  This is equally true in the case of documented workers where the Employer says that they were fired "for cause" and therefore aren't entitled to benefits. 

Chad T. Snow is a workers compensation attorney in Phoenix and Tucson Arizona.  He can be reached at (602) 532-0700 or (520) 647-9000 or on his website at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Waddel's Signs - Defense Doctors are the Real Fakers

One of the most common techniques that Defense IME doctors use to discredit injured workers is the use of "Waddell's Signs".  Doctors hired by the insurance carrier will say that an injured worker has positive Waddel's signs to show that they are exaggerating their symptoms or outright faking their injuries. 

The test is named after a physician researcher, Gordon Waddell, who originally intended it to be used as a technique to determine appropriate patients for back procedures such as discography.  It consists of several physical tests including axial compression (pushing down on the top of the head, which shouldn't cause low back pain), distracted straight leg raising, overreaction to stimulus, and complaints of pain in areas that shouldn't have pain from the injured body part. 

A little research, however, has given me ammunition to combat this technique.  First, my partner found an obscure reference in the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment that indicates that the use of Waddell's Signs is inappropriate in non-Anglo patients.  That counts out about 80% of my clients. 

Also, a quick Wikipedia search showed that numerous recent medical studies have criticized the use of Waddell's signs and show that they have been misused by the medical community.  For example, a 2004 study by Fishbain showed that In a 2004 review, Fishbain, et al. concluded, "there was little evidence for the claims of an association between Waddell signs and secondary gain and malingering. The preponderance of the evidence points to the opposite: no association".

I can't wait to spring those on the next sheisty defense IME doctor who's trying to paint my client out as a faker. 

Chad T. Snow is an attorney who has handled over 5,000 hearings at the industrial commission of Arizona for injured workers.  He has offices in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona and handles exclusively Arizona workers compensation claims.  He can be reached through his firm's website, Snow, Carpio, and Weekley.

Where You Get Your MRI Matters (AZ Workers Comp)

I learned something new today - there is a huge difference in quality between MRI facilities.  I was at an Industrial Commission of Arizona hearing where one of my favorite doctors, Brad Sorosky, was testifying.  Dr. Sorosky has a great way of explaining things in ways that normal non-doctors can understand.  The carrier in this case had agreed to pay for an updated MRI since the previous one was of poor quality.  Knowing that carriers always try to send injured workers to the cheapest facility possible, I asked Dr. Sorosky if there was a difference in quality between one facility and another.  He said that there definitely was and gave a perfect analogy:  he explained that it is the difference between taking a picture on your cell phone and taking a picture with a high quality Nikon camera.  He recommended any facility that has 3T technology (whatever that is...) 

I don't know about you, but if I've suffered an on-the-job back injury and the decision whether or not to do surgery depends on an MRI, I want the picture taken with the highest quality diagnostic equipment available, not the one that's going to save the insurance carrier a couple hundred bucks. 

Remember that in Arizona workers comp, unless your Employer is self-insured, you have the right to direct your own medical care.  I personally think that that extends to where diagnostic studies are performed.  The carrier is required to pay for treatment under the Industrial Commission Fee Schedule.  You want the best care possible.  Always ask your doctor which facility they prefer for their diagnostic imaging and insist on getting the MRI, CT, EMG, or whatever at that facility. 

Chad T. Snow is an Arizona Workers (workmans) compensation attorney with offices in Phoenix and Tucson.  He has represented thousands of injured workers before the Industrial Commission and Court of Appeals.  He can be reached at his website, Snow, Carpio, and Weekley, or at (602) 532-0700 and (520) 647-9000. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Using the Internet for Case Research

Several times in the last few weeks, I've been reminded of how much the Internet has changed the practice of law.  Information that in the past would have cost days of laborious research, is now one Google search away. 

I recently had a case where the temperature on the day in question in Tucson was an integral part of my arguement.  Pre-internet, how would I have found out what the temperature was in Tucson at 11:00 a.m. on June 5, 2010?  As it was, I found a chart published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration which showed that the low temperature that day was the highest low ever for that date - essentially making my case for me.  And it took less than five minutes! 

