Dam! Need Help on a Case? I’ll Search Until I Find It!

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Some days do you feel weird because part of your daily routine has changed? It happens quite regularly with me. Yes both, feeling weird and not having a typical day!

Image result for images feeling weird

Time that follows after finishing work on an in-depth legal case can feel unusual. How about the time after you’ve completed a project or a presentation that you spent hours on, or when you complete a long-term educational goal…and the homework is done?! You know what I’m referring to. You feel different!  And kinda weird, which is okay. In fact it’s great!

After I’ve served as an expert, I can relax and think upon the experience and what I learned about myself and my role in the process. I consider  how I did good and how I could do better. My work opens up experiences where I continuously learn about work!

My work as an “expert” requires me to research and study the subject matter at hand. So, I make my own homework all the time and seem to like it! Am I or am I not an unusual person? I absolutely love to study and analyze information! And like my brother Steven enjoyed, I too like to come up with theories and see if I can prove or disprove them to myself. Some of Steve’s theories however, defied gravity, like his skateboard stunts, and his water skiing stunts, I still don’t know how he could fly!

Steve

The meaning is:  Crown, wreath

I looked up “Steven and dare devil” and found out that on August 18th 1985, a Rhode Island bartender named  Steven Trotter made the trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel wrapped in inner tubes. Mr. Trotter was fined a total of $5,503. Then, he did it again.  On June 18th, 1995, Steven returned to the Falls and made it another success. This time he and a female partner (a caterer) made the big drop together. That is all fine and good for them, but what about the rescuers? Somebody had to help get them out of “hot” water. Oh my! I remember as a child visiting Niagara Falls (height of 167 feet!!)  many moons ago with the family. My brother Steven loved it! I would love to visit again.

But instead I only need to travel a short distance to the pedestrian bridge over the Des Moines River. I love to stop on the south side of the Women of Achievement Bridge and gaze down at the beautiful falls from the Center Street dam…the dam height is 15 feet! I love the dam in Iowa Falls too which has a height of 26 feet! Or course the Saylorville dam is fun to visit too, especially when it’s flowing full force and you get splashed! Dams are gorgeous yet dangerous! Dam! 

Bud

Here’s to you bro! 

I always have a sip or two on July 17th which is my brother’s birth date at a favorite local cemetery and let Randy drink the rest! (Budweiser is not my brand of beer).

Think about “daredevils” and what their personality and temperament are like. Okay, someone similar to my brother! Someone who takes risks, not silly or reckless dares, but a good slightly risky risk. Are you a person who accepts dares? how about risks? Think about your job and your role at work. Think about how I can help you with a legal case. Okay, go ahead and think about drinking a beer!

Law involves uncertainties and risks that cannot be quantified. Some cases may be “risky” because of their sheer complexity or because the subject matter cannot be reasonably measured. I recognize that when I’m called upon to help on a legal case everyone has a role in the process. From me you will receive a report that is clear, truthful and comprehensive. Here’s a little story about me:

I once searched for a solid week for a black pearl that fell out a ring from my finger. It happened one morning as I was leaving my apartment going to work (for the State). The heavy door grazed my hand as it was closing, caught my ring and the pearl fell out. It fell through the deck slats and landed somewhere in a huge mess of leaves, etc. below. I looked briefly yet had to get to work on time. Upon returning home I looked for the pearl. I looked every time I left the apartment to go to work or go where I needed to go. I was determined to find it!

Until there ya go! 7 days later, I found it!  I am one persistent person when it comes to finding something I absolutely know is there! And that includes something so small as a black pearl!

Image result for pearl black and white ring cartoonWhat an incredible ring!

If there is part of your job that is somewhat risky, convince your brain that you are not scared of said dare or risk, and how proud you will be of your accomplishment. Consider all outcomes, and don’t forget others who are or could become involved. Then gather the courage and just do it! Don’t stop until you are done. Feel the exhilaration! This is similar to serving as an expert witness!

Skydiver

 Be safe, especially if you have a dangerous job (or hobby)

What will I study next? How to sky dive?  I would love to! And I’ve thought about it…hummm, maybe in Brooklyn! Actually I want to get into art. Not that I’m good at drawing or painting. I just like to study and learn new techniques. Not that risky huh! Stay tuned!  Contact me at amyebotkin@lcpresourcesplus.com for help on a litigated case involving work and disability.  Thank you for reading!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

I Sued the Railroad Nearly 40 Years Ago. Think I Won? Need an Expert?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

I’ve written about my 1979 car/train collision, which is part of my memory bank that becomes revisited from time to time  especially when June 15th of each year rolls around! Here’s a bit more about the story:  While hospitalized following surgery on my head and on my right arm, I was administered an IV bag that did not have my name on it. 

