Most Common Ways Clients Hurt Their Case
Interviewer: What is the biggest thing people do unintentionally that hurt their case once it’s going or before it starts?
Stephen Boutros: Absolutely. The statements that people make to trained insurance adjusters are prevalent mistakes. The insurance adjusters want to get to that employee as soon as possible and woodshed them in a pre-statement conversation. They get the employee to say things that they don’t really mean or lead them to say things that are detrimental to the case. Safety people in the company, HR people in the company, insurance companies’ adjusters, are all trained to try to get to the employee as soon as possible and try to get statements from the employee that would be detrimental to the employees case.
When someone is hurt on the job, under the Workers Comp system, it doesn’t matter because they’re entitled to the benefits but in the non-subscriber systems, if you’re an employee, if you’re employer or doesn’t have Comp or if you were hurt by an employee of another company, you never want to give any statements until you’ve retained legal counsel. Those people are trained to get you, to manipulate and deceive you. They try to get you to say things detrimental to your case, and as smart as people are, you are no match when it comes to a person trained in that regard. You shouldn’t talk to anyone and you should never sign anything.
A lot of times, pre-injury waivers in Texas are generally void because you can’t sign something saying, “I’m never going to sue you,” before you get hurt. Post-injury waivers or post-injury releases, those happen all the time. You shouldn’t talk to anyone and you shouldn’t sign anything until you have legal counsel.
Interviewer: How do people get pressured into doing that? Why do they give into to the pressure?
Stephen Boutros: Usually, it is someone that has authority over you in the job place and so you feel like this person has some authority over you. In the back of your mind, you’re thinking, when this is all said and done, I still want to have my job. You want to please these people; you don’t want to displease these people. These people are real friendly at the beginning. ”We’re going to help you; we’re going to take care of you and we’re sorry that this happened.” They’re like wolves in sheep’s clothing. When you add to the fact that they’ve had authority over you or they appear to have authority over you, those wolves in sheep’s clothing become very powerful and can do damage.
Interviewer: Once someone signs a waiver after they’ve been injured or made a statement, is there any way to recant it? Do these signed statements usually kill a case?
Stephen Boutros: That’s a case-killer. You could still have a case but only under very limited circumstances. For example, let’s say a Hispanic worker that doesn’t even speak English, let alone read it, and they had him sign an English release. That may be a situation where there would still be a case. There are a few very limited circumstances but for the most part, if you sign that release post-injury, you’re done.