As I mentioned in another recent post, I had another case with very complicated medical causation questions regarding the link between paint exposure and leukemia.  In the old days, it would have taken weeks of research, and probably thousands of dollars to pay experts, to find out what a couple of hours of surfing the web gave me. 

I've found lots of information to challenge defense medical experts on issues that back in the day I would've never been able to find.  The Judges at the Industrial Commission love when attorneys make creative arguments with internet research to back it up. 

Thanks, Al Gore, for inventing the internet.  It's sure made my job a lot easier...

Chad T. Snow is a workers compensation attorney in Tucson and Phoenix.  He can be reached at (602) 532-0700 or (520) 647-9000.  His website at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley has bundles of information and links on various workers compensation topics. 

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Injuries that Occur as a Result of Fights at Work

Some of our most interesting cases have been those where the injuries were the results of fights or assaults at work.  The general rule of whether or not these injuries are compensable is whether or not the subject matter of the fight was related to the work or was personal.  This rule applies equally to both the aggressor and the victim of the assault. 

For example, I recently litigated a case where my client had been arguing all day with a co-worker about the co-worker's sloppy work that was keeping them from finishing a job on time.  The co-worker started cursing at my client, who shoved the co-worker, who then punched my client, knocking him over and fracturing his ankle as he tried to maintain his balance.  Because the subject nature of the argument was related to the work, the claim was found compensable.  On the other hand, if the two had been fighting over a personal matter, such as a girlfriend, the injury would not be considered as arising out of the employment. 

These cases are usually very awkward to litigate because many times the people who have fought are in the courtroom together and sometimes they describe the altercation in very colorful language.  Hearing Kathy Hansen interpret the words "te voy a reventar el osico" and "revamientemelo pues, vieja puta" is one of the highlights of my career! 

Chad T. Snow is an attorney who handles exclusively workers compensation matters before the Industrial Commission of Arizona.  he can be reached at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley in Phoenix at (602) 532-0700 and in Tucson at (520) 647-9000. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Direct Exam of Medical Witness in Arizona Workers Compensation Claim

Most Arizona work comp litigation requires expert testimony from a medical expert as part of the injured worker's burden of proof.  Asking questions of the medical expert is part science, part art.  The following is a very basic outline that I follow when questioning my own medical expert:

1.  Professional qualifications (licensed to practice in Arizona, field of specialty, board certification)
2.  Scope of treatment (treating doctor or IME)
3.  What records did you review as a basis for your opinions?
4.  What was your understanding of the mechanism of injury (how accident happened)
5.  What treatment had the injured worker undergone prior to you seeing him/her?
6.  What are the applicant's subjective complaints?
7.  You conducted a physical exam?  What significant findings? 
8.  Did you review any diagnostic studies (MRI, x-rays, EMG, etc)?
9.  Based on the mechanism of injury, the applicant's subjective complaints, the objective findings on physical exam and diagnostics, were you able to reach a diagnosis related to the industrial injury?
10.  Do you feel the applicant's condition is medically stationary or is there further active care that could reasonably be expected to improve his/her condition?
11.  Do you feel he/she has sustained a permanent impairment under the Sixth Edition of the AMA Guides or is it too early to tell pending further care?
12.  Are there additional diagnostic tests that are necessary?
13.  What work restrictions would you impose?
*Were you able to identify a new, additional or previously undiscovered condition causally related to the industrial injury? 
*Did you notice any symptoms magnification, Waddell's signs, or other red flags? 

This is, of course, a very crude outline and needs to be adjusted according to the strengths and weaknesses of your case.

