The deposition is one of the most important events in a worker’s compensation case.
If you’ve never been deposed before, you’re likely nervous about the process and what to expect. However, the best way to ease your nerves is with preparation and understanding of the procedure.
The workers’ compensation deposition process
The deposition will begin with a court reporter taking your oath. Everything you say will be recorded and documented. You must speak slowly and clearly. The deposition will consist of opposing counsel asking you several questions that you will be required to answer truthfully and to the best of your ability.
The purpose of the deposition is to provide opposing counsel with a better understanding of your claim by allowing opposing counsel to assess your claim’s strengths and weaknesses.
The following are 10 important tips for your deposition. Keep in mind that an experienced Arizona workers’ compensation attorney like Robert Wisniewski, Benjamin Manion, or Javier Grajeda can personally provide you with more thorough and detailed preparation prior to your deposition.
1. Always tell the truth. You will be under oath at the deposition, so you must be truthful. If you make statements under oath at your hearing that are contrary to what you stated under oath at your deposition, your statements from the deposition may be used to impeach your credibility. This will result in the judge not believing future testimony from you.
2. Listen to the question. Answer as briefly and concisely as possible. If you’re not asked about a matter, don’t bring it up voluntarily during your deposition. Although it’s easy to ramble or speak too much when you feel nervous or passionate about your claim, you must listen to the question being asked and answer the question directly. Don’t volunteer information, even if you feel it’s helpful to your case. The opposing counsel may use your statements as ammunition against you later.
3. Take a deep breath. Think about the question before answering. It’s important to completely understand the question and prepare your answer before you provide an answer. Remember to be as brief as possible.
4. Don’t make up answers. If you don’t remember something, then say so. You don’t have to answer something that you do not have knowledge about. You are only required to testify about things that you personally heard, felt or observed. Don’t speculate or assume.
5. Don’t argue with opposing counsel. Although opposing counsel might try to make you upset or angry, don’t let them provoke you. Some attorneys intentionally attempt to get plaintiffs riled up during depositions so that they accidentally say something that damages their case. Remain calm and continue to answer only the questions asked. Be polite and continue to be as brief as possible.
6. Embrace awkward silence. There will often be moments of silence in between questions. Don’t use this as an opportunity to provide additional information, even if you think it’s important to your claim. This isn’t the time to discuss your pain, or why your employer owes you money. Sit patiently and wait for the next question.
7. Avoid memorization. Don’t try to memorize your testimony. It’s best to listen to the question being asked and think about your answer before speaking.
8. Answer only what you remember. Don’t answer something contrary to your recollection. For example, if you’re asked when the work accident occurred and you remember the specific date was July 23, then answer simply “July 23.” You do not need to specify if it was morning or afternoon unless asked to do so. If you don’t remember the exact date but remember the week or month that the incident occurred, then state only that. Otherwise, say that you don’t remember.
9. Don’t agree with everything the opposing counsel says. The opposing counsel may phrase questions with “You would agree that…” or “You think … right?” Be mindful about these questions and don’t let opposing counsel put you in a position where you have to agree.
10. Wait to speak with your attorney in private. If you remember new information or realize you have a question for your attorney, wait until there is a break or request a break so that you can speak in private—and off the record—with your attorney.