What to expect for your first workers’ compensation deposition
It’s not unusual in a workers’ compensation claim for the insurance company to require a deposition. A deposition is a recorded session in which witnesses are required to answer questions about what led to your workplace injury. It is highly likely that, as the injured person, you will be required to submit to a deposition.
Giving legal testimony can be stressful and frightening. But if you know what to expect, it can help keep you calm. If you’ve hired an Arizona workers’ compensation attorney to represent you, then part of their job is to help prepare you and answer questions you might have.
Before the deposition
Your lawyer should work with you prior to the deposition, possibly by providing you with sample questions the insurance company may ask and helping you craft your responses.
If you do not have a lawyer, go over all your notes and records to refresh your memory. Try to memorize what your injuries and symptoms were, the dates you missed work and any other issues that the insurance company may want to ask about.
In-person or video conference depositions
Some states now allow video options for depositions, although both sides must agree to this option.
In most cases, the deposition will take place in a conference room at the office of the insurance company or the law firm handling the deposition. Your lawyer, the lawyer for the insurance company and a court reporter will more than likely be in the room at the same time. There may also be someone from your company there as well.
Even though it may feel as if this is an informal setting, keep in mind that everything you say is being recorded by the court reporter and that you will be testifying under oath.
Types of information gathered during the deposition
Each case is different, but there are some commonly asked questions during depositions. You will be asked simple background information like your name, address, educational background, date of birth and work history. You may also be asked if you have a criminal record or if you have filed workers’ compensation claims in the past.
The other side’s attorney may ask about any prior injuries or illnesses. Keep in mind that a pre-existing condition does not necessarily make you ineligible for workers’ compensation.
Also, keep in mind that workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, so the questions about the actual incident are limited. However, if you are seeking compensation for repetitive movement injuries, infectious diseases or other illnesses, you may be asked more detailed questions. The attorney might ask about any treatments you have undergone and what limitations you are currently under.
Answering questions during the deposition
The first and most important rule is that you tell the truth. Because you are under oath, lying could result in a perjury charge against you, should the truth be discovered.
Next, try to let the lawyer ask the entire question before you answer. The question may not be what you think it is and you want to give your attorney time to object if the question is improper.
Although this may seem obvious, answer with words. In normal conversation, you may answer with “yeah” or “nah” rather than “yes” or “no.” But in a deposition, you want to use proper words. You also can’t use gestures, such as pointing to your arm if that is where the injury occurred. Instead, you want to actually say “my left arm.”
Do not embellish your answer. If you can answer with a simple “yes” or “no,” do so and allow your lawyer to provide additional details when they ask questions. If you do not understand the question, ask the attorney to explain. If you do not know the answer, state that you don’t know and avoid guessing at the correct answer.
Keep in mind that anything you have discussed with your attorney is private. If the lawyer asks about a conversation you had with your attorney, you are not required to answer. Most importantly, be polite, calm and clear. Even if the attorney makes you angry with their questions, do not lash out at them. If you feel yourself becoming angry or agitated, ask if you can take a short break.
After the deposition is over, you will receive a transcript and have an opportunity to make any corrections.
Questions and answers about compensation for a job-related accident, injury or illness in Arizona
Do I need to hire a lawyer to represent me?
If your employer or the insurance company is disputing anything about your claim, such as whether you were actually injured at work, if your treatments are necessary or whether you are truly disabled, it is highly likely they will hire an attorney who will insist on a deposition.
You should never handle a deposition on your own. Instead, hire an attorney who knows how to keep the insurance company from taking advantage of you during the process and who will advise you on how to handle the tough questions you will be asked.
If you have been injured at work and are facing a workers’ compensation deposition, contact the Law Offices of Robert E. Wisniewski to discuss some commonly asked questions about the process. You can also find additional tips on workers’ compensation depositions on our blog.