Chad T. Snow is an attorney with Snow, Carpio, and Weekley who has done over 5,000 hearings at the Industrial Commission of Arizona.  He has offices in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona and can be reached at (602) 532-0700 or (520) 647-9000. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cross Examining the Defense Medical Expert in AZ Workers Comp Hearing

In law school, there is a famous video called "The Ten Commandments of Cross-Examination".  They are:

  1. Be brief.
  2. Short questions, plain words.
  3. Always ask leading questions.
  4. Don't ask a question to which you do not know the answer.
  5. Listen to the witness' answers.
  6. Don't quarrel with the witness.
  7. Don't allow the witness to repeat his direct testimony.
  8. Don't permit the witness to explain his answers.
  9. Don't ask the "one question too many."
  10. Save the ultimate point of your cross for summation
I had two hearings today which perfectly demonstrated these Commandments.  In the first, I was cross-examining Dr. McLean, who is a very well respected expert that I use on many of my own cases.  I knew that I wasn't going to change Dr. McLean's opinion, I just wanted him to agree with a few of the stronger points of my case.  I only asked him leading questions that I already knew the answer to.  I asked him to concede the points of my case that were the strongest.  This has a twofold purpose - if the doctor concedes, it adds credibility to your own medical witness, if he refuses to concede the obvious, it makes him look partisan and ridiculous.  Dr. McLean agreed with the few points that I brought up and I ended on that. 

In the second case, a less seasoned defense attorney was cross examining my medical expert.  Every question he asked was open ended, which only allowed my doctor further chance to explain himself and address any doubts that the ALJ might have had.  He also kept trying to push the same point which is futile - you are never going to convince a board certified fellowship trained orthopedic surgeon that he's been wrong all along.  Finally, he allowed my expert to go on and on explaining himself.  He made my case more than I did. 

Of course, there is always what I like to call "The Overholt Rule", named after a former ALJ at the Industrial Commission.  Judge Overholt taught me early on that "most of the time, the best cross examination is 'no questions Your Honor."  In other words, let your expert's opinion stand on its own, don't give the other expert any further chance to explain himself or defend his position.  Good advice. 

Chad T. Snow is an attorney who practices in the area of workers compensation in Arizona with offices in Phoenix and Tucson.  He can be reached at (602) 532-0700, (520) 647-9000, or through his firm's website at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Doctors Aren't Always Right

I had a doctor testify in a hearing today who I normally respect but who had it all wrong in this case.  At issue was whether or not walking on crutches and placing all of one's weight on their non-injured foot can aggravate an underlying asymptomatic condition in their heel.  This doctor, who shall remain nameless, testified that it is impossible for someone to develop increased pain in the uninjured leg/foot from placing all their weight on it while recovering from surgery. 

I've never wanted to take the stand and testify worse than I did today.  I had surgery on my right knee three weeks ago and have been using crutches and placing all my weight on my left leg.  And guess what?  My left leg hurts worse than the one that had surgery!  It just goes to show that doctors can have their opinions - but they are just that - opinions.  I've had doctors in other cases testify that knee injuries shouldn't result in any restrictions on prolonged sitting.  Bullcrap.  I can only sit comfortably for about 30 minutes until my right leg falls asleep and I need to stand for a few minutes. 

Some other things I've learned to believe my clients more since my injury:

1.  Using crutches for long periods of time hurts your hands, wrists, and shoulders.
2.  It is hard to sleep after an injury like this, which makes you tired all day, and makes it hard to concentrate.
3.  It would be hard to survive if I wasn't able to work and had to wait to litigate my workers compensation claim. 
4.  Doctors make you wait in their waiting rooms much much much longer than lawyers. 

Chad T. Snow is an attorney who practices exclusively workers compensation and Social Security Disability in Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona.  He is the founder of Snow, Carpio, and Weekley, who can be reached at (602) 532-0700 or (520) 647-9000. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Submitting Lay Evidence in a Work Comp Claim in Arizona

I have an interesting case here at Snow, Carpio, and Weekley that is going to hearing next week where one of the issues is how hot it was the day that the injury took place.  My client is claiming that he was working in a paint booth where the temperatures reached up to 130 degrees on the day in question.  The Employer's witnesses are saying it wasn't very hot that day.  So I turned where any great lawyer would turn for evidence:  I Googled it!!!  I found great evidence from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website about the temperature in Tucson on the date my client was injured.  I found out that a record was set that day for the highest minimum temperature ever for that date.  It was also the 6th day in a row of temperatures at least 13 degrees above normal.  I simply printed up the table and submitted it as evidence.  Who would have thought that what could be the winning evidence in a huge case would come from a simple internet search?

What Can I Expect at a hearing?

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