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How can discovery help with a workers' compensation claim?

When pursuing legal action, information is powerful. Those who are fully informed are more likely to be able to put forth strong legal arguments, while the uninformed will be left at a significant disadvantage. Failing to gain access to critical information that can support one's claim can lead to denied compensation. In the workers' compensation context, this could mean losing money to help cover medical expenses and lost wages during a time when an individual is unable to work.

By following legal rules, injured workers can gain access to an employer's property and employment and medical documentation. This can be important to one's claim, allowing him or her to survey, photograph, test and inspect the premises where the workplace injury occurred. Additionally, access to employment and medical records may relay details to support not only the cause of a workplace injury, but also the extent of the harm suffered.

The process through which a worker obtains this access is known as discovery. In order to properly effectuate discovery, though, a victim needs to file a request. Until such a request is served on the person owning the property or the records, an individual is unlikely to gain access. There are a number of rules related to discovery requests and compliance with discovery, and failure to adhere to them could result in unwanted consequences.

Discovery is just one legal tool that can be used to help not only strengthen an individual's workers' compensation claim, but also thwart potential defenses to the claim. Those who want to learn more about their legal rights as they relate to workers' compensation claims should consider speaking with an attorney experienced in the field.

Source: Massachusetts Department of Labor and Workforce Development, "1.12: Discovery And Depositions," accessed on Oct. 28, 2016

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