Emotional Intelligence and Expert Testimony…Stay in the Ship!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I want to touch a bit more on emotional intelligence from a previous blog on the subject of EQ. Basically, emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive emotions in yourself and sense the emotional needs in others. I study this interpersonal skill and certainly am not an emotional master, but I constantly challenge myself to control any “miffed” (annoying) emotions that are connected to stressful situations.

Miffed?  Mad? Upset? Irritated?  Jittery?  Soft?  Antsy?  Optimistic?  All the Above?!?!

For example, when I’ve been on the witness stand in court (serving as an expert in my field of vocational rehabilitation), I’ve experienced verbal assaults on my work, my credentials, and even my vocation (don’t even go there buddy…), by the opposing attorney. This of course is stressful!

However, because I know myself well and have thee highest regard for what I do for a living, I am able to calmly turn mean and rude statements into mush (metaphorically in my mind where it matters!) You’d be surprised how effective a concerned look and a calm statement or simple facial expression saying, “I hope you realize how that sounded” can be.

 

Mush you say??? Yuck. Get Out of Here. No Way Would I Ever Eat That.

Seriously though, emotions can turn into enemies if they get in your way during certain times in your life (like on the witness stand!). I like to think of emotions as waves. A storm has rushed in, the winds are fierce, and the lake is churning up white caps. THESE ARE THE EMOTIONS – the things that get us disturbed, all riled up and self-absorbed.  We liked the calm…

Emotional waves get in your way!

Now think, the storm will blow over and the lake will calm down. During the slowdown of the storm, the waves are just big, and in fact can be quite beautiful. THESE ARE YOUR THOUGHTS – and now you connect with the outside world….and to other people easily.

Calm those waves down!

Now think of a peaceful lake.  Become aware of your own feelings and realize, hey ~ this is what makes me special, my stuff really is helpful and I am good at stilling the waves. Calm yourself down right when the lake’s current does too. Now there is no distinction between yourself and the environment. You become a part of it. Everything clicks. The world is safe….and you are alive! (yet potentially still on that witness stand!)

“I know that I know that I know!”

Understanding the effects of wind, waves and currents is not an easy subject to master. Waves (humans who may be intent on verbal attacks) behave differently under a large variety of different conditions.

So to be familiar with all, or at least rough water conditions, a professional seaman (or how about an expert witness such as myself?!), uses knowledge and skills to confidently control the ship through to the calm following the storm. That’s what it takes to be a good expert witness. I’m here to help you help your client. 

In another blog, I continue with another element of emotional intelligence ~ EI ~ stay in the ship!

___________________

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

Intimidators: Tailgaters, Drunken Jerks or Glaring Attorneys? Need an Expert? I’m Here to Help!

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Remember the last time someone tried to intimidate you? How about when a person (for example, that careless tailgater or the drunk in the same beer line as you) may think they can make another person do something or react in some way? Exceed the posted speed limit ~ NOPE! Pay attention to public intoxication ~ NOT INTERESTED! or say something to the drunken jerk ~ NO WAY!uckr cup

Go ahead be one, I don’t care! 

During cross examination in the past, I’ve received a pretty mean looking facial expression/glaring eyes/stare down/stern voice/condescending attitude and a critical tone to the long litany of questions arising from the mouth of an attorney on a workers’ compensation court case. I knew this attorney was trying hard to intimidate me. Go ahead, try!

But, I answered all questions calmly. P.S. ~ I love it when the attorney can’t even remember what was asked and has to refer to the court reporter! I stuck to my guns (aka: my knowledge base) during my testimony, and talked about what I knew about.  I knew what I knew.

mmI know, bring it on!

I’ve never been intimidated much by people (places, things or even animals either for that matter). Okay, okay, I am intimidated by Mother Nature, a force to be feared, and treated with utmost respect e specially when she zoome a mesocyclone or other tornado-like activity my way.  I’ll never forget the evergreen tree in my front yard crash down on the car in my neighbor’s driveway during a mesocyclone many summers ago. The storm was in full fury just as I was peeling away in our minivan to get my two youngest children who were about 1/2 mile away at a park for a daycamp.

Image result for cyclone cartoonI have always been able to speak my mind (ask anyone who knows me) and yes it’s gotten me in a pickle or two from time to time (just like my dad!). I try to express what’s on my mind being mindful of who I’m communicating with, the content of my speech/body language, and the context of how/when my message is delivered.  In other words, I’m not the type of person who “blows up” or “blabs” and I definitely don’t overshare!  

I do tend to speed up my talking and need to watch that so I don’t sound nervous, however that is a natural consequence of my hard wired fight and flight response! I read the “butterflies in your stomach” occur as blood from digestive system is redirected. (So I try to eat healthy before a court date!) 

PeacockThere is truly a difference between a cocky person and a confident person!