Image result for plastic bracelet hospitalMy maiden name is Prochnow NOT the name written on the bag. My mom caught the error after inspecting what was all hooked up to me (I was still unconscious) and reported it to a staff nurse.  The name on one of the IV bags was that of the male driver of the car I was in that slammed into a parked train; also an inpatient in a room down the hall. Thank goodness the IV bag contained only Lasix! How could a nurse hook me up without checking my name? Yes, we had plastic id bracelets back then! No harm done. Thank you mom!

Awhile back, I was driving in my car alone, and coming upon railroad tracks noticed the crossbar was malfunctioning. It was going up/and down over and over.  At this crossing (near EFCO on Broadway), the lights were not flashing and I did not see any train approaching from either direction.  The bars were out of whack! Trust me, I did not see a train approaching this dayHowever, a foolish driver drove around the gates and over the multiple crossings.

I did however see the 800 number to call the Union Pacific Railroad, because it was quite apparent the gates were malfunctioning every 60 seconds or so. To fulfill my civic duty, I dialed (after crossing the tracks and pulling over near the swans’ nest) and a man actually answered!

Image result for swans nest cartoon

I informed the railroad worker of the situation, he thanked me and I went on my merry way.  I do not care for railroad tracks when there’s a train approaching but you can’t see it yet…gives me the chills! But I did my part to help others.

I actually felt odd, even telling my mother of the situation and the call. Maybe it was some sort of healthy release to my own personal  situation and lawsuit. Read on please!   

The irony of me reporting a problem with a railroad crossing is that one reason for the lawsuit my family and I filed following the 1979 car/train collision against Rock Island Railroad was the fact that the cross bucks at the crossing near the high school at the site and time of the accident I incurred was missing.  Yes, the cross buck, the two signs that cross at the top, was gone, missing, not there. I have no idea why. Perhaps some kid had stolen it?

During the trial held at the Hardin County Courthouse in Eldora, besides that fact of no cross bucks, and the fact that this railroad maintenance error was swept under the rug, somehow, we (my entire family) knew a member of the jury.

The juror was the sister of a long time neighbor we had several ties with while growing up. In fact we used to go on family vacations to South Dakota with that juror’s sister.  I was best friends for many years with the woman juror’s sister’s daughter, as was my sister with a second daughter (make sense?). 

Anyway, my family and I did not win anything in the lawsuit. Not a cent We definitely should have been awarded something.  I believe the main reason we didn’t win was the fact that the railroad was going under.

Have I ever shown you my scars? You may be impressed!  I’m sure my parents paid a bit of money for the care I needed and could’ve used money to compensate.  I was only 15 years old and my serious injuries did seriously impact my life going forward. I felt so odd and was stared at when I returned to school that Fall. I ultimately ended up dropping out of high school in November 1979. I sure wish my story had been revealed, and wonder what may have happened if so had we won the lawsuit.

An injury comes with costs, no matter the situation, and a story that explains the situation from a personal point of view is fundamentally necessary for you and your client.  If you need a personal story about your client, for the jury and the judge to read, let me help. 

I’m qualified in many ways to help you help your client. Yes, although a high school dropout, I moved forward in life in many fruitful ways! There’s a link on my website to my resume, feel free to download it. And please contact me to share information about your litigated case! You’ll find I care a lot, especially if justice is lacking or a person’s story needs to be understood in a different light.

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Thanks for Thinking of Me! Why Wait to Place Me Into Action? Need A Vocational Consultant on Your Case?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I enjoy consulting with attorneys. It involves learning about your questions; then using my expertise to provide an answer or two!  The fact is consulting work involves extraordinary amounts of mental processing.  Let me tell you, my brain gets a lot of action and yes, I work out physically, too! 

I don’t know about your specific style of learning or pattern of thinking is (give me time!), but for me, when I accept a case assignment, I don’t want to feel rushed about researching and finding solid answers to good questions.  No, I meant to write great questions, those formed to help you with answering your client’s difficult problems, surrounding certain situations, while considering all necessary detail.

In my eyes, “problems” are opportunities in disguise. Something “thinks” it needs  a solution. The thinking could be well thought through or it could be downright faulty, and that’s why education becomes a consulting strategy.  A good way to look at a problem is to compare it against an opposing problem and ask, which “opportunity” presents first? Will there be an order that makes sense? Is it really a problem or just defined as one?

For every problem under the sun, there is a solution or there is none. If there be one, think til you find it. If there be none, then never mind it!” ~ LeGrand Richards

My problem solving approach develops as the research is gathered relevant to the situation. How a situation is defined is just as important in the problem equation, considering virtually every situation can be defined in more than one way. Because of this fact, tremendous opportunity to educate becomes available, and negatives turn into positives resulting in the implication of how one feels and acts toward the situation!

