Common Questions in Workers’ Comp Cases – Part 3 – Depositions

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Common Questions in Workers’ Comp Cases – Part 3 – Depositions

What is a deposition?

A deposition is a pretrial legal process where attorneys ask witnesses questions under oath in the presence of a court reporter. In the context of a workers’ compensation claim, legal counsel for the insurance company or the employer will ask relevant questions of the injured worker.

How long does a deposition take?

The length of a workers’ compensation deposition will depend on the extent of your injuries and medical treatment. Most work injury depositions will last about one to two hours, but could last longer.

Who will be present in the deposition?

At a minimum, the people attending the deposition will include a court reporter, attorney for the insurance company or employer, the injured worker, the injured workers’ attorney if the injured worker has retained the services of a workers’ compensation law firm, and occasionally an employer representative. Potential witnesses and attorneys representing other affected party’s interests may also be present, but a judge is present only if the Board orders the deposition to be completed before a judge, which is rare.

How should I prepare for a deposition?

Prior to any deposition, you should meet with your attorney.  Your attorney will provide advice and guidance to some of the questions that could be asked in your deposition.  In general, you should be familiar with the facts of your claim, including the circumstances that led to your injury and the medical treatment you have received so far.  You should not review any documents to prepare for your deposition unless you are advised by your attorney to do so.

What questions might be asked?

Attorneys are given wide latitude by law to ask deposition questions. They may include any matter that is relevant to your case we well, as well as matters which may reasonably lead the attorney to relevant information. Generally speaking, the attorney will typically ask questions about your employment background, your medical and accident or injury history, about the injuries involved in the current claim, medical treatment received, time lost from work, the level of your pain and discomfort, and your limitations, if any, in activities due to your injuries. Your attorney may object to questions the attorney deems improper in order to preserve your rights at trial, but generally speaking you may answer the question after your attorney raises the objection as long as your attorney has not instructed you against answering the question.

How should I answer those questions?

Truthfully, to the best of your ability, and in as few words as possible. Even if answering a question truthfully seems like it would hurt your case, you are required by law to testify in a truthful manner. Providing false information during a deposition could lead to a criminal prosecution for perjury and insurance fraud, both felonies. Do not feel that you have to explain or justify your truthful answer; often a simple “yes’ or “no” will suffice. If you do not know the answer to a question, say so. Try to avoid answering any questions by guessing. Your attorney will provide further guidance during your deposition preparation.

Am I reimbursed for travel expenses?

Yes.  If the insurance company or employer requests a deposition, they are responsible for paying your travel expenses, including transportation costs, meals, and lodging.  They are also responsible for any wages lost as the result of your attendance.

What if I don’t have an attorney?

Opposing attorneys are asking you questions with the specific goal of reducing your workers’ compensation benefits.  They may ask questions designed to confuse you or ask leading questions designed to elicit information damaging to your case. Hiring a workers’ compensation law firm is the best way to ensure your legal rights are being protected in a deposition.  The Law Offices of Scott Warmuth helps injured workers obtain the benefits they are entitled to.  For a free consultation, call us today at 888-517-9888.

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