What to Expect at a Workers’ Comp Deposition
If you have a workers’ comp claim, you might have your deposition taken by a lawyer for the insurance company or your employer. The lawyer’s purpose is to evaluate the merits of your claim and identify any reasons why your claim should be denied or your benefits limited. Facing an attorney’s questioning can be nerve-wracking. The best way to limit anxiety is to know what to expect, and to walk in as prepared as possible. Continue reading for an explanation of workers’ comp depositions from our experienced Riverside workers’ comp benefits attorneys.
What is a Deposition?
A deposition is a type of legal proceeding that happens outside the courtroom. At a deposition, witnesses answer a variety of questions under oath. Depositions are recorded, and what is said can and will be used as part of the case. They typically take place in a conference room, often at the law firm of one of the attorneys or a rented room. Given present concerns relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, the deposition might take place over videoconference or teleconference. The only people present will be the witness, the attorney questioning the witness, the witness’s attorney (if they have one), and a court reporter (who will make a transcript of the deposition), as well as legal representatives for any other parties to the matter.
The judge will not be present, but attorneys for both sides can ask questions and offer objections. As there is no one present to make a ruling on the objections, the objections are more about preserving legal arguments for a later date (such as having certain evidence or answers excluded from the matter).
Preparing for the Deposition
Your attorney should walk you through the deposition process in advance so that you know both what to expect and how best to prepare. Whether or not you have an attorney, you should plan to review all of your records and notes concerning your workplace accident, the resulting injury, the medical care you obtained, medical costs you incurred, your behavior and limitations since the injury, and any other pertinent information. You’ll be asked about a variety of issues, and it helps to prepare in advance so that you do not appear to be hiding anything by answering “I don’t know” too many times.
What Happens at the Deposition?
At the deposition, you can expect to be asked questions by the attorney for the insurance company and/or your employer. Your responsibility is to answer truthfully and to the best of your knowledge. You are not meant to speculate, and you are not expected to have perfect recall. Before the deposition begins, you will be asked to swear an oath to tell the truth under penalty of perjury. While less formal than a court proceeding, the deposition is still part of the legal matter and it’s still important to be honest.
The attorney taking your deposition will ask you a series of questions and may show you documents to help you either refresh your recollection or to authenticate the documents as legitimate and accurate (to the extent of your knowledge). The questioning will cover a variety of topics pertinent to your workers’ comp case, including:
- Background information, such as your contact information, age, and work history
- Prior injuries and other medical history, typically to determine if your injuries might pre-date your employment
- Other activities outside the workplace, in case extracurricular activities might have caused or exacerbated the injury
- How the accident or illness came about, especially if your injury developed over time (for example, repetitive stress injury or an illness caused by exposure)
- Your medical treatments recommended, received, and your compliance with your physician’s recommendations
- Your current limitations caused by your injuries
- Your current activities, in case those differ from your purported limitations (such as if you are playing sports on the weekends despite your injuries)
Your workers’ comp attorney will help you prepare to answer these questions in advance of your deposition. If you have any questions or concerns, talk to your lawyer before the deposition.
If you or someone you love has been seriously hurt on the job in California, get help seeking the workers’ compensation benefits you’re owed by contacting the Riverside offices of Ochoa & Calderón for a consultation on your case.