Sometimes attorneys will request a deposition for workers’ compensation claims. It’s part of the process that determines whether have a claim, if it should proceed to trial, and how or if you’ll get benefits. Understanding what a workers comp deposition is, how to participate, and why it’s important are all key to winning your claim. It’s likely you’ll want to prepare for the deposition and have an attorney. An attorney can help you understand which questions you should answer and which answers you should emphasize for the best results. An attorney can also help you navigate the system, which can be confusing if you haven’t filed a claim before (and even if you have).
What is a Workers Comp Deposition?
A deposition is a meeting where attorneys for the opposing side will ask you questions. A workers comp deposition is not a trial. A judge will not be present. A court reporter will, though, so they can record your answers.
While a deposition is not a trial, your answers are considered evidence and can be used if your case proceeds to trial. Depositions usually take place at an attorney’s office. More specifically, they occur at the office of the firm representing your employer’s insurer (the defendant named in your claim). They can last anywhere from a few hours to a day or more, depending on how complicated your case is. Most depositions take a few hours.
What to Expect at Your Workers Comp Deposition
It’s helpful to think of the deposition as a process, not just answering questions. You should prepare before you arrive. That preparation might include reviewing documents so you’re clear on the facts of your case. Your attorney might also work with you to help you prepare in several different ways:
- First, your attorney will likely know the types of questions the opposing counsel may ask. While they may not know the exact questions, your attorney will probably know the general focus of the insurer’s argument. Knowing that helps your attorney anticipate which questions you might have to answer during your deposition.
- Second, your attorney can help you understand which questions the other party can ask at your deposition and which ones they can’t. It’s your attorney’s job to object to those questions during the actual deposition. However, reviewing them beforehand can help calm your nerves before it starts.
- Third, your attorney can walk you through any questions you have while reviewing your case documentation. If a medical report seems confusing, your attorney can help you better understand it. Being clear about the facts and how your injuries impacted your life is key.
You will be sworn in as the deposition starts. Even though a deposition is different from a trial, this is one similarity they share: You must give all your responses under oath. This means if you lie, you could face perjury charges.
During the deposition, answer questions honestly to the best of your ability. It’s vital you tell the truth. Not only are you under oath, but it also helps establish your trustworthiness. Opposing counsel will look for clues to use if your case proceeds to trial. They wonder if a jury or a judge will believe you. Clear, honest answers show you’re a credible person.
Questions They Might Ask at Your Workers Comp Deposition
Questions asked at a deposition will focus on your medical and employment issues.
The insured’s counsel will likely ask you some version of the following questions:
- Can you describe the event that led to your injury or injuries?
- Did your doctor place any restrictions on what you can and cannot do after the incident?
- What do you do during a typical work shift?
- How often do you perform certain tasks (i.e., anything physical that your injury or injuries might limit your ability to perform now)
- If you received any work restrictions, how have those impacted your ability to perform your work duties?
- Has your overall quality of life suffered since your injury? If yes, can you please describe how it’s changed since then?
They will also likely ask about your medical history and any relevant treatments you received since your injury accident.
Tips to Remember at Your Workers Comp Deposition
Here are a few key things to remember at your workers comp deposition:
Deposition Tip 1: Practice Courtesy
It might seem counterintuitive if the questions upset you, but giving calm, polite answers to questions is really important. Even if you feel yourself getting angry, refrain from being belligerent or disrespectful. Try to practice this with your attorney prior to the deposition. Sometimes repeating a mantra to yourself silently can help. So can asking for a break, or taking deep breaths. Preparing ahead of time and having a plan to rely on if you feel angry can help you stay calm while answering their questions.
Deposition Tip 2: Rely on the Truth
Remember that you’re under oath and must give truthful answers. It’s human nature to sometimes minimize or exaggerate things that have a major impact on our lives. Still, it’s best to stick with just the facts of your case. Do your best to be clear and concise whenever possible.
This is especially true if you don’t know the answer to a question. Don’t make something up. It’s ok to say that you don’t know.
Deposition Tip 3: Break It Down
Some questions can be complicated, either because there are many different elements or the question feels emotionally heavy. Whatever the reason, remember that you get to control how you answer each question.
It’s good to take a moment to think before you answer. It’s also good to listen to the entire question first, without interrupting. The goal isn’t to answer quickly; it’s to answer questions honestly and calmly.
Sometimes the questions might not be allowable at your workers comp deposition. Your attorney will know this, so taking a moment before you begin your answer can give your attorney time to object.
Deposition Tip 4: Remember that Every Case is Different
Some workers’ comp cases are easier to resolve than others. Each has its own set of circumstances that determine the outcome. Unless yours is very simple, working with a qualified attorney might serve you better — especially if you had health issues before your work injury. Because our attorneys work on contingency, they’re also highly affordable.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Complete your free online workers’ compensation benefits evaluation now!
Lisa Allen is a writer and editor who lives in suburban Kansas City. She holds MFAs in Creative Nonfiction and Poetry, both from the Solstice Low-Residency Program in Creative Writing at Pine Manor College. Prior to becoming a writer, Lisa worked as a paralegal, where she specialized in real estate in and around Chicago.