As the primary source of information in your own case, you are likely to be an active participant in the process of recovering workers’ compensation benefits, including participating in a deposition and testifying at your hearing. After all, you know what caused the injury, where you were hurt, and how your recovery has been progressing.
There is practically an art form for depositions. Being deposed can be nerve-wracking, but your attorney will prepare you to avoid common traps that the insurance company may set.
What Is a Deposition?
A deposition is a legal procedure where a witness, in this case, the injured worker, is questioned under oath by the opposing attorney. The purpose of a workers’ comp deposition is to gather information from the injured worker, under oath, that will be used in the workers’ compensation case. This could include the injured worker’s account of the accident, their medical treatment and recovery, their current limitations, and other topics we will cover in this article.
Depositions are an important part of the discovery process, so you want to be well-prepared — everything that is said can be used as evidence in the case.
Logistics of the Deposition
Understanding the process can help you remain calm, cool, and collected during your deposition.
Your workers’ comp deposition will likely take place in an attorney’s office. Sometimes it is located at your attorney’s office, but it could also be at the opposing attorney’s office. Those in attendance will include you and your lawyer, the opposing lawyer, and a court reporter.
The court reporter’s job is to record everything that you and the two attorneys say, word for word. This is important to keep in mind because the transcript from your deposition is likely to become evidence at your hearing.
Before any questioning starts, the court reporter will swear you in, and you will verify that everything you are about to say is the truth. Then, the attorney asking you questions will likely explain the deposition process to you. They will explain the role of the court reporter and the importance of answering everything verbally (i.e., no head nodding or “uh huh”).
Listen carefully to these rules because you will be reminded if you violate them.
Guidelines To Keep in Mind
The primary point you should remember is that you are testifying under oath. That means that you are legally and ethically obligated to tell the truth. You should answer every question to the best of your knowledge, without guessing or speculating, even if that answer is “I don’t know.”
The following are a few more general guidelines to keep in mind when answering questions:
- Listen and wait before answering
- Do not volunteer information, only answer the question that was asked
- Do not share information about conversations you have had with your lawyer as these are confidential
- If you feel overly stressed or begin to panic, pause and take a deep breath to collect yourself
Having a skilled workers’ compensation attorney by your side to prepare you for the deposition can give you the confidence you need during this process.
Once the attorney covers the ground rules, they will begin to get into the merits of your case. That includes asking you questions about the topics below:
- Your education
- Your prior work history
- Your job duties
- Your family situation
- Hobbies and interests
- Details about the accident
- Your prior related injuries or health
- Treatment following the accident
- Current limitations because of the accident
Most workers’ comp depositions will not stray far from this list of topics. However, there are situations where the attorney may ask you something strange or irrelevant. Your attorney will object to inappropriate or confusing questions and is there to support you throughout the deposition process.
Remember: don’t try to go in alone. Your attorney is a valuable resource and your strongest ally for benefits. With the right legal partner by your side, your deposition will be a breeze and you’ll be comfortably recovering from your work injury in no time.