I find that pulling too quickly for an answer or a fact won’t turn up the best results.  Pulling carefully yet relentlessly on the stem/root system will produce reliable, intact, organic results to share with others.  Through testimony, I can educate others on how to understand the specific facts I gathered and why they are important to this case, facilitating the information and helping them to “figure out” their own solution.

Thanks  for thinking of me (as Eeoyre says)!  Please contact me to get me involved early in the proceedings. Do so before you plant any seed, and I’ll help with preparing and weeding the ground, the hard part of the action! Even if you only need a file review, I can offer recommendations. And, we’d be better off to a good start!

I believe it’s always healthy to think of the humor in most situations. Truly, our emotions will benefit. Contact me at 515-282-7753 to discuss your case needs, and learn about my consulting style and policies. Again, thanks for thinking of me and for reading! 

___________________

 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Like Mother, Like Daughter, One Tough Cookie! Want One in the Courtroom?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Today is my daughter’s 23rd birthday (and I’m sure she’s pretty happy right now in Vegas with a good friend)!  I’m proud that she’s a person who is physically and emotionally strong and One Tough Cookie!  From the top of my little head as I write this post, here’s a few memories of my daughter and “her toughness” over the years. 

Before she was born, let alone named, my daughter’s birth cord was wrapped around her neck while she was being delivered in the hospital room. As I was pushing down as one is to do during natural child birth, the doctor told me to STOP!

What? Stop? So I did and, (not knowing what was going on) he very quickly cut the cord from around her neck, and blood shot above me onto the ceiling. Nice, huh! Yuck! My new baby girl scared her parents alright! She was just fine though and had a good APGAR! Rather quickly, the housekeeper came in the room and cleaned the blood off the ceiling with a mop as I was still lying in the bed. Yuck again! But, just doing her job!

In fact, Arin was a calm baby! I remember the first day of her life, she seemed to care more about how the nurses felt when holding her than actually being the new baby in the room. And her eyes were (and still are) so huge, she kinda looked like an alien with eyes on both sides of her head!  Later in her babyhood, heck, I cut her toenails too short and they bled (I felt horrible, and this was my 3rd child!) 

Around age 3,  Arin fell from a chair at the babysitter’s kitchen table while she was eating lunch. Upon facial impact with the floor, her tooth was knocked out, and said tooth landed down in the heater vent, where it potentially could have trace elements today. She was whisked to the ER by her sitter, but there isn’t much one could do for this injury, other than wait!  It took a really long time for her new tooth to come in. BTW, earlier this month she got her wisdom teeth removed and was tough with that surgery and the healing time involved…this link takes you to a blog for a bit on costs of the procedure!

When she was a little older, around 8ish, we were working in the basement and somehow the iron got knocked off its board and landed on her foot. Her big toe sure bled a lot and a deep bruise definitely developed and stuck around. Luckily the toe wasn’t broken and the iron wasn’t hot! Yikes!

Here’s another: As were in the process of remodeling our house (in 2009), Arin would’ve been age 13, she was cleaning our new windows (yes with water and an ecloth!) and the larger kitchen window  in our kitchen suddenly fell down (the type of windows that fold into your house), whacking her head.  Her head broke the glass, and as the window fell, it shattered on to the floor. Arin felt a headache, but there was no blood involved and we didn’t take her to the doctor, but I certainly  cared for her closely and watched like a hawk for any concussive symptoms! I informed the salesperson who sold us the windows of this mishap, and he showered her with gifts. He was probably pretty grateful that we didn’t, gasp: sue! But no and her strong head was fine. 

Move on into her middle school years, from what I was told by said daughter, as a Christmas Story dare, Arin was outside snow shoeing at school on recess. And yep, she stuck her tongue on a metal pole and yep it got stuck and yep she had to pull her mouth away from the pole and yep, her tongue ripped and yep it hurt and bled!  OWW! She said this was a dare; the sticking her tongue out purposely onto a cold pole in the middle of winter. But in reality, I believe she also actually fell into the pole because she wasn’t very good at snow shoeing. Again, nothing really you can do for this injury but give the tongue time to heal!

Image result for tongue pierced cartoonA while later she got her tongue pierced anyway! She also pierced her septum and eyebrow too. Don’t forget theee belly button (I actually did that once, but let it grow back in cuz it bothered me when I did yoga). And speaking of, both her ears have pretty good sized gauge holes! I’m not including the numerous tattoos Arin has received, which sounds a little too long and drawn out painful to me or anything else I can’t remember off the top of my head at this time.

Colorful AJ

One last story, and I’m not happy at all with how this happened. In early March 2019 Arin was at a birthday party held at a hotel for her friend Taylor. Arin was picked up and thrown into the pool by another friend Jay (grrrr) and landed on another friend’s head who was in the pool. Kassidy, who she landed on, hurt not only her head, but bit down and injured her mouth and Arin ended up breaking two ribs.

