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Some workers’ compensation cases require more than just submitting an insurance claim to recover benefits for your lost wages and medical expenses. Following an occupational injury or illness in San Bernardino, the Division of Workers’ Compensation or your employer may try to challenge your claim. In this situation, your workers’ comp case may look more like a personal injury lawsuit. You may have to give a deposition as an injured worker.
A deposition is a legal process intended to obtain answers and testimony from people involved in a case. During a deposition, you must go in for questioning at the scheduled date and time. A representative from the other side of the case – usually an attorney for the workers’ compensation insurance company – will ask you questions about how your injury happened, as well as medical details.
In most cases, a professional is video-recording a deposition for use later. Someone will also produce a transcript, or written record of what was said during the deposition, to use during your workers’ compensation trial. The defendant can use anything you say during a deposition against you at trial. However, you and your San Bernardino workers’ compensation lawyer will receive copies of the deposition recording and have the chance to amend your answers. It is important to prepare properly for a deposition to avoid hurting your odds of recovery.
Hire a workers’ compensation attorney if you have to take your case to court in California. An attorney will be able to offer legal advice as to what to expect during your deposition. Your lawyer can also accompany you inside the deposition room, providing advice and representation during questioning to prevent you from saying something that could hurt your case.
Preparing for a deposition is similar to studying for a test. It involves going over commonly asked questions and those a lawyer will most likely ask. Your attorney will help you form honest answers that will protect your rights. Your lawyer can let you know what information you can legally keep private, as well as how to give simple and straightforward answers to complex questions. Some of the most common questions will be about your employment history, pre-existing injuries, how your accident happened, your medical care and current disabilities.
The lawyer who subpoenaed you will arrange a date at which you must appear for the deposition. The deposition itself will most likely take place in an informal setting, not a courtroom. It will typically be in a lawyer’s office or private room in a courthouse. Show up dressed professionally and on time to your deposition. Arrange for your lawyer to meet you there, if desired.
During the deposition, be careful how you answer questions. Stick to short, succinct answers rather than narratives whenever possible. When in doubt, ask your lawyer for advice before answering. If you do not know the answer to a question, do not guess or speculate. Simply say you do not know.
Speak clearly for the recorders. Try to be specific in your phrasing for the transcript. Instead of pointing to your back, for example, state clearly that you injured your spinal cord. Do not be afraid to ask questions during your deposition. You can also request breaks. You have the right to convene with your attorney at any point during a deposition.
While you should be careful giving long answers, be honest 100% of the time during a deposition. Depositions are sworn testimony, similar to the testimony given during a trial. Before answering questions, you will swear under penalty of perjury that you believe your answers are the truth. Lying during a deposition is a serious crime that could lead to felony charges against you. A lawyer can help you protect your rights during a workers’ compensation deposition, guiding you through the entire process if one is necessary to recover compensation for your work injury in California.