Dancing at Your Sister’s Wedding

Sometimes injured clients ask us whether it is smart for them to dance at their sister’s wedding or go on a canoe trip or be seen outside gardening. My advice for over 20 years has not changed: Live as rich and as active and as robust life as you can live, without regard at all for how it might affect your legal claim.

After all, would you rather have a good life or a good file?

If you overcome your injuries or if you return to work sooner than once feared, is that not a good thing? And if it lowers the compensation, what does it matter so long as your income is increased anyway and your job made that much more secure?

In fact, exaggerating pain and fatigue can actually lead to depression. I recall one case where a woman was filmed golfing very vigorously for 18 holes and her bad back case was dismissed by the court. The judge noted that in addition to suffering back pain, she claimed to be suffering deep depression. The judge was not surprised and concluded that pretending to be more disabled than one is can lead to mental illness.

But here’s a secret – efforts to live a full life often help your case. First, it makes you more believable. The body does heal with time – not perfectly – but it does heal. To deny that you are getting better in the two years since the pickup truck t-boned you, is to lose credibility. Second, it is far better to be a plaintiff who attempted a return to work and failed, than one who did not try at all. Judges and juries like to see effort.

So dance away if you can, even if it’s with a lame leg or torn rotator cuff. That said, you may wish to avoid the limbo.

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