Consequences of Filing a Fifth Amendment Petition in a Workers’ Compensation Case
The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution allows people to avoid giving self-incriminating testimony in a legal case. If you are injured in the workplace, you may be asked to testify about your experience. While you can assert your constitutional right against self-incrimination, you could face consequences for pleading the Fifth Amendment in a workers’ compensation case.Your workers’ compensation attorney can guide you throughout the process.
The Court Cannot Presume Testimony
As part of the protection against self-incrimination, the law does not allow the court or opposing counsel to presume testimony. In essence, they cannot assume you plead the Fifth to mislead or misinform them about the basis of your workers’ comp case.Instead, the court should use the evidence at hand, including medical records, depositions, and witness testimony, to establish whether your claim is valid. If your Fifth Amendment pleading does not interfere with your ability to prove the claim, you could still receive benefits.
You Could Lose Additional Workers’ Compensation Benefits
While you do have the right to plead the Fifth to avoid incriminating yourself, it could compromise your case. If you try to avoid cross-examination or refuse to testify about matters specific to your case, you could lose benefits.
For instance, if you receive disability benefits for a hip injury, but there is a video footage of you freely using your injured limb, you may be asked to testify to retain your benefits. If you plead the Fifth, you lose the chance to defend your side of the case. The court may take the video as evidence that you are no longer eligible for disability benefits through workers’ comp.
Your Workers’ Compensation Case Could Be Dismissed
If you invoke your Fifth Amendment rights, you must still be able to prove your workers’ compensation claim. While the court cannot assume that you are hiding important case-related information, they can reasonably expect there are damaging details pertaining to the case.By pleading the Fifth for matters or questions related to your claim’s credibility or legitimacy, you risk having the case dismissed altogether. It is therefore beneficial to discuss your case with a workers’ compensation attorney before you invoke this right.
Your Workers’ Compensation Case Could Continue to Trial
If you plead the Fifth for a question or statement that does not reflect on your claim’s legitimacy or credibility, your case could be remanded to trial. You must still be able to prove your case, and your testimony can be critical for your own workers’ compensation trial. Your attorney can help you determine which details you should disclose and which the Fifth Amendment may protect.
You May Still Undergo Cross-Examination
Contrary to popular belief, you cannot refuse to be cross-examined for your workers’ compensation claim under the Fifth Amendment. Instead, you may plead the Fifth for individual questions, and the court can decide at that time whether the question potentially violates your rights. Your workers’ comp lawyer can help you recognize which, if any, questions you should decline under the Fifth Amendment.
An Example of Pleading the Fifth Amendment in a Workers’ Compensation Case
Your Fifth Amendment Rights protect you from self-incrimination. Workers’ compensation claimants who invoke their Fifth Amendment protections may do so for an unrelated circumstance.
For example, in a recent California workers’ compensation case, Camacho v Pirate Staffing, the employee filed for workers’ compensation benefits for back and lower extremity injuries. The employee used a different name in a previous workers’ compensation case and plead the Fifth when cross-examined about his Social Security number for the previous case. The court withheld the client’s workers’ comp benefits, but the California’s Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) overturned that decision. The WCAB indicated that the client’s claim was still valid, and his prior use of a different Social Security number did not eliminate his right to compensation. The case was remanded to trial to determine the worker’s apportioned benefits.
A Workers’ Compensation Attorney Can Guide You Throughout Your Case
When you are injured on the job, you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits, depending on the circumstances of your injury. Benefits may include medical costs, lost income, disability, and vocational rehabilitation.Unfortunately, both employers and workers’ compensation insurance carriers benefit from paying as little as possible for a work injury claim. Even when your workers’ compensation claim is valid, you could have trouble securing the full value of benefits you deserve. A workers’ compensation attorney in your area can help you navigate the complex claims process and protect your rights against your employer and insurance carriers. In doing so, they will:
- Help you gather evidence
- Communicate with all the parties involved in your case
- Work to ensure that you file your claim on time
- Hold your employer and workers’ comp insurance to appropriate legal deadlines
- Negotiate settlements and appeal wrongful denials
- Represent you in hearings, depositions, and trials for your workers’ comp claim
A workers’ compensation lawyer can help you understand your Fifth Amendment rights and explain how best to use it for your workers’ comp case. Rather than trying to wade through seemingly endless paperwork and legal fillings, you can rest and recover while your attorney takes care of the details.
Contact KJT Law Group for a Free Workers’ Compensation Case Consultation
The workers’ compensation attorneys at KJT Law Group have extensive experience helping injured employees in a range of unique situations. Call (818) 507-8525 to begin a free consultation for your workers’ compensation case. We offer our legal help on a contingency-fee basis, so we don’t charge you unless and until we secure compensation for you.One of our personal injury lawyers can explain the potential consequences of pleading the Fifth Amendment in a workers’ compensation case and discuss your next steps.