Image result for xray ribs cartoonHowever, Arin didn’t find out her ribs were broken until almost a week later when she was in much pain and was having problems at work so on a Sunday had to be taken to the ER which included x-rays and a pain prescription.  Again, this involved a long rehabilitation / healing period.

Okay, enough writing for now. Like mother like daughter. I guess considering I was able to live through hitting a train headfirst!  I believe this “toughness” also comes from Arin’s Grandma, my mom. Last year, my mom was experiencing an acute medical condition while visiting us. As we were waiting for her and her new husband’s flight departure, she took a dive at the airport (right in front of the drinking fountains by the rest rooms on the main level) on to her face, breaking her glasses. She ended up in the ER for stitches rather than on the flight home. She didn’t cry or wince a bit.

The bottom line of this post is to let you, my Attorney Reader, know that I am a strong “tough-minded” resilient person who has the capacity to face difficult facts and long odds with resolute optimism.  I define a strong mind as having the resources, mental skills, and physical capabilities to confront difficulties of all kinds. And then afterwards, a way to slow down and relax.

I know if I succeed, I caused it and if I failed, yep, I caused that too. I will be tough for you and I will be tough for your client. I won’t be so tough you may choke, but I will be tough enough with your case where it counts: in my reports and in the courtroom and in my resolve to never give up. I got this strong “tough minded trait” from my mom and have passed it on to my daughter and am proud of it!

Thank you for reading. Let me know about a case I can help you with that involves disability and rehabilitation. I believe rehabilitation is the care that can help you get back, keep, or improve abilities that you need for daily life. I’m a rehabilitation counselor who cares.

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Seen The Reasonable or The Unreasonable Person Lately? I Look Every Day!

Reading Time: 5 minutes

This is a summary of my written responses to a discussion question while studying forensics through George Washington University a few years ago.  It includes edits and additions of course, because that’s what a writer does

Question: What does the term “reasonable man”  as a legal expression used in both criminal and tort law mean to you? (That’d be me, Amy the student at the time, with the online discussion involving my cohort from across the country!)

Answer: To me, I believe the term “reasonable (ahemm) person” refers to a theoretical person in society who shows average judgment, skill or care in his or her conduct; and this “person” becomes a standard or a basis for comparison when deciding issues of liability in civil or criminal cases involving negligence. 

…But then I start asking myself more questions, like, so how would an average person behave under the “exact same circumstances and conditions” because how could the context or a situation ever be the same to more than two people? With unique personalities, the many layers of culture in society, who really can be seen as average? 

…and doing my own questioning again, I thought, just how is one average person selected during the formation process, let along twelve “average people” who are impartial to the case and have the energy and focus needed to develop into a jury pool?

Image result for jury cartoonI’ve been summoned for jury duty once in recent memory, but didn’t move through to a next step. I have no idea why! Although I would love to serve on a jury, as it is a right and a duty, I wonder if my profession for some reason had anything to do with the selection process. The one thing that would bother me though is sitting for a long time during a trial. Ouch! Would need yoga!

Okay, so I continued with my thought process and answer: Our legal system compares actions of people and makes a decision based on the factors involved whether or not a reasonable person would or would not do the same thing. Using this standard can lead to strange outcomes I’ll bet. For my research, I found an interesting read titled Brigham Young Law Review titled Better Off with the Reasonable Man Dead or the Reasonable Man Does the Darndest Things

It’s written by Randy T. Austin in 1992 and includes numerous citations and some funny foot notes! One part reads: The Reasonable Man first appeared in the law in the 1837 case of Vaughan V Menlove. The defendant’s haystack caught fire due to poor ventilation. The defendant had been warned on numerous occasions that this would happen if he left the haystack. The defendant argued he had used his best judgment and did not foresee a risk of fire. The court held his best judgment was not enough. He was to be judged by the standard of a reasonable man.

Another part reads: The Reasonable Man Did he evolve? Was he created? has had many first names: Prudent, Ordinary, Typical, Ideal, Average, Right Minded. He has qualities of a good citizen, an ordinary chap.

On the other hand, others say he is inadequate, makes mistakes, is selfish and afraid. He does typical things (for example, takes out the garbage, opens doors for others) he doesn’t do atypical things (like park his car on the busy freeway to scrape a small blob of bird poop off his windshield or drive his ball when he clearly sees golfers still on the putting green.)

Image result for bird poop on windshield

It was a HUGE Blob! All the drivers on the freeway should’ve known why I stopped!

The Reasonable Man is shy and he doesn’t want to talk about himself, but his best friends (judges and law professors) are happy to talk about him. And talk about him a lot they do!

