Discovery


When both Claimants and E/C’s are forced to litigate their disputes on the “rocket docket”–or 210 days from the date of Petition to trial–there has to be mutual cooperation between the parties to accommodate discovery.  If there can be no cooperation, for whatever reason, it is the Judge of Compensation Claims duty to weigh the interests of a quick resolution versus due process.

In a recent case, the First DCA leaned towards due process, allowing a Claimant to present a doctor’s testimony whose deposition may have (or not) violated a discovery order. (more…)

If there is one aspect in defending Workers’ Compensation claims that many Employer/Carriers misinterpret is video surveillance.  It is a powerful tool in litigation, but should be applied delicately, lest it be barred from trial by a judgefor discovery violations.  Let me cite as an example one of my cases.

Currently, I am working on the defense of a claim where we procured very effective surveillance.  Prior to that, Claimant alleged extreme pain in both arms and even underwent the implantation of a dorsal column stimulator in his neck (a severe procedure to say the least).   He testified at deposition that his pain in his arms is so great he cannot even shake hands or do simple household chores like yard work.

Of course, video surveillance revealed otherwise. . .

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A common issue among litigated W/C claims is when an employee leaves the Employer for a new job or is fired outright.  If the Claimant files for temporary partial disability benefits (under section 440.15), the Employer/Carrier has a right to discover Claimant’s earnings.  His or her earnings, if any, would be an offset to any temporary benefits Claimant is entitled to.  For example, if Claimant is working part time because his injury prevents him from working full time, the Employer/Carrier would be responsible for paying the difference (applying the 440.15 statutory formula). 

One way to obtain Claimant’s earnings information is through an Employee Earnings Report, an affidavit Claimant must fill out or risk having his benefits suspended.  The Employer/Carrier is entitled to this information via Florida Admin Code 69L-3.021.

Yet, it appears that this is the limit to what financial information an Employer/Carrier can make Claimant reveal about themselves. 

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