Do’s and Don’ts for a Workers’ Comp Deposition
As much as we wish the workers’ compensation process were simple and quick, it’s not. It involves tons of paperwork, a workers’ comp deposition, and plenty of headaches.
Unfortunately, injured workers have to jump through a series of hoops to get the benefits they not only need but also deserve.
One of these hoops is a workers’ comp deposition.
According to the Legal Information Institute, “A deposition is a witness’s sworn out-of-court testimony. It is used to gather information as part of the discovery process and, in limited circumstances, may be used at trial. […] Depositions usually do not directly involve the court. The process is initiated and supervised by the individual parties. Usually, the only people present at a deposition are the deponent, attorneys for all interested parties, and a person qualified to administer oaths.”
As the injured employee, you will be called for a workers’ comp deposition by your employer’s insurance company (aka the people who are responsible for paying your benefits).
During the workers’ comp deposition, the injured employee will be asked a series of questions by the attorney representing the insurance company.
These questions will cover everything from your personal information (name, birth date, etc.) to your previous employment and medical history.
After answering all of these background questions, you’ll then be asked questions specific to your workplace injury.
The workers’ comp deposition is recorded as a written transcript, which then may be used as evidence in the workers’ compensation case.
Let’s hit pause.
A workers’ comp deposition can be scary – especially for those who have never been questioned by an attorney.
However, taking the time to familiarize yourself with how a workers’ comp deposition works will make the process much less scary and more empowering.
Use this list of 12 dos and don’ts to better your chances at your workers’ comp deposition.
Start by preparing for your workers’ comp deposition.
In addition to reading through this list of dos and don’ts, review your case.
Take time to review your past medical history (because you will be asked about it).
Make sure you also review the specifics of your workers’ compensation claim, including the details of how the injury happened.
It is also important to understand what medical treatment was suggested by the attending physician and why.
A workers’ comp deposition can feel intimidating, and you may feel pressured to stretch the truth to make your injury look worse than it really is.
Do not make this mistake!
The insurance company’s attorney is hoping to catch you in a lie – don’t give them the satisfaction.
If you lie during a workers’ comp deposition, it will ruin your credibility and make it much harder to receive the workers’ compensation benefits you need.
Not only do some injured employees feel tempted to stretch the truth, but others feel as if they need to hold back the truth.
Like lying, this is also harmful to your case.
Be honest with your answers – about how the injury happened, how you feel currently, and what your current limitations are.
This advice doesn’t just apply to the workers’ comp deposition day; you should also be honest with your workers’ compensation attorney who will help you prepare your case.
Don’t Answer If You Aren’t Sure
One common mistake during workers’ compensation depositions is injured employees answering questions they don’t understand.
Listen to all the questions carefully, so you can answer honestly.
If you get a question that you are unsure about, don’t answer it.
Your answer may wind up hurting you more than helping you.
Instead, respond to the question by saying, “I don’t understand the question.”
This also applies to questions that ask you for details you aren’t sure about or can’t remember.
Respond to the question, by saying “I don’t remember.”
You can also ask the lawyer to repeat the question.
Do Take Your Time
Before you answer any question, pause for a second or two before answering.
You don’t want to rush.
Give yourself a second to think about your answer.
This is also helpful if the question is upsetting because it will give you time to get yourself together, so you don’t show a negative reaction.
If you aren’t sure or can’t remember specifics, do not guess.
It is much better to admit you don’t know or can’t remember than make a guess.
Guessing hurts your credibility, and you may potentially give an answer that hurts your case.
[Related Read: 11 Things That May Hurt Your Chances of Recovering Georgia Workers’ Comp Benefits]
Do Try To Keep Your Answers Short
Try to keep your answers as short as possible.
You may feel tempted to provide additional information – don’t.
Don’t give long-winded answers or provide more information than was requested.
Often, the questions simply require “yes” or “no” answers, so stick to those when possible.
Don’t Talk More Than You Should
Another big mistake during a workers’ comp deposition is volunteering information.
I get it. You want to tell your side of the story. But don’t do it all in one answer. Take your time and only answer the question asked.
You don’t want your answers to come back to haunt you.
Do Use Specifics
It’s important to remember that what you say is what is being recorded during the workers’ compensation deposition.
Not your body language or hand gestures.
Since you are dealing with bodily injuries, it is easy to forget this is the case and point to the parts of your body that hurt.
Instead, use words to describe which body parts are affected. Instead of saying it hurts “here,” say “my left arm hurts.”
Don’t Lose Your Cool
In a perfect world, the lawyer questioning you will be polite, well mannered, and kind.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
You may be questioned by someone who rubs you the wrong way. Don’t let him get to you.
Try to stay calm and be sure to avoid any angry outbursts.
Do Hire an Attorney
A major reason to hire a lawyer after a work-related injury is because they will help you during the workers’ comp deposition process. Your lawyer will help you prepare for the deposition.
In addition, your lawyer will be with you at the deposition to object to illegal or improper questions, will help clarify questions, and will protect your best interests.
Having an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer represent you at the deposition is a good idea because a lawyer will protect your rights, will make the process smoother and less stressful, and will help you get the benefits you rightly deserve.
And, of course, you should never go to court without a lawyer to represent you.
Don’t Discuss Conversations between You and Your Attorney
Don’t forget about attorney-client privilege.
Anything you discuss with your workers’ compensation attorney is private.
So, never say, “well, my attorney told me to …” or “my attorney and I decided …” This is off limits.
Your attorney will object, but if you say it before your lawyer has an opportunity to object, it’s too late and already on the transcript.
If you’ve been injured on the job, contact us today for a free, no-strings-attached consultation.
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