The review concludes that the reasonable man has enjoyed a long and prosperous career in law and the author Randy believes due to the arbitrariness of the standard and insensitivity to gender issues, it’s time to thank him for his contributions and bid him a fond farewell. So be it.

Then I found this written by George Bernard Shaw to ponder: The reasonable person adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. 

Next, I decided I’m going to play a game I just made up called Reasonable or Not Reasonable? As I move throughout my city, in the community and my own hood, I’ll keep a look out for a Reasonable Person or a Not Reasonable Person and decipher what transpires (via my own eyes) and brainstorm why it may be that I think this person is or is not average. The context, situation and circumstances will matter, and whether or not I’m somehow involved in the interaction will too. 

I’ll tally up how many average people and exceptional people I meet on a particular day and then talk to someone (You, my attorney reader?) about my results. What do you think my probabilities will look like? No doubt in my mind this will be a fun learning experience!  As a counselor, I have that sixth sense about others!

Related imageAs an aside, have you seen the play production 12 Angry Jurors? I saw the play at North High a few years back, with Taylor and Bridget being 2 of the jurors. I’ve also seen it at the Civic Center with Richard Thomas as the lead. It’s a great dramatic production and makes you really think about doubt!

I’m sure you’ve studied the “reasonable person” standard, please share any good legal case stories! Thank you for reading, and just a little more, here’s the link to my disclaimer because I’d like you to read it, too. Let me know what I can do to help you help your client, especially with a case that’s going to trial!

___________________

 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Cross Examination is Like Playing Ms. Pac-Man & I Like it!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

I know that a good attorney who excels at cross examining an expert witness is thoroughly knowledgeable of their case. There’s volumes of information and data that needs to be absorbed and analyzed before going to court! 

You my attorney reader, use intuition and instinct to discover weak points in the witness’ presentation, and in a fair and calm manner, formulate and ask clear questions to elicit precise information. This requires patience and self-control, especially when you’re working on the spot! Job well done!

I’ve been a vocational expert witness during workers’ compensation court proceedings about 12 times over the last 16 years. I have served in courtrooms (mostly conference rooms with a workers’ compensation deputy commissioner presiding) with up to eight people present.  Recently, I’ve also testified in divorce court proceedings, personal injury and medical malpractice cases. For a copy of my most recent litigation history, please inquire and I’ll be happy to provide it to you.

From my side of the stand, I better be familiar with rough courtroom conditions!

I’ve experienced verbal assaults on my work, my credentials, my vocation, and even my personality (I’m too nice, huh? hahaha!!) by the opposing attorney. I learned a lot from prior mistakes but I learn even more from recent successes.

I remember my first court appearance many moons ago. I was the primary job placement specialist on a case when the opposing attorney stabbed my body language in an erroneous and made up way.  Because there was nothing to see because human bodies speak for themselves, he undermined his credibility not mine. And I remember that well.

Image result for old fart cartoonI have no idea what the old fart was trying to do, but the judge didn’t care for it either!

I remember another court case  (this was in Council Bluffs) that involved typical cross examination, starting out with repeating basic questions to get different responses from me…then the pressure was applied! I used first-hand knowledge and communication skills to respond to his questions, remaining true to my convictions while expressing strong belief in my work.

Hopefully I revealed to everyone in the room that being confident, calm and polite is a respectful way to answer difficult questions (even personal attacks). The judge on this case was newly appointed at that time. I don’t know the decision nor have I reviewed the transcripts on that case. I suppose decisions and transcripts could help me to some degree, but I don’t ever have direct access to them plus to me it’s likely they are not pertinent to any future case other than learning from miscue or miscommunication errors.

My goal as an expert witness is to win over the people in the courtroom.

To prepare for cross, I think of all the factors that may arise on a case and pay close to attention to what I want to say about 5 to 7 main issues or circumstances most likely at the meat of the matter, commonly being extent of loss of earnings. I realize the cross examiner will try very hard to prove his or her theory of the case, while devaluing mine. The opposing attorney wants to discredit me, and will eat away at any potential weakness in what I said or reported.

I really am pretty good at Ms. Pac-Man! Wanna play?

Ms Pac-Man

I rely on my expertise, research on disability and rehabilitation, objective evidence, direct placement experiences, the principles of ergonomics along with the provision of reasonable accommodation to help determine an individual’s work potential.

I understand how worker profile changes may impact access to the labor market and wage earning capacity. I can respond creatively by highlighting the constructive and favorable strengths of how my work brings successful results and focus on the positive nature of change, motivation, and choice.

I educate everyone in the courtroom about the scope of my practice and how it works when the individual agrees with my approach. Most importantly, I match people within their own world of work which takes time, attention and a great appreciation for the jobs people do everyday.