When on the witness stand, my role is to explain what I did on a case so the judge understands; and ultimately educate the jury on why what I did was important to the case.  I accept confidence with the work I do. My role  allows me to serve as an expert witness & educator all while consulting within the scope of my practice. I keep a placement, rehabilitation, and quality of life orientation at the forefront of any topic. 

Every day, I learn more about how to help others.  My Attorney Reader, please know I am here to help you help your client.  Give me a call and brief me on your case involving work and disability (or just work, or just disability), whatever it may be I’m interested to hear about it! 

___________________

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

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!

___________________

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

Blending Art and Science…to Help Litigated Cases!

Reading Time: 5 minutes

I’m intrigued about the “difference” between art and science. It’s easy to say art is subjective while science is objective. Fundamentally art expresses knowledge, while science is the system of acquiring knowledge. Yet in many ways art and science are actually connected and related to each other.

Amy & Randy July 17, 2011

Kinda like a couple with waaay cheap sunglasses! 

Randy and I have more differences than similarities. Or do we? Let’s look at a few basic facts:

We often prod each other of our differences. I prefer pepper, while he does salt. Me ketchup, he mustard. He likes corn, me peas. I love apples, he prefers oranges. He likes vanilla ice cream, me chocolate. Hot peppers *me! versus no way to hot peppers *he! I really could go on and on about our taste differences! By the way, I’m a vegetarian! Not Randy!

KetchupMustard

But what about our important similarities (that have nothing to do with food)!

Our similarities matter the most. Like how we: Approach life. Share our faith. Explore our world together. Use our resources. Create options. Solve problems. Work hard. Lovingly care for our 3 young adult children. Spoil the pets.  There we meet; well we try hard to meet! 

Keep in mind Randy is much more serious than I. The better descriptor is probably straight-laced (kinda), not one to bend (that many) rules, and he likes to go by the book (mostly).  He prefers to follow instructions, a map, or a detailed plan (he designs power points before we go on a road trip)! And me, well I make my mind up where to go when the time is right for me! But I don’t get lost!

Randy is a teacher with a bachelor degree in Art ~ a BA and he has a ME  ~ Master in Education. I am a counselor with a bachelor degree in Science ~ BS, and my MS is again in Science. But wait!! When it comes to teaching or counseling what really is the difference between art and science when expressing knowledge in real life?

I would say the main difference between art and science is that art is more focused on the perception of the world through the eyes of a particular individual. Art involves an emotional response, and can be based on personal experience, opinions, preferences, and individual perceptions. Look at a painting and we all see something different!

Art elicits an emotional response while science doesn’t (at least for most people I know)!

Image result for painting

Science, on the other hand, is regimented and systemic with rules, procedures, and policies to follow. When people perform scientific investigations, the purpose or goal is to find an answer to something in a very planned out and specific way using the scientific method. Easier said than done, and requires planning with purpose and planning with options.

Image result for beauty in the eye“Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder”

Look at a cell under a microscope and you are supposed to see the exact same thing (assuming you know what you’re looking at) as the next microscope user. BTW, I never could really “see” what my microbiology partner at ISU saw, but I did get excited (an emotion!!) when he said I was close!

I found other ways to look at the topic of blending art and science:

Image result for curveballBaseball pitchers use the science of physics when throwing a curve ball, but actually throwing a good curve is an art form.

Or perhaps medicine is an easier example.  Image result for medicineMedical practice is both an art and a science.  The two can not be separated without destabilizing the system. Do you want physical treatment without discussing what your psychological needs are?

A couple lives on the art of marriage AND the science of marriage. And a rehabber relies on the art and science of rehabilitation! There is a balance, although it certainly can tip often.

The balance is found in creating the work of art marriage / or the work of art rehabilitation is supposed to be, digging your heels in and applying the science of either of these (marriage/rehabilitation) when times get rough. I’m not a marriage counselor, I’m a rehabilitation counselor

So applying a sense of balance to my own work activities using art and science  to help you help your case sure makes sense to me!  My reports will not parse other’s reports, use wild statistics, or make blanket statements based on literature with no direct relationship to the individual’s  health condition and/or future work.

In my reports, I will make sense of what I believe to be the best options for your case and focus on connecting the results of my research to support my helpful recommendations and conclusion. This is blending art and science in a meaningful way. This is helping you help your client. This is why I do my work.

I appreciate the sound of blending art and science!  

I can help you with your case involving work and disability, the employment aspects of a divorcing couple, or a case involving the need for life care planning

Additionally, let me know how I could help you with a case with conflicting opinions! There’s always a way to blend the best and come to the truth.

Give me a call at 515-282-7753 for a free initial consultation. 

___________________

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.

___________________

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, May 28th, 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, independent 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.

___________________

 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!

___________________

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

 

Medical Practice and Procedures…It Happens, Things Go Wrong. Need Help with a MedMal case?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

[Original post date: March 29, 2018] Time for a health update blog, a personal one, difficult to write with a mix of questions and a couple stories about medical practice and procedures. The point is my attorney reader, I want you to think about me as a forensic rehabilitation consultant, and how I can help you help your client who is involved in a medical malpractice lawsuit!

