The deposition of the injured worker or “claimant" is very common in a litigated workers’ compensation claim. Essentially, the claimant’s deposition is the taking and recording of the testimony under oath before a qualified court reporter. The deposition is generally scheduled by agreement of the parties as to time, date, and place. The deposition of a claimant will typically take place at the claimant’s attorney’s office; however, it does not have to. Again, it can be set a mutually agreeable location.
The injured workers’ testimony will be obtained by answering questions presented “on the record" by the defense attorney. In this situation, the claimant is the deponent and it is his or her job to answer the questions to the best of his or her ability. The claimant’s attorney will be present to ensure that the questions are proper. The claimant’s attorney will also have an opportunity to ask questions.
Naturally, the deposition process tends to make claimants nervous. Therefore, we have prepared a few tips to help you through the process.
- Think about the question being asked. Only answer that question without volunteering additional information not asked in the question.
- Take your time. You are the most important in the room.
- Review discovery (Interrogatories) responses that you have answered.
- Create a reference time line with dates of all your past employers (going back 15 years). This is to jog your memory.
- Create a reference time line with dates doctors or medical facilities you have treated with for the past 15 years and include what you received treatment for.
- Tell the truth.
- Be rude to the other attorney. Remember, most of the time this is their first impression of you and this may help set the tone for the remainder of the case.
- Provide a long explanation for what should be a short answer. You want to answer the question but you do not need to provide the attorney with the entire history unless you are asked to do so.
- Argue with the other attorney. Just answer the question. If you don’t know the answer, just state that you “don’t know."
- Speculate or guess. The other attorney will use this against you.
- Exaggerate. There is no point to it.
- Be deceptive or elusive. The truth will come out and it is better to tackle it now.
- Volunteer information. Again, answer only the question that is being asked.
A deposition is a natural and required part of your case. There is no need to worry over it, but there is a need to be prepared.