Image result for jobs cartoon

Need help with your litigated case involving work and disability? Let me know what you see as the most important aspects of the case and I’ll let you know if I believe I’m the right person to help you help your client.  I’ll view my  interests, do a conflict of interest check and consider whether or not the case is in my area of expertise. And keep in mind I work on both sides of the fence!  Need an expert?  Contact me and thank you for reading.

___________________

 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Rights of the Expert Witness ~ I’ll Take a Veggie Slice, Please

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Rights of the Expert Witness

expert

I continually assess and evaluate (there I go again!) my rights, values, professionalism, and of course ethics (which I really enjoy!?!) and am hopeful to write more on these topics and my career in the field of forensic rehabilitation counseling.

As far as rights, I found this great listing online (website is referred to below), and yes I added the graphics! I agree with the following essential considerations for taking on the role of expert witness:

  1. I have the right to be paid for my work.  Dream of Getting Paid
  2. I have the right to be prepped in advance of my testimony.
  3. I have the right to ask questions about the case.
  4. I have the right to work for either side, without fear of retribution.
  5. I have the right to change my opinion from previous testimony, as long as my opinion is evolving (based on new information, science and/or experience) rather than revolving (based on which side I’m working for). 
  6. I have the right to say “I don’t know”, if in fact, I don’t know. Just because I’m the expert doesn’t mean I have all the answers. I am clearly okay to say “I’m sorry, that’s outside my scope of practice”.
  7. I have the right to solicit objective feedback about my testimony from  the attorney who has called (and of course, they have the right to  decline to give it).
  8. I have the right to set limits with counsel about the scope of my testimony. 
  9. I have the right to disagree with another expert’s practices or  conclusions, even when I perceive that expert to be: a.) more educated;  b.) more famous; or c.) more experienced. 
  10. I have the right to disregard the initial instinct to view opposing counsel’s expert as the enemy, but instead recognize everyone’s role in the process and share pizza and a bottle of wine with that expert after trial is over.

Pizza

 Truly, It’s All Good Work!

I am glad my career continually evolves! I accept responsibility when providing forensic vocational services to be clear, truthful and comprehensive in my evaluation and report products, and in my role as an expert witness. Thank you for reading!

Please contact me Amy Botkin for more information ~ 515-282-7753 or vocresources@gmail.com

I’ll take a veggie slice and a glass of Chardonnay please. You?

Source for Rights: http://www.forensichealth.com/2011/07/13/10-things-the-fho-expert-witness-bill-of-rights/

___________________

 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

“Somebody Call for An Expert?” I’ll Answer That Call!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I’ve written about my fondness for Eeyore and want you to know I’m a bit attached to Gopher as well, especially when he comes to the rescue! You’ve heard the story when Pooh eats too much honey (honey is often on Pooh’s mind) at Rabbit’s place, gets rotund, and subsequently gets stuck in Rabbit’s front door.

Rabbit is not happy and help is needed! Gopher recommends using dynamite, and he’s an expert with that subject, but Pooh isn’t so hot on the idea. If dynamite was needed, Gopher was ready for the rescue! I’ll answer just like Gopher but am not an expert in dynamite, I am in forensic rehabilitation consulting!

Gopher

Popping out, Gopher exclaims “Somebody call for an expert?!” 

After thinking it through, Pooh, with assistance from his friendly team, realizes how to get unstuck. He agrees with Christopher Robin’s recommendations to patiently wait until he gets thin. Time passes, and it works (he gets thin!), however, he still needs a good jolt to move through the door. The team is successful and Pooh ends up in a happy place…filled with honey! 

Honey! Yummy! Related image

I hope you appreciate this Pooh story. I, too, use my expertise to help out in complex cases. I also hope you realize that a good expert has more than expertise that you can appreciate! 

I strive to educate others in a clear manner and explain a complex  subject to a lay audience in simple terms.  It’s important for me to stand up under questioning (here’s a post on intimidation), commit to my opinion, and stay within my area of expertise. Thankfully, all my training including my background in Community Health Education helps!  And you know what else, a good expert like me cares. I love my career, and deeply care for my work.   

When I made an executive decision to study forensic rehabilitation counseling at George Washington University (back on April 15, 2013), I initially felt a bit overwhelmed but focused on following through with the decision, complete the course, and graduate (which I did on August 15, 2014 ). The program taught me more about courtroom testimony and issues as they relate to personal injury, medical malpractice, life care planning, marital dissolution, product liability, and catastrophic injury cases.

The GWU forensic rehab graduate certificate takes about a year and half to complete and is similar to when I committed myself….ha ha, and completed the Life Care Planning certificate program in 2011 through the University of Florida.

