Though vocational experts are perhaps more well-known for their role in Social Security disputes, they also play a critical role in private disability benefits disputes — as such, it is important to understand how to use vocational experts to your advantage (and how to undermine the testimony of opposing vocational experts) for the purpose of strengthening your benefits claim.
Vocational Experts and Disability Insurance Disputes
Vocational experts have a very specific role in the disability insurance dispute context — they provide an opinion on career-related issues, which (in conjunction with the medical issues) lie at the very center of a disability benefits dispute. More specifically, a vocational expert will consider your unique talents, training, education, and physical/mental limitations, and will give testimony as to your capabilities and prospects in the job market. Vocational experts may also testify as to salary expectations, industry growth, opportunities for advancement in a given career path, and more.
For example, if a vocational expert testifies as to the possibility of an alternative career, then they will also have to provide relevant information concerning the salary and opportunities for advancement in that alternative career, given your training/education/abilities. If opportunities are more limited than your existing career, this difference must be accounted for.
Countering Vocational Expert Testimony
Vocational experts brought in by opposing counsel may give testimony that clearly conflicts with your interests. Testimony is not dispositive, however. It is absolutely possible to weaken and otherwise challenge the testimony of the vocational expert by calling into question the applicability of their testimony to the particularities of your condition and your work.
Let’s use an example to clarify.
Suppose that you are a construction worker and you suffer injuries in an accident that renders you incapable of lifting heavy weights around. The vocational expert may testify that — given your experiences — it may be possible to move into a less physical role with a construction company, perhaps as a junior surveyor.
When making this recommendation, however, it’s possible that the vocational expert does not have a genuine understanding of your disabling condition and its effects. The surveyor position may require you to stand and walk around for many hours at a time, a physical task that you are simply incapable of, given the severity of your disabling condition. Thus, when the vocational expert testifies as to the possibility of you working as a surveyor, it’s critical that you attack this recommendation by reiterating the contours of your disabling condition and by shining a light on the medical record evidence that proves it.
Speak to a Skilled Miami Insurance Litigation Lawyer for Assistance With Your Dispute
Ver Ploeg & Lumpkin, P.A. is a Miami-based insurance litigation firm with attorneys who boast over two decades of experience advocating on behalf of insurance claimants in disputes brought against their insurers.
We are committed to the provision of comprehensive and aggressive legal representation. Unlike many competing insurance litigation firms, we approach disputes with an interest in negotiating a settlement compromise, but the willingness and ability to successfully secure a verdict at trial (if necessary). Our case results speak volumes about the efficacy of this approach.
Call (305) 577-3996 or submit an online case evaluation form through our website to schedule a consultation with an experienced Miami insurance litigation lawyer at Ver Ploeg & Lumpkin, P.A. today. We will assess your various claims and — if there is something worth pursuing — will work with you to develop a strategic plan moving forward.Share