Randy’s heart took a detour late last summer, 2017 when the ticker was running really fast.  Randy doesn’t participate in races (I’m the competitive one!), but his heart sure was! He does however donate blood on a regular basis. In fact, he was donating early on a Saturday morning (he’s donated 14 gallons according to the sticker on our front door!) when the nurse at the blood center told Randy she thought his pulse was “strange.” His precious blood was still drawn (double reds)!  

Randy is a popular Type A- donor.  

Questioning here ??? Should the nurse have continued with the blood draw knowing the pulse was “strange?” Well, she did! Luckily, no harm done. When Randy got home (rode his bike at what speed I don’t know! to/from his blood donation date which is common cuz he’s an avid biker!), I took his pulse and in fact, it truly was “not right”.

A couple days later, he had a doctor appointment (I scheduled it out of wifely concern); and sure enough, we got tachycardia…going 144 bpm. This means a cardiologist is needed. BTW, thank you to the nurse at the blood center for catching this.

Following an array of testing, diagnostic procedures, and preparations, he received an ablation early November 2017. Thank God it worked! Randy’s back down to a regular beating heart and a normal pulse (his BP was never a concern.)

His cardiologist did an excellent job and Randy was back riding his bike in a short period of time. He wasn’t happy to be told not to ride! In fact, I know he disobeyed his doctor’s orders one day.

We expect our doctor to always be right. We expect our nurse to always be right. We expect all our health care providers to always be right. We in fact, expect our bodies’ to become “right” whenever we receive treatment in the medical field.

But things can go wrong and a patient can become injured during the course of treatment. That’s why we have attorneys to help, right!?! And yes of course we expect our attorney to always be right, too!

“Dr. NeverWrong”, the cardiologist who performed the ablation on my husband’s heart has this nickname! Charlie the RN, one of Randy’excellent nurses while hospitalized told me of this nickname and the fact that the cardiologist has a fan base (being only one of few docs in town we were told who performs ablations).  Because the doctor was humble, gracious, and ever so respectful, I’m sure he would not want to be called  Dr. NeverWrong! Can you guess who I’m referring to? What? Attorneys don’t guess! 

Okay, now on to me. Recently, I was involved in a medical situation which could be worthy of a claim. How do you help your clients decide whether to file a claim? If there’s been harm done? Here’s the abbreviated personal story. 

Image result for patient gown cartoonWhen preparing for a mammogram last October 2017 (sitting quietly in a heated gown!) and waiting for the machine set up, I informed the technician of an unusual skin issue I was experiencing thinking it was poison ivy. I’ve had my share of poison ivy issues, even a four day hospitalization for a severe case in the past (contacted through an outdoor camp fire.) Watch out when you burn wood, my reaction was horrible. Anyway, the technician dismissed my concern and we went ahead with the mammogram.

To not go into detail  uggh ; [   I ended up with a severe skin condition I believe was spread by the mammography machine.  Let it be known I truly love big machines, (especially cranes), yet this large machine is not one of my favorites following what I experienced.

I was absolutely miserable and the condition lasted too long. I ended up going to the ER once on a Sunday and urgent care twice during the weeks that followed. I made these visits because I couldn’t stand the physical and emotional toil…and my doctor’s office wasn’t open at the time of my needs!  Not until I went back to my personal MD to finally get the correct diagnosis and a prescription did I begin to feel a little better.  

Image result for skin cartoonBut the prescription did NOT help and in fact the condition worsened. I literally had to just wait this one out and deal over time with the largest organ in my system: the skin. I was so distraught I even sought mental health care. I’m okay now, thank you! Whew!

I didn’t file a claim, should’ve/could’ve I? The time, energy, money and definitely my mental health was compromised and consumed in a fashion that I certainly didn’t choose. The only time I have filed a legal claim was when my parents sued the railroad for their negligence leading to my car/train collision and subsequent injuries, hospitalization and rehabilitation (there’s much to this personal story).

I think the key into what makes or doesn’t make a person seek a lawyer when they think they’ve been wronged has to do with respect (or lack of) by a medical provider. Of course, everyone makes mistakes. But negligence, followed by covering up issues and not telling the truth is where the wrongs and not the rights come in to play.  That’s not where I come in just yet, that’s where you, the attorney is on the field. I enter the game by sorting out what the plaintiff needs and the costs of those needs.

If you need a life care plan for a client who has filed a medical malpractice claim, please contact me.  Following a needs assessment and subsequent life care plan, my recommendations are grounded in rehabilitation. I’m not saying I’m always right myself.  But I will tell you I care and I will do what I can do to help you help your client.

Please don’t contact me if you will act more like the red devil lawyer on the left. Sorry, I’m not interested in helping. However, if you are a good attorney like the white angel on the right who truly cares about your clients, contact me! I’m here to help!

 

___________________

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