My goal for completing yet another educational program allowed me to gain valuable insight on how to function more effectively, efficiently and confidently within the legal system. Although most of the coursework is online, visiting Washington DC is always awesome!  

When labeled “a firecracker” by a classmate during our 15th class reunion, I had to look up what that meant!

Yes, I realize I can be a bit firecracker-like, mostly because I’m a bold individual and will do what I have to do to accomplish my goals. There’s plenty of satisfying work to accomplish and life constantly moves forward at a really swift pace so it’s important to not slow down. I work hard for my customers, for myself and for my family.

I believe it’s always beneficial for lawyers and experts to spend time getting to know each other. Yep, attorneys think differently than counselors. So, please let’s spend a little quality time together before we meet in a courtroom! It will truly prove beneficial. You’ll find I’m a genuine person who truly cares about serving as an expert in the field and am willing to offer my voice to help you help your client.  Give me, Amy Botkin, a call at 515-282-7753. Thank you for reading!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

 

Employment Discrimination and Help With a Litigation Fix!

Reading Time: 4 minutes

As a vocational expert, I can help sort out the consequences of employment discrimination cases in many ways and from “both sides of the fence”.  To me, this phrase means I will be fully instrumental to help serve your client without falling off and hurting the case because I have a full grasp of what I’m on to. To accomplish this goal, I balance your case with your client’s story and use all my instincts and brain power…kinda like a cat!

Black Cat on FenceCats’ tails are instrumental in balance!

Cats’ tails serve as a counterbalance when cats walk on narrow spaces, such as fences. However, one of my felines from long ago, (Max 1987 – 2002) was a Manx, henceforth no tail but he was well able to manage cat life with his strong body shape in every way! I asked my vet, and yes, even cats with amputated tails have proven to re-learn how to balance.

Employment discrimination cases need plenty of proof and evidence. Loss of salary, loss of benefits, and lengthy unemployment can be quantified pretty easily. Other qualitative issues are more difficult to assert. For example, if there is a claim the loss of job adversely impacts income and questions surface regarding economic realities, I can help with educating the individual on how to engage in a meaningful and productive job search, or I can assess the extent, quality, and reasonableness of a current job search. It is important to keep employer attitudes towards hiring an individual terminated from previous employment in mind.

Further, I can help to determine the impact on earning potential and perform a beneficial vocational assessment and evaluation that provides data, and offers qualitative detail such as, for example ~

  • results of a labor market survey providing local job availability along with wages and benefits associated with those jobs
  • qualifications for a variety of  jobs in a person’s labor market
  • vocational training options following the discrimination or termination

I can also help uncover whether or not a good cause for termination of employment existed. That’s why documenting real time employer and/or employee comments prove helpful to sort out the nuances of the case. I’ll take a deep look at a behavior or situation that any reasonable person agrees would or would not warrant discharge. I can help determine the ramifications of ~

  • Attendance
  • Dishonesty
  • Endangerment of health and safety*
  • Illegal conduct
  • Insubordination
  • Personality/attitude problems
  • Poor interaction with subordinates
  • Work performance and productivity
  • Violation of work policies and rules

*If disability is involved in the case, under the employment provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act (Title I of the ADA), I can assess for qualifications, physical demands and work-related attributes; and identify reasonable accommodation(s). Keep in mind, I believe that for every disability there is some form of assistive technology to allow continued employment. Most times there is more than one way to do a job!

If necessary, I can provide expert testimony to help prove the loss of job was or was not accountable, understandable, or reasonable. Do you have a case where I might help? Give me a call and let’s talk! I hope you’ll find our conversation interesting (I can give you a couple recent case examples). And if you like cats, let me know why, really! And if you don’t like ‘em, I really want to know why!

DudeCats have other unique advantages besides their beloved / not so loved personalities.

If falling (which doesn’t happen much based on my own personal cat ownership research) a cat’s head twists to inform the brain exactly how to restore alignment in a millisecond and a perfect landing is guaranteed!

16 Claws

 

If a cat falls from a porous surface, 18 hooked claws do their work in an instant!

Do I have you more interested in cats or my work as a vocational expert!?!

Felix Feeling Loving 5-30-2010

Felix (2002 – 2015)

I very much miss my Felix. As mostly a cool outdoor cafe’ kitty, you were quite a lover! Felix shared his feline life with me through many a fix (both his and mine) over the years.  Keep me (and Felix with his secret bag of tricks) in mind to help in dubious or even in basic situations involving employment discrimination. I definitely can help your case through a litigation fix & thank you for reading my blog post!

Vocational Resources Plus, LLC * 515-282-7753  * VocResources@gmail.com

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 My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.

Need A Good Report? Rebut No Matter What!

Reading Time: 5 minutes

I was taught that vocational report writing is a very powerful form of communication and can influence the degree of success for the individual for whom it was written.  I love to communicate through the written word and have written many, many, reports! Blog posts too!

