WHAT TO EXPECT AT YOUR WORKERS' COMPENSATION DEPOSITION
If you have an ongoing workers' compensation case, at some point your attorney will likely notify you you are going "have your deposition taken". If you have never been through a deposition before, the whole thing can seem kind of scary. But don't be nervous- read the below!
WHAT IS A DEPOSITION?A deposition is a legal proceeding where the attorney for the insurance company gets to ask you a bunch of questions that pertain to your workers' compensation case. Keep in mind the following:
(1) Your attorney will be in the room with you and will be sitting right next to you the entire time.
(2) Your attorney has probably been through many, many depositions with his/her clients before.
(3) Also in the room will be a "court reporter"- a person who (using a device that looks kind of like a small typewriter) will type down everything everyone in the room says. A few weeks later, the court reporter will send to the attorneys (and sometimes you) a written "transcript" of what everyone said. Your attorney may or may not ask you to look at the transcript to see if you want to change any of your answers. Before the deposition begins, the court reporter will ask you to raise your hand and promise
or "swear" to tell only the truth.
(4) Depositions take place in most- but not all- workers' compensation cases. There is nothing unusual about them and- as above- your attorney has probably been through a great many of them and will know what to do to make the process as easy as possible for you.
(5) The typical deposition lasts from one to three hours. But do ask your attorney ahead of time how long she thinks it will last.
(6) The insurance company attorney who takes your deposition will PROBABLY be professional and respectful. The process will almost certainly not be like legal proceedings you have seen on television (where attorneys yell at people and pound their fists on the table). However, a few insurance company attorneys can be unprofessional, rude, and argumentative. If that happens, don't take it personally and allow your attorney to handle the situation. Don't argue with the insurance company attorney- let your attorney do it.
(7) You can take as many "breaks" from the questioning as you want. You can take the breaks for as long as you want. You can takes the breaks for any reason (to use the restroom, to smoke a cigarette, to make a phone call, to get some water, or just to chill out for awhile).
(8) You can also take as many breaks as you want to leave the room to discuss- with your attorney- how to answer a question. The insurance company attorney may not like it if you do this, but "that is their problem".
(9) During the deposition, you are allowed to stand up or sit down as much as you want (and please do this if you are physically uncomfortable).
(10) Insurance company attorneys often ask a bunch of questions that don't seem to have anything whatsoever to do with your workers' compensation case. But, just go ahead and answer them. If the attorney asks anything that is inappropriate, your attorney will tell you not to answer it. If you are uncomfortable with a question, please ask for a break to talk with your attorney about it.
WHY DOES THE INSURANCE COMPANY ATTORNEY WANT TO TAKE YOUR DEPOSITION?The insurance company attorney wants to take your deposition for a few reasons. Some of those reasons may include the following:
(1) She wants to see if you are a likable and believable person. If you are not likable and believable, she may decide that the case is a good one to go to trial (thinking that a Judge won't like you or believe you either). So, during the deposition, always be polite and tell the truth.
(2) She wants to make money. Insurance company lawyers- depending on whom they work for- often bill the insurance company by the hour for taking your deposition.
(3) She wants to catch you lying. It is illegal to intentionally lie during a deposition and- if you are caught doing so- it may well damage your case. The insurance company attorney probably has all your medical records and probably knows about any other injuries you have had and claims you have filed. So, tell the truth about them. Also, insurance companies will sometimes pay "investigators" to secretly follow you and film you. So, tell the truth about what you have been doing (if you are asked).
(4) She wants to hear your "story" and learn about the case. She wants to make sure that she is not missing anything.