So this blog is to be sure you, my Attorney Reader, know I’m here to help critique and/or rebut a report that may cross your desk.  Image result for report

How many people do you know who really love to write reports? I do! It’s not that the report writing process is easy, it’s a challenge!!

Let me ask: Have you ever read (or tried to decipher) a vocational report that doesn’t make sense?  Is the report ambiguous and difficult to read? Does the person it was written for understand it? Do you understand it? Is it possible the report can be defended? Or should the report be ripped apart, piece by piece to get to its’ nuts and bolts? Need a critique or a rebuttal? I’m here to help!

Rebut No Matter What! 

Bull

This was my husband Randy’s Grandpa Cliff Yearington’s Bull. Cliff knew a lot about Bulls & Bulls*** too. 

Loosen, take apart and re-assemble that poorly prepared report. Will it fall apart or simple wobble on? A poorly prepared report stresses difficulties but doesn’t offer much information about solutions. It talks about weaknesses rather than strengths; deficits and negatives rather than pluses and positives. It seeks to make threats rather than suggest changes. It uses multiple words, unclear statistics, and a slick method to confuse rather than clarify.KeepitSimple

Simply, it’s not helpful to write an entire vocational report about how bad off the person is, especially without mentioning plans to help make a positive impact on the individual’s life.

I love to comb through reports and make all attempts to uncover what the contents say to the reader.  Just because it’s a report doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to make sense! A report still needs to flow, tell a story, describe details and make valid and reasonable conclusions.

Here’s a sentence commonly found in reports from the same vocational person that I’ve been asked to rebut. [Keep in mind this long line comes after results of testing are provided within the report, but they are not explained at all!]

It is important to note that the purpose of all vocational testing done and reported here is to compare an individual’s current performance with their past performance as documented by their education, training, experience, and the standard worker trait factors associated with that history.

Say what? What does this run-on sentence mean?  The writer is using testing to compare performance? Did the evaluee’s past performance have anything to do with the testing administered? Did this person take the same tests throughout their work history? And then the paragraph continues…

 It is NOT correct to confuse an individual’s current test performance with performance in work prior to injury, as current performance is likely affected by the sequelae of disability.

Okay, now who is confused? The test taker? The person administering the test? I’ll tell you who….the reader!Related image The reader is easily confused by a poorly prepared report! Don’t be a confused reader! It’ll get you nowhere!

My initial question regarding this vocational report scenario, maybe helping to avoid confusion from the get go, is WHY were EACH of the specific testing instruments administered at all to this specific person? What is the rationalization for administration? The vocational person who wrote the report does not come close to answering these questions. To be ethically sound, administer testing only with a direct and relative reason to do so. 

I’ve written a professional report about my opinion on ethics and use of testing in vocational evaluations. Please contact me for a copy of the report. If you are my contact on LinkedIn, you’ll find it there readily available for now.

The underlying use of testing results to try to prove a person is permanently and totally disabled raises many ethical questions. Would you want that for yourself?

A test, really, a series of tests that I was forced to take, I didn’t understand, and simply put I didn’t want to take…those results determine my fate? Absolutely ridiculous! Results of testing are meant to assist a person for true and valid reasons…..not to paint a picture of “post injury residual vocational potential”

Image result for testing cartoon

Would you like to take ~ 10 tests in a single sitting? No!

Without testing, evaluation is merely speculative

Really now? I’ve helped to place literally hundreds of people without administering testing! And many other placement people do too! If you understand the persons skills and match them with jobs in the local labor market, there’s a match!

Yes, of course I use certain standardized tests and self-assessments to help people when it is appropriate for reasons directly related to their placement goals, but that isn’t all I use during a vocational evaluation! I gather knowledge and assess many other areas involving work, interests, skills, aptitudes and lifestyle to help. I do not rely on only the use of test results!

Back to report writing, which is a very specialized skill; and I continuously study, practice and improve upon my own writing skills. As a professional writer, I never stop training! I think I gained natural talent from my Grandpa Jack, a journalist!

Image result for writing

When I’m writing, I get very absorbed! My office cat will testify to that!

Again, do you need a critique or a rebuttal? I’m Your Person to Help!

If your opinion on a case doesn’t mesh at all with the report on your desk, please contact me to help sort out the discrepancies. Keep in mind, I know opinions are just that, opinions.  And reports are meant to answer questions, not raise more!

I also want you to keep in mind that if you believe in the truth, there’s a way to show it. Contact me for expert testimony and witness services, too! Oh, and I definitely can rebut a life care plan as well! Thank you for reading this post!

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My professional rehabilitation counseling practice is focused on helping people participate in the world around them, particularly in their own world of work.